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Ultimate Guide: Envision Festival – Costa Rica

Get ready for a transformational experience at Envision Festival. Not only are you in the Costa Rican jungle, you’re also on a beautiful beach, surrounded by ~6,000 souls seeking to make the world a better place.

Envision’s roots lie somewhere between a Steam Punk Burner & a Hippie Permaculturalist who surfs. Envision hangs out with a tight group of friends such as Lightning in a bottle, Sonic Bloom, Burning Man, Symbiosis, and Desert Hearts.

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Speaking of Burning Man. Anne and I got engaged at Burning man! And if you’re considering going, we found this packing list really helpful!

This is be our 4th year in a row at Envision. We consider it our favorite festival on the planet. Envision always seems to out do themselves and 2020 is shaping up nicely.

 

You’re going to Envision this year right?

If not, watch this and then get your ticket before they sell out.

 

Envision Festival Lineup 2017!

Lots to be excited about here! Stay tuned for my top 10 Must See Shows at Envision Festival 2017.

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How’s the sound quality at Envision?

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 4.06.22 PM

Well shit. Funktion-One Evo 7 sound system rigged up in the natural jungle amphitheater. Sign me up.

If you know what this is, this will excite you. If you’ve never heard of F1, just know the sound quality is world class.

I’ve personally seen at least 30+ shows with Funktion Ones and the sound quality at the Luna stage at Envision 2016 in in my top 2. Along with Dave Tipper‘s Uptempo night at Thalia Hall.

 

Where is Envision festival?

Envision will return to Rancho La Merced in Uvita, Costa Rica for the 4th year in a row. Nestled in the jungle with some shady trees and only a 2 minute walk to Hermosa beach.

*Envision confirmed that in 2017 the beach will be open for sunsets again!*

Uvita is on the Pacific coast, about 4 hrs by car from the capital, San Jose. Located about 10 km south of the popular surf town, Dominical.

Envision Festival map costa rica

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Getting to Envision

By Air

Flying into San Jose will typically be the best route. Read on to learn how to get from the Airport to the festival. 

From there you can head to Envision by bus ($15), taxi ($$$), or an official Envision shuttle to the festival ($60).

 

By Land

From San Jose, you can either take the easy route – the official Envision shuttle, rent a car, or book your own transport. 

Official Envision shuttle ($60 one way)

By far the easiest way to get to/from Envision. If you want no hassles, this is your option. View the shuttle schedule and book here. 


Organizing your own bus (~$15 one way)

Take a Tracopa bus from San José to Paso Canoas and get off in Uvita. The bus will stop briefly in Uvita so make sure the bus driver knows you need to get off there. This ride takes ~4 hours. Buses leave San Jose at 7:30AM, 10:15AM, 11AM, 12PM, and 4:30PM. Get there early to secure your seat. 

The bus goes through mountains and some people got mildly car sick. Prepare as needed.


Rent you own car ($$$)

Make sure to get a 4×4 as the roads in Costa Rica can get pretty hairy! Envision allows you to park your car at Envision for an additional fee. Be sure to do your homework before making a decision here. Cars are not convenient nor cheap. Envision worked out a deal with Toyota which might be your best option.

 

Getting to the Envision Festival ground from Dominical

dominical beach in costa rica
Photo Credit: ThisAmericanGirl.com

On Thursday morning (day 1), there will many taxis waiting in Dominical to drop people off at the festival grounds. They will charge more than they normally do, but it shouldn’t break the bank. Some people walk (10 km) and others hitchhike.

Protip: Many Envisionaries gather in Dominical for a few days leading up to the festival. Expect a lively atmosphere, dozens of tents on the beach, nightly drum circles, people selling their handmade jewelry, etc. A convenient place to stock up on last minute supplies. Book rooms ahead of time, they will sell out. 

*For more travel related questions, head to Envision’s website.

 

Leaving Envision

Let’s face it. After 5 days in the jungle with very little sleep, Monday morning is going to suck. Everyone must vacate the Envision ground by 12PM on Monday, February 27th. Unless you’re attending one of the post-envision retreats

After packing up, and HELPING TO CLEAN the festival grounds, you can sort out your ride. If you bought the official shuttle, your escape should be pretty simple. If you didn’t organize transportation ahead of time, head to the road and catch a taxi (likely just some dude with a car giving rides for cash). Most people head to Dominical and get a bus ticket elsewhere.

Protip: Buy your bus ticket out of Dominical BEFORE heading to Envision on Thursday. Last year many people go stuck in Dominical because the buses were full.

 

Packing list for Envision

  • Sunglasses
  • Reusable water bottle – water is free at Envision
  • Swimsuit – the beach is a 5 minute walk from the festival
  • Sunscreen – the Costa Rican sun is no joke
  • Shade devices – tarp, blanket, tapestry, etc (not enough tree shade for everyone)
  • Travel Insurance by World Nomads – covers any accidents or stolen property. Is travel insurance right for you? We discuss everything here.
  • NO TRASH – try not to bring any paper or plastic (including food wrappers, within reason)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Outdoor blanket – someone in your group should bring one
  • Towel
  • Yoga mat – Envision does not provide them
  • Dr Bronners soap
  • Baby powder – 5 days in a hot and humid jungle? Yep.
  • Headlamp – dark jungle walks? better bring a torch
  • Something to share with your neighbors – food, face paint, bust out some slightly chilled watermelon at 3AM on Saturday, you get the point.
  • Ear plugs – music usually goes until 7AM, bring ear plugs to sleep

*To see Anne’s packing list for a carry-on backpacks click here.

 

Where to sleep during Envision?

Three options: #1 Camp onsite (free), #2 book VIP accommodation through Envision, or #3 rent your own place nearby on Airbnb, or otherwise. Please note, there are no outside accommodations within walking distance from the festival grounds. 

*Free $35 credit for Airbnb

Most people will tell you that camping at Envision is the best way to experience the festival, and I agree. That being said, the conditions are harsh. Last year there were times when I wished I had a cold dark room to hibernate in – but glad I stayed onsite the whole time.

 

Camping at Envision

camping setup at envision festival
photo credit: Andrew Jorgenson

Camping is included with your festival ticket. You can either bring your own tent/sleeping bag/sleeping pad or you can rent the set onsite from Envision.

Renting camping gear at Envision

When you arrive, pick up a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc. Anne and I did this the first 2 times we went to Envision. However, we moved to Uvita and we’ll be sleeping in our own beds this year. That being said, camping onsite is the way to go, especially if it’s your first time. Gear rental makes this easy for travelers.

  • Single: $75 for a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad
  • Double: $95 for a tent, 2 sleeping bags, and 2 sleeping pads

 

Renting a room near Envision

If you really can’t handle the heat you can rent a room in Dominical or rent an Airbnb. There aren’t any places to stay that are walking distance from the festival. You will probably get better sleep than most campers, however… You will miss out on part of the experience and will have to pay for inflated taxi rides back and forth every day. 

Kube City is a great option near the festival. They have a pool and the owners are awesome!

Co-working spaces in Uvita, Costa Rica near Envision

Thankfully, there is a new co-working space in Uvita called Kube City! This is a great option in case you have work responsibilities during the festival. They also have a hostel next door in case you don’t want to camp during Envision. 

We met the owners of Kube City, have worked out of their space many times, and are big fans!

Restaurants near Envision Festival

There are lots of restaurants near Envision in nearby cities of Uvita and Dominical. We’ve spent about 18 months in the area and have tried almost all the food spots in the area. Here are a few of our favorites: 

  • Mosiac food and wine bar (Uvita) – hands down our favorite restaurant in Uvita. Great food, healthy options, friendly staff, beautiful design, and of course the best wine in the Southern Zone! Great for groups, call ahead to secure a table 🙂
  • Falafel Uvita – brand new restaurant in 2020. Very authentic mediterranean food. We loved the falafel, lamb, hummus, and pita. Owner is very friendly. Great value. 
  • Mono Congo (Dominical) – this is a staple in Dominical. Healthy options, kombucha, beautiful design, and a very social place. It can be very busy during Envision time but so worth it! Update: they’re not open for dinner, only lunch and breakfast.
  • Carlitos (Uvita) – Mexican food with amazing margaritas. Owned by a woman from Colorado who takes care of her patrons. Carlitos is a local expats favorite and we love it there! 

Music at Envision

There are so many good artists playing at Envision 2017. A nice blend of the Envision veterans and newcomers alike. Ranging from Reggae to Psychedelic Electronica, House, world music, and beyond.

Here are my top 10 most anticipated live shows for Envision 2017!

At Envision 2015, I experienced one of my favorite festival memories to date. It was Saturday night at the Luna stage, Ott just finished a killer set on the best sound system money can buy (Funktion One) and Random Rab is up next. Halfway through his euphoric set, the sun rises.

Everywhere I look are beautiful people smiling and dancing. What’s that in the tree? To my surprise, there are 100s of howler monkeys in the trees surrounding the stage! Our primate brethren were just checking us out, contemplating the music and wondering why all these humans were gathered in their jungle.

Envision 2017 Schedule is out!

Protip: Download each schedule picture to your phone. In case you lose your program you’ll always have the schedule!

Looks like the Envision team really spread out the goodness this year. When will we have time to sleep? ahhh.

EnvisionThursday-page EnvisionFri-page EnvisionSat EnvisionSun
Or you can download the PDF schedule here:

 

Envision Lineup 2016 (last year)

Did you go to Envision last year? My god. The music Saturday and Sunday were some of the best I’ve ever seen. Catching two Spoonbill sets, AtYyA, Grouch, Digital Rust, Clozee, Dimond Saints, Random Rab, Shpongle, and the list goes on.

My top 10 most anticipated shows for Envision 2016.

Envision Festival Costa Rica Lineup 2016

 

 

Official 2017 Envision Soundcloud Playlist

 

 

There are 3 main stages for music

There are 3 main music stages, and tons of smaller stages for yoga, workshops, etc. 

  • Luna (Main stage) – Funktion One sound, top electronic acts usually play here. Music until the sun comes up. 
  • Sol (Live bands) – roughly the same size as the Luna but caters to live bands, reggae, Beats Antique etc.
  • Lapa (house music) – For the 2nd year in a row Envision is dedicating the Lapa stage to house music. This is the smallest stage and is usually rocking during the daytime. In 2016 it had Funktion One sound. 

Protip: Envision is a marathon, not a sprint. Because it’s so hot, Envision schedules the “big acts” when it’s the temperature is the coolest (11PM-5AM). Relax during the day so you can go hard for the best music at night. Luckily there is SO much to do during the day – attending workshops, ceremonies, yoga, surfing, beach time, etc.

 

Yoga at Envision

yoga classes at envision festival 2016
photo credit: Mario Covic

All Yoga and Movement is included with your festival ticket. There are 2 dedicated yoga and movement temples that run pretty much the entire weekend. There are so many different options to explore: belly dancing, massage, hip hop dance, tai chi, hooping, pilates, acro yoga, etc.

*Protip: Envision does not provide yoga mats, don’t forget to bring your own. Here are a few lightweight yoga mats for travel we recommend.

Surfing at Envision

There is a beach break onsite called “Playa Hermosa at Dominical.” There are always a few people in the lineup. The waves in 2015 were small and playful but they can hold up over head and become quite hollow. Check MagicSeaweed.com for the swell report.

 

Food at Envision

food vendor envision festival
photo credit: Louis Fisher

Fitting the Envision vibe, the food is mostly healthy, organic, superfood based. Yes, you can get pizza but wouldn’t you rather try the local superfood specialty? Most meals range between $6-10 which is a fair price considering the quality.

Our favorite food stall at Envision is Food as Medicine which is run by a lovely Gringo Family that now calls Costa Rica home. They make awesome smoothies and raw food dishes. Our favorite was the Chaga Bliss! Learn more about how to use Food as medicine on their website.

Disposable dishes are not aloud at Envision (Awesome)

This means you can either bring your own bowl/fork or pay a fee to rent dishes while you’re there. This reduces the ecological footprint of the event by a great deal. 


If you’re looking to save money

  • Pack some food – fruit, avocado, tortilla, tuna, beans, etc
  • Taxi to Uvita town (2km) to stock up on food from grocery store
  • Sometimes vendors sit outside the grounds selling food slightly cheaper
  • Eat more coconuts – cheap, delicious, nutritious & sold onsite!

 

Vendors at Envision

vendors and shopping at envision festival 2016
photo credit: Jessica Bernstein

There will be tons of vendors selling all kinds of cool stuff. Jewelry, clothes, art, etc.

 

Where can I store my valuables during Envision?

Please do not keep valuables in your tent. Although you’d probably be fine, it’s not worth the risk.

There is a secure bag check to stash your valuables. In 2016, you could either pay $5 to leave your stuff stored for the weekend (I did this last year). Or $25 to have access to take out and put back your stuff all weekend, i.e.: a camera. Access from 9AM-3AM. Bag check is locked and guarded all weekend long.

 

Art at Envision

art at envision festival costa rica
photo credit: LostInSound.org

Live painting, glass blowing, performance art, full on art exhibit, you name it! Art is a very important element to the Envision experience. In pasted years we’ve seen Amanda Sage create a painting live and Android Jones created a piece of digital art during Otts set.

Envision is all about participation. This picture above is a giant canvas that’s available for anyone to paint at any time during the weekend. Pretty fun watching it evolve.

 

Day trips during the festival

waterfall trip envision 2016
photo credit: Mass EDMC

If you’re only going to be in Costa rica for the festival (bummer), you may feel the desire to advantage of Costa Rica outside Envision. You can take a shuttle to the waterfalls and cliff jump, swim, nap, etc. I’ve heard it’s a fun time, although I’m planning to skip it for the third year in a row.

If you have a few days after the festival before going home, I would recommend saving the waterfalls/zipline for after the festival. Then you can take full advantage of everything Envision has to offer.

 

 

Cover yourself with Travel Insurance?

No one likes to pay for things they don’t need, myself included. However, I am a firm believer in travel insurance. Hopefully you never need to use it, but when you do you’ll be so happy you got it. Travel insurance covers things like hospital bills, ruined travel plans, stolen personal items, etc.

Both Anne and I are very healthy people who almost never visit the doctor at home. We have been using World Nomads for the last 2 years straight. They have the best coverage and flexibility.

Anne got hit by a motorbike and the total hospital bill was over $1,300. Thankfully World Nomads covered the entire bill.

I cut myself on glass which tore ligaments in my hand which led to emergency surgery in HCMC, Vietnam. Thankfully World Nomads covered by entire $2,500 bill.

Needless to say, we view travel insurance as a MUST have. If you’re considering it, you can get a quote here.

Official retreats before & after Envision

4 days not enough? There are tons of options to extend your Envision experience. Check the official retreats page for full details.

 

10 tips to survive Envision Festival 2017

Envision is both magical and potentially grueling. There is SO much to do and see – where do you find time to sleep? Here are some tips to make the most of your experience.

  • Bring a hammock – perfect for daytime naps in the shade. Your tent will be too hot. 
  • Stop at the ATM before entering the festival – there are NO ATMS onsite, plan accordingly. Worst case scenario, you take a cab to Uvita/Dominical to stock up from the ATM.
  • Bring Dr Bronners soap – Organic soap is the thing allowed for showers
  • Print out your festival ticket and a copy of your passport – bonus points for having an electronic copy of both on your phone.
  • Drink a ton of water – Especially coming from colder climates – your body will thank you!
  • Bring a couple garbage bags for your campsite – one for trash, one for recycling
  • Bring earplugs – required to get good sleep!
  • Do your shopping in San Jose – food, sunscreen, etc will be WAY cheaper.
  • Learn some Spanish before arriving – I recommend Duolingo.com both fun and free.
  • Consider Early Arrival ($75) – better chance for shade and a shorter line

 

 

Are you heading to Envision this year? Anything I missed?

See you in the Jungle…!

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About Brandon

Former corporate sales rep turned nomadic entrepreneurial yogi. Street food ninja, avid outdoorsman, craft beer geek, and live music junkie. Co-founder of The Yoga Nomads.

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