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Surf and Turf in Santa Teresa

Pura Vida! Pura Vida! Pura Vida!

I have heard these two words several times a day during my stay here in Costa Rica. Pura Vida is directly translated "pure life" and is used in conversation and as a greeting everywhere. Whether I am buying a bottle of water, walking past someone or out in the surf lineup, these words are spoken with dignity, pride and a clever smile.

It makes sense to me now. These words actually are everything that Costa Rica is and how Ticos (locals) live their life. They are friendly, kind and laidback people and seem to be living a healthy lifestyle. Their food is organic, fresh and fabolous. No wonder people are happy in this country.

As I get on the bus to my next destination, the driver welcomes me with the magic words: "pura vida".

A four and a half hour busride takes me from Tamarindo to a small surf town on the south west corner of Peninsula de Nicoya. The dusty, dirty, rugged beachtown Santa Teresa is a favorite spot among surfers and yoga enthusiasts. Being both, I am sure this place is everything I have been dreaming about and more. It is more a long strip of dirt road with surrounding cafes, hotels and restaurants, than a city center. On the left side of the road you have jungle. On the other side of the jungle you will find miles and miles of pristine beach.

In Santa Teresa you will find more ATV's than cars and more surfers and "dirty" backpackers than package tourists. The beach is crowded with surfers and dogs, and the lack of restaurants, umbrellas and sunbeds makes this area feel less touristy and less explored than Tamarindo.

The wildlife is more visible and diverse here than in Tamarindo. I see and hear both white faced capuchins and howler monkeys everywhere. There are species of birds that I did not see further north and the iguanas are bigger and more colourful.

I am realizing that good food is the standard in this country, not the exception.

I start my days with a huge and healthy breakfast at the Zwart cafe. A cool, artsy, all white and dusty vegeterian/vegan/healthy cafe. This place has a variety of tasty smoothies and coffees. It is a bit pricy, but well worth it.

A big lunch after a long day of surfing is not just a luxury, it is a necessity. A short walk from Zwart cafe you will find a great burger joint called Rancho burger. This place makes amazing vegeterian, meat, shrimp and tuna steak burgers; just what you need after a long day in the water. The staff is super friendly and it is not too expensive.

Sushi! Sushi! Sushi! I would recommend to visit Santa Teresa for several reasons, one being the fresh fish and the excellent sushi. Emo sushi located in "town" serve a great lunch box for about ten dollars. The other sushi place is a bit harder to find. For the locals or anyone carrying a Lonely Planet book it is a well known spot. Kooji sushi is run by a Japanese surfer who makes sushi so good that he can have his restaurant in the middle of nowhere and still be fully booked every night. Dont miss this one!

Santa Teresa is not just for surfers. It is a great place to stay if you want a beach that feels untouched and not too touristy.


Get up early and take advantage of the wide and long beach. Bring your running shoes or yoga mat and exercise with a view.

Score cheap deals on accommodation and splurge on the amazing food.

Rent a surfboard and learn how to surf.

Watch the amazing sunsets from the beach.


Profile photo of Isabelle Johansen

I am a 30 year old Norwegian woman with a love (addiction) for travel and photography. I think my love for travel began when I was a little girl listening to my grandfather tell stories about the time he lived with the Canadian Indian tribes in Canada. And when my mother told me stories about living in various cities around Europe.I have always been a curious and adventurous person. I am constantly thinking about places I would like to go next, people I would love to meet and things I would love to see. In 2009 I spent a year of my life traveling around the world. That experience changed my life forever and taught me that traveling broadens the mind. It teaches you more about the world and about life than any school ever will and gives you experiences you will remember for the rest of your life.After traveling the world I wanted to learn more about the tourism industry and decided to get an education that focused on travel and tourism. I recently finished my bachelor's degree in tourism management and I am currently doing a masters's degree in nature-based tourism. So far I have learned a lot about the industry and with this blog I hope to share some of that knowledge with you.

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