The southern Nicoya Peninsula is one of Costa Rica's most secluded gems. It originally belonged to Nicaragua during the colonial period and only became part of Costa Rica in 1825, when Central America gained independence from Spain. From the hilly interior the mountains sweep down to the Pacific Ocean, creating some of the most beautiful and solitary beaches of Costa Rica. Because of poor or non-existent roads, this tropical paradise has long been off the beaten track for travelers in Costa Rica.
But roads and transportation are improving slowly, and tourism is becoming an important part of the economy. Thankfully, hotels and businesses have still remained small and mostly privately owned, helping to preserve the relaxed and unhurried atmosphere of the peninsula. Travel here is still slow and it is best to resign yourself to a leisurely pace.
Malpais, which translates literally into “bad country”, is a tranquil little village with charming hotels loosely spread out along three kilometers of road. At the southern end it borders the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve while to the north it merges with Santa Teresa where you find shops, tourist facilities and a vibrant surfer scene.
Santa Teresa has become a trendy new travel destination in Costa Rica, especially attracting surfers and the younger crowds to its great waves, broad sandy beaches and dramatic sunsets. Surfers raving about the exquisite beaches and world-class surf in Santa Teresa have drawn the international scene to their new favorite spot. Many who just came for a surf vacation in Costa Rica fell in love with Santa Teresa and never left.
Cosmopolitan newcomers have added their spice and style to the local flavor, so there are now an array of international restaurants and hotels. Formerly a small fishermen's village, Santa Teresa has quickly developed into a lively little town and one of Costa Rica’s most treasured areas.