Spending 24 hours a day with your boyfriend when you’re travelling can have some weird and wonderful consequences. Far beyond finishing each other’s sentences and shaving each other’s heads (more about that another time) the freakiest things come from the twists and turns of your idle chats. One of the weirder topics that has been covered in past months is hypothetical names for our hypothetical children – children which would probably be delivered on the floor of a Pan-American tourist bus. Just incase this unlikely event should arise however, I have my first girls name concretely selected thanks to this gem of the Costa Rican coast: Samara.
If she was anything like her namesake, then my imaginary daughter, Samara, would be unfathomably beautiful, friendly and serene; just trendy enough without being too full of herself; a little scruffy around the edges but still organised enough to please everyone she should meet. I’ve totally exhausted the metaphor now, but I think you get the picture.
I fell in love with Samara after no less than 3 weeks of travelling, and have compared every town and beach we’ve come across to this slice of heaven ever since, leaving it’s prestigious title of ‘My Favourite Place On Earth’ totally unchallenged. Here´s why…
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THERE ARE UNICORNS ON THE BEACH.
Ok, not real unicorns, just loose horses (which I believe belong to somewhere in town) but still, seeing them frolic on the beach in the sunset makes you feel like you’re in a Bon Jovi music video. Epic.
The palm tree fringed beach is kept beautifully clean, in line with Costa Rica’s flawless respect for nature and the environment. However, if you’re in a serious relationship with your Nike Free Runs then the main draw for the two of you will be perfect-for-running generous width and distance of this stretch of sand. When the tide is out in the morning, before it gets too boiling hot, a 5k along this beach is nothing short of sweaty heaven.
The easy waves and friendly beachside surfschools are great for beginner surfers too – although by now I’d already exhausted my surfing talents, which you can read more about here.
Finally, there are little restaurants which place their tables and chairs along the top of the beach and serve amazing salads, sushi, ceviche and fruit juices (just remember to ask for fresh juices ‘sin azucar’ – without sugar – unless you want to end up high as a kite, half naked trying to clamber aboard the beach unicorns and ride them into the sunset).
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Is it possible to over-eat salad?! I’ve never heard anyone agonise over that crazy ‘salad binge’, so I’m going to assume not. With this in mind, vegan eatery Luv Burger at the top of town turns out the most delicious and GIGANTIC rainbow salads (and much, much more), which will turn you into the star of your very own Man vs. Salad show.
I was lured in at first by the dairy and sugar free banana nice-cream on the menu, but after being served a cold coconut water straight from the nut and sharing the mighty vegan banana pancakes with my beard-o, I made it my personal mission to sample EVERYTHING on this restaurant’s genius menu.
I have a tendency to judge foods by the size of my head, and all of these delectables definitely outsized it without challenge: gluten-free summer spring rolls, hummus plate, classic vegan burger… but not only were they huge they were also bursting with a thousand tastes and colours and plated up prettier than anything worth hash-tagging #foodporn.
Luv Burger is right next to the bus stop as you come into town, so don’t even bother dropping off your bag at your hostel when you arrive or you’ll be wasting valuable chowing time. Just beeline straight there and camp out for an afternoon. Order Super Frank´s Chocolate Banana Ice Coffee. There are chia seeds and flax and almond milk and cacao and some kind of ridiculous magic in there – it´s amazing. And then get the Luv Burger Casado (a healthy vegan makeover for the local traditional dish including cashew cheese and hummus and brown rice and all kinds of salad). Then get the pancakes. And then a guilt free nice-cream. And then pass out, wake up and do it again.
I wasn’t even hungry once so just ordered a side salad so I could hang in their pretty courtyard and this is what I got…
If you manage to move ever again after filling your face at Luv Burger then you’ll find a bunch of other lovely places in town to get something veggie friendly. On the street that runs parallel to the beach there is a little collection of shops, cafes and even a gym which will make you want to trade in your whole life at home and move to Samara immediately, too.
Don’t miss out a visit to Samara Organics, a cute organic shop which kept our hostel cupboard well stocked with superfoods and gluten free goodies for the duration of our stay. Quinoa, chia seeds, all kinds of supplements and flours, sugar free energy balls, veggie patties, hummus…. even all natural mozzie repellant (you’re going to need it!) and cruelty-free beauty products can be found under one roof.
Oh, and just in case you hadn’t spent ALL of your holiday cash here they also have a menu of various fruit and vegetable smoothies and a little patio lounge out the front so you can cool down from the scorchio Costa Rican sun while sipping on some all natural goodness. I’m only kidding about the cash. They take cards.
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Of course Samara has plenty of yoga on offer – no child of mine would be named after a yoga-barren town. You can smell it in the air as you enter the chilled out town and spot the tell-tale hippy clothes and mandala mural-ed hostels peeking out from every corner.
There were 2 places I frequented to get my yoga fix, just a couple of weeks before I went through Yoga Teacher Training myself not far away from Samara:
This place is right next to Luv Burger, so it gets immediate (sugar-free and vegan) brownie points for just that fact alone. I only made it to one class, which happened to fall on the same morning that I waved off my other half as he departed for San Jose, leaving me to nervously anticipate my Yoga Teacher Training course which was starting the next day.
The class turned out to be just me, another friendly girl who seemed to be feeling a tad emosh too and the instructor. She arranged our mats to face each other in a circle and practiced with us through a really deep and powerful vinyasa flow. There were tears and hugs at the end – a completely new experience for me being used to run-in-run-out 6am Hot Power classes in London where no body touches each other. Ever. It wasn’t part of my course at all, but I always remember it as the first lesson of my Teacher Training.
The studio is immaculate and has plenty of mats and props – it even has air-con for the most swealtering days.
At home I was used to practicing in a room heated to 38 degrees or above. Classes in this gorgeous little outdoors studio in Costa Rica, made me feel right at home without a single heater as it was naturally warm enough to sweat your heart and soul out! I made it to quite a few of Alyssa’s Hatha Yoga classes, returning each time knowing that I was getting exactly what I needed – working on the tightness in my hips following so much seated travel, correcting and improving my warrior series ahead of my teacher training and most importantly of all encouraging my frenzied mind to find some clarity and even if just for the duration of her class, to be completely present, here, in my favourite place on earth.
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