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10 Healthy Adventures To Include On Your Costa Rica Wellness Retreat

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relaxing on a jungle porch

Ahh, wellness travel.

There’s an appeal to the idea of the classic Costa Rica luxury wellness retreat, and a draw to the prospect spending a week in an exotic location, with perfectly balanced meals and daily beachfront yoga classes before your morning coffee

However, if you’re planning a wellness trip to this small Central American country, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you limited yourself to just a yoga class and healthy meal in the capital city of San Jose.

For a holistic wellness retreat — what some folks may call a “transformative” travel experience — visit Costa Rica off the beaten path.

Check out these 10 healthy recommendations for Costa Rica adventure offerings that will leave you feeling mentally and physically rejuvenated.

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Costa Rica retreats abound, though there's more to these than simply spending days in downward dog. If you enjoy off the beaten path travel, these 10 active adventures help you explore health and local culture. * * * #CostaRica #WellnessTravel #Retreats #HealthyTravel #LatinAmerica

1. Stay At A *Real* Costa Rica Eco-Lodge 

Rancho Margot is a sustainable working ranch which allows guests to stay and assist with farm tasks. Photo by Suzie Dundas

Greenwashing — or claiming to be eco-friendly but not making any serious strides towards it — is a growing problem in the age of environmentally conscious travelers.

Fortunately, Costa Rica is home to some of the most legitimately eco-friendly lodges in the world, like Rancho Margot, which generates their own energy and built everything — yes, including the jungle cabins —with materials indigenous to the area.

Because they’re self-sustaining and reuse more than 99% of their waste, visitors are encouraged to help out on-site.

This may include anything from making soap to farming and planting.

Many lodges along this same vein exist in the country, especially in the central volcanic region.

2. Try Waterfall Jumping In Central Costa Rica

costa rica waterfall tour
Waterfall jumping tours allow participants to (safely) face their fears. Photo courtesy of Desafio Costa Rica

Wellness is more than physical; it’s mental, too.

Putting yourself into (safe) situations that challenge you to overcome your fears is a key part of mental wellness, as well as key to helping you get past future mental blocks.

In Costa Rica’s central volcanic region, you can take part in a waterfall jumping tour called (creatively) Gravity Falls.

With a handful of guides, you’ll jump over five or six waterfalls in the middle of the jungle.

The jumps range from nine feet to nearly 40 feet, allowing everyone to find the perfect level of mental challenge on one tour.

A leader in Costa Rica jungle tours is Desafio Tours Costa Rica who’s guides discovered many of the waterfalls and rivers in the area.

3. Have Healthy Adventures By Paddle Boarding In Costa Rica

 Isla Chora
Reconnect with nature at the Isla Chora, a deserted island off the coast. Photo by Suzie Dundas.

Wellness is about balance.

And in the case of paddle boarding in Costa Rica, it’s literal.

While it can be somewhat scary — especially on the first attempt to stand up — paddle boarding is mostly about maintaining a connection between the board and your body, and staying loose to roll with the punches.

Paddle boarding is a solo activity as there are no tandem paddle boards, which means you’ll be totally focused on your board and the water.

A great place to experience it is on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, in the laid-back town of Playa Samara, which hosts far fewer tourists than its more crowded neighboring towns.

Here, you can paddle board out to Isla Chora, a wildlife preserve filled with iguanas, hermit crabs and, occassionally, monkeys.

4. Explore Spiritual Costa Rica Through A Traditional Ceremony

lighting candles
Cacao ceremonies are designed to open the heart and mind.

While traveling through a new country, it’s important to take time to legitimately experience the culture.

A great way to do this in Costa Rica is to take part in a sacred cacao ceremony, which involves consuming rich dark cacao.

The ritualistic process involves personal time after drinking the cacao to meditate on the effects, which can range from feelings of love and happiness to hallucinations.

Many lodges and Costa Rican wellness centers offer cacao ceremonies throughout the country.

5. Try Sound Therapy In The Costa Rican Jungle

Different bowls make different vibrations. Photo by Pixabay/Antranias

No Costa Rica wellness retreat is complete without a sound ceremony.

Sound healing, also known as sound therapy, has made its way to the United States, but there’s something special about experiencing it with the gentle sounds of the jungle as your background noise.

During sound healing, a practitioner plays bowls and other objects that create vibrations you’ll feel and hear while lying on mats.

Like cacao ceremonies, the effect ranges from person to person, and can include everything from visuals to inward reflection.

The ceremonies have been done in Costa Rica for thousands of years, especially in the country’s sacred blue zones.

6. Take A Costa Rica Night Tour In The Jungle

small frog
Guides can find the tiniest creatures at night. Photo courtesy Arenal Oasis Wildlife Refuge

Darkness can feel overwhelming, both in a physical and metaphorical sense.

A night tour in the jungle will help you realize the dark is just as active and vibrant as the light; and, in fact, there is beauty to be found in the darkness for those willing to look for it.

A wonderful way to find that beauty is on a night tour through the jungle, like the frog-finding tour at the Arenal Oasis Wildlife Lodge.

A guide takes you into the jungle with flashlights, where you’ll look for some of the most beautiful, colorful creatures in the forest.

7. Visit A Sweat Lodge In Quepos, Costa Rica

a partially built sweat lodge
A sweat lodge under construction. Photo courtesy Posada Natura

Many ancient cultures in Central America have ceremonies that take place in sweat lodges.

In these small, dome-shaped structures, the temperatures are exceedingly high to encourage perspiration, which is seen as a cleansing and purifying ritual.

An experience also often includes an aromatherapy element, like sage.

A guide — usually known as a shaman — maintains the temperature, and introduces chanting and spiritual guidance.

Because dehydration can be a serious issue in a sweat lodge, it’s recommended you visit one by trained and legitimate practitioners.

Recommendation:

The one at Posada Natura in Quepos, Costa Rica.

8. Gain Some Perspective Under The Tree of Life

The massive tree of life
This massive tree is over 500 years old. Photo by Suzie Dundas

In life, it’s easy to lose track of priorities and perspective.

This can lead to unnecessary stress about problems and challenges that aren’t actually problems.

Sometimes to overcome that, you need to be reminded of how small one person is in the world.

And there’s no better place to do that than at the Tree of Life, a tree more than 500 years old —  probably closer to 600 years old — that lines up perfectly during the solstice with the only island in nearby Arenal Lake.

That, combined with ancient artifacts near the tree, suggests it was used by ancient Costa Rican peoples as a sacred space.

Visiting it is an extremely peaceful experience, as it provides a wonderful spot for meditation under its hundreds of leafy green vines.

There’s no official address for the tree, but it’s located 3.7 miles southeast of the town of Nuevo Arenal, towards La Fortuna.

Visitors will see a sign on the side of the road along with a parking area, and a box for a $4 suggested donation is located near the tree.

9. Visit Arenal Volcano Hot Springs

hot springs
A warm-water pool at Paradise Hot Springs. Photo by Suzie Dundas

Hot springs are found across the world, especially in volcanic areas or areas with heavy tectonic activity.

The hot springs around the Arenal Volcano, however, are unique.

Not only do they come from the underground aquifers that Ponce de Leon thought were the legitimate fountain of youth, but they’re also completely pure; no chemicals or minerals are added to the water.

Paradise Hot Springs in La Fortuna does an exceptionally good job of introducing guests to the waters.

They offer access to the lab analyses for the water, along with a clear understanding of the supposed benefits, which can range from clearing acne to pain relief.

10. Try An Organized Transformational Costa Rica Wellness Retreat

sharing circles
Friendly group wellness classes abound in Costa Rica. Photo by Suzie Dundas

Retreats like the ones at Pacha Mama Village focus on core principles of wellness, including body cleanses, emotional healing, meditation, intention setting and more.

The packed schedule means there are always new experiences to enjoy, ranging from single-day visits to extended stays.

While more adventurous opportunities are available — including ceremonies involving medicinal plants and herbs — the center’s “Body, Love and Soul Voice” class is a wonderful chance for those who rarely make time for self-reflection to look inward in a musical, approachable way.

For more Costa Rican retreat options, click here.

Continuing Your Costa Rica Retreat

A list of 10 healthy adventures hardly does the country justice, especially given the national focus on wellness, health, and sustainable lifestyle.

For more ways to be well in Costa Rica, check out Nu Mundo to view a database of wellness-focused activities in Central America.

You can also search our list of delicious vegan resorts in Costa Rica.

Finally, click here to learn more about the country’s official wellness and sustainability efforts.

Whether you’re planning a 5-day Costa Rica itinerary or something longer or shorter, it’s highly recommended to add some of the above-mentioned experiences.

What are your favorite healthy adventures to have on a Costa Rica wellness retreat?

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Traveling to Central America? If you love wellness travel, a trip to Costa Rica is a must, especially if you weave these 10 unique curative experiences into your itinerary. * * * #CentralAmerica #CostaRicaTravel #CostaRicaRetreats #CostaRicaTrip #HealthTravel

Suzie Dundas

Suzie Dundas is a Lake Tahoe-based professional writer and decidedly non-professional outdoor enthusiast. She writes for Playboy, Fodors, Forbes, and more. When not on her laptop, you can find Suzie outside on the trails and mountains of northern California, usually with her camera and four-legged sidekick. You can find more clips and info at Suziedundas.com.

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