Welcome to Santa Teresa
If it’s yoga, surf and luxury you seek, then Santa Teresa, Costa Rica – a small town on the Nicoya Peninsula – is the place for you. This beachside community offers a laid back vibe, opportunities for world class surfing, yoga resorts, and a variety of accommodations, all within minutes of one of the best beaches in Costa Rica.
Santa Teresa is a prime location for luxury villas, and there’s nothing better than the stylish Villa Riviera – a modernist tropical haven with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a private infinity pool, and an Oceanview overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Playa Hermosa.
Opened in 2017, this architectural masterpiece is an unbelievably gorgeous and well appointed property located high up on the mountains flanking the Pacific Ocean and overlooking the sea. This villa was our favorite accommodation in Costa Rica and one of my personal favorite villas worldwide (and I’ve visited 71 countries to date). Designed by a talented French architect, the owners have made the property so inviting that it’s nearly impossible to leave this stunning villa each day (even for the gorgeous beach below)! And in fact, one day that’s exactly what happened to us: from sunrise to sunset, we enjoyed our own piece of heaven and stayed comfortably within the walls of Villa Riviera.
Costa Rica is Open
But before we tell you more about Villa Rivera, let’s get to the basics. Yes, Costa Rica is open. Since November 1, 2020 and at the time of writing, Costa Rica has allowed citizens from all countries to enter by air without a Negative COVID test or mandatory quarantine as long as they meet the country’s visa and health insurance requirements. For the latter, all that is required is proof of mandatory health insurance that meets the Costa Rican guideline for the duration of your stay. This includes, among other things, (1) medical insurance that covers COVID for a minimum of $50,000 and (2) trip interruption or trip cancellation insurance that covers a hotel stay in the event you are infected with COVID and need to quarantine for a minimum of $2000 USD.
Note that many of our readers, ourselves included, have had difficult times securing such insurance through their local insurers. The Costa Rican government offers similar insurance but it’s very costly. To remedy this, we work with Safety Wing, an affordable and easy to use insurance company which meets all the current Costa Rican guidelines. We have used it successfully three times between 2020 and 2021 and it is the one we recommend to all our readers and followers. Click here to learn about Costa Rica’s mandatory travel health insurance and for information on how to purchase insurance meeting the guidelines with Safety Wing. For full details on Costa Rica’s COVID travel entry requirements and a step by step guide of what you will need to travel to Costa Rica in 2021, click here.
Of course, if you are traveling back to the United States afterwards, you’ll need a negative COVID-19 test to reenter the country (average cost $50 – $150 USD). Note, such tests are required of all travelers over the age of 2, including US Citizens and Permanent Residents. This may be either an antigen or PCR test and the test must be taken within 3 days of your departure from Costa Rica back to the USA. This means 3 days from the date and time your flight leaves (not the time you will arrive in the USA). Click here for more details. The Costa Rican The Costa Rican Ministry of Tourism has put together a handy PDF of the approved labs to do COVID tests. It’s in Spanish but has phone numbers, location, Whatsapp and social media. Use this list to find a location near you. We advise booking your lab test as soon as possible as tests do fill up. Antigen tests can take as little as 30 minutes to 4 hours to receive results while PCR tests tend to require minimum 36 hours. Our Antigen test took 30 minutes in March, 2021 and cost $66 (taken in Liberia).
Where is Santa Teresa?
Santa Teresa is a small town in Puntarenas Province located about 150 kilometres (93 mi) west of the capital city of San José. Like other coastal villages on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa started as a remote fishing village, relying on agriculture, cattle ranching and small-scale fishing. Beach seekers have two ways to arrive at the peninsula, Air and Car.
Getting To and From Santa Teresa
Air from San Jose (31 km)
The easiest / quickest route is the air route, with Sansa Airlines and Nature Airlines, which serves San José International Airport to Tambor. The flight takes only 25 minutes. From there, it is possible to rent a car to cover the 40-minute drive to Villa Riviera. Another alternative is to use a taxi service, which the villa can organize for you. We prefer the car rental to allow flexibility once in Santa Teresa, but be advised that as elsewhere in Costa Rica, a 4-wheel drive vehicle is required.
Road from San Jose (184 km)
It takes between 4 and 5 hours to drive from San Jose.
From San Jose, go to Puntarenas, take the “Tambor Ferry” to the port of Paquera. It takes between an hour and 1.5 hours to arrive at the ferry port from San Jose. Be sure to check the ferry timetables ahead of time and note that, especially during COVID and the holiday seasons, these time tables are not always accurate. Best not to plan for the final ferry of the day, as in our case that ferry had been cancelled without notice. Booking your ferry tickets in advance is also highly recommended, especially during the holiday season.
Once you arrive in Paquera (one to one and a half hours later), just follow the other vehicles and watch for signs for “Malpais” or “Santa Teresa”. The journey takes about an hour. The paved road ends at Cobano. From there it becomes a gravel road.
If you miss the ferry or the ferries are cancelled, you will have to drive the long way around. This takes approximately 6 hours from San Jose.
Road from Liberia (208 km)
It takes approximately 4 hours to drive from the Liberia airport (Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport) to Santa Teresa and the road is a mixture of paved and gravel. As always, we do not recommend driving anywhere in Costa Rica without an SUV or other form of 4×4.
Rental Cars in Costa Rica
Note that the roads in Santa Teresa are all unpaved, as is the case in most of Costa Rica, so a 4 wheel drive vehicle (i.e.. 4 x 4 SUV or truck) is required, especially in the rainy season. We do not recommend driving anywhere in Costa Rica, especially Santa Teresa, without a 4 x 4 vehicle. You will be required to drive through rivers and streams, and on on steep, rutted gravel roads. Although slightly more expensive to rent, your safety and comfort are worth it! In terms of rental companies, we always rent with Avis Car Rental. They have efficient, reliable service, new vechicles, and friendly representatives who speak English well.
Arriving at Villa Riviera
Anouk Grumbach, food stylist, and David Karoubi, creator of places, imagined Hemerson Studio: a decoration and interior design agency, creating atypical places as original as they are unusual between Costa Rica and France since 2010. The exquisite Villa Riviera is a dream project of the French Provençal couple who fell madly in love with the resplendent nature and the astonishing ocean vistas of the Nicoya Peninsula, one of only five “Blue Zones” on the planet. Upon visiting the Peninsula, they returned back to Marseille with only Santa Teresa on their mind. From this inspirational visit, they designed this tropical retreat equipped with all the modern comforts where the clean, simple style of the 1950s is a transcendent blend of the chic and vintage.
Stepping into the fenced yard of the Villa Riviera you are immediately transported to the stylish and chic French Riviera! Under lovely, outdoor lighting lies lush greenery, a strip of gravel on which to play boule (a French game similar to bocce ball), an outdoor shower, and a white sectional sofa situated under a high, architecturally pleasing sunshade.
Meanwhile, entering inside the Villa Riviera is almost like remaining outdoors, as the villa has an open air concept which brings the beauty of the surroundings indoors. This includes high ceilings, folding walls which completely open to reveal the sparkling, infinity pool and fashionable patio area, sliding shutters which open to the front yard, as well as expansive balconies overlooking the second story. And with the comfortable temperate Costa Rican weather, outside is exactly where you want to be! This property is truly stunning, both in terms of architecture and decor, and the breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean which can be seen from all rooms is something to be desired!
The French Riviera in Costa Rica
Every detail of the Villa Riviera has been precisely planned to recall the chic elegance of the French Riviera. All furniture and decorations are imported from France (even the ashtrays!), making every aspect of the villa both stylish and high quality. The pleasant owner and designer, David, is from Marseille, and his artistic eye is evident throughout the property. The roofline, as seen from the pool and patio is not just visually appealing, but designed to shade the rooms and part of the seating areas outdoors from the afternoon sun. The open concept living room features an elegant sofa and chairs with a large screen TV. Wifi is provided to allow you to watch your favorite flicks and stay in touch with those at home.
Dining at Villa Riviera
Dining at Villa Riviera can take place indoors or outdoors: there is a grand table in the kitchen as well as another one under the covered patio alongside the pool. There’s also a tasteful bar on the patio from which to sample some of Costa Rica’s finest rum – piña colada anyone? Bohemian ponchos are hung alongside the bar so you can cozy up under the stars on chillier nights (not that we experienced any!)
If you enjoy cooking, (we do) you will be delighted with the well appointed kitchen, where you can find every cooking necessity you could possibly imagine. If only we had a kitchen like this back home in Manhattan! This includes a great assortment of knives, cutting boards, a blender and various bowls, pots and pans; in short, everything you need to create simple or gourmet meals. Like elsewhere in the villa, all of the kitchen items have been imported from France and are of the highest quality and in a chic design. As you will find in France, there is a well functioning induction stove top and an oven. Villa Riviera also comes complete with a variety of glasses for wine, champagne, spirits, and cocktails to enjoy at your private poolside bar.
Because the villa accommodates eight people, there are plenty of dishes and unique cutlery, all imported from France, and of course coffee and tea have not been forgotten. Who would not wish to savor a cup of Costa Rican’s best Pura Vida, Two Ocean’s coffee? You have a choice of using a french press or drip coffee maker, while a kettle and teapot are also present. Meals can be enjoyed at the large dining table which visually separates the kitchen and living room or on the patio, under a high sunshade, at a large, attractive, wooden table or even at the wet bar also located under the sunshade.
The roof extensions and large, outdoor sunshade provide privacy from the neighbors, and also shade part of the pool from the stronger afternoon sun. There are elegant fabric loungers, both double and single; coffee tables; a small umbrella and a unique plastic lounger. My favorite spot was a white sectional sofa, complete with an electrical outlet, snuggled under a sail cloth, and facing the pool. A hammock nearby beckons, making your most difficult decision of the day from which place you should admire the sunset over the Pacific Ocean: the hammock, the infinity pool, your balcony? Any option is more than heavenly.
The private infinity pool at the Villa Riviera is large, L-shaped and inviting, with wide steps which descend gracefully into the water. It is spacious enough to swim or you can lounge in the water on the shallow shelf or sit on a raised section which runs along part of the pool. The small tiles on the bottom shimmer in the sun and glow in the underwater lighting at night. Thoughtful landscape features dot the property with trees and other greenery incorporated into the pool area as your view slides over the forest to the waves crashing on Santa Teresa Beach. Sunset is a glorious event. We felt like we had found paradise as we sipped our cocktails from sunrise, high noon, sunset and under the stars.
When sleep beckons, you can choose one of three bedrooms, each complete with full ensuite bathrooms.
Two master bedrooms with queen size beds are found on the second level of the villa; each has a folding, full height glass door leading to a private balcony overlooking the pool and ocean. One room is fully decorated in whites and other neutrals – elegant and inviting like a Mediterranean hideaway. A nice touch is the presence of a rocking chair. The second room has been decorated with soft pink and seafoam greens reminiscent of a bohemian retreat. Each has a gorgeous ensuite bathroom complete with contemporary vessel sinks and rain showers.
The third bedroom is found on the main level and faces the pool. It has two double beds and a half bathroom with a sink and shower. The toilet is located outside the bedroom, making it accessible to the downstairs area.
Each bedroom has a large closet, ceiling fan, air conditioning and a large expanse of glass facing the ocean. You can leave the folding doors open for a sea breeze or close them to make use of the air conditioner. But please be sure to turn it off in the morning so as to reduce electricity usage to help preserve the beautiful Costa Rican environment. Also, leaving the doors open at night may invite certain creatures of the night indoors. You are in the tropics after all!
Exploring Santa Teresa Town
If you do manage to tear yourself away from this fabulous villa, we recommend that you check out Santa Teresa Beach, as well as the town.
The road to the main business area of Santa Teresa is a rutted, steep and unpaved road down the side of the mountain. The first trip may be a little jarring, but don’t worry – the views on both ends are worth it and the whole journey is only about 5 – 6 minutes.
As is the case throughout Costa Rica, you will definitely need a vehicle with four wheel drive. The intrepid residents of Santa Teresa drive around on ATVs/quads; it looked like a fun way to get around and you could certainly access Villa Riviera with one of these.
The villa is a short distance from the center of town, which parallels the beach. Here you will find stores, tour offices, surfboard rentals, yoga studios, restaurants and trails leading to the beach.
We dined at Restaurante Al Chile Viola, sampling seafood and pastas made fresh by their Italian chef. A stalwart in Santa Teresa, this adorable boho restaurant has been around for 17 years. And it’s no wonder – the food, drinks and service are delicious.
For casual dining we recommend Eat Street (directly at the base of the road leading to Villa Riviera). Eat Street is set up as a food market with four different types of food, ranging from breakfast to Mexican foods and bowls and a kiosk which serves strictly cocktails. We particularly enjoyed the fish tacos and Happy Hour drinks. You can hang out and chill as long as you like while enjoying “Pura Vida”. We also enjoyed real Italian gelato at L’arte del Gelato.
Santa Teresa Beach
While sunset at Villa Riviera is particularly stunning, we do recommend you spend at least one sunset at the beach. This provides an equally amazing yet different perspective. A mystical fog surrounds the tail ends of the long cove, and surfers and swimmers alike play in the waters while the sun sinks into the ocean. Some host bonfires on the beach as the stars come aglow in the sky. It’s a magical place, and returning to the luxurious Villa Riviera afterwards is even more so.
The best access to Santa Teresa beach is located directly across from Eat Street. Click here for a map. Simply walk across the road and down the narrow path that is only accessible by bikes or motorcycles. Note that Eat Street boasts a shower in case you want to rinse off before continuing with your day.
Villa Riviera & COVID Safe Travel
In the realities of the current world, we at Lighttravelsfaster know that many of you are anxious to begin exploring again, with certain health & safety precautions in case of course. This is yet another reason we highly recommend Villa Riviera. With complete privacy from the outside world, you can choose to limit social interaction to solely your own party. Theoretically, you could arrive in Santa Teresa, get groceries and then never leave your villa for the rest of your stay. While we loved exploring the town and the beach, this is a key option for those wishing to practice greater social distancing or simply wanting total privacy and seclusion throughout their stay. Indeed, apart from the occasional sounds of others playing in their pools, we felt like we were the only people in the world while staying at Villa Riviera. What more can you ask for?
Book your Stay at this Luxury Pool Villa in Santa Teresa Today!
Villa Riviera can accommodate a total of 8 guests and can be rented for shorter or long term stays. But be warned – this chic luxury villa fills up fast, so make your reservations sooner rather than later. We will most definitely be back!
So grab your special someone and savor the ambiance of a luxurious Costa Rican getaway. Villa Riviera is perfect for families, couples or friends. Whether you’re looking for total seclusion and privacy, family time or a celebration under the sun, Villa Riviera is the place to be. Visit https://www.villariviera-costarica.com/about/ to learn more! And check out my Instagram for additional information. Pura Vida everyone!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me, @lighttravelsfaster on behalf of the Villa Riviera Costa Rica.
~Eileen Rhein from @lighttravelsfaster