— An Experience —
While there is a host of things to do in and around the Pura Vida Ecolodge & its surrounding reserve, a lot of our guests choose to dedicate at least a small part of their vacation and experience to exploring what is probably Costa Rica's hidden gem, 'La Zona Sur' (South Pacific Zone). A largely untouched area where 'sustainable eco-tourism' is slowly making its mark. Below you will see a fairly extensive guide to what is available in the area and once we receive your reservation, we are always at-hand to help put together some exciting activities whatever your tastes.
A lot of the suggested 'experiences' are half-day or full-day adventures (while some you can independently choose how long you wish to indulge...). Whether you're amongst friends, family or perhaps escaping the urban madness on honeymoon, there will be something for you... and because of their relatively close vicinity, you'll still have the chance to enjoy that long leisurely breakfast & daybreak yoga session in the morning or get back to the retreat to enjoy the sunset with a fruit blend by later afternoon...
We take great pride at Pura Vida Ecolodge in successfully collaborating with a handful of exclusive, eco-friendly and local operators offering the following exciting excursions, tours and adventures. Be sure to mention that you’re guests up at Pura Vida Ecolodge when booking and hopefully you’ll be especially well looked after.
The pura vida experience…
Pura Vida Boat Adventure
This tour is run by our housekeeper Gerzan and is for the guests who are after something a little different to the ‘more commercial’ tours in the area. This is your chance to see & discover the real side of Costa Rica & it's hidden gem, the ‘Zona Sur’. The adventure begins in the village of Coronado which backs onto the mangroves & historically was a fishing village where the locals collected, treated & traded the carbon found in the roots of the mangroves – often used as a kind of dye for fabrics. We board the small motor-boat (also equipped with oars for the smaller channels of the mangroves). The boat is fairly small (with numbers limited to a maximum of 6) but is the perfect way to glide through the mangroves, travel across the Rio Terraba & admire nature along the way until we arrive at the stunning beach of Playa Garca, backed by thousands of coconut palms and pineapple plantations.
As the trip generally leaves first thing in the morning, the surrounding rain forest is coming to life as the sun rises, with a good variety of wildlife on offer. Gerzan & Ily (your local hosts) will bring some fishing lines where you can try your luck to catch ‘parga’ in the labyrinth of mangroves or indeed in the main river Terraba, or if you prefer, just sit back and admire the spectacular scenery, surroundings, nature and sea breeze.
The real reward is after the adventure of navigating the mangroves and crossing the river, when you will arrive at the secret Playa Garza, named after the thousands of birds that visit the countless kilometres of dark volcanic sand every day. After leaving the boat at the pier, there is a short walk through coconut and pineapple plantations to the deserted beach. Here you can swim, sunbathe or drink coconut after coconut. Further info is in the welcome pack that we send to guests upon reserving and The Pura Vida Boat Adventure
Isla de Caño
Caño Island Biological Reserve is located 16.5 kms west of the Osa Peninsula in the Pacific Ocean and consist of 300 hectares of land and 2,700 hectares of sea. The jagged coastline is 10 kms long with small beaches of white sand, rocky platforms and cliffs up to 60 meters high. In the center of the island there is a wide plateau which is divided into two parts by a watershed which is crisscrossed by rivers and streams that plunge down the cliffs to the sea.
Caño Island is one of Costa-Rica's premier snorkeling and diving spots. The island is surrounded by 5 marine platforms or low coral reefs where 15 species of stony corals have been indentified and offers an array of fish species in the clear waters surrounding the island. Your adventure will begin with a short 90-minute boat ride across the clear waters of the Pacific Ocean to Caño Island. Along the way, it is likely that we will encounter turtles, manta rays, spotted spinner or bottlenose dolphins swimming from the boat. Upon arrival, our divemaster will point out the best spots for sighting marine life and as well lead divers through the exotic underwater realm. Our snorkeling trips give you the opportunity to explore the reefs and island at your leisure. While underwater, one can encounter species of fish like the king angel, moorish idol, puffers, surgeon fish, snapper, barracuda, barber fish, parrot fish, damsel fish and a variety of eels hiding around the coral lined rock formations. Turtles, rays and the non-aggressive reef shark can also be spotted. Between dives, the island offers idylic sandy beaches, coconut palms and offer a shaded picnic area next to the beach where you can enjoy your lunch and trails leading into the jungle allowing you to explore the island and its hidden waterfalls a little further. Check out Mystic Dive or Mad About Diving for more info & prices.
Paddle 9 Adventure tours
Established in 2012, Paddle 9 is a Full Service Adventure Tour Company located in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Paddle 9 is considered the Waterfall Excursion expert in Manuel Antonio and the surrounding areas as well as the pioneers in Stand Up Paddle Boarding tours in La Zona Sur (Pacific Ocean and the Mangroves). While they offer great equipment, highly trained guides and are super safety conscious, one of their objectives is to take their clients ‘out of their comfort zones’, pura vida style of course… They offer a variety of half day and full day tours in a plethora of stunning locations, many of which lie off the beaten track - anything from private bespoke adventures, waterfall tours, paddle board tours and even SUP Yoga. For options, more info, prices and availability please visit Paddle 9
Paragliding & Light aircraft tours…
All human beings dream of flying like a bird. Make this dream a reality by joining us for a tandem paragliding flight along Costa Rica's Pacific Ocean coastline. You do not need to have any previous experience, training or special physical conditioning. After a few minutes of instructions from your pilot, you will be ready for a completely safe and secure flight. Enjoy the experience of free flight with pilots who are specially trained and certified in tandem paragliding flights.... Paraglide Costa Rica and for bookings & enquiries +506 8345-5135 or if you’d prefer not to be your own pilot, set just outside Uvita is Papa Kilo Air Park. This particular tour is not for the faint-hearted but rather the adrenalin junkie! Within a few seconds of take-off you will be witness to some of the most dramatic coastlines and beaches on the Pacific. including the famous Whale's Tail beach and rock formation in the Marino Ballena National Park. This is the world from above! For more options & bookings visit Papa Kilo Air Park
Parque Nacional de Manuel Antonio
Although one of Costa Rica's smallest National Park, Manuel Antonio is really quite special. On a good day, at the right time, it's easy to convince yourself that you;ve died and gone to a coconut filled paradise. The park's clearly marked system of trails winds through rainforest-backed tropical beaches and rocky headlands and the views across the bay to the pristine outer islands are unforgettable. As if this wasn't enough of a 'hard sell', add to the experience iguanas, howler monkeys, capuchins, sloths and squirrel moekeys and you've got yourselves a good day out! The park is currently open 7am - 4pm Tuesday- Sunday.
Manuel Antonio is absolutely stunning, and on a good day, at the right time, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’ve died and gone to a coconut-filled paradise. The park’s clearly marked trail system winds through rainforest-backed tropical beaches and rocky headlands, and the views across the bay to the pristine outer islands are unforgettable. As if this wasn’t enough of a hard sell, add to the mix iguanas, howlers, capuchins, sloths and squirrel monkeys. For tours, timings and more info get in touch with Sonia at Uvita Info Centre
There are various horseback riding tours both on Pura Vida Ecolodge's doorstep as well as more adventurous options further inland. Some tours are designed with romance and sunsets in mind, whereas other local options give guests an insight of the working of a typical Costa Rican farm or 'granja' in the areais over. The recent 'favourite' is a half-day tour (led by 'Macho') leaving right from the lodge and then going up to El Pavon (a great local spot for a dip in a stunning waterfall and then a tasty 'tico' lunch at the neighbouring restuarant). Be sure to ask Gerzan for more details.
In contrast at Nauyaca Falls, a 12 kilometer route with three resting periods, departing from the base camp, passing by Casa de Don Lulo’s, where you will have a delicious and typical Costa Rican breakfast. This particular tour takes approximately from 45 minutes to one hour up to “Don Lulo’s house”. After breakfast and observing animals in the family’s mini-zoo, the ride continues on for 25 minutes until arriving at the waterfalls themselves. There is excellent swimming in the huge natural plunge pools as well as excellent jumping and diving options - for the more adventurous among you. Get in touch with Sonia at Uvita Info Centre for more info.
Parque Nacional de Corcovado
As the guidebooks say, it’s not uncommon to use superlatives when describing the Península de Osa, Corcovado and the Golfo Dulce. National Geographic famously described it as ‘the most biologically intense place on earth.’ That’s right, on earth. Residents claim it is the most picturesque, the most pristine, the most perfect spot in Costa Rica. Certainly, indisputably, it is the most remote (which goes a long way toward explaining why the other adjectives also apply). The Osa area contains a huge swathe of Pacific rain forest crammed with life. What’s more, you can actually see it. From the army ants toiling away, to the scarlet macaws squawking in the almond trees, from Baird’s tapirs hanging around Sirena ranger station, to the four species of monkeys swinging in the trees, this is undoubtedly Costa Rica’s top spot to witness life at its wildest.
It’s not uncommon to use superlatives when describing the Península de Osa and the Golfo Dulce. National Geographic famously described it as ‘the most biologically intense place on earth.’ That’s right, on earth. Residents claim it is the most picturesque, the most pristine, the most perfect spot in Costa Rica. Certainly, indisputably, it is the most remote (which goes a long way toward explaining why the other adjectives also apply). For further info, timings and tour prices speak to Sonia firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Uvita Info Centre
Surf & Stand-up Paddle Board
Costa Rica Coast has some of the finest surf in Central America and surfers searching for the perfect surf getaway have been coming to Costa Rica for years, year round surfing in its warm waters without a wetsuit, its beautiful beaches and clean surf breaks from every coastline being the key ingredients. Dominical is a very good option for those looking for similar conditions to Playa Hermosa in a more relaxed atmosphere. The surf here is mostly beach break, however, tends to close out on bigger swells as it is not as steep as Hermosa. There is a point break just to the south which offers some good surf on a bigger swell. Dominical, is a small laid back town surrounded by pristine rainforest and beautiful coastlines. This surfer’s paradise offers great surf, numerous local restaurants, bars and a wild nightlife. Dominical is geared towards serious surfers who wish to avoid the heavy crowds of Playa Hermosa and are looking for a more relaxed, tropical atmosphere.
But Dominical definitely isn't the only option when it comes to serious surfing. For the more adventurous ones among you, (or if you want to just step away from the slightly 'beaten track') you may like to consider more 'rugged' options the South Pacific zone offers the extreme adventurer with an opportunity to witness one of the few untouched, pristine regions in Costa Rica. Where the Talamanca Mountain Range gently slopes into the South Pacific Ocean and waterfalls cascade down and spill onto the beaches, you will find a plethora of bays, beaches and inlets offering strong beach breaks with lefts and rights. While May to November generally host the larger breaks, a fairly consistent break can be found for all levels throughout the year and starting with the closest to Pura Vida Ecolodge - Tortuga, Ventanas, Pinuelas, Arco, Uvita, Dominicalito and of course Domincal, are all great options and worth exploring.
One of our partners, Tito, the founder of one of the local surf schools, began to surf at 11 years old in 1998…and is a good pace to start, whatever your level, if you're a beginner, intermediate, or even an advanced surfer, there are options to tailor a custom package just for you. Packages include surfing lessons, surfing trips and surfboard rentals from both Dominical and Uvita so be sure to check out Kalon Surf and Pineapple Tours for more options. Kayaks & SUP's are also a great setup with some super cool local tours. There is also Dominical Wave Rider, one of two surf shops based in Dominical that hire boards and offer a variety of lessons and excursions.
Nauyaca Waterfalls is a totally Costa Rican owned family tourism company, dedicated for several years to tour operations. These are horseback riding tours traveling through the farm that border with two impressive waterfalls from Río Barucito. These majestic waterfalls are one of the main attractions of the southern region in Costa Rica, not only for their natural scenic beauty, which offers the tourist moments of recreation and fun, but also to participate in different activities such as horseback ridign tours, swimming, climbing, jumping and to observe much of the beauty of the tropical rainforest, among others.
Nauyaca Waterfalls is the ideal place, not only for those in search of tranquility and nature, but also for adventure and excitement lovers. They are specialists in adventure ecotourism as they are recognized worldwide for their beauty and the excellent services they provide. They’ve got a really nice site with some great info and tips, so do check it out Cataratas Nauyaca
Isla Del Caño is one of the most popular destinations for sailing tours and charters and is a small island in the Bahia de Coronado (Bay of Coronado) in Costa Rica. It is on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica, east of the Peninsula de Osa. It has been established as a protected national park, with a permanent ranger station on the island.
Nonetheless, it is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors for its beaches, coral beds, and sea life. Marine life includes manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, whales, and a wide variety of fish. The island has a great historical and archaeological legacy: it was considered an ancient indian cementery, but the most amazing finding is the great number of stone spheres found throughout the island. Some are almost perfect and have different sizes. The vegetation is quite similar to Corcovado National Park. The only mammals present are pigs and tepezcuintles. There is a trail going around the whole island, including a rather special waterfall and plunge pool. There are latrines and drinkable water at the Rangers station. Check out Mystic Dive for charters and more info.
A canopy tour is an adventure like none other you will experience. It consists of a network of cables that are strung from one tower to another high above the jungle floor. Riders travel along the wire via a specially-designed harness that is safe and secure as it glides along the zip-line. The force of gravity propels the rider along the cable, giving the rider the feeling of flying through the air in the majesty of nature until they reach the next platform where more spectacular views await. There are a lot of options throughout the country and in La Zona Sur, but our favourite by a clear mile is Osa Canopy Tour
Enjoy an ocean kayak paddle and discover some of Costa Rica's most rugged and natural coastline. A plethora of caves, arches and stacks await not to mention mile after mile of golden volcanic sands and coconut palms that line the often deserted beaches of La Zona Sur. Our particular favourite for Kayaking is Playa Ventanas, but you can also try other island tours such as Las Tres Hermanas. For rentals and tour info try Pineapple Kayak Tours & Uvita Info Centre
Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world for rafting because of the diverse river formations that made our rainforests. Guests can enjoy spectacular scenery while choosing between one of the slower river paths or perhaps opting for adrenaline & excitement on one of the quicker routes. Rivers in Costa Rica are classified into classes according to their intensity, among them are Guabo River & Rio Savegre Class II and III; Rio Coto Brus offers class III and IV.
Local tours can last a full or half day and generally include transportation, lunch and a professional guide/team and usually start from Uvita or Dominical. Further afield, there is the Pacuare River which is ranked as one of the top five rivers in the world to white water raft. What earns the Pacuare River this acclaim is its eighteen miles of class III and class IV rapids and some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of Costa Rica. Adrenalin junkies get to enjoy the thrill of the rapids, as well as the natural beauty that surrounds the river such as cascading waterfalls and a variety of tropical flora and fauna. Experienced, specialized rafting guides, top of the line equipment, and a day full of safe and exciting adventures on the Rio Pacuare are guaranteed. Tours typically begin near the town of Tres Equis; one hour East of Turrialba. Check out Ballena Info Center for more info.
Canyoning & Bungee
Canyoning, also known as 'canyoneering' in North America, is a vertical sport that involves descending a series of waterfalls using techniques like rappelling, jumping, sliding, and boulder scrambling. The canyon tour involves mostly rappelling with 6 waterfalls varying in height that are in succession from smallest to biggest. Guests therefore can become comfortable with rappelling before descending Iguana Falls, the last and most adrenaline pumping waterfall.
All the techniques are demonstrated by professional qualified guides with over 12 years of international canyon guiding experience (Switzerland, France, Italy, New Zealand, Japan and Costa Rica). A truly unique waterfall rappelling experience that you will never forget! When guests reach the first waterfall (which is 5 meters, or 15 feet high) they will be taught the fundamentals and proper techniques of rappelling. Then you are on your way – with 5 more waterfalls to go! The largest of the falls is 25 meters, or 75 feet! The canyon ends at the Uvita River where there are some pristine swimming holes to relax, reflect or simply splash around. Then the Canyon Cruzer will pick you up and take you back to the Base Camp or you can arrange your own transportation (4x4) Please bear in mind that for canyoning, you need to be an active person in good health. There are no special skills and experience required for the canyoning tour, just a good sense of adventure! Also, it's worth noting that Canyoning is kid friendly! Children must be 11 years or older to participate. For bookings and enquiries checkout Costa Canyoning
Cerro Chirripó is the name of the highest point in Costa Rica is part of La Amistad International Park. The massif is located on the border between the cantons of Perez Zeledon (San Jose) , Turrialba ( Cartago) , Limon and Talamanca. The summit is at 3820 meters above sea level ( 12,530 feet), and is the best known of the Cordillera de Talamanca mountain, and one of the highest in Central America. It offers the visitor stunning landscapes including glacial lakes and both coastlines (Cartibbean & Pacific) and on a clear day you can also see 3/4 of the country and Panamanian territory. At its highest point plains , steep points, glacial lakes , forests and variety of nature, flora and fauna can be enjoyed.
The only way to get to this point is to walk up a mountain about 20 kilometers, which is typically done in two stages. In the first step you climb to 3400 meters setting off at around 6 or 7am, where the Refugio El Paramo, which has electricity services & drinking water, cooking utensils etc (sleeps 80 people). The second stage is usually performed the next morning on a walk of 5 miles of moderate intensity and a time of 2-3 hours. The national park is really well organized and one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations and in the interest of looking after the natural habitats and limiting the impact visitors have on the park, the number of visitors per day is quite limited and guests often have to book up weeks if not months in advance to secure entrance. For enquiries and more guidance, please check out Parque Nacional Chirripo
Coffee Plantation Experience
Located in the stunning lush hills of Fladas del Parque Nacional La Amistad in the small town of Biolley, Coffea Diversa offers a wonderful day out, albeit quite a long drive from Pura Vida Ecolodge. This authentic and eye-opening experience offers guests the chance to see the world's largest private collection of coffee plants (with around 700 botanical varieties of coffee and is offered by Coffea Diversa. The tour includes walking round the seemingly endless plantations seeing the differences between the varieties being cultivated, learning how to make a coffee seedling, picking and harvesting coffee, seeing how coffee is processed, dried, stored and picked and enjoying the lovely aromas and tastes as you learn on site how coffee is roasted and you discover the many different ways of brewing. For more information, availability and prices please get in touch with email@example.com or whatsapp +506 8457 6814 and visit their site for more info Coffea Diversa
Playa Playa and more Playas!
There are plenty of stunning beaches just a few minutes drive from Pura Vida Ecolodge. Between them, guests will find more than enough activities to keep them entertained throughout their stay including - Surfing, kayaking, sailing, sunset tours, boating, water-skiing, jet skiing, parasailing, horse riding and SUP just to mention a few. But if you’re not feeling too energetic and would rather take a long stroll or just bask in the sunshine like an iguana, then here are a just a few of our favourites, each one with their own charm and beauty, and all just a stones throw away from the lodge or at most an easy day trip! Starting with the nearest Playa Tortuga (5-10 mins north up the Costa Nera), Playa Ventanas, Playa Piñuelas, Playa Arco, Playa Ballena, Playa Uvita, Playa Dominicalito, Playa Dominical and a little further north Playa Manuel Antonio.
And for those of you that don’t fancy cooking or snacking on the fruits of the many tropical trees that we have in the reserve, here is a little list of some of our favourite places to eat in the area.
Uvita Private Chef - Organic and bespoke gastronomic dining experience for guests to enjoy in the comfort of Pura Vida Ecolodge
Por Que No - Oceanside Dining day & night, just south of Dominical
Marina Ballena - Enjoy the fresh catch of the day often dorada & lobster. Great 'batidos'
Exotica - Quintessentially French and gourmet cuisine
Citrus - An interesting 'fusion' of Mediterranean and world cuisine set in an idyllic opening backing onto Rio Ojochal
The Bamboo Room - Great food, music and owners!
La Fogata - Excellent authentic Pizza and 'pollo asado' restaurant in Uvita
Los Manglares - Fresh Ceviche & fruit batidos are the house specialities (Punta Mala)
Ceviche Remy - Fresh Ceviche & wifi Internet
Bob's Roadshack Deli - Nice Deli with artisan beers in Uvita
El Jardin - 1Km south of Coronado is a great local fish restaurant which also sell fish & seafood that you can cook back at Pura Vida Ecolodge
Tilapias El Pavon - Coming down from the lodge (towards Punta Mala) there is a great 'eat what you catch' fish restaurant. Don’t miss a dip in the adjacent waterfall afterwards