150km (93 miles) W of San José; 12km (7 1/2 miles) S of Cóbano
Malpaís (or Mal País) means “badlands,” but that’s hardly descriptive of this booming beach area today. Malpaís is a term sometimes used to refer to a string of neighboring beaches, including Malpaís, Playa Carmen, Santa Teresa, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Manzanillo—though the region is increasingly referred to as Santa Teresa. These beaches are long, wide expanses of light sand dotted with rocky outcroppings. This is one of Costa Rica’s hottest spots, and development rages on at a dizzying pace, especially in Santa Teresa. Still, it will take some time before this place is anything like more developed destinations Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio. In Malpaís and Santa Teresa today, you’ll find a mix of beach hotels and resorts, restaurants, shops, and private houses, as well as miles of often deserted beach, and easy access to some nice jungle and the nearby Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve ★★.