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Some months ago, I (Paul) complained to Gloria that we should go to the beach more often…at least 2 times per month, I said. We were always so busy, but I stuck to my guns. After all, we live in Costa Rica! It’s true that we live at 3,900’ elevation, but it’s only 45 minutes to the closest nice beach, complete with monkeys in the trees. Ever since then, we’ve been going to Playa Doña Ana twice per month.
It was recently certified as an Ecological Blue Flag Beach by Costa Rica’s National Blue Flag Commission. This certification means that Playa Dona Ana is one of the Costa Rica beaches which scored at least 90% when evaluated on the quality of its beach, drinking water, waste disposal, sanitary facilities, signage, tourist safety, environmental education and involvement of the community in beach maintenance.
Usually we go with friends so there’s 10-15 of us. Often, we barbeque on the grills provided next to many of the picnic tables. We generally leave about 8am for the drive to sea level, and on our way down, we stop at a grocery store conveniently located a few kilometers before the beach and stock up with food for the grill, ice for the cooler, and, of course, bananas for the monkeys.
We get there at 9am, get a good table under a palm tree, and head for the waters of the Gulf of Nicoya. Because Playa Doña Ana is only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, good surfing waves exist. The beach next door, the Boca Barranca, used to host the “Toes on the Nose” long board surfing tournament. The beaches are separated by a rock out-cropping; it’s really more like one beach. Surfers can catch the waves on the Doña Ana side and ride them into the Boca Barranca. At the same time, the protected cove of Playa Doña Ana is a great family beach and on days when school is out, it is filled with Tico families enjoying themselves.
The highlight of Gloria’s day is feeding bananas to the white-faced monkeys which can often be found in the trees. She swears it’s a kind of cross-species communication as they meet her eyes when they take the chunk of banana from her hand, as if they are saying thank you. We always bring extra bananas to share with others who want to experience monkeys eating out of their hands.
After getting in the water for a while – with water temperatures of 80-82 degrees F – and eating lunch, we generally start packing up for the one hour trip back up the mountain to our cabina at 3900’. It may be 95 degrees on the beach but it’s 70 degrees on the mountain. Once home, we shower and get ready for dinner. We are super relaxed, even “noodley” as Gloria calls it. Gosh, another difficult day in paradise.