Having just returned from ten nights at Pranamar, my heart is aching as I think about the amazing experience I had in Costa Rica. I was not ready to leave. I was at Pranamar for a yoga and surfing retreat with Vajra Sol Yoga Adventures (search for Vajra Sol and look for a separate review) and spent an additional four nights at Pranamar after the retreat was over. This was not enough! If you can spend two weeks here, or longer, do it! You will ease into a life that is happy, warm, and full of amazing people, yoga, surfing, and food!
I spent six nights in Bungalow 2 and four nights in Villa 2. The bungalows are simple, but elegant. Bungalow 2 has a partial ocean view, a huge deck for lounging, a kitchenette, a separate sleeping and living space, and a fun outdoor shower area, just off the bathroom. The outdoor shower area is private and decorated with plants, rocks, and a statue of Ganesh. There's also an occasional crab in the shower area! Don't let this scare you, though. They are very shy and quick to get out of your way. I loved the peacefulness of this bungalow. It was also very private, away from the pool and main walking areas. I slept with the air conditioning on because I would close the windows at night to avoid the bugs (which there are not many) and to sleep in a little later. By later, I mean 6:00 am, after the sun has risen and the howler monkeys have stopped howling. After six nights in my sweet bungalow, I had the opportunity to move into Villa 2. It's very close to the water and has an unobstructed view (aside from palm trees) of the ocean and beach. The Villas are magnificent! They have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a living room, and a full kitchen. However, their best feature is the upstairs outdoor balcony, complete with hammock, sitting area, sofa, and fans. It's really a dreamy place to relax during the hot afternoons or after dinner, under the stars. I could see the ocean from my bed in the morning. Does it get any better than that? And the nature shower in Villa 2 is divine. It's enclosed, but outdoors, filled with plants, statues, a bench, and a rain shower. Ah... By the way, the bungalows and villas are well stocked with bath towels, beach towels, biodegradable and natural shampoo, conditioner, and soaps. Villas 1 & 2 and Bungalow 1 are beachfront.
During the retreat, I surfed for the first time in my life. I was hooked immediately! After my four lessons during the retreat, I took two more private surf lessons (booked by the front desk staff) with the amazing Ismael from Del Mar Surf Camp, which operates out of Pranamar. I also worked with Ismael during the retreat. I could write an entire review about my surfing guru, Ismael, a truly gifted teacher that reads his students perfectly. He knew just when to push me and when to take things back a notch. I can still hear him calmly telling me, “Eyes forward. Relax.” You are a lucky person to spend time in the water with this man. You will have Ismael’s undivided attention for two hours, and he will teach you about life and the waves and you will walk away from every lesson feeling like you’ve just been given an amazing gift.
A review of Pranamar would not be complete without mentioning the staff. It is the staff that makes Pranamar exceptional. They have all the attentiveness of the staff you might find at a Four Seasons, but they are much warmer, sweeter, and truly invested in your happiness while you are at Pranamar. I looked forward to saying hello to the front desk staff (Dago, Dio, Andres) every day. They were quick to help you with your plans. However, they always went a step further, like reconfirming my shuttle ride back to the ferry. The restaurant staff is equally amazing. They will learn your name and your preferences quickly. Johan, Will, and Steban, behind the bar, always greet you with a smile. Servers Monica, Ana, Michelle, and Alvaro, are patient and kind. One evening, I wasn’t feeling well, and they made me a special ginger tea. By the time I left Pranamar, I considered many of the staff members my friends and the sent me off with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
I took yoga classes with Sandra (of Vajra Sol Yoga Adventures), Nancy, and Andy. All classes were exceptional and the yoga shala is spectacular. Taking classes in the shala is a spiritual experience (as is surfing on Playa Hermosa) and my one regret is that I was not able to take more yoga classes while I was there. I went to Pranamar to deepen my yoga practice, and one can surely do that there, it just didn’t work out for me this time because I was captivated by surfing.
I am a vegetarian and I was completely satisfied with every meal I had at Pranamar’s restaurant. Everything is so fresh and prepared with care. The presentation is always beautiful. I am normally a healthy eater, but every meal at Pranamar was clean and healthy – even the divine lentil burger with fries! Breakfast, which is included with your stay, always comes with a fresh smoothie. I loved this unique touch. Every smoothie was different and delicious. The restaurant has a water dispenser on the bar that includes cold water with lemon and lime or mint. I often stopped by the restaurant to grab a cold drink. Little touches like this make Pranamar special. They have really thought about the little things that make guests comfortable.
I could write a few more paragraphs about Pranamar (it’s THAT amazing), but this review is getting long. Here’s a few other things that made my Pranamar visit great: a terrific massage from Delores, laundry service (much needed after about 6 days), friendly cleaning and grounds staff, impeccable landscaping, security (you will feel so safe at Pranamar),a warm and relaxing pool (loved evening dips, just before dinner), and an overall sense of tranquility. Pranamar is located past Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula. It is remote and in general, this is an isolated area. There are very few paved roads on the Peninsula. Getting there is an adventure, but this is part of the experience. I cannot wait until my return visit Pranamar, which I hope is sooner rather than later.