Santa Teresa – A four-hour drive for sushi

Prior to arriving in Costa Rica we had decided that we’d spend a month in one part of the country.  We would rent a house, unpack and do nothing.  Of the options we researched Santa Teresa was one possibility (which was my preferred option), along with Dominical and Nosara.  We eventually settled on Nosara so it was going to be interesting to see what Santa Teresa had to offer and to see if our decision made many miles away was the correct one.

After leaving Arenal, we had a relatively straightforward journey to catch the ferry at Puntarenas.  Unfortunately as we drove into this dusty old port town we saw our boat departing.  We had just missed the sailing by a mere ten-minutes.  We now had three hours to kill until the next ferry.  Puntarenas isn’t flash.  It’s a port town with a strong fishing industry.  It was interesting to see a big cruise-liner docked at the wharf.  Heaven knows what the passengers would want to see here for an afternoon – it was hardly a Love Boat destination.  We fretted about what we were going to do to fill in the time but luckily the good folk of Puntarenas had recently built a very nice swimming pool complex right next door to the ferry terminal, which suited our needs perfectly.

We caught the next ferry, which was a 70-minute journey over the Gulf of Nicoya and then a 90-minute drive across the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula to our destination, Santa Teresa.

Santa Teresa itself is a long stretch of main road, pot-holed and dusty.  There is plenty of stylish accommodation, creative eating and drinking options and is a town that caters for the young surfer-type.  We actually felt a tad old here – there were very few families around.  It’s a young, cool destination and I’m neither young nor cool (I know – gasp!).  Everyone is chilled and relaxed.

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The villa that we rented was fantastic.  Perched high up in the hills offering breathtaking views over the Pacific Ocean and of the setting sun all enjoyed on the terrace lying in a hammock with a drink whilst being serenaded by the call of howler monkeys in the nearby bush.  Paradise.

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We did venture down to the beach for a swim but surfing is the be all and end all here.  The waves here are for a more experienced surfer so not ideal for Dominic who is still very much learning the sport (even though he thinks he is Kelly Slater).

One of the reasons Santa Teresa appealed to me as a destination was Koji’s Sushi Shack.  I had read about Koji’s back in New Zealand and the rave reviews received demanded a meal there.  Even after deciding we weren’t going to spend our month in Santa Teresa I was still keen to visit, Koji’s was a real draw card for the area.  The restaurant was located at the end of the very bumpy main road but worth every bone-jarring pothole.  The food was fantastic with incredibly fresh and tasty tuna and red snapper sashimi and delicious sushi rolls, all complimented by some of the best service we have experienced on our travels.  The location added to the experience, al fresco dining accentuated by candlelight and a very good playlist in the background.  Japanese perfection all washed down with some delicious product from a local microbrewery.

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If I was 20 years younger with no kids and knew how to surf then Santa Teresa would be almost heavenly.  As much as we liked it here we were glad we are not spending a whole month here.  Nosara is going to suit us better (I think/hope!)

Travelling to Nosara required some rethinking from our initial plan, which was to drive the entire way up the coast from Santa Teresa, passing through a number of nice beaches.  Google Maps said this route was nice and easy which was only a short jaunt up a scenic coastal road.  Luckily for us we decided to get some advise from the locals who told us different.  The coast road is treacherous with a couple of river crossings that at this time of the year (just out of rainy season) would not be able to be crossed – especially in a rental car.  With that, our only option was to backtrack a couple of hours and follow the main road on the other side of the peninsular.  Had we known this we probably wouldn’t have bothered going to Santa Teresa at all.  Never mind, last minute changes to travel plans are all part and parcel of this great adventure and at least the sushi was as worth the drive.

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