Raindrops on orchids and smiles on faces, sun-kissed white beaches and tropical places… These are a few of our favorite things!
Costa Rica is a vast world of biodiversity and stunning vistas, pristine sands and fierce adrenaline rushes. It’s also home to welcoming towns and one-of-a-kind Costa Rica beach house rentals – to everything from breeze-filled casas on a cliff to Indonesian-inspired mansions on the beach. As we said, a few of our favorite things.
And so, with our passions and your travels in mind, we’re launching the first in a new blog series to spotlight the places, sights, and activities we think you’d love to know about. First up: Mal Pais/Santa Teresa, the Osa Peninsula, and Tamarindo. Where would you like to see featured next?
Spotlight on: Mal Pais & Santa Teresa
Unfurling over sandy backroads and rambling coast, Santa Teresa and Mal Pais (often stylized as Malpais)were born as a pair of sleepy fishing villages best known for their epic waves. Today, these villages are still famous for their epic surf – but they’re not quite as sleepy as they once were.
Indeed, Santa Teresa and Mal Pais – Spanish for badlands, although there’s nothing bad about these lands – are still connected by a single dirt road but have finally awakened to their own appeal. While they remain laid back, slightly off-the-beaten-track, and decidedly less traveled, this winning twosome – or threesome, if you count Playa Carmen in the middle – has developed a handful of attractions, an incredible yoga & wellness offering, great dining, and other amenities that independent travelers crave.
But let’s start with Santa Teresa and Mal Pais’s primary claim to fame: The surf! With some of the largest and most consistent waves in the country, these Nicoya Peninsula beach towns are a veritable surfer’s dream. And nothing compares to a Santa Teresa sunset – the intense purples and pinks over the horizon will make you fall in love with the natural world around you.
Who Should Visit: Adventure Travelers, Couples & Honeymooners, Beach Lovers, Surfers, Wildlife Watchers, Wellness & Yoga Travelers, and Off-the-Beaten-Path Travelers
Best Time to Travel to Mal Pais & Santa Teresa: This sandy stretch is best visited from November through August, as the rainy season’s heavy downpours can swell rivers (which must be crossed to get there!) and wash out roads. Plus, many restaurants and other tourism services close down in September and October, the two wettest months.
Can’t Miss: In addition to the must-surf waves (even beginners will find their spot!), we wouldn’t miss a stop at Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, Costa Rica’s oldest reserve and an incredible haven for some of Costa Rica’s greatest biodiversity and awe-inspiring wildlife. The reserve’s forest trails, pristine beaches, and Pacific views make way for howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, and more. Get ready for a photo safari!
Where to Stay: Villa Indo
Santa Teresa | 6 Beds | 6 Baths
Inspired by Indonesian architecture and located just a few steps to white-sand beach, Villa Indo is a luxury villa that blends elegance with chic features, to create one of the most special places – and most tranquil atmospheres – in all of Costa Rica.
Located on the northern end of Santa Teresa, Villa Indo is one of the area’s most exclusive Costa Rica beach house rentals. Here, every room has a king-sized bed and every corner has a view, either to the pool, the palms, or to the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Even better, you’ll have direct access to the beach, via your private pool and lounge area, complete with hammocks and palapas.
Spotlight on: The Osa Peninsula
Once of the most remote, most fabled, and most sought-after destinations in Costa Rica, if not the world, the Osa Peninsula is, in a word, wild.
This is a place that takes every conception and pre-conceived notion of travel, and then tosses them right out the window. Here, you are immersed in the same jungles where jaguars roam free and primary forest still grows. Where rainforests extend for as far as the eye can see, disappearing only as they tumble into white-capped sea. There is nothing scrubbed, sterilized, or sanitized about travel to the Osa Peninsula. For here, everything is as untouched, pure, and clean as it has always been.
This may sound like hyperbole, but it’s the truth: Known as one of the world’s most biodiverse places, the Osa Peninsula has adopted a bit of an isolationist (in a good way) mentality: Far from the hustle and bustle, often without power lines or internet, in many ways this is the Costa Rica – the very same world – that you would have seen, had you visited 10, 50, or even 100 years ago. Only, now with electricity and hot water (if you know where to look)!
Who Should Visit: Outdoor Adventurers, Couples & Honeymooners, Wildlife Enthusiasts, and Off-the-Beaten-Path Travelers
Best Time to Travel to the Osa Peninsula: Any time of year! Bear in mind that the Osa Peninsula can be hard to access year-round – it’s far from international airports and often requires travel by boat or driving through river – but that is really, truly part of the fun. You’re here for the rugged, untouched experience, after all.
Can’t Miss: Hiking. We know, that’s so… general! But, we have our reasons. To start with, the Osa Peninsula is a big place. Perhaps not by conventional, we-now-have-cars standards, but on a rugged and rural peninsula with few roads (and the roads that do exist are crafted from compacted dirt), travel is often undertaken on your own two feet.
Enter, our top can’t-miss suggestion: Hiking! While your hikes of choice will depend largely on your interests, there are two types that we recommend: a waterfall hike and a wildlife hike. (You can often combine the two but specialized hikes will bring out the best of their dedicated interests. And hey, you’ve come all the way here… Do it right!)
Where to Stay: Casa del Cabo
Osa Peninsula | 2 Beds | 2.5 Baths
Nestled deep within the Osa Peninsula, Casa del Cabo looks not inward but out – out, onto its view of rainforest wilds, ocean breezes, and jaw-dropping, breath-stealing Pacific sunsets. Welcome to another world. Once in which you’ll exist in harmony with nature.
Designed in harmony with its surrounds, this special home leaves only a “light footprint.” So, while you won’t find air-conditioning or an infinity pool, you will fall asleep to the sounds of nature. You will eat fresh-from-the-trees tropical fruit. You will sip on sun-ripened coconut water. And you will take many short walks to the beach, through the jungle, and into your new favorite place in the world.
Because this home is set right in the heart of it all, the reason you’re here – the Osa Peninsula, a true jewel of land, sea, and life. Discover unparalleled diversity, beginning right at home. Connect to this legendary and mystical ecosystem that surrounds. Fish for your dinner and build a fire on the beach, as you roast your catch and look up at a starry sky. There is nothing else in Costa Rica, or maybe the world, like a stay at this incredible home, in this incredible place.
Spotlight on: Tamarindo
Ah, Tamarindo. This mini-metropolis is a bastion of tourism and travel, located on Costa Rica’s beloved Gold Coast. Think of it as Costa Rica’s answer to New York… if New York were located in the tropics, beachfront on the Pacific, and measured about a mile from north to south. And had not a skyscraper in sight.
Okay, maybe New York wasn’t the best comparison. But it’s hard to compare Tamarindo to anywhere else in the world. Because as sandy, ocean-kissed beach towns in Costa Rica go, Tamarindo is one of the biggest and the best: A tourism hotspot sandwiched between endangered tropical dry forest and warm cerulean sea, and where there’s just enough demand to support incredible restaurants and an active nightlife.
And yet, as the world goes, Tamarindo still ranks somewhere between laidback surf town and wildlife wonderland: a sandy, sunny strip home to nesting sea turtles and breaching whales, epic sunsets and briny mangroves.
So, I guess you could say, this eclectic town is the best of all worlds: Beach-urban, by Costa Rican standards, and perfect vacation destination by world standards. Because it is a perfect vacation – a sandy crescent that connects Playa Grande and Playa Langosta, linking some of the Pacific’s most famous surf spots (Ollie’s Point and Witch’s Rock, anyone?) along the way. A way that’s filled with everything from ocean adventures and nature-watching to wellness pursuits and outdoor adventures, of course.
Who Should Visit: Couples & Honeymooners, Beach Lovers & Sun Worshipers, Surfers, Outdoor Enthusiasts, Ocean Adventurers, Culture Vultures (in a tropical mindset)
Best Time to Travel to Tamarindo: Year-round! This is one of our top recommendations any time of year, due to its superior accessibility and infrastructure. Additionally, as Tamarindo is located on Costa Rica’s drier North Pacific coast, it can be a great choice in the rainy season; when it’s pouring in other beach destinations, Tamarindo often gets away with just a passing shower.
Can’t Miss: We hate this question because the answer is everything. Do ALL the things! Tamarindo is that kind of place – the kind of destination where you can experience almost any adventure, see almost any sight, spot almost any animal… So the question is more, what don’t you want to miss while here?
Tamarindo is blessed with a near-limitless list of outdoor activities, from swimming and surfing the Pacific to taking snorkeling & sunset catamaran tours, off-road ATVing, beachfront horseback riding, forest canopy tours, kayaking mangroves and nearby islands, and world-class sport fishing. This is a see-it-all-do-it-all kind of place.
Where to Stay: Soul House
Playa Langosta | 4 Beds | 4 Baths
Located just steps to the sand – well, sand and rocky outcroppings, ripe for exploration during low tide! – Soul House offers a beautiful, Balinese-inspired take on your luxury vacation.
One of the most unique Costa Rica beach house rentals in Playa Langosta, this upscale home promises no holds barred. Swathed in serenity and draped in Zen atmosphere, this special vacation rental breathes tranquility in every Balinese-style accent and perfectly placed art.
Flow is present everywhere here: You’ll feel it as you drift from room to room, from indoors to out. The ample common areas blend indoor/outdoor living, entertainment, dining and lounging. The chef’s kitchen bids languid preparations and long conversation over drinks and fresh flavors. And the outdoor, private pool and lush gardens beckon you to slow down, relax, and enjoy the vibe.
Where Do You Want to Travel?
For a country smaller than West Virginia, Costa Rica is vast. Its promises are many, its wonders expansive, and its to-do lists long. So really, it begins with you: What do you want to see and do? Where do you want to go?
At Luxury Villas Costa Rica, we have two specialties: Costa Rica beach house rentals and you. Yes, you. Because a great vacation is rooted in heart – in what you hope to get out of your travels. So please, tell us why you’ve chosen Costa Rica. If you don’t know exactly where you want to go, even if you haven’t whittled down your wish list, we can help. We love to help.