MATA PALO, COSTA RICA — To reach Kasiiya Pagagayo, you must drive for about 30 minutes along on a bumpy dirt track through the forest that fringes the coast of northwestern Costa Rica. Eventually, you glimpse a few modest buildings and an expanse of the Pacific. It was while I was watching a group of howler monkeys that I first realized Kasiiya’s low-key appearance is entirely deliberate. If the simple structures were removed, within weeks no one would be able to tell that they had ever existed. Our huge beach suite came with canvas walls, a hardwood floor and a “safari” color palette of sage green and khaki. There was no adornment of any kind. Outside, we found a deck occupied by an enormous iguana, about the size of a beagle. Descending some wooden steps, we came to a glorious empty beach, a half-mile stretch of golden sand. Activities at the resort include escorted bird-watching, hiking and free diving under the supervision of a Russian instructor, Ekaterina. I spent much of my stay gazing at the Pacific in hopes of spotting a whale.

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