Reclaim the Joy of Weekends in Costa Rica

I used to dread the weekends back home in Florida.

The highlight was breakfast at our favorite local diner in West Palm Beach, Howley’s. My wife and I liked the retro vibe; my son loved the pancakes. But then it was all downhill from there with endless errands at big-box and home-improvement stores.

You know how it is: You go in for one thing but then you’re wandering the aisles until you have a cart full of stuff. And your whole day is shot before you know it. No time for rest and relaxation.

But here in our home on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, we’ve taken back the weekends.

We sleep in a bit. A small breakfast of fresh fruit and rich Costa Rican coffee follows—just something to hold us over. We pack up and drive from our condo in Tamarindo north along the coast about a half-hour to Brasilito, a tiny fishing village. It’s not much more than a soccer field—every Costa Rican town has one—with some homes and little shops around it. Strung along the beach are a series of seafood restaurants. Some look as if they might fall over in a stiff breeze.

We like to stop in at La Casita de Pescado. I always get the mixed seafood rice—a seasoned blend of squid, shrimp, and fresh-off-the-boat fish. It costs about $6 and it’s way more than I can eat in one sitting. Follow that with a few cold Pilsens ($4 will buy you three) and we’re set.

After lunch, we hit the beach. Heading north from Brasilito we pass through Potrero, a beach-side town that’s grown popular with expats in the last couple of years, especially Canadians. North of town the paved road hugs the steep hill above crashing waves below.

We often stop to take in the view. There’s little development, so you see nothing but trees down to the water. And several islands hug the shore.

It looks like a wild, untouched coast—even if we’re in one of the supposedly most developed spots in the country. I can’t help but take pictures.

The paved portion ends soon after, with a rough dirt track continuing north—inadvisable without a four-wheel drive. But we’re stopping anyway—at Playa Danta.

A developer has put up a handful of homes and condos. There’s a watersports shop and a nice little restaurant. But it’s still a public beach. And that’s what we come for.

The water is safe for swimming. It’s a small cove, with steep cliffs on either side. And despite the beauty, it’s surprisingly quiet, even on the weekends. That’s just the nature of the area. There’s not enough people for anywhere to get really crowded.

The sun is hot though, so we string up a sarong between branches of the gnarled trees at the high tide mark for shade. Of course, the Pacific is right there to help us cool off. It’s a day of swimming and relaxing.

We leave in time to hit the fruit-and-veggie stand back in Potrero. They have fresh local honey too. An old liquor bottle filled to the brim is a couple of bucks. If we’re lucky the “fish guy” is there too. He drives around the neighborhood with a giant cooler filled with fresh catch. Mahi mahi is one of our favorites, something we considered somewhat of a luxury in Florida. Here it’s just $10 for a little more than two pounds.

Our errands for the day are done… and I’ve enjoyed every minute of them.

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