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Exploring the Natural Wonders of Costa Rica: The Northern Highlands & Santa Teresa



THE NORTHERN HIGHLANDS


North Central Region

Driving time from San José: 3 hr 55 min, 115 miles (185 km)


In what seems to be in a world of its own, the northern highlands of Costa Rica is an area of the country that feels distinctly off the beaten track. With its unique blend of distinct volcanic geology and lush forest teeming with exotic fauna, this area of Costa Rica is a 2 hour drive from Liberia airport or a 5 hour drive from the San Jose airport. Home to several modest lodging options and a few notable upscale resorts, there is an abundance of outdoor activities to partake in during a visit to this northern territory.


Visit the Tenorio Volcano National Park and its vibrantly turquoise blue waters of the iconic Rio Celeste river. Explore the relatively untapped and unfrequented Miravalles Volcano, known for its thermal hot spring pools as well as the Llanos de Cortez waterfall, the most stunning waterfall in the entire northern province of Guanacaste. Journey into the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, a phenomenal bird-watching and sightseeing heaven considered to be the third most important wetland in the world. Discover Lake Arenal, the country’s largest landlocked body of water which is known for its drive-around/bike-around rolling hills beauty and the great variety of water sports one can practice in it (such as kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, kite boarding and fishing).


SANTA TERESA


Western Edge Region of the Nicoya Peninsula, Pacific Ocean

Driving time from San José: 5 hr 19 min, 115 miles (185 km)


This tiny beach town located in the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula within the north Pacific region of the country has received international acclaim as one of the hippest and coolest surf and yoga jungle beach towns in the world. Located a 5.5 hour journey from San Jose airport (including a 1 hour ferry ride) or a 4 hour drive from the Liberia airport, your adventure odyssey to Santa Teresa continues upon arrival and will mark your entire stay there. Due to its one main road purposely maintained as a dirt road (to deter crowds and overdevelopment), rugged ATV’s are the preferred mode of transportation. On and around them, get ready to see loads of surfboards, surfers and their happy doggies at every corner of your vision scape; in fact, the primary reason many people come to Santa Teresa is for surfing. Santa Teresa is a surfer’s paradise town that draws in an eclectic, attractive crowd that enjoys a high vibing life in harmony with an intensely present natural world.


Go beach-hopping and explore any or all of the three expansive beaches lining Santa Teresa: Hermosa Beach, La Lora Beach, and Carmen Beach, each one known for its different levels of wave action, epic surf breaks and tropical dry forest jungle surroundings. Experience world-class yoga instruction in the beautiful nestled-in-beachside-nature yoga studios of Pranamar Villas & Yoga Retreat, Florblanca Luxury Resort and Horizon Hotel & Yoga Center. Delight your taste buds in what is arguably and surprisingly home to some of the best culinary experiences in the country: visit Eat Street Cafe, an open air restaurant market offering thoughtfully prepared fresh dishes and enzyme-packed natural juices and smoothies; indulge in Koji’s Restaurant, delectable cuisine inspired by the Japanese kitchen and in the hands of exceptional local Japanese sushi master Koji Hyodo; nourish in Vermu, healthy international-fare bistro & café with the best breakfasts in town.


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STAY IN LUXURY

CASA ALIKI


Private Residency at Maramar Oceanside-Eco Community

Cobano Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica

Instagram: www.instagram.com/casa_aliki

AirBNB: www.airbnb.com/h/casaaliki


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OVERVIEW


Welcome to Casa Aliki, a two-story modern luxury villa with dual balconies overlooking the Pacific Ocean and surrounding tropical jungle. It is located in the heart of Santa Teresa, within the exclusive, highly secure gated community of Maramar.


Certain to win you over with its breathtaking views, this stand-alone house has an open design that invites the rainforest and ocean into every one of its attractive living spaces: 4 bedrooms (with a/c), 2 living rooms, private pool and bbq area, and fully equipped gourmet kitchen.


From the expansive sunset terrace on which sits a grand dining table, you will be delightfully and sensorially enchanted by your surroundings, commonly sighting a variety of exotic birds, monkeys and iguanas as well as surfers and whales (during season) in the oceanic distance. With room for up to 14 guests, Casa Aliki is an exquisite combination of comfort, style and natural surroundings for your short or long-term stay.


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Nantipa Hotel


Santa Teresa, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

www.nantipa.com

1-855-626-8472


OVERVIEW


Nantipa Hotel is a luxurious beachfront boutique hotel located in the heart of the famed beach town of Santa Teresa. Nantipa - which means ‘blue’ in Chorotegan (the language of the native indigenous tribe of the area) - has been recognized amongst the top boutique hotels of Santa Teresa, with a trademark relaxed barefoot atmosphere hand in hand with high luxury amenities and services.

With a raw and exquisitely verdant, native flora foundation richly enveloping the whole of this 5.68 acre beachfront property, Nantipa features a gorgeous tropical central pool and is an ideal stay for couples and families.

Beach hop along the Nicoya Peninsula, explore the surrounding Santa Teresian jungle or enjoy the town’s charming local restaurants and cafés by foot, thanks to Nantipa’s central location.


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ACCOMMODATIONS


Nantipa offers three types of lodging options that, like the hotel itself, are respectfully identified by their beautiful Chorotegan descriptor names: the Ninta Beachfront Bungalows, Ninta Pool View Bungalows, and Nanku Suites. “Ninta” is the Chorotegan word for “beach” while “Nanku” is the Chorotegan word for “home”.


The accommodations offer either full/partial ocean views or garden/pool views. All room options are spacious (700 - 800 sq ft of living space) and come equipped with modern amenities such as AC, flat-screen TV, small dining table, Wifi, minibar and a work desk.


The Nanku Suites can accommodate up to four adults and feature both a large living area and terrace or balcony. The slightly larger Ninta Bungalows feature indoor and outdoor showers, a large terrace, a private plunge pool, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows showcasing mesmerizing ocean/pool views and sunsets.


EXPERIENCES


Savour your taste buds at Manzú Restaurant which is steps away from the ocean. Designed to remind you of the palmed thatched huts in which the ancient Chorotegans used to live, the beachfront Manzú offers an international menu fused with Costa Rican cuisine, all plates made with fresh and locally sourced ingredients.


For memorable sunset viewing, head out to Manzú’s beach bar for signature tropical cocktails designed by the Mulberry Project and based on exotic local fruits and flavors. Featuring beach hammocks and curated music, it is an ideal and popular spot in Santa Teresa to cherish nightfall.


For a romantic and unforgettable evening, choose the “Under the Stars” gastronomical experience. Savor a 6-course dinner under the stars and with the sounds of the ocean, along with a bottle of wine from Manzu’s special selection. Or enjoy a 3-course meal, candlelight dining experience on a table set up inside the pool, featuring a glass of sparkling wine upon arrival and a bottle of wine from the chef’s special selection. Ninta Bungalow guests have the option of a romantic 3-course dinner to be set up in the privacy of their own patio and lounge pool.


For a blissful mind-body-soul healing experience, Nantipa offers a transcendental all-inclusive wellness package. All holistic arrangements are taken care of, including transportation, gourmet meals, a dedicated wellness practitioner, beach meditation, numerous curated yoga practices, Ayurvedic marma therapy session, personal training sessions and more.

For the adventurous person, Nantipa offers off-site activities such as surf lessons, guide tours to Curú Reserve, Montezuma Waterfall hiking, horseback riding, ziplining, Tortuga Island tour and more.


Strong sustainability practices are also in full swing at Nantipa including property-wide reduction of single-use plastic, recycling practices, solar water heaters, a daily beach cleaning practice initiative and community outreach programs.


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PRANAMAR


Pranamar Villas & Yoga Retreat

Villa Bonita Dr, Puntarenas Province, Punta Arenas, 99999, Costa Rica

+506 2640 0852

www.pranamarvillas.com


OVERVIEW


Just a 10 minute jungle-beachside drive away from the Santa Teresa town center, Pranamar’s remote location appeals to those seeking sublime tranquility. Its prime location sits oceanfront and walking distance to Playa Hermosa, a beach prized for its vastness, tide pool landscapes, and gentle wave action. Pranamar has become an international destination for yogis, surfers and anyone looking for a joyful, rejuvenating and inspirational stay.

This intimate, consciously-designed resort features lush narrow pathways winding all throughout its property, speckled with exotic birds such as the white-throated magpie-jay, hummingbirds, and pelicans, all leading out to a spacious beachfront area, inviting guests to come out and play or relax and enjoy captivating sunsets over the ocean.


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ACCOMMODATIONS


A Balinese-inspired flair marks Pranamar’s architectural style and design, enhancing its strong yoga culture theme. Choose from Ocean Front Villas, Poolside Villas, Bungalows and the Kula House.


The Ocean Front Villa is a two story home featuring hand-crafted Indonesian furniture, hardwood floors, granite stone tubs, and an exotic interior design. Suitable for up to four adults, it features a spacious living room, full kitchen, outdoor terrace, two bedrooms with AC, open-air bathroom, outdoor jungle shower and oversized verandas providing unobstructed ocean views and sounds as well as its natural surroundings. The Poolside Villa features equally charming characteristics as the Ocean Front Villa but it instead faces the picturesque Pranamar pool, the centerpiece of the hotel.


For larger groups, up to 7 individuals, choose Kula house. Its spacious layout features a large deck and terrace with ocean view, 2 bedrooms with A/C, full kitchen, and all standard hotel amenities. Bungalows are built with sustainable pinewood and are ideal for couples. It also features A/C, living space, deck with table and chairs, fans and other amenities.


EXPERIENCES


To come together, learn, celebrate, grow and ultimately experience the Divinity in all lies at the heart of Pranamar’s mission. Group yoga classes as well as private instruction are offered daily by seasoned, world-class instructors in Pranamar’s gorgeous and inspiring pool-side shala. A comprehensive and transformative 200-hour Yoga & Meditation teacher training module is offered annually and the next module dates will take place from September 4th to 25th, 2021.


Other experiences include the Mal País Canopy tour, fishing and snorkeling tours, horseback riding, Montezuma Falls discovery tour on ATV, surfing lessons, paddle boarding, Cabo Blanco Reserve guided hike and more.

There is also an on-site spa offering 90-minute focused treatments with signature names that ring of healing transformation, such as: Expansion Inner Body Bright, Creating Space Akashic Experience, Restoration and Recovery, and the Yogi’s Path Integration and Flexibility bodywork sessions.


Pranamar’s singular culinary gemstone, Kavita Restaurant dons beautiful high bamboo ceilings and overlooks the serene lagoon pool. With a strong emphasis on using fresh, organic and locally sourced products whenever possible, local Executive Chef Norman Roqhuett Mata passionately and creatively masterminds all culinary experiences at Kavita. Prepare to be wowed by exotic fruit and vegetable combinations within all Kavita’s gastronomical offerings which are inspired by Pacific Rim and Asian cuisine combined with traditional Costa Rican fare. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily and the restaurant is open to the public. Dinner reservations are recommended. A meal at Kavita is unforgettable in taste and presentation and nutritious in essence, make sure not to miss out on this delightful experience.

Chef Norman studied at San Sebastian Gastronomical School in the Basque region of Spain and you can connect with him and his restaurant on www.instagram.com/kavita_cr.


By Adriana Garuolis & Markin Abras. Images courtesy of each featured property.