The idyllic palm-fringed beach, graced with soft, white sand and dense, lush jungle, was the backdrop for our Lucero Surf and Yoga Retreat. As our taxi driver slowly navigated the laid-back beach town’s unpaved roads, we could immediately tell we were in for an awesome week.
A burgeoning surf town, Santa Teresa has grown exponentially in only the past few years. Yet despite its growth, Santa Teresa has seemingly held on to a certain authenticity. Without a single paved road—or stop light for that matter—most choose to drive ATVs or bike. We ourselves resisted renting bicycles, the memories of struggling on Vietnam’s poor road conditions still a bit too recent. But while the lack of pavement in Vietnam was the bane of our cycling existence, in Santa Teresa it managed to add to the town’s rustic charm. Even locals say they prefer the gravel; it keeps people driving slower and is an inherent characteristic of the town.
We were personally more attracted to the fact that Santa Teresa’s picturesque beach has escaped development. Most of the hotels and restaurants are located just a street back, making the beach easily accessible without blemishing it. It’s the perfect spot to bring a few drinks, find a comfy log, and enjoy the spectacular sunsets that highlight the horizon. If you’re lucky, you’ll even hear a few howler monkeys calling out from the jungle behind you.
Many travelers from around the world have been charmed by Santa Teresa’s lovely attributes, and the story of the backpacker who came and never left is not entirely uncommon. We met people from all cultures and backgrounds who now call Santa Teresa home, including Italians, Israelis, Canadians, Americans, and a Japanese chef who serves some of the best sushi we’ve ever had. This melting pot of cultures is in part what makes Santa Teresa such an interesting spot.
While the roads and variety of cultures certainly keep things interesting, it’s the surf and yoga scene that attracts most visitors—ourselves included. The yoga and surf market is honestly a bit oversaturated in Costa Rica, and we were a bit hesitant to sign up with anyone. We needed a place that could accommodate both of us. Dan is the surfer while I prefer to practice yoga, but we both had an interest in expanding our comfort zones and giving both activities a go. We were also looking for a private and flexible itinerary, with personalized attention and customized schedules. Luckily, we found Lucero Surf Retreats.
Lucero Surf Retreats had everything we were looking for—and more. Our retreat included six nights accommodation, three surf lessons, five yoga classes, professional surf photography, and a 1-hour massage. The quality to cost ratio for all of this is really quite exceptional, especially considering Costa Rica is not a cheap place to travel.
Our abode for the week was at Otro Lado, a charming boutique hotel tucked away just a few hundred meters from the beach. Otro Lado is all about the details. The large and spacious room boasts modest but serene décor, utilizing reclaimed wood and natural colors to create an ambience of Zen. There are no TVs in the room, but that was something we appreciated.
The hotel is small and fosters a family feeling. The Italian owners, Baggi and Nico, know how to serve up delicious and authentic Italian fare, including pastas, sandwiches and salads—the perfect post-surf fuel. They are always seated at the restaurant should you have any questions or need them. The outdoor yoga pavilion was the perfect space for our lessons. Only a few steps from our room, it couldn’t have been more convenient, yet the use of plants and natural shading kept it private as well. And though we didn’t use the pool, it was nice having it there all the same.
Upon our arrival at the hotel, Courtney (our Lucero host for the week) came to meet us and orient us through the rest of our week. We were given printed, flexible schedules—an aspect that we loved—and Courtney stayed for a bit to chat about Santa Teresa, the area attractions, and just to enquire if we had any general questions. We’re pretty loose travelers, often opting to just wander and see what we find, and Courtney placed no pressure on us to plan additional activities or micro-manage our free time. However, if we had wanted her to plan all the details for us, she would have been more than happy to do so.
Of course, the whole of signing up for our Lucero Surf and Yoga Retreat was to do just that—surf and practice yoga! You’ll have to stay tuned for more details about how it turned out, but I can promise lots of pictures of me belly flopping off my surfboard into the ocean. So get excited for Thursday 😉
Have you heard or been to Santa Teresa before? Have you ever participated in a surf and yoga retreat?