20 Free And Cheap Things To Do In Santa Teresa

Due to the numerous beaches in Santa Teresa, a staple fun activity in the town is surfing. However, other cheap activities include yoga, Cabo Blanco Reserve, fishing out of Malpais, a tortuga island tour, a bioluminescence night kayak tour, a day trip to Montezuma, and the Montezuma waterfall.

When you ask a local about the cheap things to do in Santa Teresa, they are likely to first recommend some beaches you can go to for surfing. 

However, it was during my 10-day vacation in Santa Teresa that I discovered a trip to Tortuga Island, which is more affordable and exciting than simply surfing. 

As I went broke during my stay in Santa Teresa, I was also forced to discover other free fun activities I could enjoy or ones that would cost little money. 

Fortunately, I kept notes about all the attractions and activities I enjoyed. So, if you’re also on a tight budget but want to do fun activities or visit must-see spots in Santa Teresa, this article is for you.

Key Takeaways

Cheap Activities How to enjoy them Cost per person
Nightlife Jungle parties and beach parties Free
Surfing Playa Hermosa (Surfboards are available for rent.)
Kayaking at sunset. Zuma Tours $55
Fishing Mal Pais is a fishing village. Free
Waterfalls Montezuma Waterfall Free ($1.88 to access the trail)
Horseback riding Ollie’s Adventures offers horseback riding tours. From $68
Wildlife Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve $12


Continue reading to learn what to expect when you embark on any of these activities. 


1. A Day Trip to Tortuga Island 

Day trips to Tortuga Island are popular in Santa Teresa, so you’ll see boat tours advertised all over town. I totally recommend this 12-hour tour. It charges $125 per adult.

If Santa Teresa doesn’t feel tropical enough for you, consider taking a day trip to Tortuga Island. 

There are beautiful white-sand beaches and clear waters. If you’re not one to sit still, you’ll enjoy exploring the island’s trails and encountering wild pigs. 

2. Visit Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

The Reserva Natural Cabo Blanco is a must-see in Santa Teresa and is actually Costa Rica’s first protected area. And with an entrance fee of just $12, it’s one of the best and most popular affordable activities in Santa Teresa.

The reserve is located in Cabuya, about a 45-minute drive from Santa Teresa. You can reach it by public bus or by driving if you have a rental car.

There are two hiking trails in the reserve: the Danes Trail and the Sueco Trail. The Danes Trail is a short loop through the forest, about 1.2 miles long, offering an easy hike.

Starting the hike early in the morning, when the trail opens, is a good idea. Being the first on the beach feels magical, and it’s a bit cooler and damp in the morning, which can be more comfortable. 

On this beach, you’ll find some amazing and unique agates. Along with the usual monkeys, bugs, and butterflies, we even spotted a hawksbill turtle playing in the water during our last visit.

The park is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Enjoy the sunset at an infinity pool.

If you love sunsets, head to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, and visit the Sunset Lounge at Vista de Olas

It’s a fancy hotel on a hill with a fantastic view of the coastline. 

Even if you’re not staying, you can pay $24 and use it for food and drinks. Or, treat yourself and stay at the hotel. 

Because not many tourists know about it, it’s not crowded. While watching the sunset, enjoy swimming in their infinity pool and trying their delicious food and drinks. It’s a unique way to spend the day.

4. Take a yoga class.

Yoga is a calming exercise that strengthens muscles and helps with flexibility, especially after surfing. 

I enjoy trying yoga at various locations to observe the teaching style and interact with new individuals. In Santa Teresa, you can find affordable yoga classes at Selina Hotels for $20, including two sessions. 

For a unique experience, Monkey Adventures Surf SUP Yoga offers private and unique classes like SUP Yoga and silk classes for around $90.

So it’s cheap and high value. 

5. Go horseback riding.

Another cheap activity you can do in Santa Teresa is horseback riding. It’s a popular thing here, and you’ll see many companies offering such services. 

You can check out Ollie’s Adventures horseback riding tours. Prices start at $68, which is a good deal for Costa Rica. 

You can pick a tour based on your budget and time, from two-hour rides to three-hour adventures. 

6. Go ziplining.

In Santa Teresa, there’s an excellent ziplining tour for $55 per adult and $50 per child. 

It’s a great deal, which is why I can confidently recommend it as one of the cheapest fun activities in this town.

While ziplining through the treetops, you can see wildlife up close and enjoy breathtaking scenery. 

Zuma Tours operates the tour, which features eight ziplines, one of which spans over 500 meters. You can also book a full-day tour for $290, including ziplining, a visit to Montezuma Falls, and an ATV ride through the jungle. 

You can also use the Ventura Santa Teresa Ziplining Tour.

7. Eat at fancy restaurants

Santa Teresa is a paradise for food lovers. 

Start your day with healthy bowls, great coffee, and pastries at fantastic breakfast spots. For dinner, choose from Italian, Asian, or local Costa Rican dishes. 

Top restaurants include The Bakery for breakfast, The Roastery for coffee, Ani’s Bowls and Salads, Pronto for Italian street food, and Amici for pizzas.

Drift is the best vegetarian option, whereas Katana is for Asian cuisine. 

I wrote a separate article reviewing eight of the best restaurants I’ve found so far in Santa Teresa. 

8. Beachside Massage 

For a bit of money, you can enjoy the spa and general massage treatment at Surfer’s Massage Sirene by Silvia Ortiz

I had a fantastic massage with Silvia; highly recommended! It was at a beach location, which was perfect. 

Silvia was attentive, asking about my needs and preferences. She will tailor the massage to your needs, which is impressive compared to other massages. 

Spend your money on a beachside massage instead of refraining from having one. It’s worth treating yourself to this beautiful experience. 

9. Go on affordable boat tours.

Again, with Zuma Tours, you can enjoy some of the most affordable boat tours in Santa Teresa. 

It’s not just about cruising in a boat with a team of other tourists; it’s more about the places you will visit by water. 

On this boat tour, you will take a ride to Tortuga Island and other neighboring attractions. 

The boat ride to the island is enjoyable, with a friendly crew, cold drinks, and snacks. They will stop for snorkeling at a beautiful spot, giving onboarders plenty of time to enjoy the fish and scenery. On the island, you will also have lunch, which includes grilled fish or chicken and drinks. 

10. Go on a Drinking Tour

For only $35, Cusco Cultural and Tipsy Drinking Tour offers a drinking tour in Santa Teresa. 


11. Enjoy the sunset at various empty beaches.

Santa Teresa is famous for its stunning sunsets. Take a late afternoon walk along any of the famous beaches and watch the jungle transform into a colorful masterpiece. 

You can try to spot the rare “green flash,” hang out with friends, or have a romantic picnic as the sun sets. 

The beauty of Santa Teresa’s sunsets is so mesmerizing that you’ll feel like you’re experiencing something magical for free.

Beaches to look out for sunsets include Mal Pais, Playa Carmen, Playa Hermosa, Playa Manzanillo, Playa Cuevas, Playa Mar Azul, and Playa Ventanitas.

12. Enjoy a bonfire with friends.

It doesn’t cost a dime to gather your friends for a special night by the fire in Santa Teresa, one of the best spots for stargazing. 

The area’s isolation means there’s little light pollution, giving you a clear view of the sky. 

Cozy up by the beach fire and marvel at the stars. You might even see the Milky Way stretching across the sky or spot shooting stars, which are pretty standard here. 

Don’t forget your camera; you’ll capture some unforgettable shots of the beautiful night sky to cherish forever.

13. Visit the weekly organic and craft market.

Every Saturday, Santa Teresa hosts an organic market where you can find fresh local produce and unique items like kombucha and homemade peanut butter. 

While purchasing these goodies will cost money, there are plenty of free activities available, such as listening to local musicians perform at the drum circle and admiring crafts.

You might end up spending some cash on something you love, so it’s a good idea to bring some money just in case. 

Still, you can enjoy all these activities without spending any money, except for the delicious treats you might want to take home.

14. Surf at Playa Hermosa 

Playa Hermosa, near Santa Teresa, is famous for surfing but also great for relaxing. 

Just a short drive away from town, it’s perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and even surfing smaller waves. 

With fewer rocks, it’s safer for families. Enjoy stunning sunsets and play beach sports like volleyball on the flat sand. 

If you don’t have a car, you can catch a cheap ride from Santa Teresa, but remember to get the driver’s number for the return trip since there’s no taxi stand. 

15. Visit the Montezuma Waterfalls.

Montezuma Waterfalls in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, offers three stunning falls: lower, middle, and upper. 

The lower falls require a 20-minute walk and are not ideal for swimming. The upper falls, reached by crossing the river and climbing steps, are great for a dip. 

The middle falls, accessed by ropes (not recommended for those with mobility issues), boast a gorgeous infinity pool. 

Although entry is free, there’s a $1.88 fee to use the trail to the upper falls. Bring cash! 

There are other key things you ought to know before going to Montezuma, which I have explained at length in this recent article.

16. Visit Head to Mal Pais

When Santa Teresa gets too hectic, take a break in the quiet Mal Pais fishing village, 8.1 km away. 

Walking there (or a quick 20-minute drive) is a great free activity. 

Playa Mal Pais Beach is serene and usually uncrowded. It takes about two hours to walk or a short drive. 

Alternatively, grab an affordable taxi. After relaxing on the beach, visit La Esquinita Coffee & Deli for tasty food and great coffee. 

It’s a perfect spot for a peaceful day away from the hustle and bustle of Santa Teresa.

17. Discover Santa Teresa village.

Santa Teresa is a bustling 4km street with a Bali-like vibe, lined with delicious restaurants, excellent shops, hotels, yoga spots, and more.

You can rent a bike to explore its dusty roads, bustling with motorbikes and ATVs carrying surfboards. 

I always tell visitors to look out for the pricey ATV rentals and distant gas stations

Luckily, more shops offer electric and regular bikes for rent. 

18. Sunbath at Playa Santa Teresa

Playa Santa Teresa is the go-to beach in town, perfect for sunbathing with its gorgeous white sand, especially during low tide. 

You’ll find plenty of coconut vendors, so bring your stainless steel straws to sip and scoop the delicious coconut flesh. 

Enjoy the tropical vibes and pristine beauty of this famous beach, which is ideal for relaxing and soaking up the sun’s rays. Fun part? You don’t have to pay a dime to enjoy this.

19. Enjoy the sunset at Manzanilla Beach.

You don’t have to spend any money to enjoy the sunset at any of the beaches in Santa Teresa. But I totally recommend the view at Manzanilla Beach. 

Just a short trip from Santa Teresa, this coastal destination is definitely worth a visit. The scenic route to the beach offers stunning views and is less crowded than others. 

Located about 8 kilometers north of Santa Teresa, you’ll need transportation to reach it. 

Enjoy the journey along the coastline and the serene atmosphere of this beach, a perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of Santa Teresa and relax by the sea.

20. Go to beach parties 

I am looking for a free thing to do in Santa Teresa. 

Well, don’t expect big nightclubs or raves. Instead, enjoy relaxed beach parties and campfires after sunset. 

Popular spots like La Lora Amarilla, Banana Beach, and Rancho Itauna host weekly events where you can chill by the sea and soak up the beach vibe for free.

It’s a laid-back alternative to traditional nightlife, perfect for connecting with others and enjoying the coastal atmosphere under the stars.


  • Tortuga Island is beautiful, and you’ll find the best beaches at Playa Hermosa, Playa Manzanillo, and Playa Suecos. 
  • Remember not to leave your cell phone or computer in the car when you’re at the beach or in the hotel parking lot. 
  • Even hiding your car keys in the sand isn’t safe because someone might be watching. 
  • It’s not safe to go to the beach at night; it can be hazardous.
  • Be careful at Montezuma Waterfall, especially during the rainy season, as it can be dangerous.

Final Thoughts

Santa Teresa is a really cool place, especially if you’re backpacking. You’ll meet plenty of other solo travelers there! Staying in hostels is a good idea if you want to meet new people.

There are lots of fun things to do in Santa Teresa and nearby. Montezuma remains one of the best beach towns worth checking out. In this video, you can find other suggestions for activities in Santa Teresa: 


My favorite activity in the area was snorkeling at Isla Tortuga. It’s a bit expensive, which is why I didn’t recommend it in the above article, but it’s been one of the best snorkeling spots for me all my life in Costa Rica.


Where to stay in Santa Teresa on a budget?

Accommodation options in Santa Teresa can be pretty expensive. However, the Hotel Santa Teresa by the Beach, Hotel Tropico Latino, Hotel Buenos Aires, Blue Surf Sanctuary, and Shaka Costa Rica are some of the best cheap hotels in the area for visitors. 

What is the currency in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, the official currency is called the colón (more than one is a colone), and its symbol is ₡. Not many places take credit cards. Some restaurants and grocery shops do, but most places don’t. It’s a good idea to bring some cash with you.

How do you get around Santa Teresa without a car?

Getting around Santa Teresa without a car is easy. You can use taxis. It’s simple to find one; you can either hail one on the street or call a local taxi company to pick you up.

How many days do you need in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica?

If you want to experience the area’s atmosphere as part of a more extended trip, around three days should do it. During that time, you can try surfing, explore the jungle, and dine at local restaurants.

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Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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