Drift Away Eco-Lodge in Blue Zone Costa Rica, the healthiest place on Earth

You can feel it as you travel down the bumpy dirt roads, away from the touristy city of Tamarindo, into the Costa Rican countryside. A sense of relaxation and tranquility. Of calm. And Peace. 

No concrete resorts, gas stations, or banks. No bright lights. No billboards or box stores. You are in rural, Blue Zone Costa Rica. Where the term “Pura Vida” (Pure Life) is more than just a saying on a souvenir shot glass, it’s a meaningful way of life.

Here, monkeys and parrots, and iguanas live in the green coastal forests, announcing the start of each day as the first light cracks the dawn. It’s an invitation for the locals to rise and begin their chores and the day’s labors. Saddled horses are hitched to posts outside the small tiendas. Ox carts are still functional farm implements. Dusty roads are lined with ancient trees, pastures with cows and goats, and small, simple homes where families enjoy meals on the porch.

It is this tranquility and escape from the modern stresses and western lifestyles that may be why this area, the Nicoya Peninsula, is one of five places in the world where residents live extraordinarily long and healthy lives. Here, life travels at its own pace – and visitors are transported to another, simpler time.

Blue Zones in the world

These areas are called “Blue Zones”, a term coined by National Geographic’s David Buettner, who led a team of scientists to discover why people in some areas of the planet live longer and healthier lives than the rest of us. They narrowed their findings to five regions, all in totally different geographical and topographical landscapes, and all with varying factors that led to the locals’ good health. Read David Buettner’s Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From The People Who Live The Longest, 2008.

One of those regions – Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula – is a roughly 80-mile long and 30-mile wide stretch of land in the northwest corner of the country, south of the Nicaraguan border. It is where Drift Away Eco-Lodge is located, on the Pacific Coast south of Tamarindo in the rural enclave of Playa Avellanas and Playa Negra (Los Pargos).

Other Blue Zones of the world are: Sardinia, Italy (where wine and laughter contribute to the longest male lifespan on earth), Loma Linda California (where a healthy vegan diet of the Seventh Day Adventists contributes to a lifespan 10 years longer than the average lifespan in the U.S.A.), Okinawa, Japan (where dedication to family and friends fosters the longest female lifespan on Earth), and Ikaria, Greece (where one in three people live into their 90’s and is basically free of dementia).

In the Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone of Costa Rica, men over the age of 60 are seven times more likely to reach the 100-year mark than the global average. So what makes people so healthy in Nicoya, Costa Rica?

Nicoya Blue Zone foods

Gallo pinto, eggs, toast, breakfast

Guests at Drift Away Eco-Lodge get a free breakfast of naturally sourced, unprocessed wholesome foods such as rice, beans, and eggs. (photo by Drift Away Eco-Lodge)

The Nicoya diet is mainly naturally sourced, unprocessed wholesome foods such as squash, rice, beans, and corn. Much of the food is still homegrown as  homemade – such as tortillas, Gallo Pinto, plantains and tropical fruits, with meat thrown in just a few times a week. There is very little added sugar or processed snacks. Families tend to eat lighter meals early in the evenings, and eat larger meals at lunch time. Studies have linked diets that are fewer in calories to longer lifespans.

The water of the Nicoya Peninsula is also some of the hardest water on Earth – it is high in calcium and magnesium and contributes to low osteoporosis rates and low rates of heart disease.

Nicoya Blue Zone lifestyle

Costa Rica ox cart Tico farming

Travelling to Playa Avellanas in the Nicoya Peninsula is like traveling back in time. (photo by Drift Away Eco-Lodge)

Family, friends and community are the most important aspects of life. Many people walk to visit neighbors and often live with extended family. They listen, laugh and connect. It is a sense of purpose in life that they call “plan de vida” or reason to live. It is what keeps many of the elderly working, active and contributing to the community.

The people of the Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone also value hard work. The daily routine often consists of household chores and manual labor – physical exercise that keeps seniors fit and healthy – and out of hospitals and old age homes.

old man and boy

stock image

Nicoya is known for its sun. The sun shines every day consistently during dry seasons (December-May)  and exposure to sun in healthy intervals is a natural source of Vitamin D, which helps with heart and bone health.

 Costa Rica – like many Latin American countries – is highly religious (mainly Catholic), and belonging to a church and having a faith in a higher power can lead to less stress, a better sense of well being and sense of purpose.

This area of Costa Rica has very few smokers. Cigarette/tobacco smoking is not prevalent at all. There are no ashtrays, and no butts on the ground. That alone must add years to the average life expectancy here!

It is this low-stress, natural and healthy environment which makes the Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone such a remarkable and relaxing place to visit. 

Visitors to the Drift Away Eco-Lodge often say they can feel the stress leave their bodies as soon as they arrive. It is what makes this place ideal for retreats centered on well-being, yoga, mindfulness and health. 

Make this magical area your next destination and explore and discover the health secrets of the Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone. 

Sunset at Playa Lagartillo at Drift Away Eco-Lodge (photo by Drift Away Eco-Lodge).

10 Best Restaurants in Playa Negra

Playa Negra, Guanacaste (also known as Los Pargos) is the sleepy little surf village just a few kilometers south of Drift Away Eco-Lodge. It is home to the famous surfing beach with the same name. It has a couple of small grocery stores, a church, and a surf shop. But for such a small place, it boasts a wide variety of restaurants –  from Mexican to French to Peruvian to Costa Rican food – there’s wood-fired pizza, farm-to-table meals and Costa Rica-grown organic coffee. You’ll want to budget enough days at the eco-lodge to try them all! This is a quick list of some of the great restaurants in Playa Negra, Guanacaste (in order of distance – closest to farthest – from Drift Away Eco-Lodge).

10 Best Restaurants in Playa Negra

Kon-Tiki Playa Negra

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 1.7 km

Kon-Tiki has been famous for its wood-fired pizza since a Peruvian couple opened it in Playa Negra, Guanacaste in 1992. The pizza oven is located right in the middle of the restaurant so you can watch your dinner being made! It has a cozy dining atmosphere where you can dine inside or out. There are vegetarian pizzas, too. Check out the new cocktail bar that now accompanies the restaurant – with creative homemade cocktails and Costa Rican craft beer. There’s live music on some weekends and the restaurant is almost close enough to walk to. 

Kon-Tiki Playa Negra hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Piko Negro

Distance to Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 2.3 km

This is another pizza place that you’ll notice as you enter Playa Negra. It features some fun decor, with hand-made wooden furniture hewn from giant logs. Prices at Piko Negro are bit cheaper than Kon-Tiki, and the restaurant can sometimes deliver right to Drift Away Eco-Lodge and if not, they offer take-away. Like all pizza joints, Piko Negra caters well for vegetarians who can tailor their own pies to suit their diets.

Piko Negro hours: Closed Mondays

milk poured into cup of coffee

photo courtesy Corazón Surf Café

Corazón Surf Café

Distance to Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 2.6 km

We love Café Corazon, the house coffee of the Corazón Surf Café. It’s what Drift Away Eco-Lodge serves at our juice bar and provides free of charge in all our guest rooms. It is 100% natural organic coffee sourced directly from its sustainable hillside coffee farms in Zona de Los Santos, Tarrazú, Costa Rica. Packaged in bio-friendly bags the coffee is a tasty souvenir to take home! We sell them in the Drift Away Eco-Lodge shop. 

Corazón Surf Café is a great place to chill with a morning brew. The cafe also serves up smoothies, cold-pressed juices with local fruit as well as  acai and pitaya bowls. 

Corazón Surf Café hours: TBA

La Vida Buena restaurante sign with sunset

photo courtesy La Vida Buena

La Vida Buena

Distance to Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 2.9 km

Owner Willie will take care of you at this local favorite with a menu that will have something for everyone, from fish to chicken to burgers to pizzas. La Vida Buena is a place to enjoy homemade Costa Rican food. Vegetarians can choose from a couple of pasta dishes, or ask for a meat-free burrito or casado. Diners can beat the heat and dine in indoor, air-conditioned comfort. If they can, they will deliver to Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

La Vida Buena hours: Open every day from 11 a.m. To 10 p.m. 

tuna on plate with salad and potatoes

photo courtesy Café Playa Negra

Café Playa Negra

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 3 km

Café Playa Negra specializes in Peruvian food, with a menu of more than 30 dishes that combines Peruvian and Costa Rican flavours. It’s famous for its ceviche, but there are also international dishes and a children’s menu. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are always looking for freshly-caught fish so ask about the catch of the day. There are no vegetarian options on the dinner menu at Cafe Playa Negra, so you’ll have to ask about meat-free options, or enjoy some tasty patacones or yuca chips. Besides ceviche, Café Playa Negra is also known for its daily fresh-baked desserts.

Café Playa Negra hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Closed Tuesdays

three smoothies, blueberry, strawberry and banana

photo courtesy Jalapeño

Jalapeño Eatery & Market

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 3.1 km

Jalapeño describes itself as a fun and casual restaurant with organic MSG-free  fresh food,and a variety of delicious dishes made-to-order. A tasty breakfast and lunch stop best known for its burritos, with tortillas made by hand accompanied with homemade sauces. They make fresh Pico de Gallo every day, made-to-order guacamole, and serve organic chicken, and fish caught by the chef himself!

Jalapeño Eatery & Market hours: Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

waiter pouring red wine for guest sitting at restaurant table with white linen

photo courtesy Villa Deevena

Villa Deevena French Restaurant

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 3.4 km

Villa Deevena French restaurant is probably the most upscale restaurant in Playa Negra, and is making headlines around the world – most recently in the New York Times! It’s French fine-dining in a beautiful setting, yet informal enough that you can still wear your flip flops. The menu is prepared by Chef de Cuisine Patrick Jamon, who moved to Costa Rica and opened Villa Deevena in 2009 after serving the president and dignitaries at a high-end restaurant in Los Angeles.  As the NYT article states “…the cooking emphasizes local, tropical ingredients grown, caught or gathered near the restaurant.” The menu is mainly meat and seafood. Vegetarians can ask for the gnocchi gorgonzola without ham, or ask the staff for other options – they are happy to make other vegetarian dishes that are not on the menu.

New York Times profiles Villa Deevena: 

Villa Deevena hours: breakfast 7 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., lunch 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., dinner 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. (last reservation)

thatched roof palapa Hotel Playa Negra

photo courtesy Hotel Playa Negra

Hotel Playa Negra

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 3.4 km

Hotel Playa Negra boasts the only restaurant in Playa Negra that is on the beach. Dine under a palm-thatched rancho overlooking the Pacific Ocean and watch the surf and the sunset with a cocktail. The menu has many Costa Rican food items to choose from such as casados. It also serves fresh fish, lobster and seafood, and tenderloin steaks, as well as hamburgers, sandwiches and pasta. The restaurant says it has vegetarian and gluten-free dishes and kids’ meals. 

Hotel Playa Negra hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the bar stay open later at night

la ventana natural foods cafe juice bar catering

photo courtesy La Ventana

La Ventana

Distance to Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 3.8 km

La Ventana specializes in whole, natural foods, fresh juices, gourmet organic coffees & teas. Jen, the owner, serves up breakfast, lunch, and food-to-go. The cafe is air-conditioned and features the work of local artists. There are several vegetarian options on the menu as well as homemade waffles, bagels, and granola. For lunch, there’s the tuna teriyaki bowl, the lemon hummus wrap or the vegetarian chili. Ask about the kimchi! 

La Ventana hours: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. closed Sundays

overhead view of people eating meal around a large wooden table

photo courtesy LaTica

LaTica Lodge Alternative Resort

Distance to Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 5.6 km

This is a fantastic, beautiful new dining option in Pargos. The owner is an architect, and it shows in the property’s stunning design and layout. It features Zeidy’s Kitchen, a restaurant that serves the resort’s guests. Non-guests must make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance, as the meals are served up from scratch every evening. Meals are served family-style, with farm-to-table vegetarian and meat dishes with a single, all-inclusive price. You don’t know what you’re going to get until it’s put down on the table! So be sure to mention any specific dietary requirements or requests when you book.

Zeidy’s Kitchen hours: call ahead

The restaurants in Playa Negra, Guanacaste are making this place more than just a surf destination. Culinary and foodie types will enjoy the feast of restaurants in Playa Negra and in neighbouring Playa Avellanas (see our blog on those), and they are all a quick drive from Drift Away Eco-Lodge. Ask our receptionist to book your table today!

Drift Away Eco-Lodge: Minimizing Waste for the Environment & the Community

(Versión en español debajo)

The Drift Away Eco-Lodge takes its responsibility to the environment and the community seriously. When it comes to our waste, we have taken some simple steps that have drastically reduced the amount we produce. Sometimes our total output consists of just 1 or 2 large bags per week! It take some pressure off Costa Rica’s waste infrastructure and minimizes the chances of it ending up in the wrong places like the beaches, streams or roadways.

Here’s what we did (and what you can do too!):

How Drift Away Eco-Lodge reduces its waste

Drift Away Eco-Lodge is single-use plastic-free

Drift Away Eco-Lodge is a single-use plastic-free zone, where we try to minimize our use of plastics and encourage and facilitate reduced plastic-use among our guests. One way we do this is by offering guests free use of quality, stainless steel water bottles during their stay. Guests can refill the bottles at one of our filtered water stations and take them to the beach or on excursions. It eliminates the need for guests to purchase bottled water.  And if they want, guests can purchase the bottles on departure. We also do not use plastic bags when we shop, choose and sell products with environmentally-friendly packaging, and discourage use of plastics among our employees. And we do not serve plastic drinking straws with our smoothies and beverages at our juice bar. We only use stainless steel, reusable and washable straws.

Swimming pool, coconut, stainless steel water bottle with Drift Away Eco-Lodge logo

Guests of Drift Away Eco-Lodge get a free, stainless steel water bottle to use during their stay.

How Drift Away Eco-Lodge recycles

Drift Away Eco-Lodge has a written and posted policy on recycling. We know recycling isn’t always the answer, but we also know that it is difficult to eliminate plastics altogether. So when our guests bring in plastics, glass or cans, we want to do everything we can to make sure that recyclable waste is in the hands of organizations who have the ability to handle it responsibly.

We have a visible recycling station at the center of our property that guests are encouraged to use. There are also recycling bins in all our rooms. Recyclable waste is sorted by our staff and stored until we have enough to transport. We avoid the local recycling station that is closest to our hotel because we realize the center is run by volunteers and we do not want to put added pressure on the few available resources that maintain the facility. Instead we take our recyclables to larger facilities in Filadelfia or Tamarindo, where there is staff to handle the waste. We also time our trips with other errands and tasks so that we are minimizing our fossil fuel use.

Also, all our containers for our breakfast yogurt, cleaning supplies, in-room toiletries, and beverages like craft beers and kombuchas are returned to the manufacturer where they are sanitized and reused.

The Drift Away Eco-Lodge composter is hungry!

Drift Away Eco-Lodge provides free daily breakfast for all our guests and fresh juice and smoothies in our juice bar, and that can produce a lot of organic waste. One of our first initiatives was to build a composter on the hotel property. It is a simple structure that took a few hours to build. The composter is fed a daily diet of pineapple rinds, papaya seeds and eggshells. It didn’t take long for the decomposing process to kick in, and now our organic waste is being turned into rich fertile material that we use on our garden and other plants. It is amazing how much
organic waste we can fit into the little box. It just keeps breaking down and we will never be able to fill it!

Cleanups & workshops: education and awareness

Drift Away Eco-Lodge has a staff member designated as our sustainability and community ambassador. It’s her job to educate and raise awareness of the importance of recycling and composting. Our Sustainability Ambassador schedules monthly beach and road cleanups where our staff (we also invite the public) take to the streets to rid the area of beer cans, plastic bags and glass bottles. We sort the trash – and recyclables go into our recycling stream, rather than the streams that flow into the ocean.

woman making recycling power-point presentation to people

Drift Away Eco-Lodge recycling workshop

We are also conducting regular workshops for staff on what we can recycle, and the best practices for recycling in Costa Rica and how we can all be better waste managers. Drift Away is also going to conduct workshops on composting to make sure our organic waste reaches its fertile potential. These workshops will be ready for the public soon, so Drift Away Eco-Lodge can help raise awareness and spread important information so we all can become better environmental stewards.

Join Drift Away Eco-Lodge to make our world better

As an eco-lodge we take our responsibility to the environment seriously. We also want everyone involved to keep Playa Lagartillo, Playa Avellanas and Los Pargos green and clean, so that we can all be proud of the community we call home. Please join us in our monthly cleanups – please attend our education workshops. And please build a composter in your yard, recycle your waste and pick up some trash on the beach today. It is the true essence of Pura Vida!

Eco-lodge staff in green shirts filling a wheelbarrow with trash collected from the road

Drift Away Eco-Lodge employees have already removed many pounds of trash from several kilometres of local roads!

Drift Away Eco-Lodge: Minimizando nuestros residuos para el medio ambiente y la comunidad 

Nosotros en Drift Away Eco-Lodge tomamos nuestra responsabilidad con el medio ambiente y la comunidad en serio. Cuando se trata de nuestros desechos, hemos tomado algunas medidas simples que han reducido drásticamente la cantidad de desechos que producimos. ¡Algunas semanas nuestra producción total consiste en solo 1 o 2 bolsas grandes! Reduce la presión sobre los residuos en Costa Rica y minimiza las posibilidades de que termine en el lugar equivocado, como ríos o carreteras.

Esto es lo que hicimos (!y lo que tú también puedes hacer!)

Plástico – libre de uso

Drift Away Eco-Lodge es una zona libre de plástico de un solo uso, donde tratamos de minimizar nuestro uso de plásticos y alentar y facilitar el uso reducido de plástico entre nuestros huéspedes. Una forma de hacerlo es ofreciendo a los huéspedes el uso gratuito de botellas de agua de acero inoxidable de calidad durante su estadía. Los huéspedes pueden rellenar las botellas en una de nuestras estaciones de agua filtrada y llevarlas a la playa o en excursiones. Elimina la necesidad de que los huéspedes compren agua embotellada. Y si lo desean, los huéspedes pueden comprar las botellas. Tampoco usamos bolsas de plástico cuando compramos, elegimos y vendemos productos con envases ecológicos, y aconsejamos no el uso de plásticos entre nuestros empleados. Y no servimos pajillas de plástico con bebidas en nuestro bar de jugos. Solo utilizamos pajillas de acero inoxidable, reutilizables y lavables.

Reciclaje 

Drift Away Eco-Lodge tiene una política sobre reciclaje. Sabemos que reciclar no siempre es la respuesta, pero también sabemos que es difícil eliminar los plásticos por completo. Entonces, cuando nuestros huéspedes traen plásticos y vidrio, queremos hacer todo lo posible para asegurarnos de que los desechos reciclables estén en manos de las organizaciones que tienen la capacidad de manejarlos de manera responsable. Tenemos una estación de reciclaje visible en el centro de nuestra propiedad que los huéspedes deben usar. También hay contenedores de reciclaje en todas nuestras habitaciones. Nuestro personal clasifica los residuos reciclables y los almacena hasta que tengamos suficiente para llevarlos al centro de reciclaje. Evitamos utilizar la estación de reciclaje local más cercana a nuestro hotel porque nos damos cuenta de que el centro está dirigido por voluntarios y no queremos ejercer presión adicional sobre los pocos recursos disponibles que mantienen las instalaciones. En cambio, llevamos nuestros materiales reciclables a instalaciones más grandes en Filadelfia o Tamarindo, donde hay personal para manejar los desechos, también cronometramos nuestros viajes con otros encargos y tareas para minimizar nuestro uso de combustibles fósiles.

Además, todos nuestros envases de yogurt en vidrio del desayuno los productos de limpieza, artículos de tocador en la habitación y bebidas como cervezas artesanales y kambuchas se devuelven al fabricante donde se desinfectan y reutilizan.

Compostación

Drift Away Eco-Lodge ofrece desayuno diario gratuito para todos nuestros huéspedes, jugos y batidos frescos en el bar de jugos, y eso puede producir una gran cantidad de desechos orgánicos. Una de nuestras primeras iniciativas fue construir un compostador en la propiedad del hotel. Es una estructura simple que tardó unas horas en construirse. El compostador se alimenta con una dieta diaria de cáscaras de piña, semillas de papaya y cáscaras de huevo. El proceso de descomposición no tardó mucho en iniciarse, y ahora nuestros desechos orgánicos se están convirtiendo en un rico material fértil que usamos en nuestro jardín y otras plantas. Es sorprendente cuántos residuos orgánicos puede caber en la cajita. ¡Simplemente se descompone y nunca podremos llenarlo!

Limpieza y talleres : educación y conciencia

Drift Away Eco-Lodge tiene un miembro del personal designado para nuestro embajador de sostenibilidad y comunidad. Es parte de su mandato educar y crear conciencia sobre la importancia del reciclaje y el compostaje y minimizar nuestros desechos. Nuestro Embajador de sostenibilidad está programando limpiezas mensuales de playas y carreteras donde nuestro personal (el público también está invitado) sale a las calles para deshacerse de latas de cerveza, bolsas de plástico y botellas de vidrio. La basura que recolectamos se clasifica para poder ser reciclados, así evitamos que lleguen a los océanos.

También estamos realizando talleres regulares para el personal sobre lo que podemos reciclar, y conocer las mejores prácticas para el reciclaje en Costa Rica y cómo todos podemos ser mejores gestores de residuos. También vamos a realizar talleres sobre compostaje para asegurarnos de que nuestros desechos orgánicos  alcancen su potencial para ser mas fértil. Esperamos que estos talleres estén listos para el público pronto, para que Drift Away Eco-Lodge puede ayudar a crear conciencia y difundir información importante para que todos podamos ser mejores administradores del medio ambiente.

Por Favor !! Se une a nosotros?

Como eco-lodge tomamos nuestra responsabilidad con el medio ambiente en serio, pero también queremos que todos participen para mantener  Playa Lagartillo, Playa Avellanas y Los Pargos verdes y limpias, para que todos podamos estar orgullosos de la comunidad que llamamos hogar. Únase a nosotros en nuestras limpiezas mensuales; asista a nuestros talleres educativos. Y construya un compostador en su patio, recicle sus desechos y recoja algo de basura en la playa hoy. ¡Es la verdadera esencia del Pura Vida!

Restaurants in Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica – More Than Lola’s Beachfront Restaurant

Drift Away Eco-Lodge may seem remote, but we are close to a surprising number of great restaurants in Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica. Dining is one of the great adventures our guests experience when they visit!

A variety of restaurants all within a few kilometres offer Italian cuisine, Costa Rican traditional food and fusion dishes, home-cooked meals, and great pizzas – and you can enjoy them in lush, tropical, outdoor spaces or at a restaurant on the beach.

All these restaurants accept major credit cards and are all within a 2-kilometre radius of the Drift Away Eco-Lodge.  We recommend you try any one of these Playa Avellanas restaurants, and our friendly and helpful staff will happily book your table!

Best Restaurants in Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica

Lola’s, Playa Avellanas

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 1.6 km (1 mile)

Lola's Beachfront Restaurant

Dine with your toes in the sand at Lola’s on the beach at Playa Avellenas

Lola’s restaurant is a famous Costa Rican beachfront restaurant.  It’s located right on the beach in Playa Avellanas and offers a great view of the surfers riding the waves. Dine with the sand in your toes under the shade of the palm trees, with a great lunch menu with organic food – good ceviche, poke and burgers, served with ice-cold beers. This alone makes it a great dining destination, but it may be most famous for its mascot – a giant pig named Lolita!

Lola’s restaurant uses organic produce and free-range organic chicken and eggs. We recycle, compost (or feed Lolita!) and convert fryer oil to biodiesel. We support the local communities, police, schools, children’s advocacy groups, lifeguards, beach clean-ups, animal clinics, a variety of local charities and several environmental projects.

Vegetarian mains include a veggie burger and pesto pasta. There are also a variety of salads and some veggie pizza choices.

Lola’s, Playa Avellanas Hours of Operation: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Mondays

Lola’s website

Mauna Loa

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 2.1 km (1.6 miles)

Mauna Loa is named after one of the volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands – a tribute to our own “Little Hawaii”, a favorite surfing spot nearby. Mauna Loa has a great outdoor dining atmosphere with quaint tables sprawled over its property with romantic lighting. The menu offers authentic Italian food, homemade pasta and pizza, and Mauna Loa’s famous tiramisu. There is sometimes live music as well which adds to the ambiance of the evening.

Vegetarian options include pizza and pasta dishes.

Mauna Loa Hours of Operation: 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., & 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Closed for several weeks during Green Season.

Hotel Mauna Loa website

Il Rustico

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 1.6 km (1 mile)

 

Another Italian food favorite is Il Rustico. The restaurant prides itself on its home-cooked meals, with homemade pasta and pizza served in a cozy rustic cottage in the forest. The young couple who operates the restaurant is from a small city in central Italy and came to Guanacaste with their grandmother’s recipes. The lasagna is fantastic! Some nights there is live music.

Vegetarian options include pizza and pasta dishes.

Il Rustico Hours of Operation: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. – Closed Thursdays. Closed for several weeks during Green Season. 

Il Rustico website

Restaurante Blu

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 1.2 km (0.8 miles)

 

Restaurante Blu bills itself as “Costa Rica Fusion”, and is a trendy little place that makes great cocktails – and a mean Moscow Mule! Blu is famous for its creativity and photo-worthy presentations, like its signature smoky sirloin tip burger served under a glass dome full of smoke! Its saucy chicken wings are also served smoked in a sealed glass jar that releases the savory aroma when you open it. Our guests rave about it!

Vegetarian mains include pizzas, gnocchi, and a Mediterranean Platter.

Restaurante Blu hours: 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Closed Wednesdays.

Blu website

Gregorio’s

Distance from Drift Away Eco-Lodge: 0.8 km (0.5 miles)

Gregorio's outdoor open-air restaurant and bar

Gregorio’s is an informal local hangout where you can enjoy traditional Costa Rican food.

Gregorio’s Bar and Restaurant has an authentic, rustic Guanacaste feel – it’s not a restaurant on the beach, but it’s pretty close. It serves typical Costa Rican food like fried chicken and fish, arroz con camarones (rice with shrimp) and cheap Costa Rica beer. Great for budget travelers and those who want an alternative to the touristy, more upscale restaurants. Staff are friendly – even if you don’t speak Spanish – and the ribs appetizer plate is a meal in itself!

Vegetarian choices include veggie casados, or a variety of local veggie options like papas fritas (fries), Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), and grilled vegetables. Or get a veggie burrito or quesadilla.

Gregorio’s hours: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day

Gregorio’s website

Playa Avellanas restaurants cater to all tastes and budgets. A culinary adventure awaits on your next visit to Drift Away Eco-Lodge in Guanacaste, Costa Rica!

 

Read Next: More great restaurants also near the Drift Away Eco-lodge in the village of Los Pargos/Playa Negra.

 

Farm to Table Meals on the Menu at Drift Away Eco Lodge

At Drift Away Eco-Lodge we strive to be as sustainable as possible. We care about the environment on a local and global level, and we want to make a positive impact on the local community. And nowhere is that more evident than in the food we serve our guests.

It just feels natural: Wherever possible Drift Away provides organic food made or grown in the area. Our fruit and vegetables are purchased from a local vendor. So are our eggs. But there is so much more!

We’d like to propose a toast! We serve our free breakfasts with toast made from bread baked at Panadería Alemana (German Bakery) near Liberia. The bakery uses whole grains and grinds and mills its own flour on site. Their fleet of trucks deliver the bread right to the hotel doorstep (often still warm!).

This won’t get your goat: Some people have said Rancho Avellanas raises the “happiest goats on the planet” on its picturesque farm just a few minutes’ drive north of here. It’s why we use their natural, organic and home-made goats’ milk yogurt in our yogurt-and-granola breakfast. You should stop in and see the goat-babies while you’re here!

A rare cut: Organic, natural, free-range meat is not easy to find in Costa Rica, but we wanted to give our guests a sustainable and eco-friendly meat-option with their breakfasts. We did some looking around and discovered Hacienda Sapori Antichi, a small, family-run ranch located inland. Their breakfast pork sausage is made from happy, free-roaming pigs raised on bananas, goats’ milk whey and local, non-GMO corn.

A juicy secret: Our juice bar sells freshly squeezed juice from oranges and grapefruits, handpicked from trees right on our property. And we blend tasty fruit smoothies from scratch (with stainless steel straws, of course). Our palm trees are always dropping coconuts. So we put them in the fridge and presto! Refreshing and delicious coconut water to help cool you off and re-hydrate on a hot afternoon (add a shot of Centenario Costa Rican rum for a cheeky cocktail).

Here’s an eye-opener: Café Corazon is a 100% natural Costa Rican coffee, grown in the mountains south of San José, where some of the best coffee in the world is grown! The beans are roasted at the Corazon Surf Café, right here in the town of Los Pargos. They’re grown with organic compost, carbon ash as pesticide and recycled water. And the coffee is sold in 100% bio-degradable packaging. It’s a wonderful and flavorful way to start your day and it’s why we provide Café Corazon in every room, free for our guests. You can also purchase it in our shop.

And if you’re a teatotaler, our teas are totally terrific! Sangeevani Peace & Tea has created an assortment of teas to please. How about these? Black tea with mint, cardamom, and cinnamon.  Red jamaica flower with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Ginger with lemon, lemongrass and peppermint. Green tea with blackberries, peppermint, passion fruit and pineapple. All natural ingredients, hand-made, 100% Costa Rican and in biodegradable packaging. Also provided free in every guest-room. Shall we get the kettle on?

Why the brew-ha-ha? Let this pour over you – our delicious selection of locally brewed craft beers! Ice-cold IPA’s, red ales, amber ales, Belgian whites, & porters. Perro Loco and Los Olas are brewed in nearby Playa Grande. La Selva Artesanal Beer brews its wide assortment of tasty ales – including its unique Costa Rican Brown Ale – in Playa Cabuya on the Nicoya Peninsula. Our Happy-hour is every day between 3 and 5 p.m.

Wine-not? Uncork this little bottle of fun-facts: There is only one wine made with 100% Lambrusca Americana grapes – grown, harvested and fermented in Costa Rica. Vino Don Teofilo is a certified-organic, sweet rosé. Order it at our juice bar as an aperitif – or in a sangria!

Bottle of Don Teofilo Costa Rican rose wine.

Don Teofilo is certified organic and is the only wine made in Costa Rica from 100% Costa Rican grapes.

Cool your sweet tooth: We make home-made dairy-free ice cream. We churn it on-site using coconut milk and a unique berry found in Costa Rica: mora (a type of blackberry). It’s a perfect balance of tart and sweet and will help you to chill-out by the pool. Yum!

So that’s a (biodegradable) wrap! Feel good about what you eat and drink here. The Drift Away Eco-Lodge is committed to offering our guests the very best that Costa Rica has to offer with a buffet of wholesome, sustainable, and above-all delicious food and beverages — in our breakfasts, in our juice bar, in our rooms, and in our shop. Pura vida!

 

 

Meet the Drift Away family

Here at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, we know that an incredible guest experience starts with incredible service. One of the things we are most proud of is our team of hard-working, friendly, energetic women and men who are committed to helping our guests have a wonderful Costa Rican holiday. Time and time again, we hear from our guests that we have amazing staff. We know! And we want you to learn more about the Drift Away family – who they are, why they love their jobs, and why they love Costa Rica!

Alberto/Maintenance:

Originally from Nicaragua, Alberto has lived in Costa Rica for many years. He grew up in a family with four girls, and now has his own daughters. Today, Alberto is the head of maintenance at the Drift Away Eco Lodge. He fixes, builds, repairs, and upgrades. He can do just about anything – just like MacGuyver! What Alberto loves most about Costa Rica? “Enjoying the sea!”

 Alberto is the head of maintenance at Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

Alberto is a carpenter, electrician and plumber all in one!

Augustine/Gardener

Augustine is responsible for the wonderful and beautiful gardens and landscaping of the Drift Away property. He has been trimming and grooming the property for more than a decade – before the Drift Away Eco Lodge even existed! You can catch him cleaning the pool, watering the plethora of plants, or pruning the palms around the pool. Augustine is from Nicaragua, but has lived in Costa Rica for more than 14 years. His favorite thing about his job – besides the plants – is the hard-working people he has had the pleasure of working with over the past 14 years.

Augustine is the gardener at Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

Augustine has been carefully cultivating the beautiful gardens at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge for more than a decade.

Janel/Receptionist

You can usually find Janel working behind the Drift Away Eco Lodge juice bar. She is one of our excellent receptionists, and she does a wonderful job helping guests and making sure they enjoy their vacation. You may also find her helping out with breakfast when it’s busy! Janel lives in the area with her two children. When she isn’t working Janel attends University, studying General Administration. “I like to interact with people and meet people,” she says. “I love Costa Rica because it is a quiet country.”

 Janel is the receptionist at Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

Janel is loves to help guests enjoy their vacations to Playa Avellanas.

Lorena/Housekeeping

Lorena is one of the meticulous housekeepers at Drift Away Eco-Lodge. You’ll also see her serving or cooking breakfasts. She is married with three daughters, and lives in a nearby community called Florida. She loves her country because “it is a free country and a country of peace. I love the nature that we have.” Lorena is fantastic at keeping the entire hotel clean and organized.

Lorena is a housekeeper at Drift Away Eco-Lodge

Lorena enjoys keeping everything at Drift Away Eco-Lodge clean and organized.

Rosa/Cook

Rosa is our main cook. She makes hundreds of breakfasts every month for the guests here at the Lodge. Her eggs and Gallo Pinto (rice & beans) are delicious! Rosa is a grandmother who lives in Paraiso with her family, whom she loves because “it is the most valuable thing that God and life could give me.”  She likes working in the kitchen the most, because that is where her skills shine. Besides hotel guests, she loves to cook for her grandchildren “because they always end up eating a little more food.” Rosa loves Costa Rica because it is the land where she was born, and what she appreciates the most are the beautiful beaches of Guanacaste.

Rosa cooking eggs for breakfast in the kitchen at Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

Rosa’s breakfasts are a delicious way to start your day at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

Yanina/Housekeeping

Yanina works hard at keeping the rooms and villas at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge spotless. Yanina also helps serve guests their free breakfasts when we are busy. When she is not working at the hotel she likes to spend time with her daughters. “My family is very kind and respectful,” she says. Her favorite thing about living in Costa Rica is its abundance of nature and the beautiful beaches.

Yanina is a housekeeper at Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

Yanina cleans rooms and serves breakfasts with a smile.

Yarlin/Receptionist

Yarlin (pronounced JAR-lyn) is one of the receptionists at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge. Her smiling face welcomes guests and she treats everyone with kindness. She lives in Paraiso with her mother and siblings, near her grandparents (Rosa the cook is her grandmother!) Yarlin is studying Sustainable Tourism Business Management at the The National University of Costa Rica in Nicoya. “I love to live in Costa Rica because we are rich, but I am not talking about money,” she explains. “It is rich for me because of the peace and the beautiful environment that is here in my dear Costa Rica.

Yarlin is the receptionist at Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

Yarlin is always ready to make you a delicious smoothie at the Drift Away Juice Bar.

 

In The Community: Hope 4 A Street Dog

It was like a M*A*S*H unit for dogs and cats. One by one: Little Dog. Cat. Big dog. Cat. Bigger dog. Littler cat.

Weighed. Marked and numbered. Anesthetized. Shaved. Snipped. De-ticked. Recover.

Next furry patient, please.

veterinarians performing castration/spay and neuter surgery on a dog

Veterinarians from Punta Arenas worked all day performing surgeries on more an 50 animals.

It was a routine that happened more than 50 times at a veterinary clinic in Paraiso, Guanacaste on May 12, 2019. The community clinic was organized by the Costa Rican pet charity, Hope 4 A Street Dog.

It was a clinic designed to spay and neuter as many dogs and cats as possible in the area. And from all accounts they are putting their best paw forward. For the past 15 years, these clinics have performed thousands of castration surgeries, and have helped minimize the number of unwanted and abandoned pets.

Part of our mission at Drift Away Eco-Lodge – besides contributing to and promoting more sustainable and eco-friendly travel in Costa Rica — is to be active in the community and to try and make a positive impact. And as animal lovers we felt this was a perfect opportunity to roll up our sleeves and donate our time taking care of local animals.

Our job was recovery care for the dogs and cats who had just been under the knife. We checked their sutures and combed them for ticks and fleas. We gave their claws a trim and cleaned their ears – all much easier to do when the animals are still sedated! We worked from 8 a.m. until noon, when the afternoon shift relieved us. It was a busy and satisfying way to spend a Sunday morning and we hope more volunteers will help in the future.

Without donations of time, money and supplies these clinics wouldn’t be possible!

What is Hope 4 A Street Dog?

The group of animal-lovers formed organically and has grown slowly over the past 15 years or so. It’s situated in the nearby community of Playa Junquillal – about a 15 minute drive from our hotel.

It all started when a German expat who rode her horses on the beach was frustrated with a pack of dogs that kept barking and chasing her. She complained to Berta Reyes Gomez (who is so passionate about dogs that she is known as the “dog whisperer”). Berta took the reins, and with some help, organized the first spay and neuter clinic in 2005. Since then, Hope 4 A Street Dog has expanded to a size and importance that no one could have predicted.

A young male assistant with medical shirt holding a large brown dog at the Hope 4 A Street Dog vet clinic.

Pepe, the veterinarian’s assistant, had his hands full at the Hope 4 A Street Dog clinic!

“Our main effort and goal is prevention,” said Berta, who is now the organization’s Director. “We focus solely and exclusively on castration and vaccination clinics in Playa Junquillal and surrounding communities.”

“We are a group of volunteers who do not receive a penny personally. Contrarily, we donate our time, money, and our emotions for pure love of the dogs.”

The group’s main fundraising event is Pasta 4 Paws, held every year around March. The 2019 fundraising dinner at Mundo Milo Eco-Lodge was the most successful yet, meaning the news is spreading about that the good work the charity is doing.

They also raise money selling Hope 4 A Street Dog t-shirts, which are on sale at various local shops and businesses. And the money is badly needed.

The hard-working and efficient veterinarians from Punta Arenas are paid for their services, and they need hotel rooms and food. Hope 4 A Street Dog also purchases all the medications and other supplies.

Shirts with Hope 4 A Street Dog logos are sold to raise money for the spay and neuter clinics.

Hope 4 A Street Dog sells these fundraising shirts at local shops and businesses, including here at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

Those who are able are requested to pay 12,000 colones (approx. $20 USD) per pet treated at the clinics. But many people can’t afford to pay, especially when they have multiple animals, so Hope 4 A Street Dog welcomes sponsors for those families who can’t afford to get their pets fixed.

How you can help

It’s a grassroots movement that helps animal-owners – and also helps people who aren’t that fond of the four-legged variety – as it reduces the number of stray, feral or abandoned animals in the community. Everyone wins!

So here’s how you can help. Visit the Hope 4 A Street Dog website to donate or volunteer. Buy a Hope 4 A Street Dog shirt. Or purchase tickets or donate a prize for next year’s Pasta 4 Paws event.

Email [email protected] for more information or if you have questions!

Our community’s pets thank you!

Free Bicycle Rental at Drift Away Eco-Lodge

Bicycling at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge in Costa Rica is free, emission-free, and a fun way to get around.

In North America, Bike To Work Day is Friday, May 17, and Bike To Work Week is May 13-19, 2019. At Drift Away Eco Lodge, we like to think every day is a great day to take a bicycle and go for a ride.

Although we are ‘off the beaten path’, which means a vehicle is recommended to get to our remote location, we encourage guests to leave their car parked once they arrive. We offer free bicycle rentals to our guests (based on availability) as a zero-emission way of exploring the beautiful beaches, nearby restaurants, and monkey and bird-filled forests that surround our eco-lodge.

Riding a bike is a healthy, fun, and low-impact form of exercise for all ages. It invigorates and energizes. Take the hotel bicycles for a picnic on the beach. Ride up to a lookout with panoramic views of the Costa Rican coastline. Get lost on the dirt trails where you’ll ride by Tico cowboys on horses herding their cattle. Discover a soda (a Costa Rican diner) with amazing local food. You’ll never know what you’ll find!

Bike riders will be happy to see several free bicycles waiting for them at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

The Drift Away Eco-Lodge has many bikes that guests can rent for free.

Moreover, cycling has the potential to have a significant impact on climate change. According the League of American Bicyclists, 40 per cent of all trips in the United States are under two miles, making cycling a much more environmentally friendly option than pollution-emitting vehicles. And it seems there is an increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options. Between 2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 per cent!

Bikes reduce the need to build, service and dispose of cars. According to the Queensland Department of Transport, cycling 10 km each way to work would save 1500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

It’s why we thought it was important to invest in free bicycles for our hotel guests.

Bicycle riders biking down a path in Costa Rica on free bicycles from Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

A zero-emission adventure awaits – take a bike ride down a path and see where it takes you.

So make cycling part of your Costa Rican adventure. Hop on one of our bikes and start exploring – and don’t forget to wear a helmet! (we rent those out for free, too.)

Guests of Drift Away Eco-Lodge can also take advantage of free rentals for surf boards, boogie boards, & beach umbrellas!

Proud to be single-use plastic free!

Plastic free lifestyle keeps our beaches clean and makes them the best beaches to visit.

If you look inside the recycle bins at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge, you’ll notice that the recycle bin labelled ‘plastics’ is usually empty. No, it’s not because we don’t like to recycle, nor is it because our guests aren’t environmentally conscious. It’s because Drift Away Eco-Lodge is a single-use plastic free zone. We are working towards a plastic free lifestyle, starting with minimizing our own plastic use and making it easy for our guests to do the same during their stay in Playa Avellanas. It means less plastic on our property, less plastic littering our forests and roadways, and less plastic on our beach and in our ocean.

It’s our way of keeping this little corner of the world less polluted and more beautiful for the people who live here – and for the guests who visit from all over the world.

For example, our rooms and villas feature high quality, stainless steel, insulated, reusable water bottles. They are free for our guests to use during their stay at Drift Away Eco-Lodge. Guests can refill their bottles at our on-site water stations and take the bottles with them to the beach or wherever they go. At the end of their stay they can choose to purchase the stainless steel bottles ($20) or leave them to be washed and sanitized for the next guests. There is no need to buy plastic water bottles from the store.

These stainless steel water bottles with the Drift Away logo are for sale in our hotel shop.

Stainless steel water bottles are available for guest use at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge.

All of our cleaning products and in-room toiletries are bought in bulk containers, which are returned for re-use. These products are also made locally, are bio-degradable and eco-friendly. We also make a concerted effort to avoid using plastic bags when we shop, and avoid plastic packaging in the products we buy. It’s part of our sustainability mission, and our commitment to our environment and our community.

It’s become abundantly clear lately that recycling alone isn’t answer. It’s questionable whether much of the plastic we throw into recycling bins is actually recycled anyway. And now that China no longer accepts most the recycling waste from the Americas, it is more and more difficult to guarantee that the plastic bottle you toss in the recycle bin won’t end up in a landfill or a waterway.

Guests can use the recycling bins at Drift Away Eco-Lodge for disposal of paper, plastic, metal and glass.

The recycling centre at the Drift Away Eco-Lodge is just one part of our hotel’s waste management process.

 

The Drift Away Eco-Lodge is simply doing its part to reduce this plastic waste, alongside a growing number of business and jurisdictions.

In March 2019, San Francisco, U.S.A. became the first major city to ban the sale of plastic water bottles. In April 2019 New York State agreed to ban single-use plastic bags. Bars and restaurants around the globe are banning the use of plastic straws. And The UK Government has announced plans to ban single-use plastics including straws, cotton-buds, and stirrers.

It’s a start.

But the amount of plastic pollution still being released into the world every day is enormous. A completely plastic free life is a tough mountain to climb, but eliminating single-use plastic, and reducing our general plastic use is easy. And it’s the first step in keeping our own little corners of the world clean and plastic-free.

 

 

Room Renovations are Now Complete!

After many months of renovations, we are excited to finally share photos of our rooms!

All rooms at the Drift Away Eco Lodge are outfitted with locally made wood beds, a dining table, and are accented with touches of driftwood decor. Beds feature memory foam mattresses, luxurious organic cotton sheets, and plush hypoallergenic feather pillows that are guaranteed to give you a good night’s rest.

The en-suite bathrooms feature hand-carved wooden sinks and are equipped with a duo-flush eco-toilets and low flow shower head. Organic cotton towels and complimentary organic biodegradable toiletries are provided for the duration of your stay.

The rooms offer a Garden or Pool View and are equipped with energy efficient ACs to keep the room cool even on the hottest days.

Head to our Photo Gallery to view other photos of our brand new rooms and villas!