Dreamlike, diverse and grappling with change: Our Santa Teresa deep dive

December 13, 2018

Even Costa Ricans fawn over the idea of visiting Santa Teresa.

When you step on the beach you’re surrounded by a colorful assortment of nature. The sky and ocean blend together in the horizon and turn into a mosaic of deep purple and vibrant orange at sunset. The beach itself is surrounded by deep green vegetation on either side and there’s often a light mist, making this picturesque town seem even more like a dream.

The beach is often dotted with tanned travelers speaking an assortment of languages. A lot of them will have big old surfboards, perfect for learning. You’ll see a few shortboard-riding locals tearing up waves, too.

The waves range from beginner to world class and the tourists range from tent-dwelling backpackers selling handmade goods to some of the world’s biggest celebrities. Leonardo DiCaprio has been spotted at local bars. Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen are basically part-time residents, and Zac Efron was recently seen climbing waterfalls and riding horses in the area.

There’s still no celebrity enclave in Santa Teresa, but there are large communities of Argentinians, Israelis, and restaurateurs that have set up strong roots in this beach town. Places like The Bakery have brought fresh baked goods to a community that was only accessible by horse a few decades ago. Product C offers seafood so fresh it’s almost still breathing, and if you’re on a budget, The Taco Corner offers amazing burritos and tacos at a decent price.


Compare prices on flights with Skyscanner


All this growth also comes at a cost. While Santa Teresa does seem like a sandy utopia, there are some gritty truths laying behind the mist – primarily because the local government hasn’t been able to keep with the town’s exploding growth. During a recent weeklong visit to take a deep dive into this beloved destination, The Tico Times’ editorial team explored some of the challenges facing this community, and how local leaders are working to solve them.

Throughout the month of December, you’ll be able to read about Santa Teresa’s struggles with sewage management as tourism has boomed; Waterkeepers, a nonprofit organization formed by local residents to act as a watchdog for clean water in the area; and foreigners’ campaign to ban the use of a herbicide that local farmers call their only option.

We’ll also explore how the community is working to respond to increased drug use and crime in the area, particularly following the murder of a Mexican tourist, Maria Mathus Tenorio, on the beach at night in late August; one such initiative, “Ride para las Sirenas,” offers women free rides back to their hotels.

You’ll also meet some of the area’s best surfers, learn exactly how to get to and from this out-of-the-way spot, and unwind alongside our team through our videos, photos and insights into some of the town’s best views, eats and drinks.

Upcoming stories

Video: How to surf in Santa Teresa 

Surfing in Santa Teresa

The Bakery 

Keeping an eye on wastewater 

Cultures collide over herbicide 

A murder shatters the illusion of safety (Coming soon)


Thanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years.

Support the Tico Times

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

IMF projects economic slowdown in Costa Rica in 2018
Costa Rica
162 views
Costa Rica
162 views

IMF projects economic slowdown in Costa Rica in 2018

AFP and The Tico Times - December 13, 2018

The economy of Costa Rica will slow in 2018 and reach a growth of 2.6% on the year, concluded a…

Santa Teresa Deep Dive: Cultures divide over herbicide
pesticides
1040 views
pesticides
1040 views

Santa Teresa Deep Dive: Cultures divide over herbicide

Alexander Villegas - December 12, 2018

Stephanie Smith rallied the troops. They were assembling at the Cóbano municipal offices to take on a common enemy: glyphosate,…

The Tico Times on Radio Dos: Our Santa Teresa and Puerto Viejo deep dives
The Tico Times
558 views
The Tico Times
558 views

The Tico Times on Radio Dos: Our Santa Teresa and Puerto Viejo deep dives

The Tico Times - December 12, 2018

Did you hear The Tico Times on Radio Dos this morning? The Tico Times has teamed with Radio Dos to…