Saturday, March 8, 2014

Las Catalinas MTB Trail

While in Costa Rica, I had the pleasure of spending an action-packed day at Las Catalinas on Playa Danta.  Playa Danta is the name of the beach that was already there.  Las Catalinas is the name of a brand new town built there by a couple of lifestyle-focused Americans.  You park your car outside of town and walk in.  On your way in you'll pass by a sign that states their philosophy:  "This is a community designed for car-free living where people can live an active lifestyle and have fun".  I'm paraphrasing, but that's pretty much the point. There's a bar and restaurant on the beach and there are swings and ropes, hammocks, games, and even a slack line.  It's my kind of place.

We got there in the morning as the staff of Pura Vida Ride were setting out surf boards, kayaks, bikes, and other play things.  Pura Vida Ride is the local outfitter and they have all the supplies you need for a week's worth of fun in a little beach town set on the side of hills rising right out of the sea.  I was going to try to pack all of this fun into just one day.  Fortunately, Pura Vida Ride had a one-day all-you-can-eat special:  for $75, you can use any and all of the equipment they have on site from dawn to dusk.

I started out on a mountian bike.  I figured it would be nice to hit the trail while it was still relatively cool and get to the watersports later in the day.  They have a great selection of hardtails and full-sussies.  I ended up on a Cannondale 29er which turned out to be a great bike for these trails.  The trails are carved into the hillsides surrounding Las Catalinas and many of them take you out to points overlooking the ocean.  It's the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen from a bike.  The trails are well done- smooth and fast flowing with super wide bench cuts everywhere and some nice wooden bridges set into the terrain.  The only thing requiring you to brake are the countless lizards scurrying all over the trail.  It flows everywhere and the only hard part is trying to ride and take in all the beauty at the same time!

After my ride, I returned the bike and picked up a two-person kayak.  Michaela and I paddled out through the surf and into the deeper waters of the inlet where stingrays and fish of all sorts swim about.  We paddled up the coastline exploring rocky tide pools and took a rest on a secluded beach before heading back.  After a short siesta at the bar, I grabbed a SUP board and Michaela headed back to the beach.  I paddled about just beyond the breakers checking out all the sea life below me.  Then after a bit of surfing, I was finally exhausted.

The town of Las Catalinas is fully accessible to anyone during the day, but if you want to stay overnight you've got to have mounds of money.  So we headed to the Sugar Beach Resort just to the south of Las Catalinas.  Sugar Beach is even more beautiful than Playa Danta!  As I was thoroughly cooked- inside and out- we avoided the sun and water here until the next morning.  Instead, we watched the sun set from the open-air restaurant while enjoying Pina Coladas and a big plate of fresh fish.  That night, the howler monkeys sang their goodnight to us and the sound of crashing waves sent me into a deep sleep.

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