About Santa Teresa and Malpais

Mal Pais and Santa TeresaBy Nina Biskup

Just like other coastal villages, Santa Teresa started as a remote fishing village until in the early 1990s the first low budget tourists started coming here. Due to the beautiful gold-grey beaches and the world class surf conditions it became popular very quickly and now Santa Teresa is a booming travel destination and has developed into a lively town with numerous Hotels (ranging from $10 to $100 a night), shops and many excellent Restaurants. Even though it is still growing, services already include doctors, banks, car rentals, an international school and a direct bus connection with San José. The people make an eclectic mix of all cultures and add their spices and styles to the local flavour.

Especially in high season there is plenty of nightlife in Santa Teresa, however it is most popular for its surfing potential. Santa Teresa stretches over 5 kilometres along the beach, framed by Mal País and Playa Hermosa. Having about 15 kilometres of shoreline with different breaks, a constant swell and moderate water temperatures year round brings professionals and beginners alike.

However, Santa Teresa offers way more than just surf. Not without reason did it win #1 Beach and Sun Destinations AND Relaxation & Spa in Tripadviser 2010. Here you can discover some of Costa Rica’s most coveted beaches aligned by a broad strip of forest offering shade and hiding every sight of construction. Some beaches have beautiful rock formations and tide pools to snorkel and others are soft sand beaches to swim and play in the waves. Enjoy a class of Yoga or Pilates in one of the many shalas, go horseback riding, fishing or canopying on the fringe of Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, or you may look for the ultimate relaxation in one of the beautiful spas and get a massage.

And the perfect day ends up with a usually magnificent sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Just south of Santa Teresa lies Mal País, a tranquil little village that despite the development boom in Santa Teresa kept its relaxed atmosphere and closeness to nature. Although Mal País does border directly on the Nature Reserve, there is no entrance from this side and therefore no floods of tourist coming through. As a result it is still largely devoid of shops and touristic services, only hotels are loosely spread in the area, still retaining large patches of unspoiled nature and the local village feel.

Even though Mal País is known as one of Costa Rica’s top surf beaches, it is actually the neighbouring beaches of Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen and Playa Hermosa that build the more popular surf spots.

For the scenic coastline with the waves bashing over volcanic rock formations, the old growth forest leaking onto the shores of sandy bays and flocks of pelicans sailing over the waters “Forbes” chose Mal País as one the world’s top ten beaches.

At the southern end of Mal País, just short of the Cabo Blanco nature Reserve, lies the small fishermen port. Here you can buy the freshest fish and go on boat tours to snorkel, scuba dive or fish, watch dolphins, manta rays and even whales.