By Sam Eifling | Special to The Tico Times
The raison d’être of Anamaya, a yoga retreat perched on the vertiginous hillside above Montezuma, is the view. Namely, the 400-foot rise above the Pacific Ocean that affords an unimpeded 180-degree view of the southern and eastern skies, within earshot of the waves careening against the rock-studded beaches below. This is the sort of view that harks to Balboa’s quote-unquote discovery of the Pacific, a real stomach-dropper of a vista. You can hardly think words such as “ocean” and “sunrise” without capitalizing them in your mind.
So this is the key point when you’re considering whether to drop a few hundred bones on travel and lodging to go to the edge of civilization: If all you want to do is stare godlike across the sea as it bends around the curvature of the earth, then this is your spot. You might match these sightlines elsewhere, but you’re going to have a very difficult time beating them.
Anamaya strives to meet the standard set by its setting, and largely acquits itself. The resort is insidiously healthy without foisting anything upon you. As you loiter around the back deck – perhaps lolling in a hammock that looks out onto the (again, transcendent) omni-oceanic view, perhaps sinking into a couch, perhaps sunning yourself on a deck chair beside the infinity pool – you’ll notice people slacking in a variety of ways. They’re reading books, they’re dinking around on iPads. Fine. But they’re also packing onto the deck for yoga sessions, traipsing down through the backyard forest to the local landmark Montezuma Falls cascading through three tiers of swimming holes, heading to the beach for surfing lessons and scuba diving, sweating out civilization’s accumulated gunks via the UV sauna. The Nicoya Peninsula has been identified as one of the world’s Blue Zones, in which residents are prone to unusual longevity, and Anamaya fosters that mentality in the most chill way possible. It’s all wellness without a lick of medicine.
Two of the owners, Geoff McCabe and Joseph Mikrut, Americans both, are around the resort for much of the day-to-day operations. The main house used to be McCabe’s home before he surrounded it with the little villas that bring the resort’s capacity to about 30, but it’s Mikrut who leads many of the activities there now. The men want to foster the sense of the resort as an altered state of well-being, and to send people home after a week or two with a sense of innate (rather than prescribed) inner change. The overall effect will probably leave you feeling borderline amazing, without also feeling that you overextended yourself to get there.
To that end, the resort stocks its kitchen with local foods and organics, many of which McCabe is cultivating on a former cattle ranch just up the road a piece, where he’s painstakingly rebuilding the soil. He hopes to develop farming techniques that will allow more of the resorts and hotels in the region to grow their own vegetables, fruits and herbs, and to offer farming solutions to the locals. For now, though, the beneficiaries are Anamaya guests who sup on spinaches, chards, kales, basil, tomatoes, sweet basil, dill, peperoncini, endive and the rest. The vegetarian-friendly meals also feature locally caught fish, lots of fruit, whole grains, and that most deceptive element of healthy eating, flavor. It’s all delightful, but it’s not a forced march; there is wine, beer, dessert. Layabouts can wallow in good stead.
The quarters range from relatively Spartan, dorm-style rooms to honeymoon-worthy jungle bungalows. Per-person rates at Anamaya also vary accordingly, from under $900 for a weeklong stay on up to more than twice that. About half the year (generally during tourism’s off-peak times) it hosts yoga teacher training sessions. The staff is courteous and responsive; the other guests are in buoyant moods and go out of their way to be inclusive. Paradise has a way of leaving guests in a fine frame of being, even if they couldn’t point to exactly why.
Drive west from Juan Santamaría International Airport on the main freeway (Inter-Americana) until you see an exit for Atenas. Take that exit and cross over the freeway to your left. Drive for approximately 2 km and turn left between a soccer field and a blue school. There is no sign here for the freeway. If you get lost, ask for “La Pista por Caldera.” Drive for 3.5 km the then you’ll see an overpass. Don’t go under it but instead turn left just before the freeway, and that will take you to the on-ramp. Get on that and head west (right) again. It will take you to Caldera, which is the main port next to Puntarenas, and from there, drive north along the coast. You’ll pass a big development called “La Roca” and eventually you’ll pass up and over the top of the road you want to turn right onto. There’s a sign for Puntarenas, but it’s been covered with tree branches for several years, so it’s difficult to see. Loop around to the right and get onto this road, heading west again, and follow that in a straight line all the way to the very tip of the Puntarenas peninsula, and then turn right and it will curve around to the ferry line.
The ferry times are shown here: Ferry to Montezuma/Malpais Area. Or better call the Ferry to hear the times: 2661-2084, ext 4. There are two ferries. One is to Paquera and one to Naranjo. Take the Paquera Ferry, and from there, drive to the left and go to Cobano, which takes 45 minutes normally. From Cobano, turn left and head to Montezuma. From Montezuma, head south along the beach road and at Hotel Amor de Mar, you’ll see a paved road up the hill. Drive up about 1/2 km and you’ll see Anamaya’s sign on the right.
Another option is to fly. There are two airlines with flights to Tambor, which is a 30 min drive from Montezuma. (Take a taxi for $30 from Tambor to Anamaya).
Retreat packages start at $895 for a week and include yoga, three gourmet organic meals per day, transportation to excursions and beaches, use of the guest kitchen and luxury accommodations. Details and discount information can be found on Anamaya’s website, www.anamayaresort.com/rates-reservations. For more info or to make reservations, call 2642-1289.