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Rancho Delicioso is an extensive Costa Rica eco-village offering a week-long retreat with three of everyone's most favorite things: surfing, permaculture, and yoga! The location, on the Southern Nicoya Peninsula between the towns of Santa Teresa and Malpais, is perfect for surfing. There are dozens of great beaches within a short drive in almost every direction, and surfers from around the world come here for this reason. This holiday will be one of the coolest things you ever do.
Rancho Delicioso has “River Palace”, which is one of the most remarkable structures built in Costa Rica. It’s over 70 feet tall (22 meters) built over the center of the convergence of three small river valleys. There are three elevated bridges to get to it, and inside are three floors.
The building is really amazing, but keep in mind it’s still pretty primitive. There’s no air conditioning, and it’s very open, made mostly from natural materials. You don’t get a private bathroom. There’s little privacy. It’s still a dorm-type situation, although more like something that Tarzan and his family would be living in.
It has three floors inside. On the first floor, there are two single beds and two hanging nest beds while on the second floor, you will find four hanging nest beds. Lastly, on the third-floor loft, there are two private rooms, each with a queen bed for those wanting a little bit of privacy.
If you wish, you can bring a tent and set it up on the farm. You’ll use the bathrooms and showers. Some people like this for privacy, especially couples. This is a better option in a dry season unless your tent is really waterproof.
Surfing is the only part of the program. The rest of the time, you’ll be taking courses to learn various organic farming techniques, sustainable building, permaculture design and principles, hanging out with farm animals, and learning about farm life in general.
You have other classes and activities such as aerial silk, archery, and raw chocolate-making. Every day, you will have yoga classes too, and once or twice, those of you who have the energy will escape the farm for a bit to sample the night life in Montezuma.
You're going to try to hit the waves for sunrise or sunset when they’re usually at their best (and least crowded) but this is also going to depend on the surf that mother nature gives you, plus the tides and weather. For this program, surfing will be the number one priority (as it should be with any serious surf lover!). That means you will miss some yoga classes. You will probably miss some permaculture classes too. You might even miss a meal and have to eat them later.
Rancho Delicioso is located in an ideal location for surfing because they are nearly equidistant to most of the best surf breaks. With changing tides, wave size, and swell direction, different surf spots become the best places, so from there, you can always choose the best location for any given set of conditions. The short drive to the beach is just about right in that it doesn’t seem very long, and since the groups usually go early in the morning, it’s perfect to wake up and drink a cup of coffee on the road.
Generally, the groups try to assemble at 5:30 a.m. and get to the spot between 6:00 and 6:15 a.m. This is because the morning winds start to pick up around 8:00 a.m., and so you will get perfect, glassy conditions and avoid the crowds and the sun. So morning surfing is ideal, but sunset can be nice too, especially followed by dinner at one of your favorite restaurants. A perfect afternoon is to get to Playa Hermosa at 4:00 p.m. and surf for a couple of hours through sunset, then go to Koji’s for sushi afterward.
There are of course many more than this list, but these are the places surf groups tend to go most, since the groups usually consist of beginner and intermediate surfers, and these spots can be fun for the experts too. At each spot, of course, there are certain sections that are best for people with more less skill, or who prefer longboarding or a shortboard.
Most of the surf schools in the Montezuma area take their students only to Playa Grande because it has small, clean consistent waves (best around mid or high tide) and no rocks. It’s a 30-minute walk along a beach and jungle path, but it’s a good warm-up and you often see monkeys and animals along the way. It’s one of the most popular hikes for tourists and is a great warm up before hitting the surf.
Meaning “Kings”, Reyes is a very long right-hand point break that breaks at all tides over a field of rocks. It requires a south swell to work and is best for longboarding. It can be epic but isn’t very popular because it’s usually pretty small (if breaking at all) and you have to walk across more than 100 rocks to get into the water.
When it’s good, crowds, unfortunately, come over from Santa Teresa. It is better to go there at first light. If you have weak feet, you’ll need booties to get into the waves unless it’s at high tide.
The closest beach to the accommodation and is also one of the best. It’s a long white sand beach that works best at low or medium tides, and it has a pizzeria at the parking area. Surf contests are sometimes held here because of the great wave right in front, and beginners usually are off to the sides where the waves don’t break as heavily. It can also be convenient because there are two banks here, a pharmacy, the fish store (Product C) and the best bakery in the area.
You can also rent and buy boards, get a ding repaired, shop in one of the many gift shops, hit the liquor store, or walk to many other restaurants. This is because the beach is right in front of the largest commercial area of Santa Teresa and Malpais.
This is the farthest break that groups generally go to. It’s such a great beach for beginners that it’s worth the drive if the roads aren’t too bad. It has a wide sandy beach break, is usually not particularly crowded, is great for beginners, and has a quirky rocky point break that’s usually deserted. There are a few amazing restaurants nearby such as Koji’s sushi place and Colores.
This spot is a great left-hand break that’s usually packed with local surfers when it’s good, all jockeying for position to take off at the same spot. It has some rocks and a fin gets knocked off your board here and there. It only works at high tide because of the rocks, so to beat the crowds, we have to have good luck and timing.
Or another option is to go on smaller days or days that have long gaps between sets when many of the locals won’t bother. The wave is great, and it can be worth it to hang out there and wait 10 minutes between sets on that type of day.
This left-hand point break is good a high tide, and when a larger swell comes in. It’s rarely, if ever crowded, and a great spot for “soul surfers” and long boarders. It’s next to a huge rock and very photogenic with its white sand and interesting terrain. Until a few years ago, it had a great local restaurant serving fresh lobster, ceviche, and seafood caught in Malpais. Unfortunately, the municipality tore it down because it was built in the public zone. But, it’s still a great spot to surf.
The most popular surf spot in the Santa Teresa area, La Lora is often too crowded because of its perfect white sand and perfect barreling waves. Groups usually go here when there’s an SW swell that isn’t too big, and surf the north end at the Suck Rock point break. It’s good for beginners when the waves aren’t too big, and you can find several nice peaks. When the swell comes from the south, the rocks tend to suck you into them, hence the name, so you need pay attention to swell direction for this spot.
Rancho Delicioso works with their friends at both Young Vision and South Nicoya Surf. Depending on your skill level and the situation, sometimes you may go with the Rancho Delicioso owners and friends (they are a mix of beginners and intermediates.)
Rancho Delicioso offers eight basic permaculture courses during the week. You may miss a few of them, depending on how the surf is while you’re here.
For students who are able to complete all eight permaculture courses during their stay, they will be awarded an “Introduction to Permaculture” certificate. It’s not actually useful for anything but it’s fun to have. However, for the surf program, it’s nearly impossible to get all eight classes because you’ll usually miss some of them while you’re surfing. So, don’t expect a certificate.
There will be one beginner’s class where you’ll learn a couple of ways to climb the silk, and several fun tricks that many people can do on their first day.
One of yoga classes will be held at Anamaya, on one of the ocean view yoga shalas there. This will be an unforgettable time.
At 9:00 a.m .almost every morning, you will have a hard-core boot-camp fitness class that’s based on the “Insanity” classes that have become so popular in the U.S. This is one of the most difficult workouts that exists. It’s for serious athletes or people who want to really get into great shape when they return home and would like to see how hard it is. Very few of guests who try it come back for a second class!
Rancho Delicioso will teach you to make raw chocolate. Super powerful, amazingly tasty, and full of healthy goodness, raw cacao is easy and fun to do, and you’ll easily be able to repeat this at home when your return. Hope you like dark chocolate.
On Thursday night (and sometimes Monday too), you will be taken down to Montezuma to party with the townies and tourists at Chico’s Bar and in the street. You’ll dance, have a beer or two, watch the fire-dancers, and usually stay out too late. It’s a lot of fun, and after a night on the town, many people extend their stay so they can head to Montezuma for a few extra nights after the retreat is over.
Rancho Delicioso will take you to famous Montezuma Falls, where you’ll jump and swim in the river, and explore the jungle trail system a bit, including a couple of hanging suspension bridges.
Rancho Delicioso is a 60-acre eco-village located between Montezuma and Santa Teresa. Most of the land is set aside for farming and wild jungle. Besides the permaculture center that hosts retreats and volunteer program, there are many lots owned by various people, with homes under various degrees of completion.
Besides all the wild animals in the jungle (including plenty of monkeys who hang around the farm), there are many domestic animals such as horses, chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, peacocks, tilapia fish ponds, and of course dogs and cats too.
The center has several acres under active cultivation for food. Besides extensive fruit orchards, they have three tropical greenhouses (with open sides), a hydroponics greenhouse, and lots of open-air gardening. They spend a lot of effort to improve their soil and are working towards a no-till agriculture method.
There are many active projects at any moment there, really too many to mention, experimenting with various permaculture and organic gardening ideas such as treehouses, a biochar oven, a food forest, tropical huge culture, geodesic dome, a living tree dome, water catchment pond system, a worm box, soldier-fly harvester, beekeeping (three types of bees), different types of composting, a banana circle greywater treatment system, and more.
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Rancho Delicioso takes pride in telling you that the food you will be served is delicious and amazing. Very similar to what Anamaya Resort has, it’s a healthy diet that includes no red meat. It’s mostly vegetarian, but sometimes they have local organic chicken or fresh fish from fishermen friends in Cabuya. They can provide you pure vegetarian or vegan if you wish.
Many of the ingredients come from their own farm, but not all. For what they are unable to grow, they work with organic suppliers on the mainland of Costa Rica, who grow things (like carrots and onions) that require a higher elevation than they have down by the beach. They are not 100% organic but they do their best with the resources they have. Overall, the ingredients they use in the cooking are probably around 80% organic. Everything they grow on the farm is 100% organic.
Rancho Delicioso offers a lot of activities while you’re here and most are included. They probably offer too much, and if you do everything, you won’t have a lot of time to relax. But they are passionate about this stuff and it’s fun. For those who love to be super active and try everything, you’ll really have a lot of fun. Keep in mind that everything is voluntary. You’re perfectly welcome to relax in a hammock, meditate up in the “AwareNest” treehouse, or take long walks in the jungle.
During this class, you will be taught to shoot a re-curved bow. Many of guests find they absolutely love archery.
You can swim in the pool at Geoff and Yasmin’s house, and they also have a pool party on the last day. Nothing helps the tropical mid-day heat like a dip in a salt-water pool.
There is a goat playground made out of old tires, and it’s super fun to go in there with goats and climb around. The goats are super-friendly and love people. They’ll follow you everywhere and expect to be pet and scratched.
Please book your flights to arrive at Tambor Airport (TMU). For international flights, you need to fly first to Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO). The airport is also known as San Jose Airport and is situated about 20 minutes outside of the capital city of San Jose, Costa Rica. Most of the International flights arrive at this airport.
Sansa and Nature Air are the two airlines that fly Tambor Airport. It takes only 30-minute air travel to reach. From San Jose, and it will cost 75 to 105 USD each way. There are no flights from Liberia's Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) to Tambor. After reaching Tambor, you can take a taxi for a 30-minute scenic ride for 40 USD. You can’t always get the flight you want right after you arrive, in which case, you can stay in a hotel near the airport for a night.
Nature air has a ticket counter set in the middle of the other international airlines in the main building. After flying in, go through immigration, pick up your luggage and clear customs. Then go outside and across the street, you will find the parking garage from where you go upstairs or elevator and reach the main level. There you will find the ticket counters and check-in.
After going through security, you will go to the gate. It is recommended to check in no less than one hour before you depart. While you can buy a ticket here, of course, it’s much better to try to book this in advance. Nature Air allows more limited luggage than Sansa. However, in other respects, it tends to be a better run airline with fewer complaints.
If you’re flying with Sansa Airlines, you must leave the international airport and walk to the left, to a smaller building about a block away, where you will find the Sansa ticket office. There you can book Sansa air ticket to Tambor. This airline allows a limited luggage.
You can also ask for a rental car waiting at the airport in Tambor. It will make your journey more stress-free and you will not have to worry about navigating the whole journey. It’s better to rent a 4×4 car as it will be perfect for the adventurous roads.
Shuttle service is provided by Montezuma Expeditions and is around 50 USD from the airport directly to the farm. You should sign up for this group shuttle by email ahead of time. You will get a confirmation email and they’ll provide you details of how it works.
From the airport to the ferry in Puntarenas, it takes 90 minutes. You will get your tickets from the shuttle driver who will also help you board the ferry. You carry your luggage onto the ferry and another shuttle picks you up on the other side. The ferry ride will also take about 90 minutes. The ferry is fun and you can sometimes see dolphins, whales, or other sea life.
On the other side in Paquera, you will board another shuttle with which you will reach the amazing Nicoya Peninsula area. From Paquera, it will take another 90 minutes to reach Rancho Delicioso.
You can also fly into Liberia's Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR). From there, take a shuttle for 49 USD which leaves from Liberia at 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
The large, comfortable air-conditioned greyhound-type bus is cheaper and you don’t have to carry your luggage off of it onto the ferry so it’s better too. The only downside is that it doesn’t take you to Rancho Delicioso directly or pick you up at your hotel either. Upon arrival in a nearby area, you can get off in Cobano and take a taxi from there for 8 to 10 USD. Getting off in Cobano would be faster.
FromJuan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), you can take a taxi or walk to the address “Bridge of Villa Bonita in Alajuela”, where the direct bus stops to pick up passengers from the airport.
After reaching Puntarenas, you will get off the bus and the collect your ferry ticket and a laminated card from the driver. That card will allow you back on the bus. The ferry ride is 90 minutes to Paquera, where you’ll get off the ferry, re-board the bus, and continue the journey to Cóbano. Get off there and take a taxi to Rancho Delicioso in Delicias.
If you want to use public buses, there’s also a large public bus that’s even cheaper, and it leaves every 40 minutes from address “Avenida 12, Calle 16” in downtown San Jose. The earliest bus is at 6:00 a.m. and the last one is at 5:00 p.m. This will take you to a bus station in Puntarenas, which is too far to walk with your luggage to the ferry terminal, so you’ll need to take a taxi unless you have a backpack.
Google maps says it’s 28 minutes and 2.3 kilometers (1.42 miles) on foot. If you want to walk, just go south to the beach and walk west all along the beautiful waterfront and you’ll eventually curve around to the ferry. It will be a great walk, but very hot and humid.
There are two ferries from Puntarenas, one of which will take you to the Paquera and another one to Naranjo. Be sure to take the Paquera one. The ferry ride across is only an hour or so. The ferry ride is about one and a half hours and it costs 810 colones for adults and 485 colones for kids. If you travel by automobile, the car and driver cost around 12,000 colones.
There is an air-conditioned passenger deck in the ferry where you can buy snacks, drinks, and alcohol too. If you come on the sunset ferry, you may even find a party on the top of the ferry and it can be a lot of fun with music and dancing. But most rides are more peaceful, and you’ll enjoy watching the amazing view of the surrounding area from the large outside viewing area.
It is recommended to get on the ferry about 30 minutes before its scheduled time so that you can get a space on the boat for your vehicle. The busiest day is Friday and you should probably be there a couple hours early if it’s Friday and high season. If the wait time is too long, you can always drive around to the north, which takes around fours hours. The ferry schedule changes every few months so it is better to make a call and know about the most up to date info.
You can also take a private taxi (with an English speaking driver) that will cost 200 to 250 USD for all the way. From San Jose or the airport, at any time, you can take the private taxi but if your time doesn’t match the ferry schedule, you will have to wait for the next available ferry.
You can also take a water taxi service. Make a one-hour drive from San Jose and reach Jacó and from there, take a speedboat to Montezuma. The boat departs at 10:30 a.m. You can also go back with the water taxi from Montezuma at 9:30 a.m. This is a fast way to go, it’s fun, and there’s a really good chance of seeing dolphins, manta rays, or sea turtles on the way. You can book this with Cocozuma.