The idea of a vacation in an exotic beach paradise sounds like a wonderful dream that is impossible to afford on a student budget. However, with a little planning and flexibility, finding that perfect beach to go along with your favorite beverage can go from a dream to a reality.
With countless miles of perfect beaches and tropical rainforests teeming with dense foliage and wildlife, it’s no wonder that Costa Rica is a top tourist destination.
Costa Rica is in danger of being overrun by Americans, and the rising cost of tourism is a sure sign of that. This doesn’t bode well for the average college student trying scrape together enough cash to afford a well-deserved vacation from studying.
The good news is that with a little ingenuity and a sense of adventure, exploring the beaches and rainforests of Costa Rica is attainable even on a limited budget.
One of the most beautiful, and yet still unknown, beaches of Costa Rica is near the small town of Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula. While the more popular beaches of Taramindo and Manuel Antonio have skyrocketed in both prices and numbers of tourists, Santa Teresa has managed to stay under the radar. The result is affordability and miles of nearly empty beaches to explore.
From San Jose, a bus ticket to Santa Teresa costs $15 and leaves from the San Carlos bus terminal. The ride takes about six hours and includes a ferry followed by steep mountain roads that snake through a rainforest that looms over both sides of the road creating a tunnel effect.
Once in Santa Teresa there are a number of affordable lodging options all of which are within a stone’s throw of the beach.
Students on an ultra-tight budget, the Hostel Seven Casa De Gringi offer accommodations in a four bed dormitory for as little as $12 a night.
For those who can stretch the budget, the Hotel Raratonga offers private rooms in a Swiss Family Robinson type setting that leaves guests feeling as though they are living in a treehouse for $40 a night with swimming pool and beach access.
There are affordable eating options including the Soda Tiquicia, which is located right next to the Hotel Raratonga and offers a typical Costa Rican meal with a choice of beef, chicken, or fish with rice, beans, salad, and french fries for about $5.
Additionally, there are plenty of small supermarkets to shop at and most hotels in Santa Teresa have kitchens where guests can cook their own food.
The best part of Santa Teresa is the miles of large sandy beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see and don’t cost a dime to enjoy.
The beaches are wide with thick sand that is perfect for sunbathing and building sand castles. Perfectly situated driftwood litters the beach creating great places to sit and admire the views.
There are towering rock formations that complement the backdrop of lush, verdant jungle that runs up against the brown sugar colored sand of the often empty beaches with only your own footprints breaking up its perfect symmetry. Reefs create refreshing pools to cool off in during low tide.
The vibrant blue ocean, with its relentless waves that pound the shoreline, draws surfers from all over the world with hopes of conquering this untameable sea.
Watching the surfers is worth the trip itself and provides countless hours of entertainment as they go up against the giant waves that swat them aside as if the waves were the hand of Poseidon.
Witnessing the daring magnificence of surfers dancing on top of the waves like ballerinas taunting Poseidon before finally becoming enveloped in his watery grasp is watching poetry in motion.
There are numerous surf shops along the beach road that offer surf lessons and surfboard rentals. Group lessons start at $35 and surfboards in all sizes are available for rent as low as $10 a day.
Santa Teresa is located in a central location of the Nicoya Peninsula and is near the remote beaches of Playa Hermosa and the popular hippie beach town of Montezuma. The famous Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is nearby as well. The best way to visit these places is to rent an ATV ($60) for the day and navigate the steep, winding dirt roads of the peninsula.
Cabo Blanco is a must see on your visit.
It offers hiking through the protected rainforest where colorful butterflies and hyperactive monkeys keep wanderers company as they traverse the rocky trail through the rainforest that ends at yet another beautiful beach.
The remote beauty of Santa Teresa and the surrounding area has remained untouched from mainstream tourism. The time is now to take advantage of the affordable paradise that this region of Costa Rica offers.
Don’t let the idea that a student’s budget can’t be stretched far enough to experience this slice of heaven because much like any amazing offer it will soon come to an end.