The rain feels cool on my face, a refreshing break from the December heat even while upping the relative humidity. It trickles down my neck, mixing with the spray from the waterfall cascading in front of me. The rains here are intense but short, and once this one passes I will return to the beach, merely a few miles away, watching the clear waters pound the pristine sands. This is paradise, and I gaze around in blissful appreciation that I get to be here in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
Santa Teresa sits on the Pacific Coast of the Nacoya Peninsula, nearly due west from the capital, San Jose – but across the Gulf of Nacoya. It is hard to reach, requiring hours of driving and ferry-riding, or a small 12-seat flight to Tambor on the Peninsula’s southern tip, and from there a 45 minute drive. The roads are lousy, more pothole than road at points, but the destination is worth the effort.
This is how I reached the Nacoya Peninsula!
Paradise is a subjective concept. However, in the venn diagram of personal definitions, Santa Teresa would seem to sit right in the center, with overlap from all sides. For some, the ultimate paradise is relaxation somewhere pristine. Well, Santa Teresa features miles of sparsely populated beaches, clear warm waters, and little nooks between sand and jungle for that perfectly placed towel or expertly slung hammock. You can even rent a villa sitting on the beach, perhaps with a private pool and plenty of lounge chairs or day beds.
Can you imagine a setting more idyllic?
Is paradise beauty? Combine the scene above with some of the most magnificent sunsets possibly imaginable, oranges and pinks playing off the blues and greens of the Costa Rican scenery.
Yeah, sunsets here are decent.
Perhaps paradise is adventure. Santa Teresa offers surfing lessons, ATV and dirt bike rentals – even the main road is off-road-ish – zip-lining, horseback riding, hiking, and more! Zip-lining through the jungle canopy was my favorite activity, and I was even convinced to try it hanging upside down! Lovers of hiking can take the journey to Montezuma Falls, a series of three falls outside of town. Just be prepared for sudden rains, turning the rocks and roots one must scamper over into slippery obstacles.
Montezuma Falls after a fun hike.
Certainly paradise has good food, and Santa Teresa doesn’t disappoint on that count. For a small town, the options are diverse and stunning. Try the brown rice and tuna bowl at Product C with their homemade spicy sauce, or fresh sushi at Koji’s. After hiking Montezuma, visit nearby Clandestina for home-brewed beer, incredible pork carnitas, and the best passion fruit soda I’ve ever had. And of course, Costa Rica is known for its coffee, so be sure to visit the Bakery for that and some delightful pastry.
Product C’s brown rice bowl with tuna was my favorite meal.
Paradise for many has wildlife. Again, Santa Teresa lives up. Monkeys, iguanas, birds, and more will greet visitors. Some are easy to see; others require more effort. But all are delightful!
As the rain stops, the sun re-emerges almost immediately. The ocean sparkles, wispy clouds overhead sail lazily by on the warm breeze, and those lucky enough to share this place with me resume their arduous tasks of sunbathing and sea-watching. It is a difficult life here in Paradise, Costa Rica, but somehow I find the strength to participate in it. Santa Teresa makes it easy.
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