As advocates for life in the Costa Ballena, it is our absolute pleasure to answer clients who are asking how we spend our time living here. It’s probably not a surprise to you that unlike many of our clients, we are not retired, so a lot of our week is spent working. But we also enjoy playtime, relaxation, and generally creating a feeling of satisfaction with our lives, which is not hard in our exceptional location in the world. All of us are different in how we like to spend our time so we have put together a broad list of activities that we recommend to our clients to try out as an introduction to what this area has to offer in 2020. Our favorites may not be your favorites but there is plenty going on here to suit many different backgrounds of people. Scroll down below to see if you can find your type and let us know if we can help put you in touch with the right people who share your way of expressing a zest for life!
Nature watching and photography are two popular hobbies that almost anyone can participate in and take a lot of satisfaction from. Our South Pacific region of Costa Rica has a diversity of microclimates and habitats that house a colorful array of tropical species. Many of these species can be found right in our backyards in the Costa Ballena, especially if you don’t have cats or dogs as pets. But bird species tend to be abundant regardless, as long as your garden is filled with native flower species. So get to planting that porter weed and hibiscus and soon you will be surrounded by a rainbow of hummingbirds and trogons.
Great parks to visit in the Costa Ballena: Baru Wildlife Refuge, Terraba-Sierpe Wetlands Reserve
Hiking in Costa Ballena
Nature hikes are another activity that can be free or you can pay to enter into a park or preserve area for some of the more remarkable landscapes in the region. Just a pair of durable shoes and maybe a walking stick can be as little as you need to hit the trails around your South Pacific Costa Rica property. Most of the roads in our mountain communities are tree-lined dirt tracks that often veer past picturesque rivers and mini waterfalls. Each area is unique in its features and it becomes a fun game to chase all of the different experiences out there, like walking past a fruiting water apple tree during the summer months or feeding your favorite neighborhood horse a banana.
Hunting for waterfalls is a popular pastime in the Costa Ballena. There are many with the mentality of wanting to experience them all. As soon as we hear from a friend that they came across a new waterfall that they didn’t previously know about, we are hopping into the car next chance we get to go for a refreshing dip in a magical location. Summers can get pretty warm in the tropics and although our pools go a long way to help, there’s nothing like being in a shaded forest setting, enveloped by the sound of rushing water. This is an activity for the more adventurous and fit, who don’t mind a bit of a hike and swimming against the river’s current. And who knows… you might even stumble across a waterfall with a rope swing, waiting for you to come and play.
Popular waterfall hikes in the Costa Ballena: Nauyaca Waterfall in Dominical, Uvita Waterfall, and Cascada Pavon south of Ojochal
Freedom of choice and acceptance are bit parts of the ethics of many expats in our region of South Pacific Costa Rica. Whether you want to live a quiet life away from most people or you love to socialize, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, anyway you choose to live your life is accepted here. But if you do something to upset people, you will surely hear about it. There is a constant, open dialogue in our communities that we genuinely appreciate and spent time cultivating. We all try to answer each others’ questions and monitor conversations on topics that are important to our community. It’s a very basic way of every day “voting” and being an active participant in our small, close-knit society, whether we prefer to stay at home or go out. Social media has become a way of life and we frequently use it to grow our community and share in resources and information. Check out any Costa Ballena community page on Facebook to find the contacts or references you need.
Some Facebook groups we use in the Costa Ballena: Costa Ballena Bulletin Board, Ojochal Community Group, Domi Crew
Getting (And Staying) Healthy
Wellness is a state of being that involves making choices to bring about a better state of mind, body, emotions, and spirit (if you believe in that last one!) This might be as simple as getting a deep tissue massage at a local spa. Or it might mean taking a class in sound healing or forest bathing as a way of neutralizing bad energies. Our Costa Ballena communities are filled with a full spectrum of wellness experiences, from new age to intense fitness. We have medicine people who use healing herbs from their garden or forest harvests. And we have very moving and heart-opening ceremonies that involve no psychoactive substances (and quite a few that do for the more adventurous). We also have numerous gyms and retreat centers at which you can participate in dozens of different modalities of exercise. But most importantly, we have small, niche communities of people who choose to share in experiences that put a focus on health — no matter the path that they choose to get there.
Costa Ballena community wellness centers: Dominical is the main centers for wellness activities in the Costa Ballena and Danyasa, Hona Wellness, and Domi Plaza are the most popular locations for these types of activities
Dining and Entertainment
Live music is vitally important to the Costa Ballena where there is an incredible amount of quality venues per capita of our local population. Almost any night of the week, you can catch an assortment of different musical styles, from country to classic rock; Latin to reggae. Dancing is optional but tends to be thoroughly enjoyed by both locals and internationals, who come here to live a life of earnest self-expression and fun.
Our diverse communities are also home to a growing number of international cuisine restaurants. And we are grateful to live in the midst of some of the best dining options in Costa Rica, especially in our home base of Ojochal. Fresh and flavorful fish dishes at Heliconia keeps us coming back regularly. And haute French cuisine at either Sud, Citrus, or Exotica always make for an extravagant and sensual experience, thanks to the village’s long history of immigration from French Canada. For more international and local flavors, Uvita and Dominical both serve up an exciting array of options, most of which can be enjoyed from unique and beautiful locations. Many hotel restaurants will have a large pool that guests of the restaurant can also use in case they’d like to meet friends at a fun social location that’s likely to have a great view and cocktail service.
Our favorite restaurants: Heliconia, Exotica, and Mosaic
Our favorite live music venues: La Mona Grita, Bamboo Room, and Al Chile Que Si
Connection With Nature
Hammock time is one of the favored ways to pass an afternoon in the shade and the breeze. Swinging away with a good book or just watching the greenery swaying around is a revitalizing way to relax and get into the flow of nature. When we are away from our screens, we relish in our ability to tune into the sound of insects and birds chirping. Gardening is another way that people unite forces with nature. By organically manipulating our environments, we can grow an abundance of food-bearing plants and beautiful flowering gardens, becoming more sustainable and self-reliant, which are empowering feelings.
Shopping at Local Ferias
The weekly farmer’s markets, or ferias, in our region are notable for the delightful goodies for sale that go beyond fresh produce. Oils, sauces, soaps, cheeses, preserves, and healing herbs are just some of the many offerings at our Uvita, and Dominical ferias. We love shopping at any of these markets regularly as they are great places to bump into friends, catch a fresh bite of something to eat, and even take in a day time performance by great local and international musicians. The organizers do their best to make these community events exciting and enriching for a broad cross-section of our communities, especially those who enjoy supporting fresh food and their local economy.
Playing on the Beach
Our dozen or so local beaches can each be enjoyed in a diversity of ways. Many who come here love to partake in adventure activities like surfing or boogie boarding. Or you can explore our biodiverse coastal environments by paddleboard, traveling along river mangroves and seeing their inhabitants up close. Boat tours, diving expeditions, and snorkeling are popular, too, depending on your budget and enthusiasm. And there are small communities of people who you can join on any of these types of excursions. Beach volleyball and sunset gazing, among numerous other activities, are equally popular when measuring the level of enthusiasm of their participants.
Giving Back in Costa Ballena
Costa Ballena volunteer efforts are crucial to keeping important services that don’t have access to public funding running in our communities. These organizations will look after things like animal shelters, donation collection and distribution, community security, beach clean-ups, and environmental protection and education. We are lucky to have these programs and people to steward them and we are grateful to participate in all the ways we can, giving back to this land that gives us so much wealth of experience and pleasure.
Costa Ballena volunteer organizations: DAWG and El Refugio animal shelters, Costa Ballena lifeguards, Blue Flag beach clean up, and Playa Reserva Tortuga