Welcome to Casa Zen
Santa Teresa and Mal Pais are rather remote beach towns, and that’s what makes them so special! Thankfully, even though we’re a little off the beaten path, there are still quite a few services available to visitors. At the crossroads between Mal Pais and Santa Teresa (locally known as “the cruce,” pronounced “crew-say”) where buses and cars arrive into town, there are two banks with ATMs. These are the only ATMs in town, so to make sure to get your money while you’re at the cruce!
There is also a pharmacy, a dental office, a small clinic and an emergency lifeguard at the crossroads. For medical emergencies, doctors are available at a clinic in nearby Cobano, a public hospital in Puntarenas and several private hospitals in San Jose.
There are a surprising number of supermarkets throughout Santa Teresa, and one is conveniently located directly across the road from Casa Zen. Most supermarkets open at 7am and close at 10pm. There is also an organic market held at the beach every Saturday afternoon, which is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike.
Both US dollars and Costa Rica colones are accepted everywhere. Cash is always the preferred method of payment, and many restaurants and shops do not accept credit cards.
What’s Happening in Santa Teresa and Mal País
Surfing is by far the main attraction in Santa Teresa today, with consistent waves year round in warm, tropical waters. Beach breaks are found in Playa Carmen and Santa Teresa, and when the swell is right the point breaks down in Mal País (Mar Azul and Sunset Reef) or up near Playa Hermosa (Suck Rock or El Peñon) can go off. On the other side of the peninsula, you can also find the breaks at Rio Lajas and Los Cedros can be perfect at times when the swell is not hitting right in Santa Teresa.
With the growing popularity of the area, the water can get a bit crowded during the high season. For this reason we ask beginners or novice surfers to always have a surf lesson first. Surf etiquette is essential for the safety of yourself and others in the water, and a properly trained surf instructor will help teach you the ins and outs. Knowing how to control your board (not to mention knowing how to fall!) keeps you and everyone around you safer, plus you will have more fun! Even uber-athletes will tell you that surfing is the hardest sport they’ve ever tried, but getting out in the water, surrendering to the power of the ocean, and (come hell or high water) standing up(!) can be one of the most amazing feelings in the world!
What if I don’t surf?
NO problem. Kelly, the owner of Casa Zen, does not surf and has lived here happily since 2003. (smile) Casa Zen offers yoga classes daily on our open-air deck, and whether you are a practicing yogi or a beginner, yoga will help you find balance and serenity.
In addition to yoga, there are various activities and tours in the area, including:
Whether you are an avid fisherman or a novice, a 3-hour tour with one of our local guides in Mal País can give you a view of Manta Rays, Ridley green sea turtles, dolphins, migrating whales, and a (possible) catch of Yellowfin Tuna, Grouper, Red Snapper, Mackerel, etc.
Canopy zip-line tours in both Mal País and nearby Montezuma
Come and journey through the treetops, enjoying the tropical forest while the Pacific Ocean lies below. Professional nature guides will accompany you on the unforgettable journey through the biodiversity of the surrounding environment.
Tortuga Island Adventure
This full day adventure is all-inclusive! Cruise along the coast for a breathtaking 50-minute board ride to begin your voyage to Tortuga Island. Upon arriving to the tropical paradise of Tortuga Island, we’ll anchor the boat within viewing distance of the white sand beach for snorkeling. The crystal clear waters of Tortuga are surrounded by volcanic rock reef, which is home to some of the best snorkeling on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast.
Depart from the Fisherman’s cove in Mal Pais and spend the afternoon sailing along our beautiful coast. Jump off the boat for a refreshing swim, or just relax in the sunshine with a cold drink in your hand.
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
Take a tour in the open ocean or down some of the beautiful rivers in the area. From beginners to pros, there are SUP options for everyone.
Allow our horses to be your gentle guides through the mountains, jungle and beaches. Our 2-hour tours can leave early in the morning or later in the day for a sunset ride. Different tours are offered, based on the rider’s level of experience.
Montezuma day trip
There is a beautiful waterfall in this nearby little village, a Canopy tour, and a handful of really nice restaurants. Either by quad, taxi or bus, a day trip is easy from Santa Teresa, and you can still make it back in time for the sunset!
The first National Park in Costa Rica, Cabo Blanco was an Absolute Reserve until a few years ago when they decided to permit us bi-peds to enter. A 4-hour round trip hike to the beach and back shows you pristine Dry Tropical Rainforest, as well as areas in succession. Go early to see more animals! Open Wed – Sunday.
Rent a bicycle from Casa Zen and you can tour from Mal País to Manzanillo, exploring all the different beaches and villages. Whether buying fresh fish in Mal País or finding a snorkeling or more tranquil spot in Playa Hermosa, a bike gets you there easily. We rent bikes at Casa Zen for just $10 per day.
Rent an ATV/quad for the day and have a thrilling adventure as you independently explore all that the area has to offer. Take the jungle road to Montezuma, crossing rivers and climbing mountains surrounded by lush forest, then enjoy a refreshing dip in the waterfalls… or check out the secluded, picture-perfect tropical beaches of Hermosa and Manzanillo to the north… There are unlimited opportunities for adventure!
The Art of Doing Nothing
Whether practicing Zen meditation, or simply sitting on the beach watching the waves, JUST BE. Some guests feel they need to be entertained constantly…but in the age of near-constant stimulation, we invite you to leave the phone, computer, tablet, and any other device turned OFF. Spend the day on the beach either exploring by foot, or with a good book under a nice shade tree. Relax. Unplug. Enjoy. BE.
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