Costa Rica Travel Guides for Backpackers

Things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica

During the years I lived in Costa Rica, I got to see and learn a lot about how locals live, what places they visit, which beaches are good for different surfing levels, trying local food, drinks, and others. In the following article; I will be sharing with you some of San Jose’s Top Highlights for you to visit when staying in this city surrounded by nature. People usually stay in San Jose City just for a night as their main stopping point since that is where all buses and public transportation stop, go and passes by. Although the city itself may not be the greatest of them all, I recommend you give the valley a chance and let yourself be surprised. When arriving at Costa Rica you will be welcomed by nature itself. You can appreciate it already from your window on the plane. Nature here has a voice of its own; anyone who lived here will agree. Volcanic mountains, jungle, and dense clouds will be your view at first sight. Next, in order, I will share with you some of San Jose’s most local adventures and things to do to get a true grasp of Costa Rican Culture. San Joaquin, Heredia – CR What to consider when coming to San Jose, Costa Rica. So you arrived in San Jose. You find a place to stay and as I mentioned before, this might not seem the nicest city of all but it still has a lot to offer. If you are considering renting a car; I recommend a 4WD which all rentals offer (or something along those lines). Something not so big, nor too small, but still being able to go through dirt and mountain roads when leaving San Jose. Let’s check some of San Jose’s best options on things to do while visiting this very artistic city. San Jose offers a variety of neighborhoods, pubs, bars, foods, appetizers and cultural events throughout the city and surroundings. San Jose itself will surprise you with its colorful, creative and jazzy graffitis. They change continuously but always present. You can walk downtown San Jose and move around some really nice neighborhoods. You have La California, Amon, Sabana Park, Escalante, Escazu, and a bunch of breweries to try a really good homemade beer during the evening. A variety of restaurants and food shops are available as well. Each neighborhood has its personality, and you can easily tell. First thing first: Breakfast in San Jose. You want to consider starting your day with a typical Costa Rican Breakfast; which consists of Gallo Pinto (Rice, Beans, Vegetable and Classic Lizano Sauce), scrambled eggs, tortilla, and coffee. Some places might even offer to add sausage or plantain. Sabana’s Park is a great place to start since it has really good sodas (local dinners) that offer breakfast and you are right next to the park. This park is filled with eucalyptus trees; they have colored trunks usually orange, green and yellow. You will also notice this due […]

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica – Relax in this Caribbean Beach Paradise

Set in the Southeastern coast near the Panama border, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Lying along the tropical Carribean coast in Limon province, Puerto Viejo is known for its natural beauty, incredible beaches, relaxed atmosphere and lively nightlife. With a unique blend of Latino, Afro-Carribean, and BriBri indigenous cultures, visitors quickly find themselves delighted by the laid back colorful vibes in this small beach town.  Here's a list of my favorite things to do during a stay in this beautiful beach town: Explore Beautiful Beaches With crystal clear turquoise waters and surrounded by tropical jungles and wildlife, Puerto Viejo is a paradise for any beach lovers. Also known as one of the top-rated surfing destinations in the world, Puerto Viejo boasts many amazing beaches with excellent surfing opportunities. Some favorites are Playa Negra, a beautiful black sand beach, and Playa Grande. Overall, the relaxed atmosphere and beautiful natural surroundings make for an amazing beach experience.    Go Snorkeling Another amazing thing to do while in Puerto Viejo is to go snorkeling! While I was there, I had the chance to go on a snorkeling tour with a group from my study abroad program. While snorkeling there, we got to see stingrays, turtles, many kinds of tropical fish, and many varieties of coral. It's a great place for snorkeling and it's easy to spot a lot of cool sea creatures amongst these clear waters! Experience the Natural Beauty One of my favorite experiences in Puerto Viejo (similarly to the rest of Costa Rica) was exploring the incredible nature! While visiting Puerto Viejo, an excellent place to visit is Cahuita National Park. Set along the beach surrounded by rainforest and diverse wildlife, Cahuita is one of the only national parks in Costa Rica which is free to enter. There's a hiking trail which runs right along the shore so any visitors can easily spend their time exploring the wildlife or on the beach. Along the walking trails, you can spot monkeys, sloths, snakes, and lots of tropical birds! I would highly recommend visiting Cahuita to anyone taking a trip to Puerto Viejo! Go for a Bike Ride Since Puerto Viejo's roads are mostly all dirt, the best mode of transportation during your stay here is by bike. While in Puerto Viejo, foreigners and locals alike enjoy riding bikes place to place. With the laid back atmosphere, it's always enjoyable to take a bike ride through town and even do some exploration of the beautiful nature surrounding the area! Stay in a Hammock Hostel During my stay in Costa Rica, I had heard a lot about a particular hostel called the “hammock hostel” which was known for being cheap and (as you would guess based on the name) providing guests with hammocks to sleep in. For just $7 a night, you can stay at Rocking J's, a unique, artsy, party hostel! Although you can stay in a hammock, there are also tents […]

Discover Costa Rica – A Tropical Adventure

“Welcome to Costa Rica – Slow Down and Relax!” …  better words could not have greeted us on our way to charming Playas del Coco, Guanacaste Province, one of Costa Rica’s oldest beach communities! And with warm tropical air casting a spell to melt any lingering thoughts of Canadian snowbanks, things already felt magical! Although for us, the magic had begun before we’d left home. This, our first trip to Central America, was a gift from our daughter and son-in-law. They were excited to show us all there is to fall in love with in this Latin-American paradise. And as we were soon to discover, that’s quite a list! Costa Rica is best known for: Some of the prettiest beaches in the world, both white and black sand Tropical jungles, rainforests, waterfalls, beautiful flora, and fauna Mountains and 67 volcanoes – some of them still active! Exotic cats (like Ocelots and Jaguars) Monkeys! There are so many monkeys! Creepier creatures, too – crocodiles and 22 varieties of venomous snakes Sloths (one of my favorites … it’s just crazy cute how slow they are!) Coffee (another favorite … I’m kind of a sloth without it … but not quite so cute!) First Stop – our condo units! Where to stay in Playas del Coco: Because tourism is one of Costa Rica’s leading industries, there’s no shortage of beautiful accommodations. Of the many in Playas del Coco, a few near downtown, minutes from Coco Beach are: Pacifico Beach Club Hotel Coco Palms Green Forest of Coco Beach Studios Bendicion Clean and upscale, with all amenities, our condo was perfect! Beautifully landscaped grounds showcased tropical flowers, plants, and trees to remind us we’d left the ice and snow and cold behind. Whimsically winding pools, connected by fountains and hot tubs made relaxing in the warm Costa Rican sunshine so very tempting and so very easy. And Playas del Coco’s location is perfect for enjoying life as a beach bum! Scenic walks lead to the Pacific Ocean for snorkeling, diving, fishing, sunset cruises and more. A little more walking reveals the heart of Playas del Coco, alive with music, food, tantalizing smells, atmosphere, and all-around enchanting Costa Rican culture. Accessible by car as well! But we soon discovered there was even more fun waiting just outside Playas del Coco. Best things about Guanacaste Province, near Playas del Coco: Eco-adventure Parks With breathtaking ocean and jungle views, zip-lining from mountain-top to mountain-top in Costa Rica is an amazing experience! And as if the exhilaration of zipping through the air 60 seconds/mile isn’t excitement enough, we actually exited our adventure by dropping onto a suspension bridge hanging over a pond filled with crocodiles! But zip-lining is only part of what Guanacaste’s eco-adventure parks offer. There are off-roading ATV tours, a zoo featuring tropical birds, monkeys, sloths, and wildcats. Butterfly gardens! And educational enclosures with reptiles, snakes and some of the cutest, if also most poisonous little frogs you’ve ever seen. Zipping mountain to mountain! African safari […]

Face to face with amazing wildlife in Costa Rica's jungle

You might recognize it: you book an excursion and there you are, early in the morning, surrounded by ten other tourists, waiting for a van to pick you up for that organized day trip. You end up in a jeep, trying to catch the best window seat, preferably near your travel buddy. A question of spatial planning in which “survival of the fittest” is an unfortunate, bitter reality. Consider it a coincidence, but at the “moment suprême” all your travel companions have found the same position so as to shoot the best picture of that multicolored toucan, high up in the tree. And when it’s finally your turn, it turns out that the beautiful creature has found its salvation elsewhere. Frustrating, isn’t it? On my travels, this scenario happened to me several times. So that’s why I decided to do things differently on my travel in Costa Rica. Cahuita, a picture perfect place to be Are you a nature and photography lover? Cahuita’s beautiful National Parks was the place where I spotted amazing wildlife and got my best shots ever. Cahuita is located at Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean coast, in the province of Limón. It’s a quiet little town with some nice restaurants though. For Italian food, Coco Rico offers you a wide variety of dishes. In the evenings, you can watch a movie on their big screen. For the more romantic ones, “Sobre las olas” offers candlelight dinners in their beach restaurant, specialized in seafood. I stayed in a nice B&B near the beach, called “El Encanto” and met my exuberant host, Alex, a 50 years old Spaniard who emigrated to Costa Rica years ago because of his love for nature. Never a dull moment with Alex. He entertains his guests with his humor, homemade pizzas and his search for the famous green frog in the pond of his beautiful garden. Equipped with his telescope, he takes you out for an early morning walk to spot toucans. The famous Costa Rican green frog found in Alex’ garden Alex introduced me to Christian, a professional local guide and photographer who, after some bargaining, would take me out for a 110 USD private day tour into Cahuita’s National Parks. Cahuita National Park Cahuita National Park is located along the beach, from where a dense rainforest extends further inland. A seven-kilometer unpaved path connects the two park entrances of Cahuita and Puerto Vargas. Try to get in by the Cahuita entrance, which, unlike the Puerto Vargas’ side, saves you an entrance fee. It is a great place to walk through and make stops on almost deserted beaches. In the trees, you can spot wild animals such as howler monkeys and sloths. Don’t forget to wear your waterproof walking gear in the rainy season (May-October) as two-thirds of the path is extremely muddy and mosquitoes are everywhere. Deserted beach along Cahuita’s coastline Equipped with a tripod and telescope, Christian and I set off. Soon I understood the added value of his equipment: thanks […]

Exploring Monteverde, Costa Rica: top 10 things to do

Nested in Costa Rica’s mysterious cloud forest, Monteverde is a must-see destination. Whether you’re a backpacker on a budget looking for your next thrill or a first-class tourist who seeks comfort and peace, this mountainous sanctuary has you covered. In just a few decades, the city has come a long way from a small dairy farm community to a busy tourist spot. To reach it, you must take the steep bumpy road that leads to the small town of Santa Elena, gateway to Monteverde: that’s where the real adventure begins. Moisture-filled clouds hover over the treetops and luscious forest surrounds you. The evergreen landscape, which also provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, can only exist because of the occasional rain showers. But don’t worry, those won’t stop you from exploring the best that Monteverde has to offer!   Hike in one of the reserves Monteverde is home to several nature reserves, where you can take a closer look at the unique cloud forest ecosystem and spot a lot of cool animals. You can walk by yourself, hire a naturalist guide or even do a night walk! Santuario Ecológico was one of my favorites. It’s run by a nice local family, who really cares about nature conservation. Besides the trails, they also have a beautiful waterfall, panoramic views and a lot of information about animals and plants you might encounter. They also sell awesome t-shirts and stickers! I also visited Bajo del Tigre, a reserve with special meaning to the Monteverde community. It belongs to the largest private reserve in Costa Rica, Bosque Eterno de Los Niños, which owes its creation to the fundraising efforts of children around the world. I found this one particularly rich in biodiversity; a few days before my visit, they even spotted a puma! By visiting any of the reserves, you’re actively helping the animals and plants around you, since the proceeds from your visit support the conservation and protection of them. How cool is that? Photo by Zachary Shea Visit the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens This one is definitely a must. I might be a bit biased since I volunteered there for a month, but I promise this place won’t disappoint. Ran by a North American family passionate about insects, they will for sure cure your fear of bugs. You’ll learn not only about butterflies but also other Costa Rican invertebrates, nature, and evolution. The entrance fee includes a guided tour, and you can even come back for free during the rest of your stay in Monteverde!   Eat an ice cream in the Cheese Factory Of course, you can also visit the Cheese Factory itself, but their delicious home-made ice creams alone are worth a visit. They are cheap and come in a variety of flavors, including some that are probably unfamiliar to you. I recommend giving these a try (I had the guanabana one and it was great!).   Climb a strangler fig tree If you’re feeling adventurous, this one […]

A Travel Guide to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Head on an unfamiliar pillow. Eyes flutter open to the first peaks of the morning sun. Ears fill with exotic sounds of howler monkeys roaring in distant trees and tropical birds singing their morning melodies. The world is calm and slow to wake. The mind is clear and relaxed. The days are unhurried and laid-back, incorporating Latin, Caribbean, Indigenous and Hippie vibes at the core of the culture. The lush rainforest meets the vast and unforgiving sea – providing both grounding and free-flowing energy. This is where the beautiful surfer town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca lives. This is where magic lives. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is located along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, in Limón Province. This small reggae surfer hippie town neighbours the area inhabited by BriBri, a large indigenous population, as well as a few other beach towns that span across the main road. Getting There Puerto Viejo is accessible by local bus for about $10 USD or by shuttle, which costs around $55 USD; both of which drive directly from San José to Puerto Viejo in about five hours. As the bus drives across the small bridge and into the town of Puerto Viejo you can immediately feel that this is a special place. From the reggae music that fills the streets, colourful shops, Pura Vida vibes, excited tourist, local surfers lounging on the beach, veggie carts selling local produce, cyclists dodging motor bikes, and stray dogs looking for scraps to eat, this place has room for everyone. Getting Around To get around the small town of Puerto Viejo many people choose to rent bikes for the cost of about $4 USD a day, though it is certainly easy to walk the town in a few minutes. For the Beach Dweller – Local Beach Spots As the main road of Puerto Viejo runs along the sea, there are many beaches to choose from if a beach day or a surf lesson is calling your name. Playa Grande, or Black Sand Beach, is known for its dark sand and picturesque sunset views. Salsa Brava is the main beach in town and features an abandoned ship and beach bars. Playa Cocles is farther from town and a popular beach to spend the day laying in the sun, grabbing a surf lesson, or playing some beach volleyball. Outside of Puerto Viejo lies Playa Chiquita, Playa Punta Uva, and Playa Manzanillo, which are easily accessible by bike and provide beautiful and relaxing beaches to swim, tan, and snorkel. For the Spiritual Seekers and Healers – Yoga, Kirtan, Reiki, and More Beyond the world-famous waves and relaxing beaches, Puerto Viejo has a wide variety to offer travelers. Yoga classes are available throughout town, many of which are free or donation based. Kirtan, a form of chanting, is organized occasionally, and it is not difficult to find different healers providing Reiki, Thai Massage, and other therapeutic services. For the Adventurer – National Parks, Waterfalls and Jungle Hikes For the adventurous type, […]

The Best Things About Traveling in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a popular destination for a lot of retirees, Spring-breakers, and Summer vacations. The country is filled with lush jungles and expansive mountainscapes, all surrounded by crystal beaches. However, the beauty of the country goes a lot deeper than landscape. It is a country filled with activities for everyone, from beach days on Tortuga Island to nature walks and zip lining through national parks. The Caribbean side and the Pacific side One thing that is important to know about the country is that there are two sides – the Caribbean side and the Pacific side. The Caribbean side offers white sand beaches and a Jamaican influence in their culture and food. Puerto Viejo is a popular destination on the Caribbean side and is one that I recommend. You are more likely to encounter English speaking locals on this side of Costa Rica. The Pacific side is Latin-influenced with typical Tico (native) culture and food. Uvita, La Fortuna, and Manuel Antonio are popular destinations on this side of the country. What to look for in Costa Rica Take a drive along the main highway of the South Pacific coast and you will find hidden waterfalls underneath bridges and tucked away in secret locations only the locals know. Even some lesser known beaches are vacant during the week, offering a secluded escape in paradise. Small towns in the Osa Peninsula also offer fresh-water rivers with views of the sun as it sets behind the mountains. Being an environmentally-friendly country comes with plenty of wildlife thriving in their natural habitats. Howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, and sloths can be seen in the trees in the local neighborhoods and beaches. Another secret of Costa Rica is the Indigenous Tribe that lives in the mountains of Puntarenas Province. This tribe speaks its own dialect of spanish, and the history of why is quite interesting! You can find tribal masks, naturally-dyed cotton bags, and other hand-made items in their souvenir shop if you decide to take a tour. The best food in Costa Rica First and foremost, the seafood is always a good choice as its always fresh and local. Junk food is on a whole new level – Grab a hot dog piled high with lettuce, potato chips, cheese, onions, and smothered in ketchup and mayo on the beach of the Puntarenas Peninsula. Or, try a bag of Doritos filled with ceviche. The tacos never fail either and are also smothered in ketchup and mayo. (On that note, the ketchup is a lot sweeter than in the States, so prepare your taste buds!) Fruit and fresh juice never go out of style. Find a fruit stand and expect the most delicious exotic fruits and fresh coconuts available. You’re likely to find a few different versions of your favorite fruit, from mango to passion fruit to avocado. Fresh-made, all natural juice is sold in plastic bags (similar to sandwich bags), along with apretados – an ice cream made from goats milk and your choice of […]

Isla Tortuga: The Best Kept Secret of Costa Rica

The Background In the early months of 2017, my life took an unexpectedly good turn when I decided to look for a change in my everyday life and landed in having the incredible opportunity to quit my boring and monotonous job at a bank as a credit analyst and become a travel designer for a local sustainable inbound tourism company. Thanks to the new job I was able not only to advise people on how to plan their vacations in this amazing country according to their needs and help them create lifetime memories of their adventures and luxurious relaxation here but to also experience Costa Rica by myself from a tourist point of view. Because of that, I was lucky to have the chance to get to know almost every touristic destination inside the country, including hotels and tours for every budget as well, so I had a little bit of trouble overthinking about which place I could write about in this article because I really wanted to show something original about this exotic paradise. Why I chose Isla Tortuga: Recalling my last year memories, an important remark came to my mind: of all the places that I had the opportunity to visit, one of my favorites by far was Isla Tortuga. Composed of two little islands that resemble the shape of a turtle, this blissful land located in the Gulf of Nicoya is also located nearby to Isla San Lucas, a former prison that has now become a touristic place of interest for the country’s history in the Central Pacific, and after my visit I can consider it one of Costa Rica’s best-hidden secrets. The story of how I got there is kind of simple, my journey first started with an invitation that was made by the tour’s pioneer company to the company I worked for, followed by a call from my former boss asking me if I was interested in participating, the idea was to get together some of the sale agents of the local inbound tourism companies for a familiarization trip to Isla Tortuga. I didn’t think twice to say yes and the next thing I know is that I was waking up early with an eager enthusiasm on a Saturday morning to pack my swimming suit and tanning lotion and getting ready, so the bus tour could pick me up in a nearby hotel. The Journey: The departing point to Isla Tortuga it is mostly from the Port of Puntarenas, a town where the second most important harbor of the country is located, but there are also tours available from other parts of the Central Pacific like Herradura and Jaco Beach and Manuel Antonio National Park. (Pro tip for this part: If your tour indeed departs from Puntarenas too please do yourself a favor and search for a place to taste a Churchill, a typical dessert that includes Ice Cream, shaved ice with kola syrup, condensed milk and a typical sugary milk powder called Leche Pinito, […]

The best places to visit in Costa Rica

Costa Rica; where the sand is white and the jungle is thick. A tourist favourite when visiting Central America! One of the newest land developments on Earth, aging just over 3 million years old. The energy here is young, full of enjoyment, and truly sticks to its slogan “Pura Vida,” literally translating to “ Life is Pure.” Throughout the entire country you will find plenty of smiling faces. The traditional food is great too. You can always count on fresh fruit, as well as beautiful beaches and a hot, tropical sun. Mountains to hike, clean, lush rivers to swim, and a full vibrant jungle to enjoy. Even short visitors will see exotic wildlife; amazing colourful birds, small creatures, and maybe even some crocodiles or whales!   Beautiful hiking trails just north of San José   Visiting San José When flying into Costa Rica, you will visit the only international airport just outside of the capital city San José. There are many things to do in and around the city, ranging from great food to amazing volcano hiking trails. Hiking in San José San José is enclosed by 3 volcanoes; Volcan Poás, Volcan Barva, and Volcan Irazu. The three of which stand tall around the valley, sometimes even blowing off some smoke. They create great hiking trails, through the thick jungle, past beautiful waterfalls, finally reaching volcanic lake craters with amazing views. Volcan Poás is one of my favourites. It is one of the world’s largest active volcanoes; with 2 crater lakes. The northern lake known as Laguna Caliente, or “Hot Lagoon”, is one of the world’s most acidic lakes. And the views of it from the hiking trail are amazing. Cuisine in San José Inside the city you will be tempted with local cuisine, one of my favourite local restaurants being ‘La Parrillita de Pepe’. Having only 3 restaurants inside San José and surrounding area, this restaurant boasts local cuisine with a twist. A highlight being their decadent tropical fruit juices made fresh and to order. I highly recommend trying Costa Rican grown fruit such as mango, papaya, pineapple, or my personal favourite guanabana (aka soursop).   I don’t prefer to stay in cities long. Although the lights and activities are tempting, I am always pulled to the countryside – in this case, the beach!   Montezuma at sunset   Costa Rica has some great beaches, with most of the country a coastline; either to the Pacific Ocean, or the Caribbean Sea. I recommend visiting both, because each coast boasts of its own unique flavour.   Discovering Costa Rica’s West Coast The West Coast of Costa Rica lines the Pacific Ocean. With a wild and lush coastline, there is so much to see! Beautiful white & black sand beaches, amazing jungle, and so many different varieties of trees and animals. The pacific ocean is big and vast, and the best place to watch the sunset. Tourist hot-spots One of Costa Rica’s top beach towns, Jaco is a fun and busy […]

The most amazing places to go here in Costa Rica.

I like to know my country because even though Costa Rica is a tiny country, it has a lot of diversity and many new places to visit. For those reasons, I never get tired of traveling inside my country. My question every day: Where can I go this weekend? Esterillos Beach | Puntarenas What makes Costa Rica unique? To start, Costa Rica is a paradisiacal place in Central America, where you can go to the beach in Guanacaste, then, a few hours later, you can take a coffee in a cold place like Poas, Alajuela Even when is small, Costa Rica has around 29 natural parks, 19 wildlife refuges, like 8 biological reserves and many series of protected areas conserved as naturally as possible. With 51 thousand one hundred square kilometers, we also enjoy beaches located in two oceans, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Therefore as previously mentioned, in just 3 hours by car or 45 minutes by air from San José, wonderful beaches with black sand, white or gray will wait for you, ideal for recreational activities or just to relax. But wait, it does not end there; Costa Rica is a land of volcanoes and mountains this is why has humid, dry and cloudy forests, huge waterfalls and beautiful crystal clear rivers. Therefore, having variety in nature and activities to do makes it always difficult to decide what to do, rafting, diving, kayaking, sportfishing and one of the biggest attractions: surfing. Avenida Central | San Jose Now, do you understand why I ask myself this every day? At the end of the day, it is always difficult for me to decide, but I try always to visit different places, even though I have my favorite places in particular. We have seven provinces: San José (the Capital), Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas, and Guanacaste. Each one beautiful and with so many things to appreciate, that you would have to live here to understand, but you would never finish going through all the country. (Believe me, my entire life here and I still have places left to visit). Where can I go this weekend? In the capital In San Jose, the most sought-after tourist attractions are the cultural ones such as Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum, Costa Rican Art Museum, Natural Sciences of La Salle, National Theater and a mandatory stop is the Central Market. Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna, San Carlos These places are located in the Plains of the northern of the country and are very striking for national or foreign tourism. Its biggest attraction: Thermal Waters. Along with the volcano, it is also the country’s largest artificial lake, Lake Arenal which is among beautiful forests and mountains to walk a little while being in contact with the environment. Other things to do: mountain biking, horseback riding, and canyoning. Tortuguero canals The second largest wetland in the country. It is located in the Caribbean (Limón) and cannot be reached by road, only by boat […]

Before Traveling to Costa Rica…

First of all, please keep in mind you are traveling to Central America, do not confuse Costa Rica with Puerto Rico. This is probably one of the most common mistakes tourist make when planning a trip, I have been in the tourism industry since 2010, and trust me you don’t want to book your flight to San Juan when you actually meant San José. Which brings me to another interesting point, San José Juan Santamaría Airport is the correct one, there is another airport called San José in California. (Yes I know this might sound crazy but it has happened). Planning your trip After double checking your flight, we have two possibilities: Did you plan the trip on your own or did you hire an agency? Let’s focus on the first one, even though Costa Rica is a very small country, distances can be pretty long, especially because we are filled with mountains and roads are not that great. It is very important that you ask for advice when designing your itinerary, you won’t want to spend most of your time on the road. Make sure to take advantage of your traveling between destinations, there are many stops you can accommodate during your journey. Trip Advisor can be a very powerful tool when choosing hotels and restaurants, but make sure to research each place separately (visit their website, search for other review platforms). Always call or email each place even though you have booked your hotel through a different channel, Costa Ricans are very polite and helpful, don’t be afraid to ask everything you need to know. After all, we are Pura Vida! Directions You will have a laugh with this one. We don’t have a sense of direction, no really, we don’t have street addresses, or house numbers or anything similar. We always joke about it, because the first thing a Costa Rican might tell you when you ask for a direction, could be the following: “Just keep straight, then turn right and where you see a white cow tied to a tree next to the yellow house. That’s where it is”. So please, if you are able to get a GPS, do not hesitate. It could save you a lot of time and it will avoid frustration. But remember, Google Maps and GPS can be tricky, taking you on back roads where you would need a 4×4 car, so my next advice is to contact the hotel, restaurant or destination beforehand in order to have a clear understanding of where they are located. And if any of the devices mentioned work for them. Renting a Car There are many rental car businesses in Costa Rica but go for the ones you have heard of already. I’m sure there are many brands you will recognize. I would always recommend renting a 4×4 car, you are in the tropics and with this type of car, you won’t have to worry about anything. If money is an issue, and you have […]

La Fortuna – Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Rivers and Wildlife

La Fortuna is a small town in San Carlos, in the province of Alajuela, in Costa Rica. The meaning of the name is “The Fortune.” It is a great place to visit for those who like extremes and exploring. La Fortuna has a great balance between adventure and being in touch with nature. Some of the highlights include volcanoes, waterfalls, natural hot springs and much more. A minimum stay of 2-3 nights is recommended in order to do and see everything. La Fortuna is easy to get to from San Jose, Monte Verde, and Tamarindo. Monte Verde is also a popular point of travel before or after stopping in La Fortuna. Things to keep in mind: the National park, Cerro Chato Green Lagoon Entrance, La Fortuna Waterfall, and Observatory Lodge are open 8 am – 4 pm. On Sundays, many places are closed or close early in town.   Where to Stay Costa Rica Hostels – these hostels will exceed your expectations. The 3 resorts take up 2 blocks of the town. If you book a room in one of them, you are able to use the amenities at all 3. Dorms and private rooms are available, with or without air conditioning. Prices and availability are best to check on hostelworld or booking.com. I have always stayed here whenever I was visiting La Fortuna. In all of the rooms I've stayed in I could always get some rest. If I was feeling up to it, the heated pool with the bar was always a fun time with good music and a great way to meet other travelers. Downtown La Fortuna Locations: Arenal Hostel Resort + Towers La Fortuna Backpackers Resort Hostel Backpackers La Fortuna If you are looking to stay in a cabin among nature instead of downtown, Wilberth Farm Hotel is a great brand new location, about 8 km outside of town. The location has wooden cabins that are among the rain-forest off of the main road. This is a place to relax, away from all of the noise of the town. Other options include: Arenal Backpackers, which is a hostel with a party environment and a nice pool in downtown Fortuna and Hotel La Choza Inn which has the cheapest dorms in town. What to do (All prices are in American Dollars) If you have your own car… Within Arenal Volcano National Park there are various points of interest that you can drive to. Hiking Cerro Chato Volcano, walking around the Observatory Lodge grounds, and swimming in the La Fortuna Waterfall are a must. All 3 parks have separate entrance fees. Also, there is a hiking ground called Hike 1968 that has the option of mountain biking for those looking for more of an extreme. This hiking ground is where the lava of Arenal Volcano once spread during it's last eruption and has beautiful views of both volcanoes. The Rainforest Chocolate tour and North Fields Coffee tour are great if you want to do multiple activities in one […]

7 Things You Must Pack When Traveling to Costa Rica

Costa Rica, with its vast coastlines and rolling hills, is a must see destination for any traveler. With 5% of the world's biodiversity residing in Costa Rica, and over 20% of the country's forestry reserved as National Parks, for any nature lover and enthusiast, spending time in Costa Rica is essential. The Fortuna Waterfall near Arenal Before planning any travel venture, it's important to plan out your itinerary. What do you want to do? Where would you like to see? Do you want to be in the capital San Jose, or in the country? What kind of places would you like to stay? All of these factors are extremely important in deciding what it is you need to bring. If you are resort hopping, you are going to require a completely different array of items than you would if you are going on a surfing trip. Either way, whether you are planning on staying in hostels, the capital San Jose, the Hilton, or camping, these are 7 items that you simply must bring with you on your Costa Rican adventure.   (Biodegradable) Sunscreen Everyone knows that when traveling to a tropical place, sunscreen is one of the first things to pack. Costa Rica is around 9 degrees latitude which means that it is very close to the equator. This makes the days long and hot! Even if you are staying in the city, you are going to want to apply before you head outdoors. The sun actually feels stronger down here than your average beach vacation, believe it or not! Most of Costa Rica's manufactured products, however, are imported and therefore are pretty expensive. So be sure to pack you sunscreen ahead of time to save yourself a few bucks. Accurate example of sunburn from Google Images Costa Rica takes their ecological conservation very seriously, and new studies have shown certain chemicals in sunblock damage coral reefs. If you are planning on doing any snorkeling and scuba diving along Costa Rica's famous coastlines, then you might want to consider switching to a more “ocean friendly” alternative to avoid hurting our fishy friends out there. Plus, if regular sunscreen is bad for the ocean, then it's probably just as bad for our skin…. food for thought! Although biodegradable sunscreen can be hard to find in your average supermarket, there definitely are some excellent brands out there that can be purchased on Amazon. 2. (Biodegradable) Bug Spray I hope that this is self-explanatory but if it isn't, let me go into detail. Costa Rica is a tropical country, composed of both thick jungle and dryer, forest expanses. The perfect place for mosquitos, biting flies, sand fleas, and all those other critters that we love so much. Bug spray, much like sunscreen, is full of harsh chemicals that can be damaging to Costa Rica's delicate ecosystems. Safe and effective bug spray can be easily found on online. Although none of the common insect species are particularly […]

COSTA RICA: Central and Pacific Coast

We landed in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica at 03:00 am due to our flight being 6 hours delayed (yes, 6 hours, but 2 free airport meals as compensation). We took a cab to our hostel for that night (Hostel Bekuo) and finally got some rest. Our plan for the next few days was to get a rental car and roam around Costa Rica’s famous cloud forest. We spent a day in San Jose figuring out where we would go on our road trip and how many days we would be using the rental car and buying our necessities for the trip. We are very much into nature and Costa Rica is pretty big on natural places so we based our decisions on the money we had available and our personal interests.Much to our surprise, this country is a bit expensive. Being from Mexico and starting out our travels in Central America, we expected to be dealing with lower prices for food, beer, and just general expenses. Even though it doesn’t come close to prices you would see in the United States or Europe, you do have to take into account that Costa Rica is considered a destination for first world countries trying to accommodate themselves in the “Latin American lifestyle”.  So we decided to rent the car for 5 days where we would do a circuit of the central part and west coast of the country. Since it is pretty small, you can get around fairly quickly from place to place, but winding roads, one lane highways, and intermittent rain will slow you down quite a bit. La Fortuna waterfall and natural thermal river Our first stop was this amazing waterfall by the small town of La Fortuna. It’s surrounded by exuberant vegetation and loads of tourists. The entrance fee was about 15 USD and we arrived early enough to avoid 3 buses filled with Asian and American people going to visit this amazing site. Anyway, this waterfall was so amazing, the current was very strong so you have to be very careful on where you’re swimming, I was carried away a couple of times and could only grab on to huge rocks trying not to hurt myself and regain balance. The water isn’t warm but it’s very refreshing and a really beautiful shade of aqua. There is a lifeguard on duty just watching over in the case of emergency. We stayed for about 2 hours until a big storm came along, which was an everyday routine in Costa Rica. Afterward we continued our day on the road. We had seen that there’s this place where you can go in a natural thermal river for free! So we definitely had to try it. It is located very close to the resorts and luxury thermal springs and spa, (yeah, places we don’t have money for), specifically right in front of the Tabacon Resort. This spot seems to be pretty famous because there were quite a few people there, but […]

Peninsula de Osa: Costa Rica

The summer of 2007 was the first time I made it to Peninsula de Osa, before Instagram was popular (maybe it didn’t even exist at the time) and before the #wanderlust boom took over the world. It was also before the Costa Rican government fixed the main road to get there. I was part of a small high school group, which would organize a hiking or camping trip once every two months, and this time it was at Peninsula de Osa. To be more precise in a National Park inside the peninsula called Corcovado. During the way there we could see the unpaved dusty roads full of bulldozers that were building bridges and the side walks. We make it to this tiny town called Puerto Jimenez, the biggest town in the area, and proceeded to set up our campsite right in front of the ocean. Animals in the Peninsula The next day we caught a bus ride to Playa Leona and from there we started our three-day hike. Little did I know about the beauties we were going to encounter along the way. All types of birds, from tucans to parrots, then we encountered a danta (a tapir) blocking our path, forcing us to stay back until it decided to leave. Then it was wild pigs, monkeys, more marvelous birds and we even got to see two beautiful turtles swimming in the ocean. One morning I woke up feeling as something was crawling on my leg, and I saw a small scorpion. Being common in Costa Rica, I wasn’t alarmed, I just flicked it to the ground and smashed it with my flip-flop (they can be very poisonous), but it wasn’t over yet. Two more were also crawling on the sleeping bag, so I woke up a friend and he told me there could be more inside the tent. We flipped and moved everything and found forty, yes, forty scorpions! Scary as it was, it came with the pristine adventurous package that Osa has to offer. Tourist Information Every night we would sleep in the rangers’ stations, there are three of them: La Leona, La Sirena and Los Patos. Every morning we would wake up to see the sunrise and start our walk that meandered between the jungle and the beach with greyish sand kissing the mesmerizing light blue water. In total, the hike takes from three to four days depending on the person, it is roughly around 60km and it’s moderate level. The heat and the sun are strong, but if hydrated, you should be fine. Finding a place to sleep is easy, as the ranger stations have showers, kitchen and even a few rooms in case you don’t have a tent. Just remember that to go into the park, a booking and payment, plus a certified guide are needed in advance. Around five years later, still reminiscing about the amazing experience, I wanted to go back. Luckily enough, my brother was designing an eco lodge in the area, not […]

How I spent a week in Costa Rica for less than $600

Traveling can get expensive. As a student I understood this more than anyone. I wanted to travel more than anything, but it was very difficult to be able to afford it. By the time you add up airfare, hotel and food, the price is already incredibly more expensive than one would spend in a week, and that's without including any excursions you may want to do while you are traveling. Not to mention, the entire time you are away, you (usually) aren't making any money either. This can make travel very difficult, and sometimes seemingly impossible for some people. When I was in college I found every possible way to travel the world. It was easy to travel through school programs, but when those programs were over, I had to find a way to do it on my own. My senior year of college I had cabin fever like never before. I had the insatiable desire to get out and explore the world, but I didn't have the funds to do it, and I knew that it would only get more difficult after graduation. When March came, I received my tax return and decided that I was going to take a trip, using only that money. I started doing lots of research on different countries. I learned about the cost of traveling and staying there, their cultures and landscapes, and their safety, as I would be traveling there alone. Finding Flights First things first, I had to find a flight that I could afford. I used skyscanner and momondo to search for flights to different countries. At the time, I was living in Iowa City, Iowa. I searched many flights leaving out of the nearby regional airport, but eventually discovered that flying out of Chicago would be my cheapest option by far. To save money, I took a Megabus to Chicago, instead of driving and paying for parking. Because I booked it early enough, I only paid $10 total for the Megabus. I ended up finding a roundtrip flight from Chicago to San Jose, Costa Rica for $256, and I was almost sure that I would be able to make this trip work. Where to Go, Where to Stay Once I found affordable flights, I had to make sure that I could find a place to stay each night that I was there. In doing that, I also had to decide which cities to go to. I did a lot of research on different Costa Rican cities. I found blogs of people who have spent extensive amounts of time in Costa Rica, searched posts in a travel group that I am in, Girls Love Travel, and talked to people who have been there. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do while I was there, but knew that I wanted a variety. I ended up deciding on staying in La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio, and Uvita. This way I was able to see the rainforest, waterfalls, wildlife, and the […]

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Costa Rica

Nine things to know to make the most out of Costa Rica

Unlike Phileas Fogg in the infamous ‘Around the world in 80 days, my travel over this summer took me to two beautiful tropical Islands, involved 11 flights, and a killer total of 75 hours. However, just like the film, I can safely say I have traveled a full loop around the globe, starting from my humble hometown in New Zealand, flying to Sri Lankan, Costa Rica and then back home. In saying all that, this blog post isn’t a modern day tale of the old classic, rather, it’s a little glimpse of all the things I wish someone had told me before I left for Costa Rica. Pura Vida in Costa Rica First of all, I will begin by saying what a beautiful country Costa Rica is. It truly is a paradise with the Caribbean Coast on one side, and the Pacific Ocean on the other. So while surfers and divers enjoy the warm crashing waves on the south, beach-lovers alike are treated to the exotic hidden beaches accessible only through rainforests and National Parks. Yes, I am talking about one place in particular – Manuel Antonio. For those who are looking for a tropical rainforest and beach haven in one, this is certainly the place. Pura Vida is a saying that is commonly used in Costa Rica and translates to 'pure life,' or a 'way of life.' This expression is used in various social contexts, for instance as a reply to 'how are you, hello, goodbye' or even as a alternative to 'yes.' Visiting Costa Rica marked my first visit to Central America, and honestly, I wouldn’t’ have had it any other way. However, just like travel into any foreign land, there are a few things that I encounters along the way that made this trip even more incredible, and a few experience Is wish I could have avoided. So here it goes. Be aware of Costa Rican time If you’ve heard of ‘Island time’ before, then Costa Rica is the epitome of this concept. This term allows for lateness to be socially acceptable. From what I’ve been told by locals, the acceptable margin of lateness is 45 minutes after a set time and this is quite common in all of Central America. This delayed time extends to public transport, specifically public buses. For someone like myself who likes to micro-manage my day, not having any idea of when a bus will arrive and having to stand at the bus stop for 55 minutes can be absolutely manic. Therefore patience will go a long way in Costa Rica! Know some basic Spanish Make sure you know at least the bare minimum of Spanish when visiting Costa Rica. This will not only make your life so much easier, but locals are more receptive if you attempt to converse in Spanish – even if it is just the basic Hola & Gracias. More importantly, attempting to speak and learn shows that you acknowledge the language of the country you’re visiting. Therefore, […]

Heaven in heights: Cerro De La Muerte (Costa Rica)

The Unusual Cold A freeze wind waves by, and amazes me with a foreign mood. The air blows the branches of little rough bushes; green mosses in rocks with tiny water drops are witnesses of penetrating cold. The sun glosses a heavenly terrain; wide peace and serenity are the sounds in silence. A majestic mountain that suggests a landscape admiring routine, an introspective journey through the sunrays caressing the rocks, and an unavoidable relaxation of mind are part of the things that offers this mystical place.  A wintry and isolated feeling reigns, suggesting reasons of the region’s name given Temperatures below 10°C aren’t familiar for a country in the tropical zone, but possible in high lands above the 3000 meters above sea level. The “Panamerican Highway” reaches its highest point at this place (3491 m above sea level), frightening drivers within dense fog and the immensity of a wild moorland aside the road. However, the Peak of Death, or “Cerro de la muerte” in Spanish, embraces one of the most unique and beautiful ecosystems in the Central American region: the páramo. How to get there After the stories of travelers and drivers who felt they would face death due to the unexpected cold temperatures when crossing the area, the mountain has served as bridge between two important locations in Costa Rica. [single_map_place] Cerro de la muerte [/single_map_place] The first one is the metropolitan area in the Central Valley, in which the capital city San José is located. The other one is Perez Zeledón, which is another of the most populated locations in the country. This peak region is at the middle point of the road, in which you have to climb and descent this steep and foggy mountain, being the most effective and faster way to reach Perez Zeledón. Nevertheless, is indeed one of the most beautiful driving passages in Costa Rica. Getting to our destination is actually pretty simple from San José. There is a bus station in San José downtown named MUSOC. You can ask any taxi driver for it and many of them will know how to take you there. If not, you can ask them to get you to the Women’s Hospital Carit (Spa: Hospital de la Mujer) and the bus station is just right across the street from there. There are buses that can also take you there at downtown. The ticket rounds the USD $5.50 (2850 local currency), with departures from 4:30 am up to 6:00 pm every day. It can take you an hour and a half to reach the Cerro de la muerte moorlands, passing by cities and towns, with a constant divergent ambient. If you go by car, then you just have to take the Panamerican Highway all the way to the south. There is a restaurant and hotel named “La Georgina”, which you can set as destination. This was the place I stayed in and will definitely recommend for the best experience. The Mutating Road Departing from San Jose, you […]

Thinking Of Driving In Costa Rica? What You Should Know First

Choosing to drive in Costa Rica is an adventure worth taking. Not only does it give one control over where and when to go, it also brings out the little explorer in all of us. But before hitting the road, there are a few pointers that visitors should know first to have a better driving experience in Costa Rica. To avoid mishaps or other grievances when driving in Costa Rica for the first time, one must be prepared, and the best way to get ready is to know what to expect. Being a foreigner and now a Costa Rican resident, I had my own share of mistakes while driving in Costa Rica. Below is a guide that I wish I knew before I started: Right to Ride Using an international driver’s license in Costa Rica is accepted, but not necessary. You can save yourself the trouble of applying for one and spending for it since Costa Rica allows any driver with a valid foreign license to drive within 90 days upon their entry into the country. It is important to have your license and passport (that shows the stamp from the immigration regarding their arrival date) while driving. Despite the 90-day validity period to drive in Costa Rica, visiting foreigners or tourists should take note that their Costa Rican visas could expire sooner than the given grace period. To check on how many days you can stay, do visit the Costa Rican immigration site. Know the Law Much like the many other countries on the planet, cars are driven on the right side of the road. The speed limits (in kilometers per hour) are clearly visible on the signs on the side or painted on the main roads. The most common signs you will see are “Ceda,” which is equivalent to “Yield” for merging into a traffic, and “Alto” which is “Stop” to give way to cars who have the right of way. A complete listing of road signs could be found in the COSEVI website. When it comes to driving under the influence, anyone caught, especially those who were involved in an accident, gets instant jail time and a hefty fine. Besides from the speed traps officers monitoring the road for suspicious drivers, there are several checkpoints on the road on different parts of Costa Rica. Embrace the Weather As some locals say, Costa Rica can experience different seasons in a day, though technically there are only two: summer and winter. The morning could start off as sunny with clear skies, but towards the afternoon, it could start raining hard. At night, in lieu of a downpour, a mist or fog could linger until daybreak. Typically, the rainy season, also referred to as the Green season, starts in May and lasts until November. The rest of the months are the peak season, though it’s not unusual to have a downpour every now and then during that period. Be Familiar With the Road Conditions Depending on the destination, the road could be […]

Puerto Viejo – natural wonders and relaxed Caribbean vibes

Puerto Viejo – natural wonders and relaxed Caribbean vibes Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a small seaside town in Costa Rican Caribbean coast. The Caribbean coast differs from the other parts of Costa Rica because of the area’s Afro-Caribbean roots and Puerto Viejo doesn’t make an exception. This town has an interesting blend of Caribbean and Latino cultures and although it might sometimes (especially weekends) feel like a touristic party town, it still has some rustic and traditional fishing village charm. What makes Puerto Viejo so popular especially among younger people is its relaxed atmosphere and – of course – surfing and the beaches. However, if you’re not a surfer or the biggest fan of reggae music, Puerto Viejo still has a lot to offer. For me, this little town was a perfect spot to enjoy the amazing nature and wildlife of Costa Rica in nearby destinations. I wasn’t too amazed by the beaches, though, so wouldn’t recommend this place if you’re only seeking beautiful beaches. If you ever visit Costa Rica I would definitely recommend this place if you’re either interested in seeing exceptional wildlife, trying surfing or just having a relaxed holiday including some partying. Everything here is fully Pura Vida. No other words needed.   To find some interesting places to see, you can buy trips from any tour agency in town. However, we’re travelling on a budget so that’s why we decided to make the day tours near Puerto Viejo on ourselves. You can find more info of the top day tours we made below. It’s easy and a lot cheaper to do these tours on your own!   Cahuita National Park     Cahuita is a tiny village 16 km from Puerto Viejo. The village itself doesn’t have a lot to offer but the best part here is the national park. To reach Cahuita you can either take a bus from Puerto Viejo or rent a bike. We decided to take a bus because the road between Puerto Viejo and Cahuita is the main road between Manzanillo and Puerto Limon and that’s why the traffic could be a serious problem and there is not too much to see along the way. Additionally, the bus only costs about $1,50 one-way so it’s also a cheaper option than renting a bike. There are 2 different entrances to the Cahuita national park. The other one is inside the village of Cahuita and the other one about 10 km before Cahuita. Using the Cahuita village entrance is a lot easier if you arrive by bus (5min walk from the bus station) and cheaper as well. The entrance fee in the village is based on donations so you can basically give whatever you want; if you use the other entrance, the cost is $10. The park itself has a good approximately 8 km long trail. The only downside is that if you want to catch the bus back to Puerto Viejo from Cahuita or you don’t want to walk the […]

No roads, Tortuguero canals of Costa Rica

No roads can take you to Tortuguero, but a boat or a small plane will. A Traveler’s Memories Tortuguero, Limon, Costa Rica Two weeks before our trip we decided to book a tour that included bus and boat shuttles, lodging, three meals, tour in Tortuguero Canals, a short visit to Tortuguero town and a kayak trip. So, this is what we know so far about this place, Tortuguero National Park is a protected area located on Costa Rica's northern Caribbean coast and it is full of wide open canals with a big variety of animal species like crocodiles, monkeys, birds, fishes and lizards. Saturday, 6 am. Sunny day. We can't be more excited to begin this experience. We have heard that is an exotic place, surrounded by water and with lots of different animals. Therefore, let the journey begin! We took a colorful bus in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica; this bus was easy to find because it had some decorations of animals and plants of tropical forests alluding to the theme of our trip. On our way to Cariari, we made a stop to have breakfast and watch the blue jean frogs (Oophaga pumilio), tiny amphibians that usually live in Costa Rica's rainforests; and the Ceibo tree, a species of large trees found in tropical areas. Three hours later, we arrived to a small dock called La Pavona, where two boats were waiting for us, one for the people and the other one for the baggage. It's 10 am and we are ready to start this adventure. [caption id="attachment_37421" align="aligncenter" width="554"] On our way to Tortuguero

One hour and a half of boat trip and we arrived to our hotel, we got a welcome cocktail and indications of the tours. Welcome to the hotel dock After lunch, we borrowed a two-person kayak from the hotel and went to explore the canal. For me kayaking is always a top experience, and this time was no exception. Let’s say that 90% of the time was just us in the middle of the canals, only two kayaks and four friends, no one else (except for the creatures below, above and around us.. Well, yes I have to confess that we felt like if somebody else was watching us). Suddenly we were immersed in the woods, feeling the nature's breeze and watching around us to detect any of these animals. A couple of times a boat or canoe passed us by and we felt small waves created by the movement of the boat, and then a moment of peace again. Sunday, 5 am. We woke up early in the morning to take a tour in the Tortuguero Canals. A very experienced guide helped us watch some beautiful animals, like the Anhinga, a bird who after enjoying a dive stays on top of a tree with open wings until they get dry. We also saw three-toed sloths, basiliscus lizards, toucans, crocodiles, capuchin monkeys, tiger herons, green macaws, among so many others. Definitely, a […]

La Fortuna, Costa Rica

  Arenal national park Costa Rica is a country with many varying climates and landscapes. From the central valley, to monte verde the could forest, to the caribbean or pacific side beaches there is adventure to be found. The area around La Fortuna is amazing. There is the Arenal volcano and national park, a sustainable ranch and hotel called Rancho Margot and hydroelectric plant, all of which are important to Costa Rica. The Arenal Volcano is unique and when the volcano erupts rather than spewing lava it releases molten hot rocks, which leaves the surrounding area covered in volcanic rock. While hiking up the volcano is illegal due to the gas that if people get to close too will die. There is still many opportunities to hike around the volcano with a great view. On the first hike that I went on we saw three different snakes, two bright yellow ones who were curled up and hanging out on tree’s, and one brown one that was next to the trail in the leaves, that one was a jumping viper luckily we spotted it because they attack when treated. What to bring hiking  Bug spray- Because it is a rainforest it is wet and many bugs live in the rainforest. Close toed shoes and long pants- There are many snakes that live in the forest here, some are well camouflaged on or around the trails A well stoked first aid kit- you want to make sure that you are prepared for anything to happen even if it is unlikely.  Water- It is very hot in Costa Rica and especially easy to get dehydrated with the added elevation A rain jacket- It rains almost every afternoon in Costa Rica in the fall which is considered the rainy season here. A camera- There are many beautiful things that you can take photos of, if you do choose to take pictures of the snakes make sure to not get to close. Hiking in Arenal National Park The hike took around 2 hours, we had a guide for the first hike that we went on, who informed us on history of the Arenal volcano and the plants and animals that we saw. Many of the plants can be used medicinally. The biodiversity that Costa Rica has is incredible. As you walk you can look around and there is so much variety within the trees and the plants that you are looking at. One of the most spectacular things was looking around and seeing all of the varying types of flowers that would be on or around the trees. All of the plants that surround the volcano have grown back in under 20 years, after an eruption wiped out everything close to the Volcano. The heat, amount of sunlight and water that the region gets makes it very easy for plants to grown quickly. There was a bit of a scramble in order to get to a vantage point where we could see the base of […]

How Dominical, Costa Rica Changed My Life Forever

Changed Forever by Dominical Back to the Daily grind Travel is necessary to the wellbeing of one’s state of mind amidst the demands of society in today’s day and age. Have you ever felt so completely lost in the habituality of your day to day that it seemed as if you were actually living in a dream world? One of those dream worlds that are really messed up and scary, and keeps happening over and over and over!? Well I was there once- but it wasn’t a dream. I had allowed myself to be swayed and swindled into a life that I didn’t want to be a part of. However, instead of admitting defeat and giving up, or grueling on in utter agony and continuing forth as a drone amidst a colony of content, programmable robots, I decided to make a change. A change so big, it would rock my world in ways I couldn’t even dream possible in the dreary dream I was living in. Dealing with stuff Months prior to the realization of this, I had returned home to the states from a four-month- long journey through the Americas. Upon my arrival back, I felt excited to step back into my apartment as I hadn’t seen any of my cherished possessions in what seemed like ages. My paintings, my knick knacks, my guitars, and my couches, all begging in my mind to be held and gazed upon once again from their long lost friend. The drive home from the airport seemed longer than usual, probably due to the fact that I was exhausted and anxious to be in my own bed again. Finally, I stepped foot into my house, filled with exuberance, yet weary from the road- I plopped my bags down, walked straight to my big comfy couches, plopped myself down on that, and gazed around at the eclectic arrangement of stuff filling my place. Some wisdom about traveling with instruments I reached over and grabbed my old guitar which I had left behind during my travels. I had decided to bring my newer, nicer one along with me on my trip, which I was now regretting as the moisture had messed with its playablility a bit. For anyone plotting on bringing your instruments with you travelling, be sure to invest in a humidification/dehumidification system to preserve the integrity of the instrument’s wood. As I plucked away at the strings on my old guitar, I delighted to feel the familiar vibrations and tones of my old friend. After relaxing and eating some food, I spent the rest of the night unpacking. Clothes piled around my room, random gear stacked on my counter tops and kitchen table. I was beat and ready for bed, and the reorganization of my things could wait for another day. I decided sleep was more important than a clean house. Uneasy Sleeper As I lay in bed, something felt strange. It was good to be in my familiar sheets again, and laying on […]
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