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The Family Sabbatical Experience at Las Catalinas

The work life of the modern professional is constantly evolving, and the increasing pressures and responsibilities of the 21st century require the work-life balance to evolve as well.

A big part of that new balance is finding time away from the rhythms of usual work, stepping out of the normal and into a new way of life – either by ourselves or with our families.

The sabbatical is a tradition usually confined to the university system, to tenured professors and other long-serving academics. However, in recent times the concept of a ‘new sabbatical" has taken hold, adapting the need for an extended stay elsewhere to the faster work cycle of the modern world.

Instead of needing to take a year away from work, many professionals are compressing the sabbatical experience -- the break from the rhythms of life and the chance to live somewhere else -- into a month, a few weeks, or even shorter. Read on to learn more about how to make it work, and how Las Catalinas stacks up as your next sabbatical-style experience.

Las Catalinas: The Town

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Founded in 2006 and located on the shore of Playa Danta in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province, Las Catalinas presents the sabbatical traveler with a unique combination of gateway town infrastructure and services, natural beauty, and ease of access to the outdoors, all layered on top of a calm, peaceful rhythm of life.

By concept, it’s a car-free, fully walkable beach town complete with pedestrian streets, public plazas and recreational facilities, located only a one-hour drive from Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia.

This offers an excellent balance in terms of lifestyle change, as the town offers a fun, sustainable, and fulfilling lifestyle centered around sociability and contact with nature, while maintaining a connection to the outside world.

There’s also a huge benefit to family travelers -- the town is a safe place for kids to experience freedom and have fun. It’s not uncommon to see a friendly soccer game on the streets, a troupe of all ages in the middle of an epic game of hide-and-seek, or a few friends riding bikes down the beachfront for an afternoon snack of gelato.

The layout and urban design of the town also encourages a natural sense of community and social interaction, ideal to truly feel at home during a longer stay. Just beyond town, Las Catalinas offers immediate access to a diverse array of outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, scuba, paddle boarding, surfing, and more.

As a result, sabbatical seekers can comfortably slip into an easier, more steady way of living -- surrounded by family and new friends from around the world -- that also offers ample opportunities to engage with a lively and fulfilling new way of life.

Rent Your Home

For travelers looking for a grounded experience during their stay, Las Catalinas offers rental homes for all types of family groups.

The key win here is that the homes around Las Catalinas are designed to lived in, no matter how long the stay. In addition to all the modern amenities and comforts of home, these homes offer spacious living rooms and common spaces for family activities, as well as the necessary privacy for personal activities like writing, reading or working on personal projects.

These are multi-purpose homes, as a true home should be, and are also designed with the social experience in mind. It’s common for residents to host dinners and parties with fellow travelers looking to connect, which are great opportunities to make new connections and share their experiences.

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The Culinary Experience at Las Catalinas

Great local food is an integral part of a rewarding sabbatical experience, and Las Catalinas offers everything you need in this arena.

For starters, the town is home to the premier gourmet market in Guanacaste, full of local and ethically produced fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, and poultry alongside international favorites, offering all the ingredients you’ll need to try your hand at a local recipe or enjoy a fresh twist on homestyle classics.

If you’re looking for a pro take on the best local flavors, the in-house chefs at Las Catalinas are on the case. Bringing fresh ingredients to life with a blend of skill and story, these chefs can provide a memorable in-house experience and a lively conversation in the process.

And of course, once in a while you’ll be in the mood to eat out, where you’ll find an excellent selection in town. Options include:

  • Ponciana, the Santarena Hotel’s culinary gem, which brings Costa Rica to life with Basque influences.
  • Sentido Norte, a mountaintop dinner spot with brilliant seafood and an even better view, offer some of the best options in Costa Rica’s culinary scene, all just a few steps from your front door.
  • Celeste is the beachfront jewel of Paseo del Mar, which offers craft cocktails and a full lunch and dinner menu.
  • Papagayo Brew House, the brewhouse is a beachside bar and restaurant featuring ice cold Papagayo beers on tap, top notch cocktails and tasty casual bites. located in the town square inside Las Catalinas - right on the beach at Playa Danta.
  • Pots and Bowls, an outdoor restaurant with healthy, simple and delicious food to be enjoyed indoors or al fresco.
  • Pascual, serving Spanish-inspired tapas and dishes in a laid-back and sociable atmosphere overlooking the sea.
  • La Pampa Grill, which brings slow-cooked, sea-and-field-to-table feasts to life with an unmistakable mark of Costa Rican culinary heritage.
  • Tamaki,  Nikkei cuisine restaurant, a gastronomy that combines Japanese and Peruvian elements.

How Will I Spend My Time?

If there’s one thing that sets Las Catalinas apart, it’s the lively community of homeowners and incredibly array of “serious hobby potential” activities you can take up in town.

Surfing, yoga, trail running, scuba, cooking, outdoor fitness, open water swim, and many others are all easily in the cards – and all are within walking distance or a short drive.

There’s also a steady calendar of different events in town, covering a wide range of activities like tasting menus and food festivals, triathlons and fitness retreats, yearly traditions around Costa Rican and international holidays, and much more. To learn more about upcoming events, you can check here

The Essentials are Taken Care Of

For a shorter sabbatical, life can take a break, but for a longer stay in town, whether it’s a few months or full year, going on a sabbatical is a major lifestyle change that requires a few necessities.

Like school for the kids. If you have children and are considering a longer break from work, you can be sure their education will not be disrupted thanks to schools nearby with international accreditation. Add in bus access straight from Plaza Central, and your kids are sure to be excited by the blend of the familiar and the new.

And for the conscious parent, Las Catalinas’ walkable town design and car free streets provides a balance of safety and security where children (and by proxy, parents) can experience freedom. The town is also close to other necessities like hospitals and veterinarians, to help keep all of the members of your family happy and healthy.

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So Maybe It’s Time to Start Planning

As the modern professional has evolved, so have sabbaticals. Now it’s possible to have a sabbatical style experience in a few days or a few weeks, in addition to the longer traditional-style sabbatical.

And if you’re considering this type of experience, the great news is that it might be a lot closer, and a lot simpler to pull off than you might think. If you have questions, reach out to us. We’ll be happy to help you plan the sabbatical you and your family deserve, and might not have ever considered before.

Download the ultimate guide to family vacations, or come see for yourself. 


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