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Malpaís and Santa Teresa feel like one, sweet, beautiful beach town, but they are actually situated side by side on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.
Funky and remote, “getting lost in Santa” is a thing.
Malpaís. Known for the exceptional beauty of its beaches and surrounding dry tropical forest, Malpaís is also a well-known surf destination.
Santa Teresa and Malpaís aren’t towns that you just happen to stumble upon; on the southwestern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, you have to decide to go there and make some effort to get there.
Santa Teresa is just north of Malpaís, but one town seemingly blends into the next along the shore.
Essentially one very long dirt road, the main street runs end to end from the fisherman’s wharf in Mal Pais on through to Santa Teresa. Traversed by cars, quads, motorcycles, and bicycles alike, the main road is lined with small surf shops, clothing stores, a well-known tattoo shop that often features guest artists from around the world, bars, and an eclectic array of restaurants that feature world-class cuisine.
Surrounded by pristine forest and gifted with breathtaking beaches that offer spectacular surf breaks, this area is truly a special place in Costa Rica.
We recommend that you fly to this destination; the closest regional airport is at Tambor, located 45 minutes from Santa Teresa and Mal Pais. The flight takes 20-minutes from San Jose or 30 minutes from Liberia – you can use either of the two airports – and it is much more comfortable to fly than to drive, as flying will save you up to 5 hours by car and ferry.
Car rentals are readily available in the area, but you’ve also got the option to take a taxi or private transfer Once in the area, you’ll probably walk everywhere or perhaps rent a quad. Otherwise, if you need to go the distance between one end of town and the other, taxis are easy to come by.
If you want to save even more time, you can land directly in Santa Teresa by helicopter; some hotels and properties have their own place to land so you can arrive directly at your destination.
Santa Teresa is an eclectic combination of surf culture and glitterati lifestyle. Even though it’s become a destination for the international crowd, the vibe is still laid-back. Locals, ex-pats, and visitors mix companionably to enjoy the nightly live music, bonfires on the beach, and glorious sunsets. Santa Teresa lives the true meaning of “Pura Vida.”
Santa Teresa’s Florblanca is a closely-knit beachfront luxury eco-resort with a décor that spotlights local arts and crafts. Laced between rainforest, ocean, and beach, the resort focuses on sustainable and responsible tourism that minimizes human impact on the environment and its inhabitants. You can take advantage of Florblanca’s Spa Bambu, yoga, and Pilates classes and facilities. After a day out exploring, you’ll enjoy your villa’s peaceful surroundings.
Nantipa Hotel sits on 5.7 acres and has more than 500 feet of beachfront on the blue Pacific. With only 15 guest bungalows and suites, the landscaped gardens provide the privacy of home. Each unit has climate control, smart TVs, and the touches of home, including Wi-Fi.
Set in seclusion in the Costa Rican jungle, the private villas of OCiO at Casa Chameleon create the ultimate in tropical retreats. In equal parts peaceful and luxurious, the villa estate is one of charming sophistication. OCiO’s ocean views are cloaked in privacy by the untamed rainforest. This property is proud to boast its own helipad, so you can land right at the property.
Casa Pasha is a luxurious and exclusive beachfront villa nestled in the heart of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. This exquisite property offers a private oasis for discerning travelers seeking a high-end escape. Boasting contemporary architecture and sophisticated design, Casa Pasha harmoniously blends modern elegance with the natural beauty of its surroundings.
Santa Teresa and Mal Pais are home to many private houses and luxury vacation rentals. Our experts can help you find the perfect luxury home according to your needs.
With dozens of restaurants to choose from, the foodies in your group will be very happy campers during your stay in the Mal Pais and Santa Teresa area.
Florblanca’s restaurant, Nectar, extends its casual elegance to guests and locals alike. The bar serves custom and traditional cocktails for sundowners. At the same time, the kitchen presents a fusion cuisine of Latin, Mediterranean, and Asian.
The Bakery Restaurant is a must for locals and celebs alike. Touted as serving the best breakfast in Santa Teresa, The Bakery offers such delights as its amazing fruit salad and lemon mint refresca, as well as delicious pastries.
The setting at Pranamar’s Kavita Restaurant is one of spacious ceilings overlooking the serene lagoon pool for a fine dining experience of unforgettable quality. With a focus on local, fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and seafood gourmands will enjoy the enticing menu that caters to the senses.
Café Social gets high marks from diners for breakfast but also serves lunch.
Well-known in Santa Teresa, La Cevicheria, of course, specializes in ceviches and patacones (fried plantain) in an atmosphere that is pure Santa Teresa. Vegan and vegetarian options are also on the menu.
Using the freshest food direct from its organic farm, Mary’s Restaurant has become a Malpaís tradition. Vegetarians and vegans are welcome.
Brisas del Mar in Malpaís prepares locally-sourced food to conjure up its traditional Costa Rican dishes cooked over an open fire. Bold flavors and a passion for food inform the kitchen’s efforts in turning out culinary wonders.
Zula Restaurant is closer to the Santa Teresa end of town and serves phenomenal Israeli cuisine. The shakshuka, Northern African and Middle Eastern breakfast dish of tomatoes, onions, and poached eggs, is to die for and a must for Sunday morning brunch after a night out on the town; try it with one of Zula’s amazing, giant smoothies; we love the watermelon for a hydrating thirst-quenching treat.
From art to yoga, the Santa Teresa and Malpaís area has something for everyone. Add miles of hiking, biking, and riding trails to the mix for an unbeatable combination of things to do and see.
As a surfer’s paradise, the waves are good for all levels but be cautious during the green season (May – December) because the surf becomes much more robust. Never surfed before and would like to learn? Surf instructors and board rentals are plentiful in Santa Teresa; just stop in at any local surf shop (also in abundance) and ask.
Horseback riding through the forest and along the beach, ATV rentals and tours, stand up paddleboarding, wildlife gazing, dining and dancing, daily yoga classes, day spas, beachcombing, fishing, and jet-skiing; with plenty to do, there is never a dull moment.
Curu National Wildlife Refuge, with its nearly deserted beach, is perfect for wildlife watching. Isla Cabo Blanco and Tortuga Island are ideal for snorkeling, sailing, and fishing. Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is a vital seabird sanctuary.
Fishing charters out of Malpaís take sportfishing enthusiasts out to catch tuna, mahi-mahi, snapper, grouper, or roosterfish.
If you’re staying somewhere that has a kitchen and enjoy cooking or making sushi, head down to the fisherman’s wharf at the very end of the road in Mal Pais. Around 3 p.m., the fishermen come in for the day and it’s a great opportunity to pick up some very fresh fish at very cheap prices.
The Montezuma Waterfalls, 3 separate falls in one cascade, is one of the most popular in Costa Rica. A 15-minute walk from the ocean side near the Hotel Amor de Mar is rewarded with the sheer majesty of the falls. Continue upward along a steep climb to the second and third falls, which offer visitors a chance to jump or dive into the pools below. At the top, there’s aA large swimming hole where you can enjoy the water. Wear comfortable shoes with good grip; the rocks can be slippery.
For the Costa Rica travel experience of a lifetime, be sure to contact our expert team at Adventure Air. We’ll put it all together for you- all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy.