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Malpais & Santa Teresa – Surf, Yoga, Beaches
Great for surfers, yoga, families, honeymoons and anyone who likes a relaxed small beach town vacation
On the western shore of the Nicoya Peninsula, the golden and gray sands of a series of beaches entice tourists and locals alike to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean. While their names, Playa Malpaís, Playa Carmen, Playa Santa Teresa, Playa Hermosa and Playa Manzanillo, are likely to be familiar to surfers, the casual swimmer will also find a quiet spot to sunbathe and play in the waves. In spite of accelerated development in recent years, the region has preserved an authentic and relaxed atmosphere. Craving something more than stretching your toes in the sand? Take surfing lessons or head to Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve, which offers exceptional bird watching and rainforest hiking.
The Nicoya Peninsula features large beaches isolated by palms and almendro trees. On the golden sands of Playa Malpaís, surfers enjoy great year-round swells. This is the perfect spot to take lessons or show your skills until the colors of a spectacular sunset fade at nightfall. The beach is vast, though, and swimmers will also find room to lay out their towels, frolic in the water, or build a sand castle. The town of Malpaís is tiny, but has several hotels, a restaurant, surf shops, and opportunities for canopy adventures. For livelier options, head north to Santa Teresa.
Santa Teresa is a sprawling tourism boomtown. While it is not yet at the level of Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio, it attracts a growing crowd of international tourists and is a popular Costa Rican destination. Santa Teresa boasts numerous bars, hotels and restaurants. The surf is better here than at Malpaís, with great swells and moderate to strong breaks. The white-gray sand sits between lush hillsides and the blue ocean, creating beautiful natural scenery. After a long day in the surf, relax in one of the region’s excellent spas.
If Playa Santa Teresa feels too crowded, walk a few miles north to Playa Hermosa, which literally translates as “the beautiful beach”. You will have to agree that it deserves its name. Not only is the beach much less crowded than Santa Teresa or Malpaís, but the water is also calmer. It is an ideal spot for quiet, undisturbed swimming or snorkeling in the cerulean waters. Once you are ready for a more adventurous day, make your way south to Capo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve.
Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve
Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve, at the very tip of Nicoya Peninsula, is the Costa Rica’s oldest bioreserve. Here, a hiking trail through a rainforest full of howler monkeys takes you to two beaches, Playa Balsita and Playa Cabo Blanco. The beaches, white stretches of windswept sand between ocean and rainforest, are secluded and perfect for swimming. The park is also a protected nesting site for several marine bird species such as frigate birds and brown bobbies. Don’t forget your binoculars!