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This Central American country is a tropical playground jam-packed with adventure, casual camaraderie and a focus on eco-tourism—an ideal destination for nature-minded triathletes eager to soak up some sun and pura vida vibe.
Go: Costa Rica’s dry season (November to April) offers a warm respite from winter weather. But even the “green season” (May to October) sees mostly sun-drenched mornings balanced against afternoon storms.
Stay: Avoid the hustle of the capital city San Jose and instead fly into Liberia’s Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (a nonstop flight from Miami takes less than three hours). The gorgeous beaches of Guanacaste province begin within a 30-minute drive.
Dine: Playa Conchal’s Reserva Conchal (Reservaconchal.com) offers private condos and a five-star hotel in a safe and stunning beach, golf and spa resort. The JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa in the Hacienda Pinilla Development (Marriott.com) is similarly luxurious. Or sleep nestled in the cloud forest at Monteverde’s El Establo mountain top resort (Elestablo.com). All three premier properties serve as host hotels for Unlimited Productions’ triathlon series.
Costa Rica boasts 12 different microclimates—you’ll find volcanic mountain ranges, dense jungles and tropical dry forests in addition to pristine beaches. Such varied terrain beckons for adventure, and the opportunities to hike, bike, climb, run, swim, surf, stand-up paddle, river raft and bungee jump are endless. Be sure to visit Selvatura Park (Selvatura.com) in the Monteverde Cloud Forest (a three-hour drive from Guanacaste) to learn about the flora and fauna in the forest preserve, traverse the park’s treetop suspension bridges, and experience the splendor of the jungle canopy via a three-hour zip-line tour that culminates with the heart-thumping Tarzan Swing.
Eat (And Drink) Like A Local
You’ll find an array of fabulous fresh seafood at any of the seaside resorts, but the backbone of Costa Rican cuisine is as simple as rice and beans, cooked up in an assortment of comida tipica. This perfect-protein blend makes its way onto the breakfast menu as gallo pinto, mixed with sublime seasonings and accompanied by eggs and fried plantains. Lunchtime calls for casados, side-by-side rice and beans served with meat, vegetables and fresh tortillas. Salsa Lizano, a sweet and slightly spicy sauce, is the local condiment of choice. Beer goes down as easily as water in Costa Rica’s warm coastal region, and none better than local lager Imperial. Try out your Latin American lingo by ordering an “aguilita,” a nickname referencing the brand’s “little eagle” logo.
Unlimited Productions (Unlimitedproductionscr.com) produces highly regarded road and off-road triathlons throughout Costa Rica, featuring family-friendly sprint, Olympic and 111-distance (1000m swim, 100k bike and 10k run) events. The company currently hosts nine race weekends over nine-months, so there’s something to satisfy every triathlete’s timetable. For some off-road fun, XTERRA Costa Rica (Xterraplanet.com) offers a sprint, Olympic and trail run race March 29-30 in Reserva Conchal. Or, consider Race Quest Travel’s weeklong triathlon training camp (Race-quest.com) to experience Costa Rica from an athlete’s (and insider’s) perspective (2015 date TBD at press time).