Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: First Impressions of the Surf and Yoga Paradise

This post was last updated on July 26th, 2016

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 Cruising Couple Dan and Casey

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.

Sunset at Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Sunset

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.

Santa Teresa Surf Dan

Photo Courtesy of Mr. Yeti Photographer

Yoga Headstand

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.

Orto Lado Bed

Otro Lado Room

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.

Lucero Surf Retreats Santa Teresa

Otro Lado Pool

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?


We were guests of Lucero – all thoughts and opinions remain our own.


  1. Wow, this looks awesome – looking forward to hearing more about the surfing and yoga! Would also love to hear your thoughts about the prices in that area….I am pretty close to Costa Rica now being in Honduras, but I’ve always heard it was expensive to travel there. I was thinking better to go now while I’m already in Central America than from Canada, but I deal with enough overpriced stuff on the little island I live on.
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted…Rainy Roatan NightsMy Profile

    • It’s definitely expensive. In some aspects, it is even a little bit more expensive than the US (I’ve never been to Canada to compare). But I think if you just stick to one area and minimize your activities it’s a bit better. We’ve honestly spent the most money on food. Even eating local beans and rice at small restaurants, the cheapest we’ve found it was $5.00, and we’ve even paid up to $10- and that’s just beans and rice haha. It’s a beautiful country though and there is so much to see and do. We’re going to do a massive Costa Rica roundup eventually, but send us an email if you need any specific travel advice or tips before then!

    • It was wonderful! We’re definitely enjoying a slower pace in Costa Rica- still adventure, but not quite as intense ;)

  2. Beautiful place for beautiful people!!! Love the pictures, Dan and Casey’s descriptions are great. Looking forward to real time adventures with you and the family.

  3. I have wanted to learn to surf ever since I visited Easter Island in 2010…
    This looks like a wonderful place. I feel relaxed just from reading about it!
    Colleen Brynn recently posted…Sola In AnguillaMy Profile

    • Surfing is so so hard! But also so much fun :) I’m definitely not a natural at it, but Santa Teresa was an awesome place to give it a go!

    • Thanks Agness! I read your yoga post and really loved it- when we feature just the yoga we did on Monday, I’m going to take a similar twist on all the wonderful mental, physical and spiritual benefits of yoga. My poses definitely don’t always look that good though- I’m definitely just a beginner too :)

    • Awesome! Glad to hear you’ll be coming to Costa Rica. We’ve had a really wonderful time here! We’ll be posting lots more and eventually a Costa Rica roundup, so I hope there is more useful stuff for you to come!

  4. What a beautiful location, our friends have just moved to Costa Rica so we’re hoping to visit early next year. If we do we’ll be definitely checking this place out, gorgeous photos by the way!
    Becky Padmore recently posted…10 of the best European ski resort party spotsMy Profile

    • That’s exciting! Where have your friends moved? There are so many awesome places in Costa Rica, it’s hard to choose where to go!

  5. Holy crap, guys! This looks utterly gorgeous and perfectly serene. I think I’d need way more than a week to get proficient at all at surfing or yoga, especially since I’d likely just spend all my time gazing out at those beautiful views. What a pain it would be to get trapped there for a while, eh? ;)
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…The Life Quotidian in Kota KinabaluMy Profile

    • haha I know, right? I totally understand why so many other expats have moved there and now call it home! Costa Rica might be touristy and expensive, but it certainly knows how to do its beaches :)

    • Thank you! I wish my headstands always looked like that… Francesca definitely has a positive energy :)

  6. Wow! It looks like a very nice place to go. I’ve never been to a yoga and/or surf retreat, I have to admit though that I’m getting more curious about yoga, it seems to be so good for you, maybe I should give it a go :)
    Franca recently posted…Design and a Smile at Hamburg’s Pyjama Park HotelMy Profile

    • You should! The benefits of yoga are really amazing. There are a lot of free resources online too, so it’s very accessible for beginners :)

    • It seriously is :) We were sad to say goodbye, though excited we’ll be in San Pancho is just a few weeks! :)

  7. Hey nice to read your post and see the way you talk about Costa Rica! :D it makes us feel proud of the country that we have

    Thank you! Greetings from Costa Rica

    • It is a fantastic country. We really enjoyed our time there :-)



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