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Bar and pool at Latitude 10 in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica - Teri K. Miller

Just Back From: Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

By Andrew Harper Staff

The Harper Way | February 23, 2017

Our digital editor, Kristen Remeza, just returned from "too short of a trip" to Santa Teresa, on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. She and her husband enjoyed a blissful two days and three nights relaxing with friends at the jungle ecolodge Latitude 10. In that short time, she experienced the "pura vida" vibe that makes Costa Rica so special — and learned not to let a little dust, or a threatening-sounding howler monkey, get in the way of a great trip.

Clubhouse and restaurant at Latitude 10 ecolodge Terri K. Miller

Overall impressions: Santa Teresa is like discovering a long-lost Hawaiian beach town stuck in the 1970s. In fact, electricity and telephones didn't come to this part of the country until the 1980s. Lush and unspoiled as it is, Santa Teresa still feels undiscovered, even if that's not exactly the case.

Favorite moment: Being too scared to come out of my bungalow because it sounded as if we had a massive howler monkey was on our roof. While his morning pronouncements were eerie, it turned out he was a little guy far up in the trees and not interested in us at all.

You can’t stop thinking about: The cool sea breeze coming off the coast and filtering into our jungle hideaway.

Our open-air bungalow at Latitude 10 Photo by Kristen Remeza

Favorite meal or meals: The gallo pinto bean breakfast at Latitude 10 and the amazing dinner at the hotel next door, Florblanca. The chef was kind — and inventive — enough to create six special dishes for our vegan friends. Highlights were the mushroom soup, coconut ceviche, quinoa-crusted vegetables with corn purée, mixed green salad with blueberries, and a passion fruit sorbet.

Favorite sightseeing: Hiking in the Curú Wildlife Preserve and seeing playful capuchin monkeys and iguanas seemingly ready for their close-up. If we would have had more time, we would have taken a boat to Tortuga Island and snorkeled.

Iguana hanging in a tree in Costa Rica - Tobias Rohmann
Seasonal sushi at <em>Koji's</em> - <em>Koji's</em>

Where or what to drink and eat: Fresh coconut juice or cocktails on the beach. Also try the excellent sushi at Koji's. As one review I read said, "There's Koji's, and then there's every place else."

Neighborhood to explore: The main street of Santa Teresa. If you don't mind braving the dust — and four-wheelers and motorcycles — you can stop in for coffee at The Bakery or explore the many surf shops along the main stretch.

Main street, Santa Teresa - Photo by Kristen Remeza
Montezuma Falls near Montezuma, Costa Rica - Jonathan Greeley
Surfboards in Costa Rica - Teri K. Miller

Day-trip suggestions and activities: Visit Montezuma Falls near the beach town of Montezuma, and after a hike, leap into the falls or try your hand at the rope swings. You can also take a guided tour of Curú Wildlife Preserve with Olingo Surf and Nature Experiences or hire a surf instructor who will take you out on the waves at 7 a.m.

Surprising facts or tidbits: Within the past decade, a community of Israeli expats has sprung up Santa Teresa and Mal Pais, and there's now even a small synagogue. Besides Israelis, celebrities have also taken a liking to the area. In fact, Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady were married at Florblanca in 2009.

Florblanca exterior Florblanca

Brought back souvenir: A mandala beach blanket tapestry with pompoms. It was made in India but will forever remind me of Costa Rica because they hung outside all the shops.

What to pack: Shorts, bathing suit, flip-flops and closed-toe shoes for jungle treks. Nothing too fancy, even for dinner out.

Insider’s Tip: It takes longer to get from point A to point B than you might expect. For instance, Tambor is 20 miles from Santa Teresa, but the drive, at 25 mph over washboard-like roads, took a solid hour. Still, the best beaches are always off the beaten path, and this was no exception.

Anything else? If you don't rent a 4x4 and aren't comfortable driving a manual vehicle, you might want to arrange a transfer. Also, everyone has asked if there were mosquitoes. Not when we were there in February. We brought heavy-duty mosquito spray but never needed it. We saw one mosquito the whole time and didn't use our netting at night.

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