I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I got back from Costa Rica — take me back! I’ve especially missed the lush, tropical country as I’ve been stircrazy the past week since I’ve been stuck inside fighting the flu. (Yeah, I have rotten luck – I got over a cold and immediately got the flu. Yay!) Anyways, part one of our vacation was in Fortuna Arenal, part two was in Monteverde, and now we’re to part three: the beach! I knew after a few days of intense adventuring, we’d be ready to spend the final days of our vacation with toes in the sand.
On the way to Manuel Antonio, we stopped in Jaco Beach for lunch. Jaco is a famous surfing spot, and it seemed to be a popular beach town, especially with young international travelers. Isn’t it pretty?
We arrived late into Manuel Antonio, so we pretty much headed to bed for some shut eye. The next morning, the boys went ziplining while I explored the public beach. I had an awesome time reading Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar while I dug my toes into the sand.
When the guys got back and were thoroughly hopped on adrenaline, we headed into the private beach, which is a national park. This beach was stunning, as you can see above. There were monkeys and iguanas all around, and the water was about 75 degrees. The best part was you had to hike in to get to the beach, maybe about a mile, and that meant there were no cars, very little trash, no city sounds, and unspoiled nature as far as the eye could see.
After the beach, we popped into the hotel pool where I flew down the water slide at an alarming speed. Then, we headed up to the rooftop bar to grab a drink before dinner. I enjoyed my pina colada as the sun sank into the horizon. Paradise.
The next morning, Matt and I went to the hotel lobby at 6:15 A.M. (ugh!) so we could go on a mangrove boat tour. Because the mangrove swamp changes depth based on the tides (the pull of the moon), we had to go super early to avoid getting stranded in the swamp. Mangroves are really cool, complex species — they’re a self-filtering tree that live only in brackish water (half salt, half fresh).
It was cool being out in nature that early for a relaxing boat ride, and we ended up being the only two people on the tour. Our guide actually had spent a few years living in San Jose, so we had fun talking about the differences between California and Costa Rica (actually, more similarities than differences)! I told him one of my goals was to see a crocodile, and we ended up seeing three! This tour was a really peaceful way to see one of the special ecosystems of Costa Rica.
Sadly after our tour, it was time to head back toward San Jose to fly home the next day. We made one last pit stop at the famous Tarcoles River bridge, because we knew there was a spectacle below… CROCODILES! Nobody really knows exactly why there are so many crocodiles at this spot, but at any given time you can expect to see more than 20 crocs. We counted 42 in just the few minutes we were there. We didn’t dillydally too long in this spot, because even though we were up on a bridge, I didn’t particularly need to spend much longer near these massive scaly beasts.
Costa Rica far surpassed what I had hoped for in a good vacation. The people of Costa Rica were so welcoming and kind, and genuinely shared a love for the natural treasures of their country. I couldn’t take a single bad picture being surrounded by such vivid beauty, and at every turn, there was exotic wildlife. I loved getting to see the rain forest and cloud forest, and I can’t wait to go back. In a week we covered so much of Costa Rica (and ended up putting over 700 miles on our rental car!), but I already know the next time I go I’ll want to see even more. If you’re thinking about going, GO! Getting to Costa Rica is relatively inexpensive (about $500 round trip from LAX), as is the lodging. While things like the rental car and food were pricier than anticipated, it all evened out with the valuable deals on really top notch accommodation for around $90-$100 a night. If you have any questions about Costa Rica, leave a comment or shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to tell you what I learned. As the people of Costa Rica say… Pura Vida!