Pura Vida in Costa Rica
When I received the invitation to travel to Costa Rica a few months ago I have to say I was pretty ecstatic. It has been a place long on my never ending bucket list so I immediately confirmed. I was able to bring along a model and friend Jordana who brought more beauty to the photos and to the trip with her light soulful attitude.
I have traveled to a number of tropical destinations, so you might ask why Costa Rica is different? The answer is quite simple really; it’s the biodiversity and adventure of this country that draws me in. You can get beaches and resorts most places but most places don’t have incredible rain forests and abundant wildlife, blue rivers and exquisite hanging bridges. Not to forget the crazy amount of volcanoes. The variety is what had me for Costa Rica, plus you also get the amazing beaches and incredible resorts.
As most of you may know Costa Rica is apart of Central America and has an Atlantic and Pacific to each side of the country. The Atlantic makes up part of the Caribbean and the Pacific side has majority of volcano areas. We spent most of our time in a small area near the Pacific, we only had five days so we only explored a very small part of the country, but I know I will be back for more exploring!
We started in San Jose where we soon met Paulo, our guide for the week. Paulo was pretty much the best guide ever. He knows so much about his country that it was easy to learn about the places, the animals and the food. We all became quick friends and started our journey.
Our first hotel was absolutely stunning, fairy tale beauty. We had a Jacuzzi in our room, but who needs that when you have ten thermal volcanic hot pools outside. We were in an area call La Fortuna and the beautiful active Arenal Volcano was just outside looming over us We opened up our big sliding doors every night to hear all the sounds of the loud rainforest and be nurtured by the humidity in the air. Paulo met us for dinner the first night as we learnt about custom Costa Rica cuisine. It consists of a lot of beans, rice, corn, root vegetables and sweet plantain. Also mucho cafe! I really loved the food here, especially the abundance of ripe beautiful fruits.
Day one and we woke from a rested sleep to explore Rio Celeste and the blue river. I was quite worried we wouldn’t get the vibrant blue due to the high rains in the area the past few days. Paulo informed us we were incredibly lucky when we came upon the blue waterfall without a hint of brown! We spent most of the day here taking photos and searching for wildlife. The flowers in CostaRica are some of the best I have ever seen. So vibrant and tropical I wish I could bring them home with me! Butterflies, baby iguanas and birds kept us busy as we explored the forest. We even got lucky enough to see an incredible jewelled eyelash pit viper! Paulo took us to lunch soon after where I got my first fresh coconut, oh my I was in heaven. Costa Rica is quite forward on their single-use plastic consumptions. Most places we went had compostable straws or paper straws which was super impressive to me. It is hard to avoid single use plastics while traveling so this made me very happy! I got to enjoy my coconut guilt free.
After Celeste Paulo took us to his friend’s coffee shop where he produces a pure bean coffee from his nearby farm. He was so passionate about producing the sweetest most full bodied coffee I had to buy some beans. Especially after the taste testing! It was so interesting to see coffee plants and learn about the process.
The next day we explored Lake Arenal and some hanging bridges. It was a beautiful day with no rain as we walked out to a small peninsula on lake Arneal. We found some beautiful birds and managed to spot a small Toucan! We then headed to the forest of many bridges where the wildlife spotting continued with a little poison dart frog, sadly I only got a photo of his bum as he hoped away. On our drive back we got lucky with some Howler Monkeys crossing the road, they were adorable. We finished our night off at Tabacon Hot Springs. This place was pretty amazing with an incredible spa and hot pool area. I think I counted over thirty hot pools, the resort is five star with incredible food as well. The pictures speak for themselves with what you will see here. You can also get a day pass if you cannot stay at the hotel, which I think is well worth it especially if you are with your hunny, so romantic!
Our trip continued with many jokes and laughs shared with Paulo as he taught us some spanish and what not to say! We had to say goodbye to our stunning resort and head to the Monteverde Cloud forest. This was so exciting for me because from pictures the area looked magical and I can confirm it was. It was probably one of the best parts of the trip. We had a horse ride planned and I had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be the most fun as the guides let us gallop across the fields as the fog rolled in. We fully enjoyed the ride, it was so nice to be atop a horse again. We went on a night walk to wrap up the day and saw many animals. I recommend a night walk if you are in any jungle because most creatures are out at night. We saw an owl, a rare possum, tarantulas and a beautiful blue headed bird sleeping in a branch, the guide also was a nature frother and knew so much about the forest.
The last morning of our trip we awoke to clouds and wind. I was very happy, this is the conditions I was hoping for for our walk through the reserve. The cooler weather makes it easier to see wildlife and makes for dreamy photos. We were planned to go with a tour however we soon snuck away with Paulo’s help to capture some images in the forest. The sounds and smells are of my most favourite to sense here and I already miss that. We came across a gorgeous hanging bridge where Jordana and I took many photos. The fog was so mesmerising. In the forest it got even better as hundreds of mossy vines made their way up knotted trees into a magical fairy land of jungle and fog. We even spotted a rare emerald toucanette with its baby!
We finished off at the hummingbird gardens where I could have stayed all day watching the incredible coloured tiny birds zip back and fourth fighting over feeders.
For the afternoon we drove out to the beach to have a swim, couldn’t miss being so close to the Pacific ocean without a dip! Paulo made many ‘tourist stops’ which was usually for coffee and fruit. My kind of stops. We soon concluded our trip with the drive back to San Jose. I was so sad to say goodbye to Paulo because he was such a great guide for the week and became a close friend. Jordana and I definitely will miss Paulo. If you are ever interested in having a guide while down in Costa Rica, check out Paulo’s company Travel Excellence. He can plan any trip you are looking for and can make the experience so much better with local knowledge and a great experience.
Costa Rica lived up to my expectations and more, we certainly lived the #PuraVidaLife which I could get used to. Everyone was very kind and I felt so safe here. The country has a love for it’s natural places and a relaxed nature which explains why I loved it so much. Pura Vida!