For most of the year, you work like an animal. So when you’re on vacation, relax like one. The Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is awash in beaches, mountains, and animal preserves.
Sleeping Dogs Lie
You’ll find ecofriendly Rancho Pacifico nestled in the quiet hills of Uvita. The open-air, tree-house suites are built into the mountains overlooking Whale’s Tail Beach. Eat local organic food, wake up to the aptly named Howler monkeys, and get a massage at the outdoor spa. The helpful staff will arrange activities from mangrove tours to horseback riding. Ask kooky guide Cuca to take you to the waterfalls. (Swimming in your skivvies optional — and encouraged.)
A short drive away is Dominical, a famed surfer town. Learn to hang ten (or five) with lessons from locals. (When you go back to practice, you can borrow a board for free.) The strip of restaurants and bars along the water cater to barefoot adventurers. Embrace the sandy floors, beach dogs, and comida tipica at Tortilla Flats (now closed).
Buckle up for the rain forest zip-line tour through the canopies of Hacienda Barú, an 815-acre National Wildlife Refuge preserve. Fly from fourteen platforms as an eagle-eyed spotter points out playful monkeys, sleepy sloths, and noisy toucans in their natural habitat.
Add San Isidro to the trip. The small city two hours north of Uvita has shops, cafes, and an open-air market filled with local delicacies and fresh fruits. On the way, stop at cliff-side restaurant Valle Encantado (+506-2771-9973) for nachos, cerveza, and stunning views of the valley and San Isidro’s charming skyline.
Along with kayaking and scuba diving, the coast affords white water rafting and whale- and dolphin-watching. Natives are all too happy to show off the land (set to be the first carbon-neutral country in 2021). Dive in: Go during rainy season (May-November) for a fraction of the price. You can tour in the morning sunshine and listen to monkeys while sipping Imperial (the local equivalent of Coors) during the late afternoon storms.
It is, after all, a rain forest.