Costa Rica. We were there for just one week, but (can you tell?) I fell in love. Truthfully, it would be hard not to. There is something about it, something about those lush, wet rainforests, those bright, chirpy birds and the cloud-topped volcanoes, something in all of those things which is impossible to resist, which beckons you further. Although it is a tiny country, it seems boundless, and like it could take months to fully explore.
In our one week there, we managed to see beaches, forests and volcanoes, all. We started off in the north, in the area of La Fortuna, which is near the Arenal volcano and many rainforests. There, we hiked, saw monkeys and wildlife, zip-lined over the tops of the rainforests and toured one via bridges that hang high over the forest canopy. For lack of a better word, this area was paradise: full of colorful plants and little birds, heavy with rain but also sunshine, and home to abundant greenery, fields of which we’d pass and see full of roaming, grazing horses.
Next, we drove three hours down to the pacific coast. We stayed in the little beach town of Playas del Coco and went snorkeling, swimming and diving. We discovered a secluded white sand beach, spent nights in the balmy air listening to music and drank so many coconuts. One of my favorite things we did was simply sit on the beach at night and look at the millions of stars that dotted the sky. It was as peaceful as it gets, with the waves lapping at the shore in the background.
The last place we went to Rincon de la Vieja, an area in the province of Guanacaste. With parkland and rivers and a volcano in the distance, this area was relaxing, sunny and showed us yet another side of Costa Rica. While there, we went rock climbing, rappelling, white water rafting, and horseback riding (all in one day! my muscles were so sore the next morning) and even tried out one of the mud pots that are indigenous to the area.
At the end of the week, I didn’t want to leave. I was so in love with the whole “pura vida” attitude, the nature and wildlife all around, and the sunny, balmy weather. Traveling to new places really broadens your horizons and shows you how great, grand and beautiful this world is. On the plane ride home, already intensely missing CR and struck with a new case of wanderlust, I wrote up a list of all of the places I want to travel to in the future. They may not all happen, but a girl can dream, right? Because the world is too big to be experienced from one corner. And I plan on seeing all of it.
Arenal / La Fortuna
Thursday night to Sunday Afternoon
Located in the north of Costa Rica, this area is vibrant, overflowing with lush, dense greenery and home to abundant wildlife. It’s known for its rainforests and the active but now resting Arenal Volcano, and the climate is usually pretty humid and warm. It also rains pretty often, even during the dry season, which is when we were there. But it gives the whole place a dreamy, misty feel that I loved. While there, we stayed at a simple, natural Eco lodge. We swam in the pool, hiked the little private rainforest on the property, did the Hanging Bridges tour and went zip-lining over the tops of the rainforests and in view of Lake Arenal. It was so beautiful!
∞ The entrance to the first Eco lodge we stayed at, Villas Josipek. It’s run by a small family and for the past 25 years they’ve been growing beautiful plants, cultivating a medicinal botanical garden and preserving nature. Waking up to the sounds of the birds in the morning, with the doors on our porch open to the vibrant plant life, was so peaceful. ∞
∞ Weekend hangs at our lodge ∞
∞ The sweetest little hummingbird after a mini rainstorm ∞
∞ On our first day in Arenal we walked through the Mistico rainforest via the Hanging Bridges tour. It was an incredible experience to look down on the epic scenery from such heights and I loved the dark and intimate greenery inside the rainforest. ∞
∞ The view of the famed Arenal volcano at the end of our Hanging Bridges tour ∞
∞ Our guide, Donald, pointed out this baby pit viper on our tour through the rainforest, as well as howler monkeys, pizote (local racoons) and tarantulas! We even saw a rare Blue Morpho butterfly and a sloth, which my dad got super excited about ∞
∞ Sun flare + rattlesnake plant growing in its natural rainforest habitat ∞
∞ Post rain water droplets ∞
∞ I loved the tropical leafy plants all over the property ∞
∞ On Sunday afternoon, after we went zip-lining (we did Sky Tram’s and it was amazing- it’s known as the best canopy tour in all of CR!) we headed to the Pacific coast. Here, the afternoon sun on our drive down. ∞
∞ Driving through the roads in Costa Rica is like driving through paradise. There are cloud capped mountains, lush green grasses, plants, and winding roads that lead you deeper into adventure. ∞
Playas del Coco
Sunday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon
Located on the Pacific coast, Playas del Coco is a small beach town with a summery vibe. It’s colorful, it’s full of people and nights are balmy, with music playing and something always happening. On Sunday night, once we arrived, we walked to Coco beach, which was down the block from our hotel, and looked at the thousands of stars in the sky. Since the beach gets super crowded during the day, we made our way to nearby Playa la Penca, a white sand beach which was stunning, and the perfect place to go snorkeling. Later in the day we went to Playa Ocotal, a black sand beach, for sunset. The next day we took a boat from Coco beach to go diving, which was also an incredible experience.
∞ The colorful houses are one of my favorite parts of Latin America. This one was on the side of the road on the way to Playas Del Coco ∞
∞ Margaritas after a late night walk on the beach and exploring the town ∞
∞ We heard about this beach, Playa La Penca, from some locals and it was obviously a secret treasure. We had to drive down the scariest, rockiest road to get there, and then walk through desert-y underbrush for 10 minutes, but once we arrived, we found the quietest, most secluded beach ever. It had clean white sand, sparkling turquoise water, and in the distance, there were tiny white houses stacked on the hills. The snorkeling was great since the water was so clear and the rocky outcrops provided shady relief. This was the prettiest beach I’ve ever been too! ∞
∞ On our second day in Playas Del Coco we went diving (we went with this company, which I would highly recommend!). After our dives, during which we saw rays, eels, and huge schools of fish, we bought fresh coconuts- known locally as pipas frias- and after drinking the sweet and invigorating water, we had them cut up so we could eat the meat. ∞
∞ Black sand clinging stubbornly to my toes after we went beach hopping from Playa La Penca to Playa Ocotal, a black sand beach ∞
Guanacaste / Rincon de la Vieja
Tuesday afternoon to Thursday morning
With beaches, forests and volcanoes, this province offers a taste of all of the best parts of CR. It’s only an hour away from the coast and is right near the airport we flew out of, so we spent the last leg of our trip there. We stayed at another Eco lodge, which had a beautiful pool, rustic yet clean cabins and tons of activities on site. In one day we went horse-back riding, white water rafting, rock climbing, zip-lining and rappelling! Oh, and we ended off with a mud bath and mineral pools. The whole place had a safari-like feel that we loved, great views of the distant volcanoes and the nearby river, and we spotted lizards and iguanas. There’s so much to do here and it’s super adventurous. We loved it!
∞ Lover of the palm tree life ∞
∞ Pool ripples on our last day there ∞
∞ On Wednesday, our last full day in CR/Guanacaste, we did all of those activities I mentioned above. Although we were so tired at the end, we decided to make the most of our last day and drove out to explore the town of Liberia (which is right near Nicaragua!) and on a whim, decided to drive down the coast a bit. We drove to Playa Flamingo and Playa Tamarindo and gazed at the clear, starry night skies before heading back. It was such a full day and worth every second! ∞
∞ Late afternoon light on the leaves ∞
∞ Sunset’s last colors ∞
∞ The front of our lodge in the late afternoon ∞