Roam Guide / Costa Rica
The Yogi Traveler
Juliann Luce works in fashion and marketing and loves to travel without an agenda. She lives in Orono, Minnesota with her new husband, three step-kids and dog. She loves to explore new places solo, along side her husband and with her kids, as each trip yields a different experience. Favorite destinations include her previous hometown of New York City and anywhere she’s never been. Juliann’s time in Costa Rica was spent on a yoga retreat and with a small group of women in the southern part of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Penninsula. Having recommended many happy stays to others, she is now sharing her secrets with us.
The Central Pacific and Southern Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
When to go?
I've been to Costa Rica twice in January and I enjoyed incredible experiences both times. Early January was slightly cooler and less humid than the end of January, which was insanely hot and humid. Across the board the weather can vary, but the middle of winter is a wonderful time to visit the area.
How to get there?
I flew into Liberia (LIR), which is an easy direct flight from Minneapolis and usually not too expensive. The flight is fine, but the roads to get to your destination can be treacherous. The distance you have to go is not that far actually, but it can take 2-4 hours due to the traffic of animals crossing the road, driving through rivers, etc. As with other remote areas in Costa Rica a true off-road adventure in a rickety vehicle is all part of the experience.
Where did you stay?
Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort, Nosara / reservations
Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort is the best ever! I cannot recommend it enough. When I stayed here I was traveling with a group of yogis on a yoga retreat, but you could also go with a group of girlfriends. The food, the staff, the rooms, the pool, the fitness facilities... it's all incredible. Definitely get a massage - Tatiana is world class. The resort is in great proximity to Guiones Beach you can either walk or take the little taxi golf cart, available at the hotel? The juice bar next to the pool is a must - everything is great there. When you first arrive at the Bodhi Tree you are given a fresh coconut with a straw - a heavenly start to a wonderfully relaxing vacation.
White House of Costa Rica, Playa Hermosa / reservations
This is an amazing place to go with a close group of friends or family. It was the perfect option for us, right on Playa Hermosa with a private pool. It offered the privacy of a house with the amenities of a luxury hotel. You have access to an exclusive concierge who can arrange transportation, activities, staff, or groceries. Due to it’s proximity to the Pranamar Yoga Resort you can take full advantage of massages, yoga, dining, sunset cocktails, etc - right next door. They also share staff and security, so you can feel right at home there as well.
Rtip: Keep in mind that the Pranamar offers villas for families as well as a two-story house rental that sleeps seven. The Pranamar yoga resort was built, and is currently managed, by the people that created the famous (and pricer) Hotel Flor Blanca 10 miles south. Another property to consider if these single house rentals are booked is The Hotel Bosque Del Mar closer to the airport.
What should we do?
In my experience with yoga retreats, once you get to your destination you rarely leave. There are a few adventures you may want to do offsite, but those can be coordinated through the resort upon arrival. For excursions, speaking Spanish helps, but certainly not necessary. That said, if you want to get to know the locals it goes a long way if you attempt their language.
In Nosara — you might not want to leave the resort except to hit up Guiones beach. It’s here you’ll find consistent year-round waves and a beautiful shallow bottom sandy beach. In fact in 2017, Nosara was named one of the world’s top twenty surf towns by National Geographic magazine. Conditions are great for all levels of surfing, with a warm off-shore breeze and swells that vary from waist high to double overhead. Lessons can be arranged directly from the resort or rental property.
It’s a great spot to relax in the sand but surfing here is the best - a phenomenal place to learn with great instructors.
In Santa Teresa — because there are more dining options in the area, it’s much easier to take advantage of the adventures that are, in reality, offered in both places. These activities include fishing, horseback riding on the beach, ziplining, hiking to waterfalls, paddleboarding, snorkling and visiting a wildlife refuge. Again, its very easy to arrange these things upon arrival from a menu of activities. All you have to do before your trip is read the resort activity page and get excited about whatever may interest you.
Where should we eat?
When you are in Nosara, it’s about a mile walk to the little tiny town of Guiones where your dining options are limited. I suggest you take advantage of all the meals at Bodhi Tree during your visit. If you insist on an off property option, I can recommend the food at the Harmony Hotel which is a 10 minute walk from Bodhi Tree. They have an open air restaurant, a craft cocktail & juice bar and a sushi lounge. At least stop in for the guacamole and a Pina Colada if you are visiting for a surf lesson. They source fresh ingredients and produce locally, and harvest as much as they can from their nearby farm.
Contrary to the limited dining options in Nosara, the area surrounding Santa Theresa has much more to offer. For brunch I’d send you to Cafe Social — adorable, delicious, and right next to some great little shops. If you are in a house rental without a chef or you’re tired of cooking, you can find several good dinner-only, options including Chile Viola for homemade pasta and seafood. If you venture a little further south, you’ll find even more fabulous places to eat, like the world's best sushi restaurant, Koji's.
Koji's truly is the best sushi I have ever had, and you need a reservation in advance of your visit as it fills up fast.
Where should we drink?
It's always fun to hit up the local liquor store and make your own beverages but the best "beachy cocktails" are at the Harmony Hotel.
What is the one can't miss item on your itinerary?
Surfing. Take a lesson or rent a board and get out there.
Tell us something we don't know?
To keep the roads smooth and from getting too dusty they frequently cover them in molasses - it's an incredible smell and super sticky.
What should we shop for, or bring back with us?
Jewelry! There are so many options and you’ll find great stuff no matter where you are!
What should we take on the trip?
This area of Costa Rica is very casual and you will never get dressed up - I definitely over-packed my first time. You end up living in swimsuits and cover-ups. No heels, no make up, no hair products. What a nice break! It is also very important for you to know that both areas are fairly remote, so everything (except for gas station and supermarket), will be cash payment only. Very rarely will they take credit cards off property. n
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