“My dream was always to live on the beach with palm trees,” says Peter Ottinger. “And here on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula the climate is an endless summer.” A far cry from snowy winters back home.
“When I first moved here, to Santa Teresa, it was a very small community. In the beginning there were hardly any foreigners. But since 2004, it’s grown a lot,” says Peter.
“Now we have a very international community.” It’s a booming haven of backpackers and even mainstream travelers in search of a laid-back and bohemian off-the-beaten path beach destination. In that uptrending tourist market, Peter established his beachfront bar, restaurant, surf school, and a small hotel, Ranchos Itaúna.
His daily routine is simple. He wakes up early and spends times with his family. Like many beach communities in Costa Rica, Santa Teresa found life as a surfer haven, and Peter takes full advantage of the world-class waves that are a stone’s throw from his back door.
If there are no waves, he does yoga. There are studios all around with teachers from around the world in residence or passing through.
Then he starts work, meeting with delivery trucks bringing in supplies and getting the bar and restaurant ready for the day. When the place gets going in mid-afternoon, Peter can often be found spinning the first tunes of the day in the DJ booth, chatting with friends as he cues up the mix.
Staffers occasionally pop by to ask a question. Peter’s laid-back, relaxed attitude sets the tone. Nobody is in a hurry. No shoes, no problem. And if you’re wearing more than a tank top or t-shirt and shorts…you’re way overdressed.
Itaúna is a bamboo-fronted bar offering cold beers and tropical drinks like mojitos. Tables are scattered under the trees, offering a welcome respite from the intense sun.
Lounge chairs and low tables get prime real estate on the sand, with a view of the uncrowded beach and the booming surf. And the soundtrack to it all is laid-back dance tracks and chill-out vibes spun by a rotating cast of DJs, many professionals from Europe, as well as live music.
The restaurant offers an international variety of fresh seafood, Indonesian curries, and Brazilian cuisine. It was a goal of Peter’s to offer a diverse, international menu.
His full moon parties are legendary, with dancing under the stars and big bonfires. And daily sunset sessions bring visitors nearly every afternoon.
There are also four hotel rooms on site, but the bar and restaurant remain the main focus for Peter’s operation.
Throughout it all, he’s found success—and a great lifestyle for himself and his family.
“I’ve never wanted to be a millionaire, but I’ve been in business 20 years, and I make enough to keep me here and live well,” says Peter.
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