Pickleball is quickly growing around the world including Costa Rica.
We just finished a week long pickleball tour in the towns of Jaco and San Ramon, yes pickleball in Costa Rica! I was fortunate to have my dad’s help and expertise for the clinics and to also have my mom and family along for the fun. The tour organizers, Tony and Celeste Horpel live in Costa Rica and organize tours for the passionate pickleball player. Our tour included the “real” Costa Rica meaning we experienced a variety of things locals enjoy off the tourist “path”: we interacted with monkeys, iguanas and saw crocodiles, jungle cats, coatis, numerous tropical birds including toucans, macaws and parrots; hammocked on a desolate beach; and played pickleball in San Ramon’s salon communidad with tour goers and locals alike.
We began the tour in Playa Jaco where we roamed Jaco beach in front of our resort hotel between pickleball instruction and free-play. The outside pickleball courts happened to be on the edge of the beach and right next to the pool and bar – so convenient!
Upon arrival, Tony and Celeste treated us to a little known spot (actually a creek that runs right through town) that had too many iguanas to count. Even though we had an idea of what was to come, we couldn’t spot the iguanas until the mangos and bananas came out. Then, it was like the trees came alive. Iguanas were stepping over each other coming out of the trees—practically to our feet—for dinner.
On another side-trip we we visited the beautiful Alma Del Pacifico hotel and restaurant with its palm-lined, secluded beach for a wonderful lunch on the verandah. Following lunch, we lounged (and napped in hammocks) to the sounds, sights and smell of the ocean just feet way. While shell collecting, the 80+ degree water provided a refreshing relief t the hot sun.
Back in Jaco (and probably across all regions) many of us experienced zip-lining, ATV rides to jungle, waterfalls and pickleball….of course!
On the bus ride to San Ramon we stopped at another private beach cove where one can picnic under the trees with monkeys and iguanas freely about. I did my best to lather a pickleball with banana in hopes that a monkey would want the pickleball, but after several attempts to hand feed it was only interested in the banana. Many were hand fed and one even had the nerved to scurry up to our table and take a banana out of a bag. Ha!
In San Ramon, we shopped a local farmers market and lunched at a bed and breakfast retreat high upon the majestic mountains where we witnessed the clouds and fog roll in followed by a driving rain–something that happens daily this time of the year.
Another day, we toured a small family butterfly farm where we learned the four-part birth and life of a butterfly. On yet another day, we visited an animal rescue zoo that allowed up close and personal views of numerous tropical birds, monkeys and many other jungle dwellers. Both were very unique and interesting experiences.
One of highlights for me was a tour of an organic compesino coffee farm (on Facebook check out: Finca Edgar Fernandez). A small family run farm that is big on self-sustaining and low impact eco-creative ingenuity. The coffee process was demonstrated and of course we sipped coffee deep in an unreal jungle setting – PRICELESS. We walked the green sloped terrain filled with coffee plants and a variety of other edible vegetation that outlined the area. All the vegetation had a purpose; if not for the family then for the wildlife creating an ecological corridor.
Pickleball in San Ramon was played on Tony and Celeste’s “home” courts. This is a cool community center with a covered roof, concrete floors with permanent lines and temporary nets. It was a pleasure teaching the many locals that came out and joined us. Some of the guys have only been playing less then a year and are good!
For a couple of our dinners we were treated to dine at Hacienda Vivace, the beautiful home of fellow pickleball players Andy and Nancy. Andy happens to be a gourmet chef – more yummy food!
Another pickleball adventure in the wonderful world we share – the awesome thing is wherever you go pickleball players are so similar. They were welcoming, eager to share their little piece of heaven, smile a lot and just want to play pickleball. The tour goers who we got to spend the week with were great! We shared some awesome sights, fabulous pickleball and hearty laughs. I recommend meeting up with Tony and Celeste to get both your Costa Rica culture and pickleball fix. See their Facebook Page @pickleballcostarica
Oh yeah, and not to be outdone a couple volcanoes Poas and Turrialba decided to spew some ash for our departure trip!