The 'High Season' in Costa Rica is also the 'Dry Season', and many people ask if there is a time of year they can visit that is slightly fresher, but are often worried about too much rain. The truth is that the only month where you can expect rain for the majority of the day is October, and since most businesses close down that month for repairs there are few options for places to stay.
BUT--Costa Rica has an amazing 'Shoulder Season' which runs from May until the end of September, During this time of year you can expect ligth rainshowers every other day for brief periods.
This is a great time to visit and here is why!:
1. Everything is soo lush and GREEN, flowers bloom and the dust moves from the air back to the ground where it belongs. Temperature cools a bit and the oppressive weight of the dry March heat has dissipated, meaning you can get through a day with just one shower as opposed to three!
2. You don’t have to book everything in advance and wait in long lines, because the number of tourists is much lower. Prices also drop significantly.
3. Waterfalls. There are no waterfalls in Nosara in the dry season, you might catch a trickle of water in February, but often nothing.
4. Look forward to more one on one attention and treatment as locals fall into a more ‘pura vida’ vibe after a hectic high season, and have time to converse and really talk. Make time to join locales to watch a futbal game while you are here!
5. You get the beaches all to yourself! Yes, waves too! If you don’t like big crowds on the beach and in the water, the green season is a fantastic time to enjoy real serenity when you go to the beach.
They say that you can never go home again, but I think that saying must only apply to places outside of Costa Rica.
If you have spent any extended amount of time in this country, you will understand that beyond the obvious, glaring, sensational beauty of the natural landscape there lies a warmth and welcoming, friendly nature in the people that immediately makes you feel as if you are among friends. Ticos are considered the happiest people on the planet according to the Happy Planet Index, winning and ranking extremely high many times through the survey's years. Perhaps it is this happiness, mixed with kindness, a very real intent to enjoy the moment (Pura Vida) and the desire to avoid conflict ( a great reason to have abolished their army 67 years ago), that makes it such a welcoming place.
For a country of its size, Costa Rica has an incredibly varied natural landscape, boasting a Caribbean coast with a real Rasta vibe, a Pacific coast with numerous world class spots for wave chasing surfers, majestic volcanos, waterfalls, stunnning national parks covering over 25% of its land surface, and an abundance of incredibly colorful wildlife. There is never a lack of things to do and see. Every trip within Costa Rica feels like you are visiting a totally new location.
I have travelled extensively through Latin America, from the islands of the Caribbean to southern Argentina, Mexico to Panama, and no matter where I am, I always find it lacking. Sure every country has some amazing feature that makes them stand out in memory, from architecture to history to the indigenous peoples. But they just aren't 'home'.
Going back to Costa Rica never feels that way. After a few days away or even many months, coming back to Costa Rica is always like coming back to a good friend.
By Lauren Eckstrom
If you love both yoga and travel, yoga retreats and destination trainings provide unique opportunities to delve into local culture, experience healthy cuisine and expand your awareness of world culture. The Costa Rica Yoga Resort and Spa, where we are currently hosting our 200 hour Holistic Yoga Flow international teacher training, employs local chefs, organic farmers, retreat hosts and full time staff.
In the last year, Fabian, an organic farmer with a background in perma culture and garden design, created a stunning, expansive garden complete with healing herbs, luscious greens, healthy soil and a composting area. Fabian was born in the highlands of Costa Rica where the soil is rich and growing just about anything comes with ease. But here on the coast in Nosara, the soil was not prepared for such abundant growth. Fabian worked hard to cultivate the perfect combination of horse manure and active, healthy bacteria until the soil was ready for planting. As he prepared the soil he simultaneously worked with a team of local gardeners to build the square mandala shape of the garden outlined with rocks for wide planting beds. Using zero chemicals and only natural pest repellent created with ingredients such as hot pepper oil and cayenne, anyone visiting the retreat center can now enjoy a plentiful, organic garden. Salads with fresh arugula, green chard or kale decorate the tables daily. Fabian added beautiful flowering plants throughout the garden to attract pollinators, which are critical to the success of flourishing plant life. A tour through the garden gives you aromatic experiences of lavender, coriander and more. As he teaches you to gently run your fingers across the leaves, almost caressing their fragile frames, stunning scents waft across your fingertips. Fabian delicately hands visitors leaves pulled straight from the plants to taste, chew and experience each plants’ full flavor and possibility. Many of the plants he tends possess powerful healing properties to ease the pain of ear aches, calm the discomfort of urinary tract infections and eliminate the pangs of digestive issues that visitors might face while away from home. Fabian’s desire is to inspire visitors to return home ready to plant their own garden because as he passionately explains, “nothing tastes better than food from your own backyard.”
Many of the hosts at the retreat center were born and raised in the bustling capital city of San Jose. Eduardo passionately gazes into your eyes with a warm greeting upon arrival and without hesitation tells you “we are already family.” Each morning he greets everyone with a hug and warm embrace, ready to make their day reminiscent of home. Eduardo left a high paying job in the field of electric energy design to pursue life closer to nature. He reflects on days spent in front of four large computers where the only sense of the outdoors came from screen savers of the ocean. He became wildly disenchanted with the illusion, or what in yoga we call maya, of the San Jose party scene, materialistic accumulation and a life of indulgence so he headed to Nosara with the intention of reclaiming the human need for connection to nature and simplicity. Daily he prepares magical tumeric and ginger teas for helping worn yogis decrease bodily inflammation and energetically rejuvenate. Eduardo’s love of yoga, healing arts and being of service to others gives each person visiting a sense of being fully taken care of, seen and loved. He hopes visitors leave inspired to care for nature through energy conservation, recycling and sustainable living.
Luxurious yoga retreat centers can sometimes take us further away from local culture rather than closer to it. Working with retreat centers that invest in the local community, employ locals and empower the surrounding area is both inspiring and positive. Making sure that our visits help to keep the local economy healthy and vibrant is part of our responsibility as traveling yoga teachers and students. As you take your practice on the road, make sure to visit local craftsmen and women, restaurants, healers and cultural centers. If the retreat you are on is separate from the local community, make time in your schedule to explore the beautiful people around you. Even if you do not speak the local language well (or at all) learn a few key words such as a warm greeting and please or thank you. Every effort to be part of the community is noticed and appreciated.
Travel. Without question experiences are the best spent money in the world. Travel with care, a desire to learn and grow, a passion to serve and an understanding that we are a very small part of this wide, incredible and amazing world. There is so much the world community has to offer, so many diverse people and places; do not hesitate to step outside of your comfort zone. What you will find is that we are on the same journey, we are one human family and if you let yourself, people all over the world will welcome you with open arms.
Chapter one of the Tao Te Ching, written by Lao Tzu reads,
"The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name..."
The interpretation according to Derek Lin reads like so,
"The Tao that can be completely expressed in words is not the constant, eternally changing and true Tao... Names did not exist prior to Creation. The nameless Tao is therefore the source of the universe."
As I sit at the small table at the top of the hill I cannot help but wonder if that's why it feels almost impossible to find the right words. What exactly is the Tao? The original source from which all things stem from, the center, the universal vibration, I imagine everything and also nothing. My thoughts feel scattered while I begin to think on the differences between Prana and Qi. The only thing that came to mind was the idea that they were the same philosophies that were just given different names. If you truly believe in God, do you attempt to name it?
A gecko began to chirp and I realized I was listening to my thoughts. I began to chant a single Om to help wipe my mind of other distractions. The vibrations quickly helped release more and more tension simultaneously throughout my mind and body.
As I deepened my breath I felt the abundance of life around me. From directly ahead a group of cows communicated while grazing. To my left a family of monkeys howled. Birds sang so closely behind me I almost felt as if they were on my shoulders. I realized how closely I was with so many different species. The trees danced in the wind and I knew we were all coexisting.
The idea of Taoism is to try to become one with the Tao. To live in harmony with the Tao, the way, the path, the driving force behind all that exists. To go with the flow. My best teacher has always been nature. I focus on my Dan Tien and feel one with the surrounding life. I breath the same breathe as everything and truly believe I understand what it feels like to be connected.
I bow my head slightly deeper, expressing gratitude for my surroundings. Costa Rica Yoga Spa has provided me with an incredible atmosphere, and truly immersed me into a place where self reflection comes so easily. My thoughts drift away slowly and with ease.
I first met Franklin last March. After everything I heard about him, I had to go see him for myself. Just a short walk down the hill that Costa Rica Yoga Spa is located on, I came to his rasta-painted gate. As I walked down his driveway I noticed his yard was a garden full of turmeric plants, cacao, pineapple, mango trees, and coconut palms to name a few.
A couple of large glass cases full of neatly placed jars and handcrafted jewelry rested outside of his door. The jars contained all sorts of goodies, from raw organic honey, marmalade, to spices and hydrated fruits. I thought I saw it all until I walked through his front door. First, I noticed a large table made from a large sliver of a very old tree, with a couple of people chatting and drinking some sort of yellow concoction. When my attention averted to the rest of his place, I was taken back by the variety of raw foods and ingredients he had on display. Large glass cases separated the patron area to the back of his store, which contained dozens of well organized glass jars each with a unique raw fruit or spice. Even more jars perfectly lined the shelves that were located behind the cases. To the right were a couple of refrigerators displaying different colored beverages, which radiated health and wellbeing.
I could tell whoever owned this shop, took great pride and care to what he was doing. This is the guy to talk to about super foods, and for the next hour I would be his pupil. Franklin shortly appeared from the kitchen, wearing a Bob Marley shirt and a big smile. There was a jovial kindness to him. He was someone you wanted to listen to and learn from.
Franklin began telling me how he got started in raw foods and how many of his ingredients are homegrown organically and dehydrated at the raw temperature. I asked him what his favorite things to make and eat were. He began telling me about a snack he calls a fruit sushi roll. Of course, there is no fish involved, just dried fruits and spices. He starts the roll with a square sheet of pressed and dried mango usually and then adds slivers of papaya, banana, coconut, and pineapple. He likes to top off the roll with some cacao and a dash of cayenne to accentuate the flavors and help with absorption. I put the roll in my mouth and immediately thought of a fruit roll-up with a hint of chocolate aftertaste. It was delicious and of course very healthy and nutritious.
After leaving Franklin’s I felt inspired and even a little lighter. He peaked my interest about a raw food diet and how great they can taste when they are paired correctly. I have since been back to Franklin’s and always learn something new each time I visit. If you ever find yourself in Nosara, I would highly recommend making a trip to Franklin’s located at the bottom of the mountain of Costa Rica Yoga Spa, just south of Playa Ostional.