Rappelling down a giant waterfall, doing SUP yoga on a lake next to a volcano and visiting a coffee cooperative that supports more than 200 local farmers. Do these sound like typical activities of a wellness retreat? Not in my mind.
I had always associated the idea of wellness travel with a spa or yoga retreat. I pictured a lot of stretching, meditation, massages and quiet time. And while I love all of the above, I also crave adventure and culture while traveling. G Adventures' Wellness Costa Rica tour was the perfect balance of adventure, culture and relaxation and redefined what a “wellness retreat” looked like for me. Here's how:
I always wanted to visit Costa Rica because of its dedication to ecotourism, but on this trip I realized it is also the perfect place for wellness. Not only is it full of diverse landscapes, but it contains close to 6% of the world’s biodiversity. So for such a small area, there’s a massive amount of flora, fauna and animals to see. How can you be stressed when you’re surrounded by beautiful palm trees and singing birds?
Throughout the week, our itinerary included various adventure-, culture- and spa-focused activities based around mindfulness, movement and nourishment. We did most activities as a group, but could choose between certain activities depending on what we were interested in. Additionally, the schedule included downtime for relaxation and reflection. For example, we started the trip with an intention-setting ceremony that set the tone for the rest of the trip.
Below are a few other highlights:
Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga class
I'm no yogi, but I appreciated having the opportunity to do different types of yoga every day. With options like aerial yoga and sunrise yoga on the beach, it never got boring, which was one of my fears for going on a wellness retreat. My favourite was definitely stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga at Lake Arenal, where we had a majestic volcano as our backdrop.
Soaking in hot springs after a relaxing mud bath
Our second stop was Rincón de la Vieja National Park known for its abundant outdoor activities, volcanoes and forests. Most of our activities centred around our ecolodge, which offered experiences like hiking, yoga and my favourite: taking a mud bath and then soaking in natural hot springs.
Trying something new
We had many opportunities to learn new skills like surfing and canyoning. Most of our group never rappelled down a waterfall, but were open to trying. Maybe it was the nature of the trip, our group support or wanting to conquer fears, but it seemed we all felt encouraged to step outside our comfort zones.
Eating local, healthy and delicious meals
A vital part of wellness is eating well. Costa Rica had plenty of healthy and local food options to satiate our taste buds. We were able to try an array of local restaurants that never sacrificed on flavour. Even better was sharing the meals with a group of like-minded travellers.
Giving back to the community
One of my favourite parts about traveling with G Adventures is their commitment to local communities. For this trip, all our guides were local, the restaurants we ate at were mostly family run and we visited a community coffee plantation that supports more than 200 small farmers. This project is just one of the many G for Good projects where G Adventures works in partnership with Planeterra, a non-profit organization that helps the development and support of small communities around the globe.