With only one day to spend in Santa Teresa and miles of beaches to explore, I knew I needed a way to cover a lot of ground fast. With a set of wheels in the form of an ATV rental in Santa Teresa I had exactly what we needed to make the most of our precious time in one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful destinations.
Santa Teresa is a small town on the Nicoya Peninsula which is situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. It’s known for beautiful beaches and good waves, making it a popular destination for surfers, yogis and honeymooners alike. To that affect, English is widely spoken and the prices in this jungle town are considerably higher than other parts of Costa Rica (think $15 for breakfast and coffee when the same at a typical Tico soda costs $5).
Santa Teresa is also near Montezuma, another popular tourist destination and small beach town that is known for its hippy vibes. To travel between Santa Teresa and Montezuma without a car – there are three options – you can go by taxi ($40), group shuttle ($10 per person) or public bus ($3). Going by bus requires you to first go to the town of Cobano and then take a bus to Santa Teresa/Montezuma. This is the cheapest option but buses don’t run very frequently and the journey takes 90 minutes versus 30 each way.
A popular way to explore these towns and the surrounding beaches is with an ATV. Pacific Dirt Road, a rental shop located in Playa Carmen, offers ATV tours as well as rentals throughout Montezuma, Santa Teresa and MalPais, the third of the most visited villages in Southern Nicoya. Guided tours take visitors to the hotspots and half day, daily or weekly rentals provide you with a set of sturdy wheels to explore solo.
I elected to rent an ATV for the day and see what I could discover. From the main road in Playa Carmen, dozens of beaches beckon to the North and South. I went to the North and passed four great beaches via paved roads and dirt roads.
Playa Santa Teresa
Just past Playa Carmen is Playa Santa Teresa. This long stretch of beach is one of the top surf destinations in Costa Rica. Whether catching waves or soaking up some rays is your scene, you can find it all here. The beach parallels a main road that is home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, hotels and shops. It was almost as much fun to check out the dining scene as it was to enjoy the beach!
Past Playa Santa Teresa, the road dropped down and I paralleled Playa Cocal, a stretch of beach marked by crystal blue waters and long stretches of rocky landscapes. During high tide the water covers the rocks. During low tide, the rocks create magnificent tidal pools for exploring.
The paved road made way for a dirt one and we drove along to Playa Hermosa. The name of this beach can literally be translated to beautiful beach, and with white sand and deep blue waters it’s no surprise where the name comes from. The beach was by no means crowded, but we did see the highest number of people on a beach in the region here, and several groups of people doing yoga.
The jungle road continues on to Playa Manzanillo. While still dotted by a handful of people, this is a much more local beach and many of the people here were Tico families or fishermen. Manzanillo is rockier than other beaches, making it better for a relaxing day of swimming or beach lounging than for surfing.
While living in Costa Rica for the past 14-months I’ve had the opportunity to see many beaches, but none compare to the jewel toned waters of the beaches near Santa Teresa. Discovering them on an ATV helped me cover way more ground than I would have been able to on foot and really make the most of my limited time in the area. Going ahead full throttle on an ATV, dust in my hair, adrenaline pulsing through my veins, I also felt a new connection to Costa Rica that I hadn’t felt before. So this is pura vida.
Note: Something In Her Ramblings was provided with a complimentary ATV rental. However, all thoughts and opinions are her own.
About the Author
Lauren Salisbury is a travel enthusiast who spent a year exploring Europe, visiting 25 countries, while based in Spain teaching English in Madrid. She also writes for Something In Her Ramblings, a travel blog aimed at female and solo travelers.