Ah, November. Crisp autumn air and beautiful foliage are behind us, and we are all looking forward to holiday feasts and spending time with family and friends. For those of us who reside in the colder corners of the world, perhaps we are already experiencing that bite in the air, a frost or two, or even the first snowfall. Soon our thoughts will be filled with tropical getaways, warm beaches, palm trees swaying in the breeze, a cocktail in hand, and having no worries in the world. Being a New Englander myself, these daydreams are all too familiar. If you are like me, you’re probably already researching the best spot to spend some time away from the ice and snow. Well, it sounds like the gem of Costa Ballena in Costa Rica is the perfect spot for you!
Here are 10 reasons you should make Costa Ballena your vacation destination this winter.
1. An abundance of wildlife
It is no secret that Costa Rica is home to many animals, some of the most stunning and unique members of the animal kingdom. Costa Ballena has just about all of them. This coastline is home to a great number of exotic animals such as monkeys, sloths, macaws, iguanas, hummingbirds, and toucans. One need only step outside their door and take a look around to discover a wide variety of flora and fauna. Just a hop, skip, and jump from Bahia Ballena is the Osa Peninsula — home to 3% of the entire planet’s biodiversity. The amount of animals found in this region may only be matched by those found just off the coast. In the salty waters of the Pacific, sea turtles, barracudas, reef sharks, dolphins, whales, and countless tropical fish reside. Any animal lover looking to discover new and exciting wildlife will not be disappointed in Costa Ballena.
2. Staggering natural beauty
Wine-lovers travel to Italy, art admirers to France, and those who love the outdoors come to Costa Rica. Tourism in Costa Rica has always had a focus on the natural wonders that can be found here, and Costa Ballena is not lacking. Here, one can hike through dense primary rainforest, cool off in refreshing natural pools, and stand in the face of immense and powerful waterfalls. Not to mention, walk along gorgeous black sand beaches and take in views of mountains speckled with clouds that would make the jaws of even the most experienced outdoorsmen drop. Anyone who finds themselves happiest when amidst nature will enjoy Costa Ballena to the fullest.
3. Tasty tropical cuisine
Costa Rican cuisine is something particularly special. While the basic staples for most dishes may sound similar to the rest of Latin America, Tico dishes always prove to have unique and delicious flavors that will keep you coming back for more. From gallo pinto (the traditional breakfast dish), to fresh fish and shrimp ceviche, to the ubiquitous casado (a “marriage” of white rice, black beans, meat, vegetables, and plantains). Wonderful Tico food can be found here in Costa Ballena. Moreover, there is something here for all types of eaters — whether you’re looking for the most customary dishes, organic vegetarian fare, fresh seafood, gourmet Mexican plates, oriental cuisine, or even pizza that could rival the best New York slice. And don’t forget Adrianne’s Kitchen right here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga! If you make Costa Ballena your next vacation spot, be sure to come hungry.
4. Never-ending adventure opportunities
There are those of us who, when picturing their dream vacation, picture nothing but relaxation. Massages, cold beverages, a comfortable place to rest our heads, and the complete absence of an alarm clock or an email inbox. Then, there are the thrill seekers. Those who want to be exhilarated and amazed while taking time away from the dreaded daily routine. Here in Costa Ballena, you can find everything for the adventurous soul, something for even the greenest adventurer and for the most seasoned adrenaline junkie. You’ll find zip-lining, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, canyoning, ocean and mangrove kayaking, sport fishing, ATV riding, extreme hiking with natural waterfall slides, and more surfing than you could possibly imagine. Taking it slow and easy may be the way to go for some tourists, but if the fast lane is where you’d like to be, you will no doubt find it in Costa Ballena.
5. The “Salt Life”
When someone says the word “vacation” to me, my immediate first thought is the beach. Personally, I can’t possible imagine a better place to be than with sand beneath my toes and salty air filling my lungs. Costa Ballena runs along some of the most stunning Pacific coastline in the world, and this setting provides no shortage of activities. There is year-round (and at times even world-class) surfing at just about every beach along the coast, with a wealth of shops where rentals and classes are readily available. Catching the perfect wave couldn’t be easier, especially if Bodhi Surf + Yoga is your host. Just off the coast, you can find some of the best SCUBA diving and snorkeling sites in all of Central America. These waters are also a fisherman’s paradise, with a huge variety of fish to be caught. There are plenty of opportunities to spend time shipboard if boating is a favorite pastime. And of course, there are miles and miles of beautiful black sand beaches to be explored and coconut palms just waiting to be relaxed under. Costa Ballena has all the makings of your dream beach vacation.
6. A rich cultural experience
Experiencing a new culture, different from your own, is like taking a deep breath of fresh air. It renews and excites you. It gives the opportunity to peer through a window of diversity and learn to appreciate the many ways the people of our planet live their lives. Costa Rican culture is perhaps one of the most beautiful cultures on earth. Tico people are found to be some of the happiest people around the world, and this observation is no different here in Costa Ballena.
The people who live here can be described as nothing short of some of the sweetest and most caring people you may ever meet. They live the quintessential Pura Vida lifestyle, a life of enjoyment and contentedness of all that they have. But the cultural experience doesn’t stop there. In Costa Ballena, you can experience Costa Rican culture through traditional folkloric dance and music, food and drink, the Spanish language, indigenous art, and even through community involvement and service. Costa Ballena is rich with deep-rooted cultural experiences just waiting to be discovered and explored.
7. World-class whale watching
Bahia Ballena, or “Whale Bay” is not solely named so just for the incredible natural formation of sand and rock that, during low tide, appears in the exact shape of a whale’s tail. This mystical body of water is also one of the few places across the globe where there are two full whale-watching seasons. According to National Geographic, this location is one of the top ten places in the world to see whales! Every year between the months of July and October, a migratory group of humpback whales from the Antarctic Peninsula grace Bahia Ballena with their presence. Then between the months of December and March, we see a second group of whales, traveling from the northwestern coast of the United States.
Visitors coming during any of these months will almost certainly be blessed with the site of a mother humpback whale with her calf, or a male breaching the surface to take a breath. More than 30 different tour companies in the area can take you out on a typical Costa Rican whale-watching boat, which are much smaller and therefore have better visibility than most other larger boats, to see the whales and learn all about why they travel so far to the waters off our coast. Seeing a whale in its natural habit is perhaps one of the most magical things a person can experience, and you can almost certainly make it happen here in Costa Ballena.
8. A growing culture of yoga and fitness
If you have never visited Costa Rica before, then you may not be aware of the growing yoga culture that exists here. Along the South Pacific coast, and especially in Costa Ballena, there are a myriad of yoga studios and shalas tucked away amid the palms and cecropias. A practitioner of yoga — be they a beginner or an experienced yogi — can find countless options to practice here, especially if they make Bodhi Surf + Yoga their home. I can say from experience that there seems to be nothing more relaxing or renewing than practicing yoga to the sounds of songbirds and a gentle tropical breeze in the early morning. Those who wish to stay fit while on their winter getaway will not be disappointed, even if yoga isn’t their go-to way of staying fit. There is a strong fitness community here, with many running and cycling groups to keep you up and moving. Whether it’s a run on the beach or a sun salutation, staying healthy in Costa Ballena is a way of life!
9. Sustainable travel and ecotourism options
With the effects of climate change becoming more and more palpable with each passing day, living in harmony with the natural world is becoming more and more essential, and this lifestyle doesn’t have to end with the start of a vacation. Costa Rica is known as being one of the “greenest” nations in the world, and Costa Ballena offers numerable sustainable options for the ecotourist. The community is committed to protecting our environment and many members of the tourism industry here have made the switch to more sustainable practices.
For example, Bodhi Surf + Yoga is committed to living green, with natural light and cooling options being used, few disposable plastics on site, and reinforcement of sustainable living practices with guests via the Ocean Guardian Pledge. Bodhi staff has also given thousands of hours of service to our community to encourage all residents of Costa Ballena to live more sustainably. Bodhi is just one example of the eco-friendly businesses in this community, and of the sustainably-minded tourism operators that will help ensure you won’t have to give up your green habits while escaping the winter back home. By vacationing in Costa Ballena and choosing the businesses you patronize wisely, you are helping support ecotourism and sustainability.
10. A sense of community
Most vacation hot spots around the world can boast beautiful beaches, natural splendor and the perfect place to relax, but not many can say they have a sense of community that will make you feel at home. Costa Ballena’s community is one of love, strength and care that is an absolute delight to be a part of, even if only for a short stay. In this small rural community, it is clear that not only does everyone here know each other, but they truly care about each other as well. It is easy to get to know the community a little and take part in events that make you feel comfortable in what would normally be a foreign setting. Even giving back to the community is made easy here, where community service is ingrained in the everyday life of the people who reside here. Living here, I have felt more at home than anywhere else I have lived around the world. I can say with confidence that after just a short stay here, you will be able to call Costa Ballena, Costa Rica your home as well.
Written by Emily Parker