Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

Apparently Drew & I love this tiny town because we’ve been back to surf there three times now. We’re not avid surfers – kinda hard when you live in the desert! But we do enjoy it when we get a chance to get on a board and try to catch some waves. The Pacific coast of Costa Rica doles out some good learning waves most of the time. But they’re also great for the more experienced riders as well. Why do we keep heading back to Santa Teresa? I think its small town atmosphere (one looooooong street with businesses and accommodations to the left and right) and friendly, mellow vibe along with it’s abundance of yoga and good, healthy fare keep drawing us back.

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There are a lot of surfers here. And a lot of yoga practitioners. And what’s awesome is that you also see a lot of BOTH. The surfers practice yoga, and the yogis surf. The two arts blend so well together that it just makes beautiful sense. If you’re looking to get away from the concrete jungle and immerse yourself in a real one that sits right next to the ocean, come here. There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodations, though don’t expect the Ritz Carlton. No big hotel chains of any sort here, nothing over two stories – and that’s what makes it so charming. Our first two times, we joined a surf yoga retreat with Vajra Sol and stayed at Pranamar Villas. You can see more adventures & excursions of those trips HERE.

This third time around, we split our week up between Horizon Hotel & Yoga Center and Hotel Playa Cielo. This makes three different places we’ve stayed at in this town, and they’re all different. Pranamar is the furthest away from “town”. I have to say we like the convenience of being closer to the markets and majority of restaurants in town, though Pranamar has some outstanding food & drinks. Horizon has great views of the ocean, but the room we stayed at was much smaller than Playa Cielo’s. We loved the food at Horizon (below). And the yoga shala overlooks the ocean!

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Sunset from our balcony at Horizon.
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To have such a spectacular ocean view, Horizon sits up in the mountains just a tiny bit. Still walking distance to the market & other restaurants…but man, it’s one tough walk up to your room when it’s hot and you’re not used to it!

Still we thoroughly enjoyed some morning breakfasts and sunset drinks on our balcony.
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Playa Cielo has bigger rooms, a large patio area, and a restaurant on the beach with live music some nights, but no yoga shala – so we just did yoga in our room. No problemo. The one problemo we had at Playa Cielo were mosquitos in our room one night. I swear we became expert mosquito hunters by the next morning. Come to find out, it’s more common to have mosquitos hanging around when you’re down by the beach side vs the mountain side.

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Loved the outdoor shower though!
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Sigh… It’s like watching “House Hunters International” in real life here. Which would YOU choose?

A great way to see Santa Teresa and its neighboring towns is by ATV, like most locals. Be sure to have something to cover your face from all the dust that blows up from the unpaved road. The subject of paving the road draws mixed feelings from people here. It’s better for your lungs, but is it better for the town? Will paving a road invite larger hotels and turn Santa Teresa into a Jaco or Tamarindo (aka Tamagringo?) As with many things, time will tell. I’m just grateful to have been able to experience Santa Teresa the way it is now, dusty roads and all.
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In the water world, we took Yoav’s (Horizon’s owner) recommendation and signed up for surf lessons with Ben, the owner of Nalu. He’s a PHENOMENAL instructor (originally from Australia) and our skills improved by leaps and bounds with just three lessons. I would no doubt recommend him to anyone who wants to learn how to surf. Unfortunately I have no images of Ben, or us out on the water, but trust me when I say this man can teach. We were no longer afraid of going out back. We learned how to turtle roll under those intimidating, crashing waves and get past them, instead of getting tumbled up inside like you’re in the middle of the spin cycle of your washing machine. We learned how to read the waves, or at least try to read them to the best of our inexperienced ability. And we caught some sweeeeet waves – mostly with Ben’s help. =) I don’t think either of us could paddle fast enough yet on our own to catch most waves, so Ben was there to give us the extra push we needed to get up and ride. It’s a rush when you pop up on the board and realize how high up you are, riding the wave til you’ve had enough or you eat it. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live near the ocean or I’d look like a prune by now!

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In the evenings, we’d head out to the ocean and watch the real surfers go at it. It seems like everyone here comes out to play. Surfers, boogie boarders, futbol players, socializers, horseback riders, and sun set watchers.

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I love how being out here reminds you of how simple and sweet life can be. No need for much. No wonder some people fall so in love with this place that they decide to make it their home.