Just over a decade ago, the long grey-sand surf beaches fronting the virtually seamless towns of MAL PAÍS (“Bad Land”) and SANTA TERESA, 12km southwest of Cóbano and also accessible via a steep and very bumpy road from Cabuya, began luring an increasing number of travellers. First came the surfers, then the hippies, and not long after, curious yuppies, celebrities and families started trickling in. A building boom over the past decade, particularly in Santa Teresa, has transformed this formerly sleepy stretch of Pacific coast into a trendy beach resort, and foreigners now outnumber Tico residents. The developers, banks and car rental chains show no signs of leaving town, and the fear on these dusty, rutted streets is that the neighbouring towns are well on their way to becoming “the next Jacó”. But as long as the roads here remain appalling, the area seems certain to retain its laidback charm; and in the rainy season at least, you can still walk along jungle-flanked surf beaches for hours and see few other people.

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