The Pura Vida instructors become informal tour guides, taking clients to favorite surf spots in a Scooby Doo-like van that’s been known to stop for cold ones at shacks run by Ticos — or Costa Rican locals — after a long day on the water.
Bradley’s organizational expertise, culinary skills and local connections shape the entire Rincon trip. Bellofatto goes well beyond traditional yoga, teaching the willing one of her specialty skills: downward dog, headstands and other poses while on paddleboards floating atop the water.
All serve meals with local ingredients, focusing on nutritious fuel for active bodies. In Tulum, low-fat soups were a staple. In Malpais, traditional lizano salsa was on the table. And in Rincon, no meal was complete without avocados, tropical fruits and greens from roadside stands.
The venues are breathtaking.
Bikini Bootcamp’s home, Amansala, is a shabby-chic Tulum resort with open-air bungalows, a large fitness pavilion, and a swath of white beach with orange lounge chairs strewn about. Pura Vida is nestled in the jungle that abuts the beach of Malpais, with gorgeous beachfront cottages, a yoga platform, a soaking pool and hammocks strung between palm trees. And the Puerto Rican retreat is based at Casa Azul, Bradley’s private, four-floor house in the Rincon hills, with balconies that offer stunning views of the ocean, beaches and town below.
The prices depend on the trip’s duration and number of people per room. They cost anywhere from $1,400 for four nights in a shared room with a shared bath in Rincon to $3,200 for six nights in Tulum or Malpais for a private room with a private bath. At a minimum, the price typically includes: accommodations, at least two meals a day and daily lessons or sessions. Some also include massages. Transportation never is included, nor is gratuity for the staff. So make sure to bring cash.
One restaurant dinner is typical, and you’re responsible for covering your part of the check. And if you want booze during the trip, you’ve got to pay for it. There’s also no shortage of optional — with fee — activities, such as snorkeling into underground freshwater swimming holes called cenotes in Mexico, zip lining in Costa Rica and climbing waterfalls in Puerto Rico.
When you sign up for any of these three trips, expect a detailed email that usually includes a what-to-pack list, a roster of possible add-on activities, details on the best way to travel, and a typical daily, subject-to-change schedule.
No matter which place you choose, your days usually start with a group walk or run just after sunrise, followed by a breakfast of yogurt, fruit, granola and eggs. Next generally comes a morning session of some kind depending on the trip: a cardio-and-weights class in Mexico, a surfing lesson in Costa Rica, a paddleboard session in Puerto Rico.
At lunchtime, expect to eat your way through heaping mounds of locally grown produce and protein. Beyond that, afternoons typically are kept free for any number of activities, from more surf, paddle or workout sessions, to touring local attractions, to taking a siesta under the sun. Nothing is mandatory; this is, after all, YOUR vacation.
Yoga sessions always are a staple, but they never dominate the trips. Usually, there are one or two sessions a day, in the morning or late afternoon. Like the other lessons, they’re always taught by instructors mindful of the need to tailor their practices toward beginners and veterans alike.
Like the other meals, dinner is communal, with mounds of nutritious grub and even healthy dessert, and it often stretches for hours, with people talking about our lives back home and adventures of the day.
It’s certainly not all perfect; all three trips have room for improvement.
For example, each relies heavily on relationships with local vendors — and subcontractors — to operate, and that can make for inconsistencies and hiccups. Yet, all seek — and get — feedback and tweak their programs to ensure an even better experience for the next batch of campers looking for the perfect mix of adventure, fitness and fun.