Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. The words may conjure up images of beautiful, pristine beaches. Maybe you think of delectable local fare where you’ll experience bursts of flavors native to the tropical climate. Perhaps you visualize scenes of cascading waterfalls and rocky beaches, adjoining the Pacific Ocean. Santa Teresa has all of these tantalizing features, and more. It’s an incredible small-town, with a great local culture and a bustling tourist industry.
However, there are some things I wish I knew before I had gotten here to make my stay more fun. Listed below are seven things I wish I had known about Santa Teresa before I arrived.
Everyone Accepts Dollars…. But Perhaps not Card
In Santa Teresa, everyone accepts the American dollar. It is totally possible to book tours everywhere without colones. Surprisingly, few places accepted card. This is very different from the rest of Costa Rica, where it seemed like card was accepted everywhere, you get a better exchange rate with colones, and cash was a hit or miss. There are two ATMs downtown that will work and enable you to get money; however,
Regardless of the currency you use, expect to pay about twice as much for food as you would spend in San Jose. Accommodation ranges in quality and price. You can purchase a night in a tent with an air mattress at Hostel 7 (Casa de Gingi), a dorm for $15, an airbnb for $30, or a hotel/resort for more money. Overall, I have spent more in Santa Teresa than I spent in either Tamarindo or San Jose.
It’s Small…. Think Really Small
When the bus first dropped me off at the crossroads of a small dirt road, I doubted nd some wifi and googled the location for my hostel, it was there. After walking uo a road fit for ATVs I arrived at a beautiful hostel. One without hot showers, or aircconditioningg, but an enormous kitchen, tent option and great atmosphere. I felt as though I had been thrown back in time.
It is Dusty
The hot, dry, Costa Rican sun dries the dirt roads. As ATVS, motorcycles and dirt bikes fly past you, you’ll inhale dust. Many of the locals actually wrap scarves around their faces to protect themselves. Travelers often adjust to this and end uo covering their faces as they walk as well.
You´ll Want to Rent an ATV (read this post to see what happens when you go by Yaris)
The roads surrounding this sleepy town have numerous holes, narrow bridges, and occasionally small rivers. My friends and I traveled adventurously with our rented Toyota Yaris (dubbed, affectionately, Estaban) but, would have been better served with a 4-wheeler. Poor Estaban got a flat tire afte being forced through a two-foot deep, ten foot wide trench filled with water. Because of these roads, I would highly recommend an ATV rental to see the Montezuma Falls.
The Hike to Montezuma Falls is Intense, but short
There are three waterfalls in Montezuma. The first one is an easy hike, following a river. You can either follow the trail, or rock hop to this waterfall. It takes about 20 minutes. From there, you can choose to climb up a steep trail (and I mean, actually climb) to see the next two falls. The climb involved using numerous roots, branches and ropes for support, but the views from the top were worth it!
Never Park Under a Palm Tree
Palm trees are great, right? Not to park under. While loitering at the Montezuma Falls Parking lot, I witnessed a monkey hopping from tree-to-tree. The monkey eventually began to play in the branches of the palm trees, and mischievously shook the branches. Suddenly, we heard a loud thud. Within ten minutes, 4 coconuts had fallen onto another car, creating large dents in the hood.
There you have it. Seven things about Santa Teresa that I hadn’t found online. Hope it helps! ❤