Pura Vida in Costa Rica - 2018
Updated: Apr 30
I recently went to Costa Rica, by myself, for 7 days. Pretty much everyone I know and met on the trip thought I was CRAZY for going to a third world country by myself. However, I was not scared at all. I booked with an amazing travel agent and would use her again in a heartbeat!!
Here is how it went. I decided I wanted to go to Costa Rica for my birthday. I joined a FB group for expats moving to/living in Costa Rica. I posted in there about what I wanted to do and asked if people have a travel agent they would recommend. This is where I met Lisa. (side note, Lisa is from America and we even went to the same college). Lisa emailed me immediately asking questions to get to know more about what I wanted to do and how “outside my comfort zone” I was willing to go. From there, she created the most amazing itinerary. It had a lot of adventure and a little relaxation which is what I was looking for.
I flew into San Jose, Costa Rica, and was met by a man (sorry I forget his name) with my name on a card at the end of the long terminal. The company Lisa works for can get their employees closer to the gates than any other company. Made it so easy to find him. He asked me how my trip was, taught me some local sayings that would come in handy, and then introduced me to Diego who was going to drive me to La Fortuna.
Diego came prepared! He had snacks, water, tissues, car sick bags, trash cans, etc. It was a long 3-hour drive. As we were coming into La Fortuna, Diego pointed out Arenal Volcano. The sun was setting so it was mostly just the outline. Apparently, it had been so foggy the days prior, you couldn’t see the top half of the mountain. I stayed at Volcano Lodge and Springs the first 3 nights. The rooms are quite large, beds were comfy, as were the pillows. It was so green and tropical.
My first full day in CR, I went on a hike in the Arenal National Forrest, walked on hanging bridges, rode an air gondola (twice actually), and then went zip lining…in the rain. Zip lining was a freaking blast!!! I love being up high and feeling like I’m soaring. At one point, I was 656 feet in the air!
Day 2 was filled with yummies! Up first, North Fields Coffee Tour. I ended up being the only person who showed up. It was cool to see how coffee is grown, how they decide when to pick, why they still hand pick, how its roasted, etc. I literally saw it from start to finish. I then got to pick 2 coffees to brew and taste. They were brewed the traditional Costa Rican way, in cloth.
The coffee tour was followed by a tour at Rainforest Chocolate. Sadly, there weren’t any Oompa Loompas. We got to eat a seed, a freshly dried bean, then taste sipping chocolate and chocolate ganache with different toppings. For all our hard work, we got paid in Costa Rican currency. Cacao beans were the first official currency here.
The 3rd day was a transfer day. I had another private driver take me from La Fortuna to Quepos. Costa Rica has more than 10 different micro-climates. Visiting each one is like visiting a different country. La Fortuna is the rainforest region, which explains why it rained everyday there. Quepos is on the Pacific Coast. My next hotel was called Costa Verde. It offered great ocean views and some wildlife entertainment.
Day 4 was a water day. King Catarman Tour out of the marina and down the coast. We got to see a mama and baby orca whales on the way down. We came back up and stopped so we could jump off the top of the boat (about 30 feet up), go down the slides, snorkel, swim, etc. After the water fun, we had lunch and then danced and goofed off until we got back to the marina.
The 5th day was all about mud. Well, kind of. I took an ATV tour, and it rained for most of it. We went through a palm plantation where I splashed in every water filled pot hole. When we were in the little villages, we had to avoid the pot holes as some would splash the houses, and that’s just rude. We rode to this place called The Rainmaker. No joke, when we were about 5 minutes from there, it started raining. At the Rainmaker, we hiked in pouring rain to a waterfall. The idea was to go swimming in the waterfall and pool area, but none of us were having that. We just hiked right back. We ate some fresh pineapple and then headed back on the ATVs. Once back to the start, we were served a yummy lunch and then taken back to our hotels.
Day 6 was another transfer day. I took a small plane from Quepos to San Jose. The main airstrip in Quepos was under construction, so we literally took off in someone’s backyard on a little Cessna. Of course, a storm was moving in when we were taking off. Flying in a little tin can in a storm is nerve-wracking! Thankfully we made it safe and sound. The flight was about 20 minutes and if I drove, it would’ve been 3 hours.
The San Jose airport is actually in a town called Alajuela. Once I got settled in my hotel, I took an Uber to downtown San Jose. A taxi, one way, from my hotel to downtown San Jose is $32 USD. The Uber cost me $11 with tip. I walked around downtown checking things out. Found a market to do a little shopping. Because traffic was so bad where I was, I walked 4 miles from downtown to call an Uber to go back to my hotel.
My 7th day started off easy. Got to sleep in and slowly get ready. Breakfast was decent. I then headed to the airport in the early afternoon and waited for my flight home. As much as I love traveling, I love being at home in my own bed too.
- Wander With Mekela