Hostel Review: Cuesta Arriba in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Sometimes you find the greatest places by accident. Billy and I were at the last leg of our Costa Rica trip, and decided to go to the surf town of Santa Teresa and maybe Mal País. The place recommended by Lonely Planet looked like a disaster area, so we hit the streets. A bunch of people coming from the beach were walking further down the main street, so we decided to follow. We arrived at the Cuesta Arriba Hostel and were immediately pleased with what we saw.

Located 100 meters1 from the beach of Santa Teresa, Cuesta Arriba offers rooms at $10/day during the low season, and $12/day during the high season. It is 300 meters from the rest of town, making it a nice, quiet getaway. The hostel is owned and run by Barbara and Martin, two wonderful people who do an incredible of job of making you feel more at home than anywhere else in the country. Barbara is Argentinian and speaks English and Spanish fluently, and probably a few other languages as well.

Each room holds 6 people. However, since it was the low season and we already had 4 people (the stunning Angela and Jenny), Billy negotiated that we get an entire room to ourselves. This may or may not work for you depending on how crowded it is. The rooms have their own showers and strong fans. Santa Teresa just recently got city water, and it is not in the highest supply, so conserve water well!

Each morning, Martin and the dog get up very early to set out bread, jellies, toasters, and coffee for everyone. There is a refrigerator where you can also store your own food if you like. Above this main kitchen area is a TV room with DirectTV. This is the perfect spot to lounge around after a killer surf session.

Staying in at the hostel at night is a great choice too. While you can wander around town, we had a better night at Cuesta Arriba — we bought a few sixpacks of Pilsen2, the girls cooked dinner, and we played some Monopoly, which Barbara and Martin supplied. It’s a great place to hang out and catch up with the other kids staying there for the day, which included the beautiful Czech girl who never emailed me her pictures.

I give Hostel Cuesta Arriba my highest recommendation. What impressed me most was Barbara and Martin’s business sense. They are total masters of the upsell. Want them to do your laundry? $4.00. Rent a surfboard for a day? $10.00. Need a beer from the fridge? They got that too. It’s all cheap, but it all adds up to great profits for them. One thing Billy points out is that Costa Ricans are not exactly the best business people – leaving the window wide open for people like Barbara and Martin to make a killing just by pleasing the customer with so many add-on services and clean facilities.

As for the rest of Santa Teresa, it was amazing. The surfing was unbelievable, although it was too advanced for Billy and I, we had tons of fun riding the whitewater. Surfing with no wetsuit is both a liberating and painful experience (surf wax + chest hair… I’m still recovering). Thanks to Angela, we got some absolutely beautiful shots, like the one below.

One of the coolest things in Costa Rica is that the beach front land is undeveloped. So when you’re out in the water looking in, you see shots like this, not a bunch of ugly houses. Although we weren’t there during the high season, there is still so much room for surfing that you shouldn’t have to fight people for waves. They are consistent and go on forever.

This will probably be my last writing about the actual Costa Rica trip. I could write forever because it was such a great vacation, but we have many other things to discuss with you here. I’d like to thank you all for reading, and most of all, thanks to Billy for taking me on such a rockin trip!!

1 In Costa Rica, distances to everything are measured in meters by the hundreds. You are not “one block” from the beach. You are 100m from the beach. As with anything else a Costa Rican tells you, your mileage may vary. 2 You might want to stay away from the 6.0% Pilsen if you know what’s good for your digestive system

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