By: Mikael and Thrillism
11 minute read
Last updated June 5th, 2020
With its rugged tropical coastline and world-class breaks, Costa Rica attracts surfers from all over the world and all walks of life. Many of them head straight to Tamarindo, but for more low-key, chilled-out surfer vibes, Santa Teresa is the place to be.
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica surf is as good as it gets in so many ways. From the natural scenery to the constantly-working waves, it’s hard not to love this remote tropical town. And the good news is you don’t have to be a pro to surf here; there are plenty of beginner-friendly bumps thrown into the mix.
Whether you’re looking for a budget Santa Teresa surf hostel oer an all-inclusive resort, this intro to surfing and surf camps in the area will take all of the hassles out of the planning process.
The first part of planning your epic surf adventure is figuring out how to get to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. The good news is that you’ve got a few options. The easiest way is to arrive by plane and fly from San Jose to the nearest airport in Tambur, which is a 25-minute flight followed by an hour-long shuttle ride to Santa Teresa.
If you’re trying to stick to a budget or prefer to travel by land, direct shuttles are leaving from San Jose twice per day during high season (once per day during low season). This trip usually takes between 6 and 7 hours and includes a 90-minute ferry ride. There are shuttles offered from other destinations as well, but the most well-organized is the one from San Jose.
Santa Teresa is located in Costa’s Puntarenas Province on the western side of the Nicoya Peninsula. What once started as a remote fishing village with very few visitors has transformed into a booming beach town – but it’s still not as hectic as other Costa Rican hotspots like Tamarindo or Jaco.
Surfing in Santa Teresa is the main attraction here, but it’s also the perfect place for nature lovers and beach bums. The vibe is laid-back and hippy-esque, but it’s still easy to find high-end luxury and all the modern-day amenities you need to stay comfortable. In other words, it’s the complete package.
Unlike other countries in Central America, Costa Rica is not well-known as a budget-friendly destination. But this shouldn’t stop you from visiting, even if you’re the type of traveler who’s pinching pennies. It’ll be hard to stick to a strict budget, but it’s not impossible.
Low-cost accommodations include eco guesthouses, hostel dorm rooms, and outdoor camping. For traveling here on an extreme budget, plan on spending at least $30 per day, but more realistically, plan for $50 per day (especially if you want to take advantage of all the adventure activities here).
Saving money on food will be easy as long as you’re happy eating rice and beans. Low-cost food options will all be found in locally-run establishments, but fancy touristy restaurants typically start at $20 per meal.
Spending more is also very possible, especially if you book a room in a mid-range hotel or fancy resort. The average middle-of-the-road hotel room goes for $75 to $100 per night while a nicer resort will cost well over $100.
Santa Teresa is a year-round beach town, so you’ll be able to enjoy the sun and sand any month of the year. That being said, the best time to visit for Santa Teresa surf is when the locals refer to as “green season”, especially if you’re chasing big, barrelling waves.
Green season happens from May to December, and although it’s the rainiest time of year, this is when the surf conditions are the most consistent and the swells are strongest. No matter when you choose to visit, you can count on hot, humid weather that makes you want to grab a board and jump in the water.
The best Santa Teresa, Costa Rica surfing opportunities can be found at Playa Santa Teresa and nearby Playa Hermosa. The best surf spots in the area are just a quick drive from the main part of town, and this includes famous breaks like Surf Rock, La Lora, and Mar Azul.
Playa Santa Teresa
Surfing Playa Santa Teresa is a great choice for beginners, but for big waves, you’ll want to head to the beach just north called La Lora and check out Surf Rock. It’s sometimes referred to as Rocamar, but whatever you choose to call it, you can count on large swells with this righthand point break.
Mar Azul to the south of Santa Teresa is another popular one. This left-hand point break is located in the heart of Mal Pais, a spot that’s often referred to as a “soul surfer” destination. Even with consistent conditions, it’s never too crowded here.
A quick trip north from Santa Teresa you’ll find Playa Hermosa, which is never overly crowded and is home to two well-respected breaks. Half the fun of surfing here is making your way to the beach along the dirt road that’s surrounded by colorful flowers, but the real fun begins along with the long point break.
The Selina Santa Teresa surf camp is one of the best in the area, especially for solo travelers who are looking for a good time. There are two Selina Santa Teresa locations – North and South – both offering “Learn to Surf” packages for an affordable price. You can either sign up for private lessons as you go or opt for the 5, 7, or 10-night Surf and Yoga package.
“Unplug and allow your body and mind to reconnect with the Selina Surf & Yoga Package. Experience the best surfing in Latin America while finding your zen at Selina Yoga.”
Signing up for the Selina surf camp Santa Teresa includes everything you could need for a relaxing (but also action-packed) getaway. With the price comes accommodation, most meals, surfboard hire, surf lessons and coaching, 2 daily yoga sessions, 1 massage, a chakra session, and plenty of options to sign up for additional activities in Santa Teresa.
Lost Boyz is one of the coolest places to stay for both surfers and non-surfers. It’s a haven for backpacking travelers who just want to let loose and enjoy the natural surroundings of the area, both in and out of the water. The team here is all about surfing, chilling, and having fun with an emphasis on eco-friendliness and taking care of the planet.
“Welcome to Lost boyz Hostel, an age-free haven for backpackers, surfers, lost boyz and girlz alike, based in the heart of wave paradise Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.”
This Santa Teresa surf camp is just 150 meters from the beach, so you can wake up and start shredding ASAP. This camp is for backpackers seeking a budget-friendly stay, so don’t get your hopes up about finding luxury at Lost Boyz. What you will find, though, is an eco-lifestyle surrounded by great people and filled with fun times.
Believe Surf Camp & Yoga Santa Teresa has the best reviews and ratings out of all the surf camp providers in the area. Part of the reason for this is the fact that Believe allows visitors to customize their vacations, which means that your trip might look completely different from your neighbor’s experience.
We are not fond of large groups and pre-set agendas. You are not joining a tour, we are joining your vacations. The aim is to adapt as much as possible to your itinerary and budget.”
This surf camp uses a 5-step customizer tool that allows you to choose your ideal preferences for dates, accommodations, meals, surf sessions, yoga classes, extra activities, transportation options, and more. If you’re not into the idea of planning and customizing your own trip, then Believe also offers several all-inclusive vacation packages to keep things simple.
The most popular vacation option here is the 7-night Discover Package, which offers the perfect combo of surf, yoga, and beachside chilling. In addition to 7 nights of accommodation in the Believe Lodge, you’ll also get daily buffet-style breakfast, access to a swimming pool and yoga deck, 3 surf lessons (equipment rental included), and daily yoga classes.
The phrase Pura Vida perfectly describes what Costa Rica is all about. It literally translates to the simple life, and Pura Vida Adventures is all about keeping things simple while also building excitement. This surf camp offers all sorts of retreats, ranging from women’s only weeks to New Year’s surf getaways.
“We are overjoyed to create a truly special surf and yoga camp where paradise vacation meets life transformation meets laughing like crazy with the best friends you never knew you could have.”
The Pura Vida experience has been going strong since 2004, and ever since the beginning, this school has had the mission of spreading their love of surfing with the rest of the world – and they’ve succeeded. Their goal is to have visitors stay for a week, but remain a part of the Santa Teresa surfing community for life.
“Come as a guest, leave as a friend” is the saying at Zopilote Surf Camp, a camp that was designed for surfers by surfers. Zopilote is located just north of Santa Teresa in Playa Hermosa, which is considerably quieter than Santa Teresa, both in and out of the water. It’s got consistent surf all year round with waves for all skill levels.
“Find yourself on a deserted dream beach before dawn and experience picturesque sunsets to end the day. Check out the waves at any time of the day or treat yourself to a relaxed break in the hammock or in the camp’s own pool.”
Surfing Santa Teresa, Costa Rica waves don’t have to be a pricy endeavor. At least this is what Zopilote thinks. You can book for either one or two weeks, and both options are fairly priced (although you’ll get a better deal for the 2-week option). The standard weeklong package includes accommodation, daily breakfast and dinner, daily surf guiding, and more.
Still, wondering where to stay in Santa Teresa? If you’re not interested in booking with one of the Santa Teresa surf camps mentioned above, no worries, there are still plenty of options. All you have to do is hop on Booking.com, Hostelworld, or Airbnb to see what’s available.
According to travelers who have visited Santa Teresa in the past, here are a few of the best accommodations for every price range:
There’s a variety of dining options lining the Playa Santa Teresa, catering to every taste and every budget. For local, budget-friendly food, you’ll want to eat at traditional sodas, but you’ve got plenty of choices – pizza, burgers, veg-friendly or vegan cafes, and fine dining.
The best-rated place to eat here is OSA, a cozy and casual seafood restaurant that’s only open for dinner. Burger Rancho is a great choice if you’re craving a juicy burger and crispy fries, but for more local vibes, stop in for a meal at Soda Tiquicia.
There’s not a major nightlife scene in Santa Teresa like there is in Jaco or Tamarindo, but drinking a few beers or cocktails after a surf session is still a great way to unwind. Tipsy Wine Bar is one of the best places for this, serving specialty wine, craft beer, signature cocktails, and shareable tapas.
Drift Bar is another fun one with its bright and airy outdoor seating and yummy vegetarian menu. It’s also an art gallery, but the best part is that you can buy 1-liter cocktails to-go and enjoy them on the beach.
Participating in a Costa Rica surf camp is the main thing to do with your time in Santa Teresa, but it’s definitely not the only activity you should be focused on. This town has a more “hippy” vibe than other cities in Costa, so be sure to embrace that with beachfront yoga, long walks on the beach, and zen-filled massages.
One of the oldest nature reserves in the country, Cabo Blanco, is near Santa Teresa, so be sure to check it out and go for a day trip. There are all sorts of wildlife here and over 150 different types of trees, making this reserve a nature lover’s paradise.
Another must-do activity is to visit the Montezuma waterfalls. You’ll start the adventure by taking an ATV or car from Santa Teresa, then embark on a short hike to the cascading waterfalls. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, climb to the top of the falls and jump into the water below.
Where is the surfing part of Santa Teresa beach?
Any Playa Santa Teresa surf camp will take you to the righthand side of the break, mainly because this is the best place to avoid crowds. But the entire Playa Santa Beach is surfable, just visit this white sand break during low tide for the best, most consistent conditions.
What is the best surf camp in Santa Teresa?
The Santa Teresa surfing camp you choose depends on a few things, like surf level and budget, but Believe Surf Camp and Yoga is definitely one of the most beloved providers in the area. With Believe, you’ll get a little bit of everything, plus you can completely customize your vacay to fit your exact wants and needs.