In January of 2015, I had the absolute pleasure of spending 9 nights on a solo, personal retreat at Peace Retreat in the town of Playa Negra, Costa Rica – located in the province of Guanacaste, just over an hour from the Liberia International Airport. I originally discovered Peace Retreat through my community on Instagram – and after weeks of research and a little convincing from my friends, I decided to book my stay.
The following article is a review of Peace Retreat’s accommodations, grounds, services and yoga studio. The owner and I did work out an exchange of compensation for these articles, but as always, the opinions here are honest, authentic, and 100% my own.
Peace Retreat offers a variety of accommodations, including 4 private rooms in the main house, Casa Yoga, that can occupy between 1-6 guests, depending on which room you choose. Every suite includes its own private bathroom, storage space, and safe, and the top floor suite also includes a private kitchen and sky deck. Rates for these rooms range from $80 – $95, and an additional $20 will be added for additional occupants.
There are also 6 Teakwood Jungle Cabinas on site, which each contain two single beds, storage space, and a safe. The Cabinas offer access to the community washroom area, which includes several private toilets, showers, and sinks. The Jungle Cabinas cost $60 per night, with a $15 charge for an additional occupant.
During my stay at Peace Retreat, I was accommodated in the Om Room on the second floor in Casa Yoga. It was beautiful, with a queen bed and a single bed, private bathroom, large dresser and desk, electric safe, ceiling fan, and lots of windows for natural light and a nice breeze at night. This room could comfortably sleep 3 people.
The Grounds & Space
Peace Retreat’s property is large and beautiful – nestled amongst the Tropical Desert of the Nicoya Peninsula. There are plenty of trees, plants, and creatures such as Iguanas, Geckos, Large Grasshoppers and – yes – big Spiders! (Don’t worry, during my entire 9 night stay I never found anything in my room other than a few cute little geckos!)
On site you will find a 24-hour access pool, a community kitchen with a fridge, freezer, stovetop and oven, sink, and all cookware and utensils, a public washroom facility, dining and hammock area, free wifi, laundry facilities, a beautiful screened yoga studio with a 70-mat capacity, and a telephone for local calls. The staff at Peace Retreat will also be happy to help you arrange activities, shuttles or spa services.
The property is located 15 minutes from “downtown” Playa Negra, which is home to a few restaurants, shops and grocery stores, and just 20 minutes from Playa Negra itself – a beautiful, uncrowded beach perfect for swimming, snorkelling, surfing or suntanning.
The Services & Offerings
Peace Retreat offers a wide variety of Retreat options, ranging from accommodation only to Yoga and Surf Retreats to Detox and Wellness Retreats. (See a full list of Retreat Offerings here.)
Peace Retreat also has an amazing volunteer program. There are two options – a 3 hour per day volunteer option which grants the ability to stay at Peace Retreat for only $15/night, or a 6 hour per day option which grants free accommodation. I met many of the Peace Retreat volunteers (lovingly referred to as “PeaceKeepers”) during my stay, and they all had wonderful things to say about the program. Duties of a PeaceKeeper include cleaning, general maintenance of the property, taking care of guests, and utilizing special, individual skills for projects such as teaching yoga or working on social media and marketing, just to name a few examples.
Your stay at Peace Retreat can be as action-packed or as relaxing as you want it to be. There is a lot of freedom to plan your own activities – whether you want to make day trips to the nearby towns of Tamarindo or Santa Cruz, take Surf Lessons, go zip lining, horseback riding or paddle boarding, soak up a spa experience, participate in life-coaching sessions, or just lounge by the beautiful pool and catch up on your reading. The Staff of Peace Retreat are available to help you plan whatever it is that you want to experience during your stay.
There are two daily yoga classes offered at Peace Retreat in their beautiful Studio De Paz – one at 7am (8am on Sundays), which is open to the general public and suitable for all levels, and one at 5pm, which is generally a more restorative class and is not normally advertised to the public. Most classes are 60 minutes, although there were a few that were 90 minutes, and are taught by a variety of instructors including PeaceKeepers who also happen to be certified yoga teachers, local yoga teachers from Playa Negra and area, and Kevin, the owner of Peace Retreat. Unless you are on a Yoga Retreat Package, yoga classes are by donation.
It was a very humbling experience to take part in these daily yoga classes, and to see beginners, advanced students, locals, volunteers and guests alike come together as one for a beautiful 60 minutes of practice. The studio has plenty of mats, blocks, straps and props – however, if you are able to bring your own yoga setup, it is recommended that you do.
The studio itself is positively stunning. You’ll be able to feel a refreshing breeze through the screened walls and spend your savasana listening to the jungle life around you. On many occasions I had to pinch myself to make sure I was actually there.
Tips & Advice
-If you are uneasy about the critters that you will undoubtedly come across in the jungle, I would recommend booking a room in Casa Yoga on the second or third floor, as opposed to the Jungle Cabinas. While all windows are screened, bugs do sometimes find their way in, and you will be much less likely to find anything in your room if you are higher up. Also, most of the scariest critters (such as tarantulas) come out after dark, so if you are paranoid like I was during my first few days, just plan to be in your room before 9pm.
-Bring a few basic food items with you, especially if you plan to arrive late in the afternoon. You’ll likely be hungry after a long day of travel, and all restaurants and grocery stores in Playa Negra are a 20 minute walk both ways. I brought with me a few packets of oatmeal, protein bars, and some of my favourite tea.
-Bring a reusable water bottle. The tap water at Peace Retreat is safe to drink as it is supplied by a natural spring.
-If you’re a light sleeper, you may find earplugs helpful. The Retreat is very peaceful, but there are definitely lots of sounds that you may not be used to during the night – such as insects, birds and howler monkeys!
-Bring good, closed-toe walking shoes or hiking boots! The walk into town is dusty and rocky, especially if you plan to take the shortcut through the jungle path. Do NOT make the mistake of attempting the Jungle Path in flip flops like I did!
Overall, I would recommend Peace Retreat for absolutely everyone. Solo travellers, especially solo female travellers, will feel safe, comfortable and taken care of. Peace Retreat is also the perfect place for couples, groups, girls trips, and families. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me directly via email, or visit peaceretreat.ca.