Santa Teresa didn't even have electricity until the mid-1990s. Then one major landowner died and his property was subdivided, and the landscape north of the Playa El Carmen intersection changed forever. These days, you'll need to balance the annoyance of the omnipresent ATVs kicking up dust with the restaurants serving gob-smackingly delicious food and the yoga dens with transformational ocean views.
It's still a wonderful surfing town, though no longer a secret one, and there are plenty of great places to eat and a modicum of nightlife. The entire area unfurls along one bumpy coastal road that rambles south from Santa Teresa through Playa El Carmen and terminates in the relaxed, sleepy fishing hamlet of Mal País.