My high school friends and I were trying to see where we could all travel together for our reunion trip and when Costa Rica was brought up, I knew we had to go. Costa Rica is the perfect destination if you are an adventurous traveler like me! There are so many activities to do (many of them are ones you can’t find in the States). We only had about 5 days in the country so prioritizing everything we wanted to do was key. Many people don’t realize but due to Costa Rica’s terrain being filled with mountains and forests and other natural wonders, traveling around the country can take some time. There is only one international airport located in the center of Costa Rica at its capital San Jose. After doing extensive research we decided that renting a car would be the best way for us to travel around the country (although buses and private shuttles are also options). Driving from San Jose to anywhere else in Costa Rica requires around 3 hours so be prepared for a long haul drive. Because of the drive time and the short amount of time we had available for the vacation, we chose to mainly stick to La Fortuna and Monteverde and forgo the more tropical beach destinations for another time. Prepare for a bumpy drive because the road between La Fortuna and Montverde is SO rocky. The roads were not paved at all, which translated into a slower drive. In hindsight we really wish we had rented a more suitable car (aka a jeep), but we made do with our little Hyundai. The drive is a perfect way to see the natural undisturbed beauty of Costa Rica.
I had heard that Costa Rica is the leading country for people to experience ecotourism, but the reality of being the beautiful country completely blew my expectations out of the water. Costa Rica is so green and fresh! But the best part of our girlcation was definitely all the new experiences. This was by far the best way for me to end 2018 (Costa Rica is my 20th country!)- I’m so blessed to have had a year of wonderful travels. Cheers to 2019 and everything yet to come!
Waterfall Rappelling - Rappelling was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. It’s definitely against my nature to just jump over the side of a waterfall I guess! Nevertheless, I don’t regret doing it because it is a once in a lifetime experience. The views of the rainforest were breathtaking and I loved the hike in between waterfalls. For this experience as well as the white water rafting, we chose to go with Desafio Tour Company and didn’t have an regrets. All the guides were very safety oriented and knowledgable.
White Water Rafting - We rafted during the second part of the day of our Desafio tour. Although, Class 2 and 3 rapids were expected, I felt that most of the rapids were 1 and 2- making me want even more to try Class 4 rapids! The Balsa River is beyond gorgeous and the half day trip was the perfect amount of time. Expect to get wet!
Ziplining - Ziplining across the Monteverde Cloud Forest was easily my favorite part of my Costa Rica vacation. It felt like I was flying over all the trees. I loved the wind around me and being able to see for miles. There was a total of 15 zip lines (some longer than others) and there was also an opportunity to hike in the rain forest in between zip lines. We didn’t realize but the zip line tour ended up being a private tour. Our group of 4 had 3 guides with us and we didn’t see a single other group in the forest during our zip lining. I highly suggest Selvatura Adventure Park for zip lining because it is extremely organized.
Yoga - A private yoga class at La Fortuna Yoga was the best way to kick off our Costa Rica adventure. After spending 3.5 hours on the plane from Texas and then another 3 hours driving from San Jose to La Fortuna, I welcomed the opportunity to stretch and enjoy the peace and stillness. I booked this class via Airbnb Experiences and even though it is typically not held on Sundays, the instructor was gracious enough to open a private class for us.
Chocolate Tour - This was one of the highlights of our vacation. Don Olivio’s Chocolate Tour ended up being a family run business which included tons of fresh fruit sampling (they were SO generous) as well as showing us how to press sugarcane into sugarcane juice and make chocolate from raw cocoa beans. We ended the two hour tour with a glass of homemade hot chocolate created from the cocoa beans grown on the farm. You can sign up for the tour via Viator or TripAdvisor- it’s only $25!
Hanging Bridges - My friends thought this hanging bridges hike (which lasted around 2 hours) was a bit long, but they can’t deny the natural beauty of the bridges. There is a total of 15 bridges, although only 6 of them are truly “hanging”. The rest are made of metal and are at varying heights. Walking around the park also provided an opportunity to see all kinds of wild animals such as spider monkeys, tarantulas, praying mantis, and toucans. The main downside of this hike was that it seemed a bit touristy and crowded. We saw people everywhere and it could be hard at times to enjoy the nature. It is one of the main attractions of La Fortuna though so I can see why it was so crowded.
Hot Springs, Volcano Hike, and Waterfall- La Fortuna is filled with hot springs. Almost every hotel or resort will offer it. There are even free ones! We visited a free hot springs on our second night in La Fortuna (tip- there is one across the street from the Tabacon Resort) and it was crazy sitting in a pool of water that I knew was being naturally heated while staring at the forest of trees around me. We also did pay to go into a more exclusive hot springs at Paradise Resort and boy was it private! There were 8 pools of water which were heated to varying degrees. The hottest one was 125 degrees! A visitor can’t go to La Fortuna without experiencing the breathtaking La Fortuna Waterfall and hiking the gravelly Arenal Volcano hikes. I was able to even swim at the base of the waterfall, although I was personally too scared to get too close because the current seemed extremely strong.
I know I’m definitely going back to Costa Rica in the future- there is just so much left for me to do there! Do you guys have any suggestions for future trips?