What to do… as a retiree, on the Ballena Coast, in Costa Rica?


When you first arrive here in the beautiful southern zone of Costa Rica, you are still in “vacation” mode and doing “vacation” things, exploring this beautiful little country, and all the learning that needs to happen – where to shop, how to live here, etc. Your days are filled with these activities. And then, you sort of “get done”.

And, …. then… what if boredom sets in?  It can happen to a retiree anywhere in the world!  What to do with your day?  How many amazing sunrises can you watch? Or how many yoga classes can you attend, before life begins to get a bit ‘dreary”, in spite of the amazing things that Costa Rica has to offer.

It does take a certain kind of person to enjoy the ‘retired’ life, no matter what country you are in.   Just being an expat takes a bit of “pioneer attitude” and resiliency! And, then you add the “retired” bit to the equation. You are used to going to work every day, and now… you don’t! 

So, now, what will you do??  How do you fill your day, feel productive, etc.?? Let’s be creative….

Here are some ideas I have come up with, from my own experience, watching my friends go through this.

Make a good network of friends: Having a support network is necessary, even if you are not the outgoing type, make an effort to make friends, both Costa Ricans and other expats, it’s important that you have other expat acquaintances that can relate to your situation and can help guide you through learning life in this country.

Morning hike / walk – every weekday morning, around 7:00 am, there many are expats and their dogs walking the dirt roads.  They stop and chat, walk together, build friendships; and get some good exercise to walk off all that beer you are drinking each day!

Maintain your own pool!  Learn how from the guy currently doing it; maybe arrange to have them come and check on you every 2-3 months. This gives you something to do every morning, after that great cup of Costa Rican Coffee and your morning hike/ walk.  Then, jump in and cool off!

Grow some herbs, and other foods! Even in a small yard, you can have pots of herbs, etc. Watering, weeding and harvesting the results of your hard work… will give you something to do! Then, you will have to learn how to use all the pesto you are making, from that abundance of basil you grew!

Learn to make more of your own food – learn how to make things from scratch, such as broths, salad dressings, soups, etc., etc.  This will save you money and take up some of that time you have on your hands. Take a local cooking class, to learn how to make more typical food, with the interesting produce available here. 

Take a Spanish class! They are not expensive!  In our area they run about $15 for a 2-hour class.  Just attending class helps you to become more familiar with the language.  You can ask your specific questions, better than you can with an App or on-line program.  I prefer group classes, because I learn a lot from the other participants and their struggles or questions.  Having a bit of Spanish helps in your daily life, grocery shopping dining out, etc. 

Explore: Take day trips or short trips to explore the rest of Costa Rica.  On your 90 visa renewal run, while waiting for your residency to be processed; go to Panama and explore the area around David, Boquete; go shopping at the great places in David!  Then, explore the other nearby countries… it is inexpensive to travel from Costa Rica to these countries.  Keep being a bit of a tourist!  

Physical Activities: 

  • Take up golf at the Osa Golf course. A 9-hole, beautiful course at San Buenas, just south of Ojochal.  They have regular tournaments, etc.!
  • Saturday Volley ball in Bahia Uvita – go play, watch or heckle! Everyone is invited.
  • There is also Sunday Beach Volley Ball at Tortuga Beach, just south of Ojochal. Again, go out and play, watch or heckle!

There are many other activities and opportunities to be social, groups who regularly go to the beach. Take them up, do it, until you figure out what you like best! 

​Volunteer for a cause that you’re passionate about: When you find something that you are passionate about, there are many different volunteer opportunities in the area.  Look around your specific area and see what is around. Helping others is a great way of becoming involved with your community and making friends who you share interests with. 

Local Costa Ballena Volunteer Opportunities

  • Alturas animal sanctuary -clean cages, help with feeding, etc.
  • Reserva Tortuga -Playa Tortuga. Help with monitoring during turtle egg laying season, hatching time, etc.
  • DAWG – Animal rescue group, help with fundraisers, cleaning cages and walking dogs
  • ReFugio- Animal rescue group, help with fundraisers, cleaning cages and walking dogs
  • Family Support Center, Ojochal / La Manita Second hand store – many opportunities to help the impoverished or marginalized families and children in the area!
  • Beach cleaning / Blue Flag Committee for Beaches and the community of Ojochal. Once per month there are clean ups at 2 beaches in the Ojochal area. Find out who organizes them in your area.   Go and spend a morning with like-minded individuals and clean a beach.
  • Ojochal Athletic Group – fundraisers, etc. to support the local soccer teams and sports in the area.
  • Schools – English support, art classes, athletics, etc.
  • Local Library – Ojochal. Sort books, help people find a good book to read, take in donations, etc.
  • Help out a “English” camps and festivals for kids and adults. Help locals learn English and you will learn some and practice your Spanish.

Expat Social Activities in the Ojochal area:

 – “Friday at Five” at “La Mona Grita” in Ojochal, great opportunity to meet your neighbours!

– Expat gathering on Fridays at 5 at Stam Belgium Beer Bar, Ojochal before going to La Mona Grita.

– Live music at Los Gatos Locos, La Mona Grita and Bamboo Room.

– Bi-annual Community Garage Sale at the Ojochal Community Center

– Ladies Lunch – once per month a large group of ladies from the Ojochal area go for lunch and catch up.

– Love to watch sports? Since few of us have or watch TV, find a watering hole that has a big screen, go watch your favorite teams play, and meet more good folks!

Join the various, local Facebook groups for your area, village or town to keep informed of activities and happenings in your area. Since many of us do not have or watch much TV, and there are no newspapers or ways to learn about activities; Facebook is our only source of gathering information and learning about what is going on in our areas. Join the groups in your area!

You have skills, you may have hobbies, you may want to learn to do something new… now is your time! Find a way to utilize them, give back or create a niche!

Be creative, talk to others, and you will find ways to feel productive, give back and fill your retirement days! 

Then, I know you will come up with your own ideas on how to fill your days… and not be drinking too many of those delicious Imperial cervezas! 

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Do you have a question about this blog, or real estate in Costa Rica? Feel free to contact us. 

Published by ajimenez

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