Getting Paid to Ride Horseback on a Tropical Beach

Bruce Walker has a simple life. Most days you can see him riding along the golden-sand beaches and jungle paths of Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast…with guests in tow.

He has lived in Playa Chiquita, a small beach community for the past four years and his Playa Chiquita Riding Adventures is one of the most popular activities for visitors to this area, which is untouched by major development or tourism. No big resorts, no big towns. It’s a rural area full of nature. Rain forest borders a turquoise ocean.

“We just ride. We get in tune with nature…we see animals. You can’t put time on that. It’s not about making money; it’s about loving life,” says Bruce. “I haven’t worn a watch in years.”

His stable is just off the beach road. He takes his clients on hours-long rides that meander through rainforest and picturesque tropical beaches like Manzanillo and Punta Uva—whatever the mood of Bruce and his guests.

Things are loose, no set agenda. It’s a perfect fit for this region, which is the most laidback of all in Costa Rica.

“I ask them if they have to be somewhere. If not, a two-and-a-half-hour ride can go three, four, or five hours. My goal is that when they go back home to their crazy world that they can mentally go back to their ride.”

He also volunteers every week at a day camp for kids, bringing his horses for some equine therapy.

Bruce, 60, is a U.S. military veteran who later had a property management and home maintenance business.

“I just got burned out after 20 years in and out of the industry,” says Bruce, who was born and raised in Oregon but also lived in California and Arizona. “Once you learn how to live here, it’s great. I live in the rainforest.”

And recently, Bruce spotted another business opportunity. He has added glass-bottom kayak tours to his business.

“These are the first glass bottom kayaks on the Caribbean. They are great for seeing coral, the reef, and tropical fish,” says Bruce. “It’s a great adventure and experience for families to share and see the world below the surface.”

Aside from the income from the rides and kayak tours, Bruce also likes old fashioned bartering. Turns out horse manure is a valuable commodity. He trades it for gas for his stove, dinners out, vegetables, and other items with his neighbors. He also has a large home garden, with plantains and bananas, coconuts, and citrus.

He was drawn to Costa Rica by the welcoming attitude of the people, the slower pace of life, focus on family, and the beautiful scenery and weather to enjoy it in.

He did his research online and then came to see things for himself.

“I had a vision before I left to go back to the States. I knew I was coming back within a year. Everything started to fall into place and I made it down one year and one day later,” says Bruce.

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