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  • Amy Liz Harrison

5 C’s to Convince Yourself Costa Rica Should be your Next Sober Retreat Destination

Updated: Feb 23

Sober “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica

Many of us sober alcoholics have realized the beauty of sober travel. It’s far less dangerous, we spend less money, we can connect authentically, experience the joy of living in the moment and have incredible adventures in exotic places. Maybe best of all, we don’t have to retrace our steps on the plane ride home through a hazy hangover while scouring our photos for clues as to what we actually did, Jessica Fletcher style.

It’s not just the unique beauty or the friendly people, but Costa Rica is perfectly catered toward group gatherings because of its wide variety of activities for all ages, abilities, and fitness levels. Costa Rica could be the sober person’s new definition of “all-inclusive”, and I mean, inclusive of all people in your group… not talking bottomless booze plastic fishbowls on a neck strap. At any rate, here are 5 “C’s” to convince you that Costa Rica should be on your short list of sober places to travel to, solo or with a group.

#1: Cost Effectiveness

Most people find that Costa Rica is a very affordable destination. We literally paid 1/4 of what we normally pay in Maui for one week for a rental house. With that 1/4th, we rented a new 5-bedroom house in a gated community with an infinity pool…and paid for a chef to make dinner several nights. Let me restate – all for 1/4th of what we normally pay in Maui.

Restaurants are affordable. The fact that you’re not buying high-priced mixed tropical drinks and cervezas is an obvious money saver right away. Everywhere we went accepted either credit cards or US cash. We never once handled Costa Rican colon

es. The convenience of this is astonishing, when you land and clear customs, you’re gone. No old school worrying about where you will and won’t get ripped off exchanging money if you need cash. The absence of these little stressors is astonishingly invigorating.

One thing to note: it’s really cheap to rent a car there. But be aware there is (as of this writing) a mandatory insurance that you must purchase with a car rental, as per the law. (It has nothing to do with which company you use, and you can’t use your own.) So be sure that doesn’t catch you by surprise…. It ends up being a not unreasonable rate for most people who are accustomed to renting cars domestically in the US, but there’s something that tends to feel irritating about having it catch you by surprise, so definitely worth asking about it when you look for quotes. Just sayin.’

#2: Comfort

There’s an Andaz, and most places have AC. Drop mic. But if you’re traveling with a family or traveling as a single woman or feel vulnerable or afraid in any way when traveling or have safety concerns, Costa Rica is a great place to reacquaint yourself with a reasonable comfort level. I obviously cannot speak for everyone, but I would place a bet that you will feel secure. We personally didn’t encounter any undercurrent or even a hint of even potential sinister activity. And that’s coming from my having seen multiple international drug deals on a few trips, having my stuff ransacked while I was momentarily out of my hotel room in Prague, and having witnessed multiple pickpockets including a jogger who grabbed a cell phone right off of a lunch table in Barcelona and kept on running.

#3: Communication

Everywhere we went there was Wi-Fi and strong connectivity. It just so happened that everyone we encountered spoke both Spanish and English. Obviously, this was perhaps just our experience, but nowadays (did I really just say “nowadays?”) with technology, a language should never be a reason not to go see the world. Pardon me, that was my Seattle Rick Steves side talking.

#4: Customizable Choices

I don’t think I had ever heard of Costa Rica until a friend told me she was headed there on a wellness retreat, a handful of years back. What kind of sorcery was this? I wondered. I pictured her blond balayaged, self-drinking ashwagandha with a jungle shaman… followed by a chorus of “Hakuna Matata” while squatting over a bucket in a tropical hut with an audience of sloths.

My point is, you can have that, if that’s your jam. Maybe your definition of wellness is sitting on your duff watching Netflix with your toes in the sand…. well, as luck would have it, they totally have that. Going to a restaurant, and scared because your gluten free, but not celiac and don’t know how to explain without looking high maintenance? Nah…no one is giving you the side eye and it’s somehow not problematic. Retired or getting there and wanting to chat with others at your same stage? There’s a huge expat community of retirees there. Yoga? Pick a beach, any beach… you’ll find it every morning. Vegetarian or vegan and wondering where you can eat? Relax- it won’t be even close to as challenging as Charlie searching for Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Recovery meetings? In person or on zoom, it’s all possible. You got this.

#5: Community Building

Have adventurers in your group AND people who want to kick it on a lounge chair in the sun? No worries. You can easily find somewhere where you can do all the things. Or none of the things. We found it possible to be ziplining through the trees, horseback riding at sunset, decompressing in mineral hot springs with mud masks, water sliding though the rainforest, and coffee tasting with our whole group all together. We also found it was possible to split up and spread all the stuff out over several days…totally flexible. Plus, all kinds of assistance were available for those with physical limitations.

Being able to all participate and not be restricted to age or weight was a highlight for our particular group. The benefits of this are beyond the fact that we wanted to hang out together because we arrived in the same car. There is a magic to having shared experiences and moments together. These shared experiences become natural environments for team building, bonding, and an organic conduit for only the most inappropriate of inside jokes. We casually set up a great cadence of doing an adventure every other day and on the in-between days, we relaxed at the beach, indulging in cheap (but PG rated) massages and drinking virgin strawberry daiquiris. I wasn’t mad at any of that.

Blog Post Written by Amy Liz Harrison and appeared first on The Sober Curator

Art by Alysse Bryson

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