I get it, not everyone likes the same thing but i knew i needed less than Tamarindo. I know my contentment lies where there is little, more vegetation & dirt than buildings, more easiness.
As always i had no idea what to expect from my next stop Santa Teresa, a friend had once been before & all the advice he had given me was “stay at Don Jon’s“. This made life easy for me, the shuttle dropped me off right at the door. It was a promising start, the ‘roads’ in are dusty, covered in holes & rocks. There’s only a single road which runs through Playa Carmen to Santa Teresa. I could once again smell the Ocean, with only a hundred yards of tree-line separating me from the water we reached the gate of Don Jon’s hostel. The atmosphere is super chill, mornings are spent drinking coffee, catching some surf or practicing yoga in the unreal treehouse out back (photos available on hostel world). I would recommend this place to all, Jon is super welcoming, along with the dogs & cats.
The rumours of an unrivalled sunset made me curious, so after a walk along the awesome sandy beach & rock pools I joined the other hostel guys to catch it. Now I’ve seen a fair few impressive sunsets but this is for sure up there in terms of hazy colours beamed across the ocean. The photo tells you what you need to know…
After longingly watching surfers at sunset I rushed to rent a board for the morning. 6am the next day I stood ankle deep in the water, ever thankful for where I was. A couple hours of surfing later I went for breakfast at the local Soda (native restaurant), these places are by far the best for size & money, also as the local food is so healthy there’s really no better option. Rice & Beans with eggs, plantain & meat, perfect surf recovery food.
Curu Wildlife Reserve & Montezuma Falls.
The same day i decided to rent an ATV ($50pd). This is by far the best way to explore, cars are too slow due to the bumpy roads. My next adventure was to the Curu Wildlife Reserve on the East Coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. Its around 1 hour 15 minutes to the reserve entrance. $15 gets you inside. Accompanied with a map you have numerous hikes to head out on within the park. The hikes range from 1-6km so you can do a couple easily, even with children. Be prepared for muddy walks, playful spider monkeys, the echoes of howler monkeys, crocodiles & crabs everywhere, amongst much more Costa Rican nature. Absolutely worth your time going, its super hot but there’s a bay for you to swim in afterwards.
Itching to continue exploring I headed a further 40 minutes over rough terrain & fun dirt roads to Montezuma. Here is the Montezuma waterfalls, easy to find & just a pretty exciting 15 minute hike to the top falls. Clambering over smaller falls & rocks with the aid of old ropes will eventually take you to the falls. Not the most impressive but a whole lot of fun. I never told you this but it is possible to rock climb up the face of the waterfall & jump back off it, as well as a rope swing. But then if your like me things seem to be more fun with a little added danger right? I bombed back to Santa Teresa angry for another surf.
Still buzzed off my previous adventures, I headed out the next day. After the obligatory morning surf I took a ride to the southern tip of the peninsula to Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. I had heard of a hike through the rainforest there to a secluded bay. It’s around 40 minutes ride to the park entrance by quad. It’s an exciting ride through the forests with a couple river crossings so be prepared to get a little wet. The park is $15 entrance & worth it. The hike is around 10km, 5km one way. Its sweaty & pretty lonely, its beautiful, exactly what I wanted. You’ll come across a bunch of wildlife if your quiet & you’ll hear the forest alive. After you’ve duck under trees, climbed slippery hills & broke through grassy paths you’ll make it to the beach. Shadowed by enormous Bamboo, the beach is rocky.
Although this Nature Reserve is amazing there was a sad discovery on the beach, an overwhelmingly large pile of rubbish which had been washed onto shore, including whole tyres & watering cans. A real upsetting sight for me, although many people don’t, annoyingly, the park has a sign asking to help & carry some back to the entrance. So i did, with 2 plastic bags & my rucksack stuffed full I hiked the trail back. They were incredibly thankful at the reception.
(This is close to my heart, but I feel in moments like this you realise just how bad this plastic situation is. If your reading this please do your own personal part to help. Not even by joining our community & purchasing our goods, no, that’s not what this is about. This is a global problem which WE as humans have created, it’s pure ignorance on our part so now we must put the work in.)
I decided to stick around Santa Teresa for a couple days, I was really into the simplicity of life here. Also I knew this would be a great place for me to get my surfing back to where it was before i left the ocean. Surfing twice a day, eating wholesome foods full of vitamins & enjoying interesting conversations really grounded me over the coming days, just what I needed at the beginning of my trip.
One last surf? Of course, the opportunity came around to take a car an hour across the Nicoya Peninsula to a spot named Cabuya. I jumped at the opportunity for further exploring, especially now a surf was involved. The muddy road across was crazy enough with several river crossings through the damp forests. Finally we broke out of the forest at the top of a steep section, we crested over to an perfect view of a long right handed wave peeling across in the distance. The excitement in the car started to build.
We drove into a dusty spot covered by tree’s with a window to look out at the oncoming surf. We couldn’t wait. Grabbing the boards from the jeep with dived off the rocks into the water, duck diving our way to clear waters. I broke through & took a calm breathe, taking in all surroundings. Ive seen my share of surf spots but this had to be one of the most beautiful, secluded with a real long smooth right wave to play on, sunsetting it was time to enjoy.
This place was too nice to stop, my leash even broke away at one point but i was lucky enough to re-tie it & keep enjoying. As the sun was showing its last light we paddled back past the rocks, the darkness of the forest brought out the fireflies, a beautiful ending to my time in Santa Teresa. If you here this spot is working due to Santa Teresa being “too big”, JUST GO!
(No photos of this one, I just had to enjoy all this for myself, just for a moment, this was my peace)
Soon the bug to explore returned, wanting a fresh change, the rainforests were calling & the intrigue of the wildlife meant It was time to move on…Monteverde I’ll see you soon.
Gone. food choices in Santa Teresa:
Soda Pura Vida: Best eats for breakfast, honestly you can’t go wrong with a traditional Pinto (rice, beans, eggs etc.) for breakfast, here its the cheapest for the most food. Everyone working here are great too & will make you feel welcome. Side Note…Best Plantain also!
The Bakery: Great coffee, although this isn’t hard to find in Santa Teresa. Along with nicely made pastries & cakes. I worked as a cake baker for a while so take it from me these are good! Its also possible to eat meals here although it seemed a little pricey.
Zwart Cafe: A bit overpriced firstly but if you got some left over change its worth a meal, clean eating bowls, juices, the best smoothies & yucca brownies make it tasty. It’s an art cafe to so have a look around.