Updated: Jan 25, 2020
Cindi and Eliana Dominguez, Owners of Santa Swimwear
A palpable,entrancing energy pervades Santa Teresa, a dusty beach town that lines the lush, dense jungles of the Puntarenas Province, just under a hundred miles west of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The surfer sanctuary boasts a community of café baristas, boutique owners, surf instructors and yoga gurus, arguably most of whom are female business owners.
In other words, if “girl power” was a place, it’d be Santa Teresa.
To follow are just a handful of some successful and inspiring women-owned and -operated businesses I recommend visiting in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
This travel guide is part of an ongoing column featuring women-owned and -operated businesses around the world. A growing body of research reiterates that the wealth gap is rife, female entrepreneurs are conditioned to evade defeat rather than to succeed, and women with ambitions to own businesses face unique challenges like unequal access to funding. As female travelers, let’s lift local women up—because empowered women empower women.
FOOD & DRINK
Natalia Rimolo, Co-Owner of Tipsy Wine Bar
“My husband and I were both working in the wine industry and, one day when we met up for a lunch break, he asked me what I would like in this life we were about to start together—I told him that I’d like to move to Santa Teresa to start a small wine shop and bar,” says Natalia Rimolo, the Costa Rican co-owner of Tipsy, who opened up shop with her French husband, Louis. “I came up with the name Tipsy, and all his family was baffled by the funny name. Everyone was very supportive, however, although they were also skeptic of our plans to move to a town in the middle of the beach and jungle (that Louis didn’t even know at the moment!) and open a wine shop of all things.”
Tipsy, which boasts local live music on Thursdays, offers an array of fine wines and assorted cheese plates.
“I grew up in Costa Rica and left to study abroad when I was 18 in 2004,” she says. “This was quite unusual for a young Tica woman. I finally returned in 2017 at 33 years old to open our business and move to where I always someday planned to retire: a beautiful beach. I have spoken about this to many people who live in Santa Teresa and have taken on the challenge of opening a business in this eclectic place. It’s a great adventure, and we have gotten to meet some great people.”
Earth Café, owned by Katinka Bronge (who hails from Sweden), offers a refreshing respite from Costa Rica’s blistering heat. The menu of acai bowls topped with juicy fruits to garden-fresh avocado toast will satiate any appetite—especially vegans.
Kamila, an Italian female entrepreneur, moved to Santa Teresa, where she opened Pronto Café. There you’ll find Italian street foods like the truffle arancini balls and pesto lasagna, as well as some world-renowned Italian coffee. It smells like Italy. It tastes like Italy. But it’s tucked into this tiny corner of Costa Rica.
The Bakery, owned by a woman named Adi, offers a full menu replete with breakfast, lunch and dinner options, as well as an assortment of traditional Italian desserts. From savory sandwiches like the caprese to sweet smoothies packed with nutrients to cannolis galore, you may find yourself at The Bakery every day, sometimes all day. Plus, there’s unlimited pizza on Mondays.
Margriet, Owner of Zwart Café
“I was inspired by the feelings of happiness I felt by simply existing in this place,” says Margriet, owner of Zwart Café, a white-washed café adorned with the vibrant gallery of Margriet’s original paintings. “There was no WiFi and no cell service; it was all about connecting with energy and light. I was able to find my true self without preconceived conditioning—a pattern or loop of what life is ‘supposed to be.’ I believe in freedom. And, here, I found a way to feel free, surf and paint.”
Chop It – Holy Cow Burger is owned by a woman named Barbara who offers up fresh organic salads and wraps made to order, as well as gourmet hamburgers made with 100 percent certified hormone- and antibiotic-free grass-fed beef. Go for The Tara wrap (mixed greens, arugula, kale, apples, grilled chicken, beets, radish, goat cheese and cranberries), and stay for the hand-cut fries.
Drift Bar, owned by a woman named Sharon Ramsay, is a bar and lounge serving up, arguably, the best cocktails in town. Read: cucumber watermelon margaritas and pineapple jalapeno mojitos.
“I don’t like artificial flavors and sugar in drinks, so I first opened the cocktail shop to provide high-quality all-natural cocktails at an affordable price,” Ramsay explains, adding that Drift Bar strives to be non-waste, producing little-to-no garbage and composting on a daily basis. “Where possible, fruits are purchased from local farmers, then cold pressed, mixed with alcohol and bottled ready to go.”
Within a year, the cocktails at Drift Bar became so popular that Ramsay decided to expand and open a lounge area serving cocktails, wine, beer and vegetarian tapas, too. And while you’re having drinks and tapas, you can also relish in the local art at the bar’s very own gallery teeming with inimitable, ocean-inspired works.