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Costa Rica has long been famous for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This gorgeous shoreline with great surfing and incredible wildlife has lured expats for decades. Today many beach towns in Costa Rica are well established for those looking to relocate to towns with some of the same comforts of home in a tight-knit community with plenty of nature.

Playa Samara


Daniel Stenberg

Many cite Playa Samara, on the North Pacific Coast on the Nicoya Peninsula, as their favorite beach town in the entire country. The relaxed fishing village has a strong community feel for locals and tourists alike. The town has many local authentic “sodas (Costa Rican cafes) as well as expat-run sushi bars and Italian restaurants. The horseshoe bay is a great gathering place where fishermen wade into the water then run out with their fresh catch. Groups of people crowd around to admire what they pull out and some purchase it for their lunch or dinner. At more populated spots on the beach locals, expats, and tourists play games of volleyball or take kayaks and stand up paddleboards out into the ocean.

The many nearby beaches are great for hiking and exploration including Playa Carillo known for its crocodile sightings, Playa Buena Vista, and Playa Barrigona where Mel Gibson owns a home. All beaches can be accessed by long walks on the shore around rocky points or on back roads on a bicycle. Slightly further inland are farms with domesticated animals like sheep and cattle which gives the area an authentically Nicoyan cowboy feel.

Playa Guiones


Chris Goldberg

National Geographic named Playa Guiones one of the top surf towns in the entire world and we can see why. Beginners, intermediates, and experts can all enjoy the clean waves here that can be surfed all day long. Nearby beaches also offer a variety of breaks for those looking to really challenge themselves. Surf schools are everywhere as well as surf camps for kids.

In addition to having some of the most versatile and consistent surf in all of Costa Rica, it also has a well established expat scene. One of the first yoga studios in Costa Rica is in Playa Guiones, the Nosara Yoga Institute, which has led to the opening of many yoga studios and retreat centers. There is also pilates, kickboxing, massage, horseback riding, stand up paddleboarding, and many more physical activities. It is a great place for families as there are tons of activities for kids as well. Surf camps, horseback riding clubs, ballet, and gymnastics are just a few. There are also two reputable international schools that ensure quality education for children of all ages.

The dedication to health also makes Playa Guiones a great place for health-conscious individuals and families. The town boasts an organic grocery store, farmers market, and a few organic healthy cafes.

Playa Cocles


Magalie L’Abbé

Playa Cocles on the South Caribbean coast hosts stunning beaches, tons of wilderness, and tons of local and international culture. This neighborhood is most famous for its barreling waves at Beach Break and close proximity to Puerto Viejo just a couple of miles away, but it’s quickly becoming a yoga and health hotspot as well. The neighborhood houses locals and expats from North America, Canada, Europe, Australia, and South America giving it great international appeal in a very undeveloped town. The community here is infectious with a weekly farmer’s market, community garden project, community dinners, and events at Om Yoga.

About a century ago Caribbean islanders came to this part of Costa Rica, which lends a fascinating local culture to the area. Traditional Costa Rican rice and beans are steamed in coconut milk, reggae plays in the streets, and coconut curry with lobster is sold from big pots on the beach. Many families are multicultural with European, Jamaican, and Latin roots and locals often speak English, Jamaican Patois, and Spanish.

Unlike many Pacific Coast beaches, the water in Playa Cocles and nearby beaches, many named some of the most beautiful in the world like Manzanillo and Punta Uva, is turquoise and warm. Beach break can fill up on the weekends and for surf competitions, but a short walk away and you will find yourself in completely undeveloped deserted wilderness beaches.




Though it has become a popular tourist destination, Montezuma manages to maintain the laid-back hippie roots that made it popular in the first place. Health and environmentally conscious expats comprise most of the transplants in Montezuma and this is clear by the businesses that thrive here. Several yoga studios sit in town and on the beach and it’s even possible to take free community yoga classes several times a week.

The landscape in Montezuma is quite unique to many beach towns in Costa Rica with beautiful rocky cliffs to climb to secluded beaches, natural tide pools, and great surfing for beginners. There are also two waterfalls within walking distance of town.

Manuel Antonio



Manuel Antonio is arguably one of the most popular destinations in all of Costa Rica. The beaches and national park are stunning, outdoor activities like snorkeling, parasailing, fishing, and whale watching make it a desirable vacation destination. However, it’s also a great place for expats to live.

The popularity of the area makes it a solid place for investing in tourism. Hotels, vacation rentals, and restaurants receive relatively consistent business year-round unlike many other beach towns in the country that tend to clear out in the low season. There are many local hotspots where it’s possible to meet expats like Emilio’s cafe and Agua Azul overlooking the ocean.

Because of the tourism industry nearly everyone in the area speaks English and most restaurants cater to North Americans. This can make for a much easier transition for those with hesitations about moving abroad.

These beach towns offer some of the most accessible expat communities in the country and are a great place to consider if you have dreams of relocating to Costa Rica.

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.


lululemon athletica


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.


Viva El Momento

Blue Spirit

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.

Blue Osa

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.


Mihaela Vorvoreanu


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.

Punta Mona

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.


The Caribbean gem of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo Talamanca, with its stunning beaches, abundant wildlife, international vibe, and lower price tag is an appealing place for travelers and those looking to invest and live abroad. With ten miles of pristine jungle-backed beach and five distinct neighborhoods it can be difficult to know where to base yourself.

Beaches become more natural and animals are more plentiful the further you venture outside of town. However, the road runs through dark jungle, which is not walkable at night, and comforts like pharmacies and ATMs are only in town.

Here is a breakdown of the neighborhoods to help you decide which best suits your needs.


Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

The town of Puerto Viejo Costa Rica is famous (or infamous) for its seedy authenticity. Colorful fishing boats rock against a coral covered harbor, reggae sounds from nearby bars and restaurants, and sarong, jewelry, and souvenir vendors set up shop on the beach.

In town you will find the only banks and ATMs in the entire area. Bicycle rentals are on every corner and taxis are readily available if you do not have a car to explore other neighborhoods.

Every Saturday morning a large farmer’s market commences with raw cacao, fresh whole chickens, a wide assortment of produce, and fresh breads and pastries. Several grocery stores and various household stores offer most items you might need. Restaurants in town are the most populated and affordable, but the true culinary treasures lie in outer neighborhoods.

Accommodations tend to be less expensive but can be noisy as Puerto Viejo hosts several parties every night of the week.

Playa Cocles (1-3 miles from town)

Expats and vacationers looking for tranquility and proximity to town stay in Cocles. The beaches are sprawling and the waves can get enormous. These beaches are best for sunning and surfing rather than swimming. Beach Break is the most populated beach in the area and the only beach with lifeguards.

The one grocery store, Pirripli, has a good wine selection, special imports, and fresh produce. There are many restaurants to choose from including the famous Italian restaurant La Pecora Nera. The one luxury hotel in Puerto Viejo, El Cameleon, is next door and throws Reggae and Calypso parties on Friday and Saturday nights. Laid-back travelers will enjoy the beach bonfire party every Tuesday night at Tasty Waves in front of Beach Break.

Otherwise this neighborhood tends to be quiet at night.

Playa Chiquita (3-5 miles from town)

The moment you step foot in Playa Chiquita the community vibe becomes apparent. Expats from all over the world carry their children and groceries down the street, sit and sip coffee in darling open air organic cafes, and swim in the natural pools created by the coral reef. There is one grocery store, El Duende Gourmet, with specialty items like local homemade bread, quinoa, and sriracha. A small farmer’s market takes place every Wednesday morning offering local yogurt, bread, cheese, and produce.

Punta Uva (5-7 miles from town)

Beautiful beaches, elegant cabins, and incredible cuisine all grace the quiet jungle neighborhood of Punta Uva. This neighborhood is popular with long-term vacationers and families. Three of the best restaurants in the entire area are in Punta Uva: El Refugio for perfect grilled steaks and seafood, Selvin’s Restaurant with arguably the best Caribbean food in the world, and Pita Bonita with freshly baked pita and homemade falafel. The beaches are calm for swimming and snorkeling and are famed as some of the most beautiful in all of Costa Rica. Playa Chiquita nearby is a necessary stop for markets and cafes.

Manzanillo (7-10 miles from town)

The quiet Caribbean fishing village of Manzanillo rests along a rugged wildlife refuge with stunning wilderness beaches. Accommodations and restaurants are somewhat sparse in this area so having a car is essential. Maxi’s, the most famous Caribbean restaurant in the greater Puerto Viejo area, serves delicious meat and seafood and throws Reggae parties every Friday night. There is one small convenience store, but you will need to venture all the way to Playa Chiquita for a proper market. If you are looking for proximity to animals, peace and quiet, and do not mind the 10 mile trek to town, Manzanillo is right up your alley.

Whatever neighborhood you choose you will be near beautiful beaches and lovely communities. Weigh the pros and cons between proximity to town and peace and solitude for your best fit.

For many, a trip to the Caribbean is often associated with cushy cruises, all-inclusive resorts, 24 hour buffets, and non-stop blended cocktails, not necessarily things that people travelling to Costa Rica are looking to find.

Instead, most expats make the move down to Costa Rica to get closer to nature, to find adventure, or to simply submerge themselves in the laid-back lifestyle of the locals.

Luckily the province of Limon (the most culturally diverse province in Costa Rica) and the beach towns of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, have something a little different to offer. Saturated with Caribbean heritage, both towns provide expats and tourists alike with a true taste of the Caribbean, without all the extras.

Located between the Caribbean Sea and the central mountains, Cahuita and Puerto Viejo each share a Creole culture that is unique to Costa Rica.

In fact, the first person to settle in Cahuita was an afro-Caribbean fisherman named William Smith in 1828, and from there many other fishermen followed, eventually creating an afro-Caribbean fishing village.

So what can expats expect to find?

A blend of Caribbean and Costa Rican culture wrapped up in a relaxed, beach town setting that is very welcoming of expats.

Locals in this region typically speak Spanish or an africanized-creole English, the radio will play variations of both salsa and reggae and you will be able to enjoy traditional Costa Rican cuisine like gallo pinto (rice and beans) as well as Caribbean favorites like spicy jerk chicken.


Costa Rica Cahuita

Costa Rica Cahuita

Found near the southern end of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, Cahuita is not yet overrun with tourists. Upon entry you will instead be welcomed by a laid-back, local village type vibe, complete with porches and hammocks.

With only around 4,000 residents, Cahuita was once secluded from the rest of Costa Rica. Only in the last thirty years has the town begun to emerge from this isolation, especially after the construction of the highway between Puerto Limon (27 miles north of Cahuita) and Costa Rica’s capital San Jose.

Without a doubt, the main attraction of Cahuita, other than its sandy beaches and crystal blue water, is the Cahuita National Park. Covering 6.5 square miles of land and sea and an additional 86 square miles of marine area, the Cahuita National Park is actually a small reserve as far as Costa Rican reserves go. Visitors to this majestic reserve can expect to find monkeys, iguanas, birds, sea turtles, snakes, and sloths living in the lush rainforests, mangrove swamps, and coral reef (Costa Rica’s largest) of the Cahuita National Park.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

puerto viejo CR - Magalie L'Abbe

puerto viejo CR – Magalie L’Abbe

The larger of the two coastal villages, Puerto Viejo can be found just ten miles south of Cahuita and is quickly becoming a Costa Rican tourist hotspot for its world class surfing.

With all of the charms of Cahuita, but on a larger scale, Puerto Viejo is full of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs for those that crave an exciting night life, but still has that relaxed beach town feel for those that don’t.

Like Cahuita, this town has much to offer for both expats and tourists and you can spend your days surfing, hiking, horseback riding, and boogie boarding or simply stretched out on a hammock breathing in the Caribbean breeze.

Living on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast

For expats coming down to Cahuita or Puerto Viejo, it is always recommended that you rent before you buy. This is so you can be absolutely certain that you’ve chosen the perfect spot. But don’t worry some do buy real estate on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.

However, jumping from rental to rental is  a trend with expats in this region. But don’t let that worry you, for moving around down here is nothing like moving around back home.

Almost all of the rentals in these towns come fully furnished, and because of this, people can pack up their few things in a heartbeat.

Why do they move?

With of all the options it can be hard to make a decision. Do you want to live by the beach or in the hills? In an apartment or a house? If a house, what style of house? If you basically only need to pack some clothing and a few pots and pans, it’s easy to pick up and go whenever the mood strikes.

So if Costa Rica’s hidden Caribbean coast has you intrigued, plan a trip down to see what it’s all about. And like the many expats before you, take some time before you buy and rent around, as you look for that ideal location along this breathtaking coast.