Escape to These Private Villas in the Heart of Costa Rica's Blue Zone
With its open sandy beaches and one-of-a-kind surf, it’s no wonder why Santa Teresa has been coined a Blue Zone region, where people commonly live to be over a hundred years old.
The toned and tanned locals, affectionately called Ticos, commute on dirt bikes and ATVs along pothole-filled dirt roads, and live in houses that defer to palm trees where yards are decorated with fallen coconuts and banana leaves, and the occasional monkey is scaling nearby telephone wires. Now, thanks to Joya Villas, you can enjoy the Tico life too — from the comfort of your multi-bedroom, oceanfront palace.
Joya Villas offers two homes, Casa BriBri and Casa Maleki, both designed by architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe. Like the rest of Santa Teresa, the villas adhere to the natural landscape — they’re built into the rainforest and bordered by the Pacific Ocean — and have an open plan with massive accordion glass doors surrounding the ground floor, as well as open bathrooms, and the base of a tree running through the central staircase to give a sense of indoor-outdoor living. The design itself, however, is a rarity in Costa Rica. As opposed to the hut-styles of neighboring homes, the large steel frame I-beams create a surprising and lovely contrast with the natural landscape. Spanning over 5,000 square feet over two levels, each home features seafront terraces and private infinity pools.
Located just on the edge of town, the gated villas are secluded enough for optimal privacy, but allow access to everything the community has to offer. Just at the bottom of the drive, there’s luxury resort Florblanca (which offers 90-minute yoga, indulgent services at Spa Bamboo, and more) as well as an outdoor restaurant, Rocamar, and casual café, Café Social, for healthy bites. In town, you’ll find even more restaurants and shopping. Some of the most popular places include The Bakery for brunch, El Facon for outdoor dining with a live band, Koji for super fresh sushi, and Banana Beach for sunset cocktails and games on the beach.
But really, Santa Teresa is all about the surf, standing out from the other coastal surf towns thanks to more challenging breaks like La Lora. But not to worry if you’re an amateur or surfing’s not your thing, there are plenty of friendlier points, and Del Soul Surf School is where you’ll find the best lessons. And there are plenty of other activities, like hiking to Montezuma Waterfalls, zip-lining through the jungle, private horseback riding, or even in-house massages. The best part, Joya offers a personal concierge (and chef, if you desire) who can handle the booking.
As the story goes with many exotic escapes, Santa Teresa is tricky to get to — it’s certainly more about the destination than the journey. Located on the southern tip of Costa Rica’s westernmost peninsula, there are no direct commercial flights. Your options are to fly into San José (SJO) or Tambor (TMU) and then either drive approximately six hours or catch a cargo plane to Liberia (LIR). The cargo flights are only about 30-minutes and the best carriers are CarmonAir and Sansa Airlines. And then you have just about another 30-minute drive to Santa Teresa.
Once you finally get there, make sure you have cash (U.S. dollars are accepted). Most of the restaurants and businesses do not accept credit cards but there are ATMs at the main intersection at Playa Carmen. And the best way to get around (and most fun!) is via ATV or golf cart — just beware of the wandering crabs, iguanas, and occasional street dog by night.
But truly, nothing beats arriving at your private oasis. Both properties can accommodate up to 10 guests, and range from $990 to $3,100 per night (depending on the season).