Looking to soak up the sun during beachside activities? Santa Teresa is an excellent place to do just that, so get ready to kickback and unwind. Santa Teresa is billed as a surfer's paradise, and the surf is indeed exceptional. It provides consistent and outstanding swells year round. The booming surf village of Santa Teresa provides a great opportunity for visitors to enjoy international cuisine, daily yoga classes, year round surf and a generally cool vibe.
Mal Pais, Costa Rica
There are excellent place to enjoy the incredible natural surroundings in relative peace. However, Canopy Tours are available, and one can also take Horseback rides along the beach. A green jungle with its mischievous monkeys lines the shore. Development has largely taken place in areas to the north, around the Beaches of Santa Teresa. Check with locals before heading to the Reserve. Usually a visit requires entering the town of Montezuma. Flights to the nearby town of Tambor are also available via San Jose and Liberia. Playa Carrillo. Playa Coyote. Backpacker Beaches.
Top Destinations. Horseback Riding. Turtle Nestling Tour. Nearby Activities.
Old jungle forest grows down to the shore where rocky outcroppings alternate with pockets of beaches, some made up entirely of tiny seashells. There are only few hotels in Mal Pais , and no supermarkets or shops. Instead of the tourist buzz nature lovers find many activities in Mal Pais. From the small fishermen port you can go on a tour by boat or on a SUP paddle board.
The maritime sanctuary of Cabo Blanco protects many aquatic species and you can see dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles or whales. Tours are arranged by any hotel in Mal Pais or Santa Teresa. The undisturbed mountains and coastal areas of Mal Pais are also great for bird watching. Although Malpais directly borders the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve there is no entrance to the park from this side. You can however explore its neighborhood on a canopy tour on the edge of the nature reserve.
Or go on a horse tour along the beach of Mal Pais and into the countryside. You can get everything from Indian and Mexican food to sushi, pizza, and all-American hamburgers and hotdogs. The best way to get to Mal Pais is to take Route along the east coast of the peninsula. The drive is very scenic, with sweeping views of the bay and surrounding islands. Tip: Opt for a vehicle with 4-wheel drive.
Once you get onto Route , parts of the road are hilly with loose gravel, especially after the turnoff from Cobano. It will also be handy once you get to town.
Malpais, Costa Rica
The road eventually changes from Route 21 to Route in the town of Naranjo. In Paquera, take a right at the stop sign in town towards the Mega Super grocery store to stay on This turn is not marked. Take Route to Nicoya and connect with Route 21 south, then follow the directions above. There is also a coastal route south of Samara, though most advise against this as you have to drive on the beach and there are multiple river crossings. Take Route 27 to Route 23 and then Route 17 to the Puntarenas ferry landing.
Cross the bay on the ferry to Paquera. From Paquera, take Route the main road to the center of town and continue straight onto Route passing the Mega Super grocery store, left side. Our road trip to Mal Pais and Santa Teresa definitely did not disappoint. The area still feels pristine, with plenty of lush jungle, and has maintained a small-town feel despite the many businesses catering to tourists. You can also fly on a small plane from San Jose to Tambor to save a lot of time. Thank your for posting your experience. We are flying in to Liberia and hired a driver to bring us to Mal Pais.
Are there any stops or slight detours along the 5 hour drive that you recommend we should see? Hi Wendy, There is some great handmade pottery stands right on the road between Santa Cruz and Nicoya that would make a nice stop. They make it locally in the pre-Colombian style. Later in your drive there are also some pretty spectacular views of the Gulfo de Nicoya, you could always stop along the road and take some pictures for a little break. Hope you have a great trip and enjoy Mal Pais! Seems to be a quaint beach town which is just my style.
Hey Becca, thanks for reading! This place looks gorgeous. I love how remote it is, but then you can still get sushi and pizza! Thanks for virtually taking me there. Kelly, it is SO gorgeous, stunning beaches with a backdrop of lush jungle. Freshest sushi ever with tuna caught right off the shore! Absolutely gorgeous! One guy in my program actually did his internship in Montezuma and always raved about it.
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I love any beach that is unspoiled! Thanks Julie!
Hope you can get down to Mal Pais sometime soon. Your friend is right, Montezuma is awesome too- another little beach town that also has a lot of great restaurants. Hey Jules, Santa Teresa is great for surfing- lots of different breaks for all levels. Definitely worth a visit on your next trip to CR! Whichever we choose we plan to stay for 3 days at the end of our trip so we want a nice combo of town life and beach. Most of the beaches are good for surfing, but there are a few nice swimming spots too.
Playa Hermosa, a few km north of Santa Teresa, is decent for swimming with smaller waves and a seriously beautiful beach. There are some other nice spots in the area too- ask around about Secret Beach. Your trip looked great! I was wondering what time of year did you go on your road trip.
We are planning mid-late November but are worried about the rainy season. Definitely not bad enough to change your plans. Hi: Thanks for all of the great info!! We will be headed to CR for 2 weeks in February and are super excited. Did you drive from Samara down? We will be renting a car as well and just wondered if it would easier to break the trip we have a kiddo up by staying in Samara for a few days and then head to Mal Pais? Or is Samara way out of the way? Hi Liz, Breaking up the trip with a stop in Samara is a great idea.
Just be sure to take the highway and go through Nicoya instead of going the coastal route through Nosara, etc. Have a great trip! It looks like there are some options from San Jose, crossing on the ferry in Puntarenas.
Hope this helps and have a great trip! Your tips and posts have been so helpful! About how long from Tamarindo, would you say? I am going to come to Costa Rica for a month this June. Is there another lesser known Playa Hermosa close to Mal Pais? To answer your question, yes, there is a Playa Hermosa near Mal Pais. There are actually at least four Playa Hermosas in Costa Rica, which makes things really confusing. The one near Mal Pais is about a min. Have a great trip back!
I just came across your wonderful page! I am a flight attendant and flying stand-by to San Jose hopefully arriving this Sunday morning! My plan is to rent a car and drive to Mal Pais that Sunday we get in at 9AM so have all day to drive. Do we need to take the Ferry and does it hold the vehicle? Is that a good idea and should we get a 4-wheel drive?
We want to raft the Pecuare River then head to Arneal. Then back to San Jose to fly home. Does that sound like the right order? Thank you! Hi Michelle, You can drive around the peninsula to get from San Jose to Mal Pais, but the ferry in Puntarenas is a lot faster so we would do that. Take a look at our directions above for which route to take.
Looking for beachfront preferably; budget is flexible. Hi Lina, There are lots of good choices. Here are some ideas for places close to the beach: 1 Oasis Mal Pais : Nicely appointed bungalows with a kitchenette and outdoor porch. Close to the main area of town near Playa Carmen and the beach, but in a quiet location. Well-manicured pool area. Loft style with kitchenette.
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You could rent bikes or a quad to get around. Only a few so small, intimate property. Right on Hermosa Beach. Set back a little from the main road and close to the beach. Good location near the main area of town. Hey guys, My wife and I are traveling to Santa Teresa for a wedding in a couple of weeks. It looks like the preferred route from Santa Cruz is route 21 down to Naranjo and then on to Paquera the other side of where the ferry lands. From that point it looks like it may get a little confusing…any additional info would be much appreciated!
Basically, in Paquera, you take a right at the stop sign so that you go towards the Mega Super, in order to stay on Love your site!
I am wanting to go from Malpais to Costa Ballena. I have been traveling around Costa Rica for awhile now. What do you suggest in terms of how to get there. And, how long would the travel time be depending on route and mode of transportation? Hi Pat, The easiest is to take the ferry from Paquera to Puntarenas and then drive the rest of the way. My cousin and I will be in Mal Pais the end of January and I am pleased to see one of the hotels you recommended is where we are staying Oasis.
Wondering which would be the best options: Rent an ATV, bike, walk or taxi? Also wonder how much time we should plan for getting there and back? Looks like the hotel is not far from Playa Carmen. Really enjoying all the information you have provided. Thank you. They are both too far from Playa Carmen to walk probably. You could bike ride there too but the road gets pretty dusty so getting there quicker might be best. Hotel Oasis is right near the main intersection in Santa Teresa so you will be able to walk to a lot of different restaurants and to Playa Santa Teresa no problem.
Hope you and your cousin have a great time! Saw your suggested hotels above- Oasis is one of our options, but wanted to see if you knew anything about Hotel Tropico Latino at all.
Malpaís & Santa Teresa Costa Rica
Seems a little more built up? Hi Melissa, Hotel Tropico Latino is another great option. Definitely a good choice! Surfing is our main interest. Hi Ces, If you plan on using public transportation, your best option is to fly into San Jose. You can use this website to find the schedule. Yes, definitely. I love it. I went to surf camps both times, so the hotel and lessons were packaged together, which made my planning easier. Am I missing anything or would going there mean planning the hotel and surf rental and lessons all separately.
Can you share any tips or advice? Blue Surf Sanctuary has packages that include lodging at their hotel, daily lessons, use of equipment, etc. Shaka Beach Retreat has something similar. Mal Pais Surf Camp less expensive has packages that include use of boards but lessons are extra. Those are just a few options that we found, there are probably more. Thank you so much for the help. I emailed all those places for info on availability. After reading your story on the road trip, I got determined to get there for the adventure of it.