Many times, people ask which is better, Nosara or Santa Teresa? The short answer is both are excellent destinations!
First, it’s necessary to clarify some important points about both locales.
You may have heard that Santa Teresa and Mal Pais are one place. They are two different areas 3 miles away from each other but share the same beauty and vibe.
On the other hand, Nosara is a district where the beach community Playa Guiones is located. Nosara is also the town, three miles from Guiones beach, where people can find most services such as banks, gas stations, and supermarkets.
Nosara and Santa Teresa have many similarities. They are secluded, requiring many miles of bumpy dirt roads to reach them. The closest domestic airport to Santa Teresa is Tambor Airport (TMU), 20 miles away. The Nosara Airport is 4 miles from Playa Guiones, and its neighbor Pelada beach. Both Nosara and Santa Teresa have daily domestic flights from San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR). However, air travel between Nosara and Tambor airports requires a private charter.
Although seemingly close on a map, the 120 miles drive from Santa Teresa to Nosara takes over four hours by car. The coastal dirt road can be driven only during the dry season, and an appropriate vehicle is necessary.
If getting to these two destinations is a bit challenging, what makes them so exceptional? The beautiful beaches, spectacular nature, a relaxed, small-town feeling, and welcoming residents.
Surf: Both areas have very consistent surf year-round due to their location. The waves in the Santa Teresa break faster than the ones in Playa Guiones and are better for those looking for more advanced maneuvers. Guiones beach is a sandy bottom with consistent waves, ideal for beginners, intermediates, and longboarders.
Lifestyle: Nosara is rooted in farming, and Playa Guiones is heavily influenced by surf and yoga, a mix that has created a distinguished community with a healthy lifestyle. It is particularly inviting to families, many from abroad making it their permanent home. By contrast, Santa Teresa is more appealing to a younger population that enjoys socializing and some fun nightlife. It has a laidback, multicultural ambiance, where cafes and small restaurants with creative offerings set the tone.
The location: In Santa Teresa, the hotels, restaurants, rental companies, grocery stores, and surf shops settle along a single road that runs parallel to the beach, allowing immediate access to the surf. In contrast, as a small beach town, people in Playa Guiones walk or bike to restaurants, shops, yoga studios, or the beach. The single most considerable difference is that Playa Guiones is part of the Ostional Wildlife National Refuge, which protects the ocean and the first 200 meters of the coastline. This jungle goes all the way to the shoreline.
Both are unique destinations worth visiting, which suit slightly different people.