Costa Rica has become an international wellbeing destination, with visitors from around the world drawn to the country by its natural beauty and way of life that is healthier for both the body and the mind.
Wellbeing trips in Costa Rica provide a chance to step out of the usual patterns of life and experience new rhythms. They offer the chance to connect with the self, as well as with others and nature. These trips provide the opportunity to immerse in a skill, discipline, and ultimately return home with a greater understanding and enhanced perspective.
Within Costa Rica, several destinations have risen to prominence as centers for wellbeing, like La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Nosara, where the natural beauty of the country integrates with a strong community presence and the availability of a wide range of disciplines, practices and purposes for retreats.
On the coast of Guanacaste, the beach town of Las Catalinas is quickly growing as a place for all forms of wellbeing travel, and offers a new perspective to these precedent destinations. Through its urban walkability and a thoughtful town design, Las Catalinas enhances these connections to others and nature, and provides a way of life where wellbeing is woven into the day-to-day of modern life.
The Rise of Wellbeing Travel in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has seen the rise of many well-traveled wellbeing destinations, where the stunning natural beauty of the country permeates vibrant small towns. Exercise, practice, and thoughtful nutrition sourced from the land were a way of life long before the arrival of travelers here, which allowed communities of like minded travelers and locals to come together around this shared pursuit of wellbeing.
The country is one of the world’s most biologically and geographically diverse for its size, with a peaceful lifestyle where pura vida is valued, people are happier, and they live longer. The first wave of tourism to the country was primarily ecological, as visitors sought to explore the region’s natural beauty. However, as more visitors explored Costa Rica, discovering the country’s way of life, it became clear that Costa Rica had much to offer beyond eco-travel.
Instead, the country presented a chance for many visitors to experience and embrace Costa Rica’s healthier way of life by immersing themselves in nature and the culture. In time, Costa Rica became a natural destination for those traveling to improve their wellbeing, and communities began to grow around a shared appreciation and goal of living better. These communities became places for all pursuits of wellbeing, ranging from physical fitness and exercise to practice and meditation to nutrition and health to thoughtful spirituality, all integrated into one location.
Towns like Monteverde, La Fortuna, Nosara, and Las Catalinas host those seeking travel that is memorable, fulfilling, and rewarding, using Costa Rica’s natural support of better wellbeing in tandem with specialized practice and services to offer a wide range of different visits or retreats.
Wellbeing Travel and Retreats in Costa Rica
The diversity of Costa Rica as a wellbeing destination lays the foundation for a wide variety of purposes for wellbeing stays or retreats.
A wellbeing stay can simply be part of the rhythm of life, a chance to continue your day-to-day practices, nutrition, and meaningful work a touch more intentionally on a stay, sabbatical year, or permanent move. Wellness related travel can be spiritual or deeply personal, a chance to connect with a faith, with others, or with nature. To some, this kind of travel offers a sense of adventure and inspiration, a chance to explore a different place with a different way of life.
With greater intentionality than wellbeing travel, wellbeing retreats can be an opportunity to reassess, reset, and take stock of life, resolving to create meaningful lifestyle change through intentioned learning and practice in a selected discipline or several. They can be an intensive to elevate an important personal practice either alone or surrounded by like minded others. These retreats have a purpose for teammates and work partners too, to provide a different state of mind for creativity, provide a chance for dedicated solutioning and planning, or resolve interpersonal conflicts.
One of the main differences is the presence of a more formal structure in a retreat. For all the various purposes and practices pursued during a wellbeing retreat, they follow some unifying characteristics.
The Structure of a Retreat
There are two characteristics that unite almost all retreats. The first is that they tend to follow the guidance of a leadership figure like a teacher, thought leader, expert of a practice, trusted friend, or even a team. The second is that all retreats naturally follow three phases -- separation, liminality, and reintegration.
Under the guidance of a retreat’s leadership figure or figures, attendance to a truly meaningful retreat includes an initial period of separation or transition from a previous state of being.
The next phase, liminality, is when the meaningful work (which might be “not working at all”) of the retreat is achieved. Once psychologically disconnected from the rhythms of normal life, the mind and body are more open to change, rejuvenation, and growth, which provides a unique opportunity.
Finally, the last phase is reintegration, a process of transitioning back and integrating the learnings and progress of the retreat back into the normalcy of life, preserving the work that was done for the future. Throughout a trip there may be many smaller arcs of separation, liminality, and reintegration, each focused on slightly different aspects of the retreat, each providing something to take back from the retreat.
Traveling for a Retreat
Looking at the three phases of a retreat, it makes sense why destination retreats draw travelers seeking this physical and mental rejuvenation.
The physical act of traveling to a different destination aligns with the initial phase of separation. A change of scenery, as well as the immersion in a new destination full of experiences, opportunities, practices, and pursuits all dedicated to wellbeing enhance this time of change and learning. Then, as the retreat winds to a close, the physical act of traveling back home can underscore this transition back, and provides a time to ease the transition to solidify the growth of the trip.
For both a wellbeing retreat, and wellbeing travel, the beach town of Las Catalinas provides a new perspective in Costa Rica. The presence of nature and a community of like minded travelers and locals, which is so crucial to the Costa Rican wellbeing identity, is present throughout. The key difference is that in Las Catalinas, people and their wellbeing has been considered from the ground up, and built into the very layout and structure of the town itself.
Las Catalinas, A Town Built for Wellbeing
Much like its precedents, the beach town of Las Catalinas came to be out of the pursuit of a better way to live. However, the difference for Las Catalinas is that it was built from the ground up to present a new perspective on how wellbeing could integrate into everyday life.
Drawing from the learnings of well-loved places in Costa Rica, the New World Tropics, and Europe, the town planners of Las Catalinas wove a dedication to wellbeing into the urban design of the town itself.
Today, Las Catalinas is a walkable, car free beach town built for people, one that presents the sense of community found within a small town or neighborhood, an integration with tropical forest and ocean that captures Costa Rica’s natural beauty, an architectural tradition that captures the craftsmanship and man made beauty of the world’s favorite timeless towns, and all the while has the urban density, services, and infrastructure of a modern city
In this way, for those who live in Las Catalinas a connection to nature, people, and self is woven throughout the day-to-day, infusing 21st century living with a sense of general wellbeing that permeates all aspects of life.
This changes the nature of wellbeing retreats in Las Catalinas. To some, simply spending a few days, a week, or even longer can be a shift to a different way of living. And for those on retreats, the top-to-bottom emphasis on wellbeing adds to each phase of a retreat.
Life in Las Catalinas
Nestled between an 1000 acre tropical dry forest reserve and two sandy Pacific Ocean beaches, the town of Las Catalinas itself is surrounded by nature, and features a compact, walkable town plan that emphasizes transport on bike and on foot, rather than in a car.
Many changes happen in a town without cars: homes and streets can be designed with more thoughtful detail, thoughtful design and proximity to others makes it easier to connect with loved ones and meet new people without losing privacy, and with nature always just steps away, town has a naturally active lifestyle in touch with the outdoors.
Stepping into a walkable town in touch with nature provides a distinct separation and lifestyle shift from faster moving, car-driven towns. Town’s format and design enhances the natural separation provided by a trip to a different place. This way of life is in touch with others and nature, as well as the town’s wide variety of biking and hiking trails, meditation platforms, meeting spaces, and practice spaces, like yoga sessions.
For a retreat, these factors can make a world of difference, and for the people who live in Las Catalinas they already do.
To learn more about life in Las Catalinas, reach out to the town experts at Beach Town Travel. They know the way of life in town better than anyone else, and can help share a glimpse into the day to day, and also provide guidance about home and flat rentals for a short stay or for a longer term immersion in town.
Organizing Wellbeing Retreats at the Santarena Hotel
Santarena sits at the heart of town, trail, and ocean, an intersection of nature and neighborhood
The Santarena Hotel, which is in the heart of Las Catalinas, is especially well suited to host a wide variety of dedicated retreats. Trail and beach are both just a few steps away, for a constant connection to nature. Town’s walkable streets surrounds the Hotel, which serves as “town’s living room”, and is a gathering place for kindred travelers.
Santarena and town’s culinary teams are equipped to serve meals for a wide range of different diets and nutritional plans, with seasonal and regional ingredients sourced from the land and ocean that permeate a style with an emphasis on plant-based cuisine. Throughout the Hotel and the surrounding town, there are spaces that range from rooftop terraces to plazas and conservatory to the cozy study, with a wide range of venues, shops, and restaurants found just a few steps away.
The Santarena Conservatory is an adaptable space suited to everything from a yoga session to team meetings
For any type of retreat, the attentive experts at the Hotel’s group planning team covers any logistics and support required, leaving attendees and leaders to focus entirely on the goals and value of their retreat in Las Catalinas.