I had wanted to travel to Santa Teresa, a relaxed beach town on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, for a long time. Its palm-lined beaches, surf culture, and pure living ethos had always drawn me in. Therefore, it seemed fated that COVID-19 limitations would soon end as our son’s first birthday approached. I wanted to pass on the gift to our son, Miles, because my travel experiences and work as a professional travel writer have shaped who I am. The best present is travel. Taking him to Santa Teresa for a whole month would be more appropriate than throwing him a birthday party, and because the stars seemed to be in our favor, we pulled it together.
We got here late at night. Our driver stated he could not continue after we arrived at a convenience store on a dusty, unpaved route after four and a half hours of driving. We made our way to Nala, our vacation rental, by navigating a rocky slope and down a steep incline in the dark. With a baby strapped to my chest (kudos to our favorite BabyBjörn carrier), it was a brief but challenging walk.
Lindsay Cohn lives in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, with her husband and child
Things felt and looked different when dawn broke. The enormous windows that ran the length of the living room let in an abundance of natural light. Even though we had raced to set up the pack-and-play the previous evening and then passed out, at this point, I was able to truly process everything. Our one-bedroom apartment had concrete flooring, sleek furniture, and a modern, elegant style. Before breakfast, I checked out the on-site yoga shala, had a dip, and strolled onto the balcony overlooking the pool and gorgeous garden area. Compared to how I’d recalled the descent the previous evening, the trek up the hill felt less scary. (Spoiler alert: I became accustomed to making several daily round-trips.)
Surfing at Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, at dusk
This is an excellent time to stop and discuss some travel-related details. The main road in Santa Teresa goes next to the ocean and is paved in certain places. The majority of residents and guests travel around in four-wheelers or SUVs. However, walking was our mode of transportation because renting a car for a month was too expensive, and my spouse and I didn’t feel comfortable placing our one-year-old on an ATV, even though we saw numerous infants and toddlers riding about absolutely unaffected.
In Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, fried plantains and a nutritious ceviche
After approximately five minutes of walking on the uneven road, we arrived at The Bakery, a bustling café open all day that provides coffee, fresh juices, savory food, and, you got it from the name, a variety of delicious baked products. After having a baby-sized serving of scrambled eggs, a cast-iron skillet of shakshuka, and a tropical fruit cup, we discovered our new favorite place for breakfast.
After our little guy’s morning sleep, we tried to relax on the hammock, but it’s not as easy with a soon-to-be toddler. Instead, we played around in the pool. The afternoon proceeded like most others had, with lots of carefree beach time. We watched the surfers, investigated the tidal pools at low tide, played with the powdery sand, and took Miles into the water. Even though neither my spouse nor I could surf, despite my best efforts to learn the sport while we were there, it was always fun to watch locals and tourists ride the well-known waves.
A father and a child in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, swimming in a pool
After our first dinner at Angelina Santa Teresa, we went back again and again for the penne with arrabbiata sauce, roasted vegetable plate, and a friendly atmosphere. I am trying to remember how many times we went to La Cevicheria for lunch. Uma Santa Teresa was, without a doubt, our favorite beachside restaurant. I suggest using WhatsApp to reserve a shady table by the sea and splitting various small Mediterranean dishes, grilled fish, and Greek salad. When we had a babysitter, our favorite places on date nights were El Corazón and Koji’s.
Cohn’s offspring at Santa Teresa Beach, Costa Rica
Naturally, there were other meals besides sushi as we were residing in Santa Teresa for a considerable time. We used to travel to Green World Store together as a family to restock on the most amazing organic vegetables, including fresh papaya, mango, caimito (star apple), and a cashew butter from Costa Rica that I still dream about daily.
The Cohn family eats lunch on Santa Teresa’s beach in Costa Rica.
We only felt obliged to do something throughout the month other than use the beach and the town’s little enterprises. Nevertheless, there are some fantastic day cruises from Isla Tortuga to Montezuma, deep-sea fishing excursions, and tours of Paquera Bay’s bioluminescent waters after dark. One day, we drove a cab ten minutes to Mal Pais, where we had lunch at Tierra Mar and then strolled to a quiet bay to swim and investigate the tidal pools. From Santa Teresa to Mal Pais, you may walk all the way. Probably not while carrying a baby, but it is possible in any other case. Dolphins play in the waters at Playa Hermosa, a gorgeous beach north of town, and the sunsets are breathtaking.
At sunset on the beach in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, there are surfers and a palm tree.
On our last night, we secured a low-slung table directly on the beach at Manzu and a foliage-framed cottage with a plunge pool at Hotel Nantipa. We watched the surfers come in as the sun set, between bites of gallo fish and helping Miles dig holes in the sand. It felt like the ideal way to sum up Santa Teresa and our month-long stay in this magical place that welcomed us with open arms and genuine warmth during this extraordinary moment.