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 parks

Hectares of Costa Rican countryside have been set aside for African safaris, complete with zebras. giraffes, warthogs and more! We had a blast!

What does a giraffe say when it whispers “sweet nothings” in your ear?

  • Explore Guanacaste

A picturesque journey by car unveils so much beauty and even more adventure surrounding Playas del Coco. Monkey trails alone are an adventure! Waterfall tours and kayaking venues dot the landscape. And for scuba enthusiasts, there are leatherback turtles, rainbows of colors in tropical fish and maybe even some sharks to keep things interesting! For me, simply relaxing in the peacefulness of the secluded sandy beaches was pretty irresistible.

Costa Rica has some of the prettiest beaches in the world!

  • Deep sea fishing

When the 4 of us boarded a fishing boat and, along with 2 crew set out to experience the Pacific Ocean, it was a perfect dream come true – gentle waves, blue skies, tropical sunshine, and a soothing, salty breeze. I never expected by day’s end to be telling my first ever fishing story … and describing what it’s like to reel in a 60+ pound monster! We’ve heard it’s pretty rare, but thanks to an amazing crew and no doubt some beginner’s luck, we each caught a Mahi-Mahi … although, with or without a catch, our day on the ocean would have been magical!

The Best of it?

From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, the friendliness and welcoming ways of the people we met rivaled the charm and beauty of the intoxicatingly beautiful country we were visiting. And we had no trouble finding someone to chat with us in English wherever we went. That might be because we did lots of touristy things. One tip I’m taking back for next time, though is to learn at least a little of the language!

What languages are spoken in Costa Rica?

  • Spanish is the official language, spoken by almost everyone
  • Costa Rican slang is called “Pachuco”
  • Costa Ricans are “Ticos” (males) and “Ticas” (female)
  • Travelers are “Gringos” and “Gringas”
  • You also hear Jamaican Patois (Mekatelyu), a Creole-English language
  • There are many dialects of ancient, pre-Columbian indigenous languages
  • Plautdietsch is spoken in areas of Mennonite settlement
  • You may hear “thou” instead of “you”; a remnant of “olde” English brought to Costa Rica by Quakers
  • Immigration continues to introduce new languages to this tropical paradise
Costa Rica’s natural beauty depends on being an eco-friendly, environmentally-conscious culture. Because of this and because so much nature abounds, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Things to remember in Costa Rica:

  • Don’t feed the monkeys. It’s against the law.
  • Or touch tiny frogs. Some are venomous and that’s just nasty!
  • Don’t forget bug spray. Mosquitoes and insects love Costa Rica, too!
  • Don’t remove sand dollars, seashells or flora, and fauna. It’s illegal.
  • Don’t forget sandals on the beautiful black beaches. They get very hot!
  • Or closed-toed shoes for jungle tours! There are ants – not toxic, but annoying!
  • Don’t underestimate the power of rip-tides or high surf. Drowning is a danger.

Black sand beaches – very beautiful and very hot! Remember your sandals!

Our visit to Playas del Coco, Guanacaste Province, and Costa Rica was simply enchanting. We had a beautiful holiday … a gift I will always cherish and a memory I can’t begin to express enough gratitude for!      


Lisa Lysen

Lisa Lysen is exploring her passion for words while getting to know a little more about this beautiful world we live in. She hopes an adventure in writing is somewhere in her future.