Santa Teresa has been called a “future Tulum.” After a recent trip, I can see why it is has earned this title; becoming an off-the-beaten-path haven for creatives, dreamers and wandering spirits. This trip reminded me of life, nature and taking enough time to enjoy it all. Through my lens, I hope these photos bring light to your heart. They are about color, they are about joy, they are about good energy.
Shortly after the New Year, my friends and I found our way to Santa Teresa, a laid-back beach town near the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. A yoga retreat was the reason we went but as luck would have it, I’m no better at yoga in Costa than I am in LA! Nonetheless, it took me to this magical land, where my biggest worry was making sure I picked a hammock nestled under a palm tree that had already been harvested–coconuts tend to be better as a cold drink than a rude, nap awakening.
We embarked on a 12-seat flight from San Jose to Tambor before being swooped up by a van taxi that was blasting the much needed AC, with a driver who raised his hand around every bend, to wave to every car we passed. As he wound up and down the dusty roads, we couldn’t help but think: Where are we? And where are we going? After about 45 minutes, it all became clear when we turned into the heart of town and felt the immediate sweetness of Santa Teresa welcoming us.
Greeted with huge smiles and a perfectly prepared tonic with ginger, fresh fruit juices and rum, we found ourselves in a land of peace and serenity at Pranamar Villas. I didn’t realize it then, but the truth is, from the moment I took that sip of ginger, I began what would become one of the most colorful weeks of my life; a journey filled with carefree vibes and the pura vida as the locals call it. As if that’s not enough to start saving for the next trip to this sweet land, 150 kilometers west of San Jose, we quickly made the grand discovery of the foolhardy transportation; four wheelers.
Filling time with adventure and sunsets
We began our first morning with a quick wheelie, gripping tight and realizing that no traffic lights and nowhere to be, meant no rush. The dirt hit us in the face and we were reminded that it wouldn’t hurt us. I loosened my grip, as laughter drowned out the four-stroke engine and my friend and I took a guess on what dusty road would lead us to the beach. This is when we discovered that our afternoons would be filled blasting music on what felt like our own stretch of ocean. As we drew our dreams in the sand, we couldn’t help but stop. Look around–all we could see was jungle and ocean.
As the days went on, so did the fresh fruit and tonics. We made it a point to explore often, adding a little extra dirt on my lens and a little more rum in my veins. A couple days into our trip, we had our greatest pencil map adventure–an excursion to the most glorious waterfalls in the region–Montezuma Falls. An hour-long quad ride and a slight hike put us right at the base where we were immediately greeted by locals jumping off rocks and howler monkeys cheering in similar style.
Another moment of magic came a day later at Rocamar; every Sunday, locals and visitors from all over the globe gather to dance and take in the sunset. It felt like an end to a week that had passed, yet it was a celebration of the next days to come. Cash only spritzs, rum cocktails and imperial beers filled the sand with flares from the sun filling every corner we turned. If you ask any local where to be on a Sunday night in Puntarena Province, they will tell you this bonfire is the spot.
I am not sure if it was the local’s warm welcome, the monkeys dancing through the trees or the glittering sunset sessions, but there was certainly a magic dust that found me along the stretch of Santa Teresa, and clung to me for my travels home.
As the wind styled my salty hair in a way that modern technologies never could, my soul had a stirring suggestion to be wild, wandering, and free. And while everyday enchantment may be hard to find back home, Santa Teresa let me take a little piece of this feeling back with me; that was the magic.
Where: Villa Bonita Drive
Why: This is where you go for music, laughter, ping pong and not a care in the world. Ask for Petey the bartender, he will take care of you!
Learn more: https://bananabeachcr.com/restaurant
Where: Buenos Aires Road
Why: Some of the best sushi I’ve ever had gave way to a sushi shack to never forget.
Learn more: http://kojisrestaurant.com
Where: Puntarenas Province, Villa Bonita
Why: The perfect place to crash offering a balance of activities from surf lessons to yoga classes.
Learn more: http://pranamarvillas.com/en/
Where: Nicoya Peninsula
Why: A day trip to Montezuma is a can’t miss, hit the waterfalls followed by beers & shopping in the vibrant town.
Learn more: http://nicoyapeninsula.com/montezuma/
Where: Puntarenas Province
Why: Probably the best place to catch a sunset, especially on a Sunday, which are dedicated to family beach days.
Learn more: https://www.tripadvisor.com