Get out of Santa Teresa and spend a day exploring other parts of the Nicoya Peninsula. First, stop into Budget Car Rental in Malpais to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle ($70-$80 per day), which you’ll need to traverse the muddy, hilly roads. Before taking off, drop by Italian-owned Ginger Café (Route 160, 4 miles north of Malpais) for strong coffee (approx. $2) and French toast with fresh fruit (approx. $7); you can also pick up croissants (approx. $3) to snack on later. Then, drive one hour to see sustainable development in action at the Curu Wildlife Refuge ($10 entrance fee goes toward local workers and purchasing local goods for the refuge). The 69-year-old conservation project maintains a unique mix of initiatives, including coral-reef restoration and a spider-monkey rehabilitation program. Pitch in by helping to pick up plastic on the beach, and if you're interested in more hands-on conservation volunteering, call ahead to see what projects may need assistance. Afterward, head back along the coastal road to Manzanillo and hit the beach, which is less crowded than the surfer-packed sands farther south. Costa Ricans from other parts of the peninsula come here on weekends to barbecue on hibachis underneath the shaded pavilion and play soccer at low tide — ask, and they’ll usually let you join in. Make your way back to Santa Teresa and settle in for the evening at laid-back Kika, a restaurant that features live music and dancing after dark. Grab an outdoor picnic table or a dining room booth and devour a plate of rich, fork-tender pork or sesame-crusted tuna (both approx. $15) with cold bottles of Costa Rican Imperial beer (approx. $2 each) before joining in the revelry.
5. Oddball Day
Published on Mar 1, 2012 as a web exclusive.