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Retreat, Recharge, Renew: Costa Rica’s Rustic Charms

Costa Rica has officially become a health and wellness hotspot, a magnet for international travelers, artists, and nature-lovers alike. There, you can find yoga retreats, resorts with great food, hot springs, or stunning architecture that is popping up everywhere.

Flanked by both the Caribbean and the Pacific, this small country has preserved its pristine beauty, friendly people, and respect for nature. While developed enough to safely transport and entertain sophisticated travelers, Costa Rica also boasts a rustic side that offers intrigue and adventure.

While there’s no shortage of jungle zip lines and volcanoes abound, the charming towns and sleepy beaches of Guanacaste on the Pacific Coast are unsurpassed. For a way to restore yourspiritual and physical well being, journey to the incredible Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Guanacaste.

Founded in 2004 by two surfers who fell in love with Playa Guiones (and each other), the Harmony Hotel evolved into a low-key but upscale retreat populated by all kinds of adventure-folk.

A winding two-hour ride from the Liberia Airport, this hotel is ideal for being pampered, lounging under palm trees, enjoying a smoothie by the pool, or just simply exploring. Private hammock-laden patios overlook the surrounding forest and crashing surf, while the rooms feature bright bedding, air conditioners, and soothing fans to complete your relaxing experience.

In the mornings, wake up to the sweet sounds of hummingbirds sucking on bright flowers. Other welcome guests include the local howler monkeys and iguanas that inhabit this special part of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge.

In amongst the natural music, enjoy the on-site restaurant that serves food from the hotel’s organic farm. Having won awards for its sustainable practices, this hotel also owns a greenhouse and only uses natural, biodegradable, or recycled products.

Also the perfect for the destination surfers, Nosara has been ranked one of the top surf towns in the world. And for everyone else, the hotel is just a short two-minute walk from the beach where you can ride a horse or bicycle on sun-kissed sands.

While December through February is the most popular vacation time, those months also have the most tourism. Though May to November is rainy season, June, July, and August are quite pleasant; the mix of sunny days and rainy nights keep the grounds fresh and green.

The Harmony Healing Center offers a menu of customized exotic treatments. One of the most popular treatments is the facial which is customized to skin type and maturity.
We recommend the skin fitness treatments or cacao scrubs that are tailored to each client’s needs and made from locally sourced ingredients. You might also try the Metta Massage and Kobido therapies, which are designed to promote inward thinking and reconnect you with your harmonious center.

Activities include all of the following:

  •  Surfing lessons, which can be arranged for all levels;
  • An assortment of daily yoga and meditation classes, which take place in an open-air studio. Aerial yoga, performed on hammocks, is particularly popular
  • An artist-in-residence program (the bookstore carries art supplies)
  • Kayaking, horseback riding, coffee plantation tours, and zip line canopy tours, all easily arranged by staff;
  • Reading: The bookstore carries classic and contemporary fiction, histories of South or Central America, and wellness, yoga, and surfing titles.
  • Swimming at the beautiful luminous pool which is also great for lounging, enjoying a drink, reading, or painting.

Our food recommendations include the popular sushi lounge, which offers the favored smoky veggie tempura roll; the Juice Bar, also a customer favorite, which serves an “epic” banana nut smoothie; and, of course, the organic food from the on-site restaurant.

In Costa Rica, the nights are quiet, but sweet. If you’re looking to enjoy an evening of adventure, journey off the beaten path to these two local gems:

The OSA Peninsula is part tropical rain forest and part jungle, located near the popular Corcovado National Park, and is home to many new yoga retreats. Blue OSA is one of them, founded by a Manhattan-originated yoga teacher and an amazing architect. The tranquil spot was inspired by the visual image of a mandala, and it looks out on a pebble beach on a remote stretch of OSA accessible only by dirt roads.

Cabins on the peninsula are spacious but rustic, and they lack conveniences like air conditioning or modern plumbing. If you want feel like you’re in the jungle, by all means go for it! The netting that envelops your bed will protect you from mosquitos.

For the hard-core yoga enthusiasts, morning begins quietly: with an hour of silence, followed by Himalayan chants that remind you, “Everything is perfect.” Almost completely vegetarian, every meal begins with prayers of gratitude. After a good spa treatment and great food at the radiant, open-air restaurant, moments of self-reflection ensue and new friendships are forged.

Lisa Stahl

Lisa Stahl, a native New Yorker, has authored many articles that graced the cover pages of magazines and websites. She’s the author of two distance-learning courses on fashion and has contributed substantial research and content on politics and foreign policy to three books by a political analyst and adviser to Hillary Clinton. Lisa’s achievements include an MA in English with honors from Columbia University. She also studied piano at Juilliard.

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