Viva Tropical - Costa Rica has enchanted yogis for years with its natural beauty and peaceful serenity. In fact, many came and decided to establish professional yoga centers to bring world-class yoga to the secluded beach towns. It’s no wonder that today Costa Rica is home to some of the best yoga centers in the world offering inspiring, often life-changing retreats.
With a plethora of yoga centers in the country, how does one choose the best place in Costa Rica for a retreat? We’ve compiled a list of the most professional studios in some of the most peaceful, beautiful places in the country.
Nosara is undoubtedly the town that put Costa Rica on the map for yoga and wellness tourism. In fact the Nicoya Peninsula, where Nosara lies, is one of five places in the world considered a Blue Zone. Blue Zones are areas where people tend to live longer, past 100, more than anywhere else in the world. The town of Nosara is quiet and tranquil with a solid expat community, great surf, and stunningly beautiful sunsets. As the most popular place to practice yoga in Costa Rica, it hosts many yoga retreats throughout the year from a variety of centers. The two most reputable are Nosara Yoga Institute and Blue Spirit.
Nosara Yoga Institute
As one of the first yoga studios in Costa Rica, Nosara Yoga Institute paved the way for the many yoga centers throughout the country. High on a hill in the woods on the outskirts of Playa Guiones it is a very peaceful place to practice. The Nosara Yoga Institute is widely known for its exceptional yoga teacher trainings, which offer an interdisciplinary approach far beyond asana. They strive to deepen students’ inner voice and awareness and emphasize non-judgment and non-authority in their teaching to allow all students to explore their individual yogic path.
Those looking for non-teacher accredited retreats can find them at Nosara Yoga Institute, but they are offered by teachers from other institutions. The instruction and experience is consistently high quality.
Started by the same holistic physician who founded the Omega Institue in Rhinebeck, NY, Blue Spirit is one of the most famous places in the country to study yoga. The center overlooks the ocean on a long white sand beach that is a protected turtle refuge and has a lovely koi pond and salt water infinity pool. Yoga teacher trainings are done through the globally respected Yoga Works association which combines East and West philosophy in its curriculum.
They also host many retreats throughout the year covering a wide variety of topics and style including Yin and Vinyasa. The retreats are led by reputable instructors from all over the world. Teacher trainings and retreats include accommodation and three delicious vegetarian meals.
The Osa Peninsula
Those who have had the pleasure of visiting the wild Osa Peninsula understand why National Geographic called it the most biologically intense place on Earth. You immediately feel transported to another world, a world before modern development, when you enter the rainforest jungle of the Osa Peninsula. Scarlet macaws squawk over your head, monkeys swing from trees, and if you’re lucky you might see a jaguar or a tapir. Completely removed from the rest of the world, you can really disconnect from the modern world and connect deeper with yourself.
With an onsite eco-resort, restaurant, and yoga studio, Blue Osa is a luxurious all-inclusive retreat center in the remote Osa Peninsula. They strive to run a completely sustainable facility with recycled waste and water, organic produce that comes directly from their own garden, environmentally friendly landscaping, and a completely self-sustaining micro grid for all of their power and sewage. In fact their center that comfortably accommodates 30 guests and 20 staff members uses the same amount of energy as a typical four-person home in the U.S.
They host teacher trainings as well as week-long retreats offering anything from shamanic journeys to life coaching in conjunction with incredible yoga offered by teachers and healers from all over the world. The founder’s intention in creating this center was to create a space that removes people from the distractions of life and awakens their innermost selves.
At the very southern Pacific tip of Costa Rica lies the small, authentic surf town of Pavones. The black sand beaches with volcanic rock stretch for miles and the surf is some of the best in the world. In an untouched remote part of Costa Rica, the town of Pavones is teeming with wildlife and offers a unique view of true Costa Rican culture. The town may be small but it hosts one of the top teacher training centers in the country, the Pavones Yoga Center.
Pavones Yoga Center
Built on top of the hill overlooking the Pacific ocean and the town of Pavones, the Pavones Yoga Center is a breathtaking place to practice asana. The founder and lead instructor Indira grew up on the South Pacific of Costa Rica as a child. After studying yoga across the globe she worked as a teacher training instructor at the famous Nosara Yoga Institute before opening her own center in Pavones. The center hosts several teacher trainings a year, from one week to one month, but also hosts retreats. Their surf and yoga retreat held annually combines yoga classes with private surf lessons.
Trainings and retreats include accommodation in their beautiful center along with healthy delicious meals. The onsite spa offers a wide variety of body work as well as body wraps, scrubs, and other skin treatments.
The Yoga Farm
The Yoga Farm offers a highly affordable alternative to typical retreats. It is situated up in the hills overlooking completely deserted beaches in Pavones. The farm is covered in fruit trees and grows much of the produce that the kitchen prepares for guests. With packages starting at $260 per week for daily yoga and vegetarian meals, the Yoga Farm is a great option for those on a budget. They also have a work trade and volunteer program for those who intend to stay long term.
The South Caribbean
A different world from the rest of Costa Rica, the South Caribbean is becoming a yoga destination in its own right. With abundant wildlife, live coral reef, golden sand beaches, sparkling turquoise water, and world-renowned surf, it is an incredibly beautiful place to deepen your yoga practice. Two of the country’s most beautiful national parks sit on the Caribbean: The Cahuita National Park and The Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. The beaches here are nearly deserted and consistently listed as some of the most beautiful in the world.
Culturally the Caribbean has a diverse mix of indigenous people as well as Afro Caribbean descendants who bring Calypso and Reggae music and spicy coconut-flavored cuisine. There are also plenty of international transplants from all over the world.
The South Caribbean now hosts many yoga studios, but Samasati was the first to open and is one of the only studios offering retreats and teacher trainings. The center is high in the mountains on a secluded property with stunning views of the ocean. Samasati was built with the intention of creating a sustainable retreat center that contributes to the community. The space was built with minimal environmental impact and employs local residents exclusively. They aim to promote an alternative way of life through their practice of asana, serving local organic vegetarian meals, operating with energy efficiency, and giving back to the community.
Retreats offered cover a wide spectrum from yoga teacher trainings to wildlife adventures. Their yoga retreats are offered year round and include meditation, asana, pranayama, and daily shuttle service to the nearby Caribbean beaches of Puerto Viejo. Packages include accommodation and delicious vegetarian meals. They also offer tour packages to explore the wilderness and culture of the region.
Deep in the Caribbean jungle in the Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge lies Punta Mona, or Monkey Point. Animals run wild, the beaches are deserted and gorgeous, and it’s not unusual to see dolphins swimming offshore. When the sea is calm it makes for incredible snorkeling. Entirely self-sustaining and isolated, the Punta Mona Center for Sustainable Living and Education is so remote it can only be accessed by foot, small boat, or horseback. The center is most famous for its permaculture design courses but it also offers tours for day-trippers as well as retreats and yoga teacher trainings.
Retreats consist of asana practice as well as guided meditations, underwater adventures, jungle explorations, medicinal plant ceremonies, natural mud baths, and many creative hands-on activities like cooking and arts and crafts. Lodging is included at the onside eco-center as well as three organic vegetarian meals a day sourced primarily from their own land. The Punta Mona Center is unique in that it also offers retreats for children of all ages led by Cirque de Soleil veterans. These retreats incorporate yoga, music, and dance and also teach children about permaculture and sustainability.