Community and Lifestyle

Community and Lifestyle in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

Santa Teresa is extremely culturally diverse, and point which is evident the moment you enter the town. Many local Ticos are deeply immersed in the surf culture, born and raised at the ocean, and people come from all over the world to surf the famous breaks. Australian backpackers, Italian surf instructors, and local Ticos can be seen on the beach, in both the morning and at sunset, worshipping the waves.  Surf and yoga tend to go hand in hand, so the town has several yoga studios and high end retreat centers. It’s not uncommon to see yogis saluting the sun in the morning or performing acrobatic yoga on the beach in the afternoon. The gorgeous beaches and relaxed vibes have lured travelers from across the world creating an international restaurant scene with Asian fusion, South American, Italian, French, and many other influences. Many families reside in Santa Teresa and several beach bars and restaurants throw weekly BBQs with live music and activities for kids.

Santa Teresa

Just north of Playa Carmen is the white sand beach of Santa Teresa surrounded by tropical hillsides.  The vibe is relaxed, though has become increasingly upscale. Travelers and residents tend to be more affluent than other neighborhoods on the coast reflected by the luxury homes, hotels, restaurants, and yoga studios. However, despite the international tourism here the atmosphere remains under developed and relaxed. The beach has long secluded stretches and protected swimming coves. Surfing in Santa Teresa is some of the best in the country with excellent swells year round, which brings lots of laid back energetic surfers to the community.

Mal Pais

The town of Mal Pais began as a small fishing village, but today it is one of the premier surf destinations in Costa Rica. The beach consists of jungle-backed white sand coves, has lots of flora and fauna, and has become famous for it’s incredible beauty. Playa Carmen and Santa Teresa are known for the best surf in the area, but Mal Pais produces consistent waves all year for beginner to advanced surfers. It’s a popular place to rent a board or take a lesson and is less developed than Santa Teresa, catering to a younger crowd. Celebrities including Mel Gibson, Gisele Bundchen, and Bobbie Philips bought land here several years ago to build their vacation homes and many celebrities have been spotted on the beaches and in cafes in Mal Pais. Nonetheless, the area remains undeveloped and rugged with potholed dirt roads juxtaposed with luxury resorts and international restaurants. The area is spread out so locals get around on quads, scooters, cars, and bicycles.

Playa Carmen

Directly between Malpais and Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen is famous for its consistent, year-round surf conditions.  The rip tides are less strong than in many other parts of Costa Rica, making it a great place for beginners to learn.  Playa Carmen is also a nice place to relax with just a few small restaurants nearby.

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa translates to “gorgeous beach,” and a gorgeous beach it is. Just north of Santa Teresa, Playa Hermosa is expansive and secluded; most days you can enjoy the shore all to yourself. There is nearly no development here, save for a few single family homes across the dirt road, so visitors must venture over to Santa Teresa for shops and restaurants. The surfing here is good (like the rest of the coast), but there are also calm spots for swimming. There are also no underwater rocks, unlike the nearby beaches, making it a safe place for swimming without a snorkel.


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