Colorful homes, palm trees, surfboards, and reggae music is the norm in the beautiful country of Costa Rica! Let me begin with saying that Costa Rica had never been at the top of my bucket list, but recently I realized that I hadn’t explored Central America at all and I had to change that! This trip was decided on a whim and I didn’t do much planning for it like I usually do. I figured San Jose, being the capital, was a perfect place to stay and explore a little bit of the culture and see what the ticos were all about.
Jonathan and I flew into the San Jose airport and shuttled over to a hotel in central San Jose. This turned out to be a very inexpensive trip due to the great deal I snagged on Expedia! Our flight was a mere five and a half hours from Austin to Houston and then San Jose. We arrived at around noon and went straight to have lunch at Nuestra Tierra which was everything we expected and then some!
Following our delicious lunch, we explored the area a bit before heading back to our hotel. For whatever reason, we weren’t feeling the industrial San Jose vibes too much, but we decided to give it a night and then maybe head closer to the beach. We got ready for a night out and ate dinner at a nice little restaurant downtown before following the salsa music to a fun rooftop bar and dance club! We had so much fun but were exhausted and had to be up early the next day for a river rafting excursion we booked through the hotel so we head in early.
The next morning we decided after the river rafting we would book a hotel near the beach to explore a different part of the country. We were picked up by a shuttle and made our way to the river about an hour away. I thought river rafting was going to be more like kayaking at town lake here in Austin lol! I was so wrong. If you ever have the chance to raft the Rio Pacuare, DO! We booked our excursion through Exploradores and had so much fun!! The price includes a traditional tican breakfast and lunch halfway of your rafting excursion in the middle of the rain forest! I should say, the journey is about five hours long so be prepared to use those arms! The guides are great and thoroughly explain safety rules on the bus ride down. I don’t know how much safer I felt after reviewing these but I am so thankful for our amazing guide Kenneth who made our experience so enjoyable! Also, they have photographers stationed throughout the river capturing all of your super adventurous moments and you can purchase a digital copy of them all after your excursion, definitely a plus for us! Tip: Do not take your cell phones with you, even if you have the waterproof cases. The raft in front of us flipped, thankfully they were all safe but one almost lost their phone to the river! Just buy the pictures after, they’re much better anyways ;).
We were then dropped off in the surfing town of Jaco where we stayed in a quaint little guest house just one street away from the downtown area. It’s definitely “good vibes only” and you can find everything you need in their main street which is just feet away from the shore! From a grocery store to a delicious variety of dining options, to all kinds of dance clubs, Jaco kept us well entertained :).
On our third day we took a cab over to the national park of Manuel Antonio to see if we could find a sloth to take a picture with! I’m glad I read on this prior to arriving because the hike through the rain forest is no joke, so definitely wear your athletic shoes! There is also a beautiful beach in the park, which almost serves as a reward after all the hiking, so wear your swimsuit underneath or bring it with you, there are restrooms and showers right before arriving. I said it’s like a reward because it’s not like you exit the park and then go visit the beach, it’s literally in what feels like the middle of the rain forest…it’s stunning! Ok, so my one disappointment; I didn’t see ONE sloth! We must’ve hiked like 8-10 miles total and we never once saw a stinking sloth, I have no idea if it was the timing or what but I was so sad. I had given up on the sloths or monkeys, but right when we arrived to the beach we saw a gorgeous white faced Capuchin monkey! We soaked in the beach for a bit before returning to our hike back. As we exited the park I saw a man selling coconuts on the side of the road, have I mentioned I have a coconut obsession? Well you know now, so of course I went and cooled off with a delicious coconut, perfect post-hike hydration. Of course after all of that hiking we were super hungry so we took a cab up to the Airplane restaurant. Literally, it’s a restaurant inside an old airplane, overlooking the rain forest… breathtaking for sure and the perfect ending to our hiking adventure.
We finalized the trip in Jaco by taking surfing lessons which was the highlight of our trip and I couldn’t leave without something to remind me of my Pura Vida experience, so I got my belly button pierced! Definitely won’t forget that experience lol. Jonathan and I thoroughly enjoyed Costa Rica and I am so glad we took the time to explore the culture a little bit. We encountered such nice people and one of our taxi drivers even explained why their national motto is “Pura Vida”. He said it’s because they live life without worries, they don’t like to get involved in wars and are for the most part self-substantial. Costa Rica has been named one of the happiest countries in the world and I am not surprised! Thank-you Costa Rica, for showing us a great time!