Costa Rica Travel: Las Catalinas
It was our first excursion off property. I was already enthralled with the country of Costa Rica, and I was hungry to see more of it. The resort where we were staying, the Westin Playa Conchal, was stellar, and I’d unreservedly recommend it to anyone traveling to Costa Rica. But visiting the new town of Las Catalinas gave me a taste of what it might be like to actually live in this enchanting country.
We spent only an evening there as part of the ROAR Retreat I attended back in September, but I’m dying to go back. We arrived late in the afternoon, just before the clouds rolled in. We were all immediately drawn down to the beach and its unique black volcanic sand.
I wished I’d had all day to sit in a hammock and watch the changing sky.
If I ever go back to Costa Rica and take my family, I think I’ll try to stay at Las Catalinas. It has the amenities of a resort but you get to experience actually living in Costa Rica along with some of its permanent residents, which I think would be just perfect for traveling with the family.
Las Catalinas is located in the Guanacaste province on Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast. The country’s second largest airport in Liberia welcomes direct flights from Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Charlotte, Newark, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, and more. Once you land, the drive to Las Catalinas takes about 45 minutes.
Right now Las Catalinas is just getting off the ground, so to speak, but eventually it will include houses, shops, restaurants, small hotels and inns, pedestrian streets, plazas, parks, recreational facilities, and even a school and church. It’s a walkable town. There are no motor vehicles allowed. I find that curious, but utterly refreshing. You can read more about how that works for them in this post: Cars, Kids and Quality of Life.
One of the town’s developers spoke to our group about the vision of the town and what it’s like to live and work there. The idea is to eschew the modern rat race in favor of a more peaceful lifestyle, one where you get to bond with nature and each other. It’s not a place you go to be solitary; rather it’s a place you go if you want to connect with people who want to live an active, healthy lifestyle and value conservation of our natural resources.
They own 1200 acres but plan to keep 1000 of those acres in their natural state. That means the town itself is quite compact, which also serves to keep it walkable and all the central buildings accessible to all residents and vacationers.
As far as accommodations, we toured several homes while we were there. Each one is unique, but all maintain a certain old world European stye and boast a view of the ocean. You can find out more about available rentals if you’re interested. I love the idea of staying in a house as opposed to a resort. I’d enjoy the freedom of having my own kitchen facilities and more privacy and space to spread out, especially if traveling with my whole family.
There are tons of outdoor activities available at Las Catalinas, from paddle boarding and snorkeling to hiking and mountain biking. And not far off property are opportunities for zip lining, scuba diving, surfing and fishing. Of course, if you prefer to lounge on the beach all day, you can do that too.
We hung out for a while and walked around, and then we gathered at the one restaurant in town for a light dinner. They served delicious local fare, and I had one of the best margaritas of my life.
Everyone who worked and lived there was incredibly friendly and accommodating. Friendliness and openness definitely seems to characterize the people of Costa Rica. I can see why there’s such a large expat population living there.
They say Las Catalinas it is a place for connecting with nature, with the people you love, and with yourself and your own aspirations. I would love to go back some day and do just that.