Last month I had the pleasure of spending a week in Costa Rica: arguably one of the most beautiful Central American destinations. The flights were too cheap to turn down so I headed down with 3 friends to explore. It wasn’t my first time to Costa Rica so this time I knew what to check out and see. It’s not as well-traveled as Mexico or other Caribbean destinations which is perfect for the beach bum in you. We rented a villa right on the beach and often we were the only ones on it for miles. The water was perfect with smooth sand under your feet and waves that would relax even the most wound up person. It was unbelievably hot so the water was a life saver. We rented a car to let us easily explore.
About Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a well established system of national parks that cover more than 20% of the country making it a great choice for ecotourism. With plenty of options for trekking, bird watching and scuba diving you can spend your days going on adventures and wrap them up with a dip in the ocean. There are chains of volcanoes and plenty of jungle to explore as well. It has a high level of biodiversity and there are many places you can go to see the abundant wildlife. As we walked through the jungle we gazed up in wonder at the colorful parrots in the canopy overhead. It’s easy to see why bird watching is so popular here.
We scheduled our flights to have one night in San Jose. In my experience I’ve found that 1-3 nights is usually more than enough time to spend in the capital of a country. Cities aren’t always a good representation of a country’s culture and personality since they’re usually a melting pot of various cultures and identities. When we landed we took an Uber into the heart of the city. Taxis are available but at a significantly higher price so I’d recommend taking an Uber if possible. We went for some drinks in local bars and sampled the cuisine.
We decided that the visit wouldn’t be complete without checking out the famous Hotel Del Rey. It’s a large pink building with 3 bars and a casino on the main level. What has made it famous is the fact that many ladies of the night are found here as the profession is legal and regulated. It was a site to see but after playing a few hands of blackjack we left and went to the club next door to dance. The club was dead but the few locals that were there were friendly and danced the night away with us.
The next day we headed to the airport and caught a flight to the Tambor airport on the West coast. The plane was a small puddle jumper and we were treated to amazing views of the coast. The water was crystal blue and the jungle lush and green. It was beautiful and I found myself getting excited to explore. The villa was a 15 minute walk from the airport but it felt like much longer in the heat. Once we were settled in we took a walk along the beach. It was the low season so there was nobody around. The temperature of the water and the waves crashing against us was a perfect escape from the heat. There were no rocks or seaweed and the sand was soft; an ideal beach.
When we had our fill of fun on the beach we cracked the beers and decided to see what the nightlife was like. The locals recommended a bar called Chico’s in Montezuma. We called a taxi and headed out. The bar was right on the beach and was the perfect setting for dinner. Unfortunately it was the low season so the nightlife was a bit on the slow side. We still met other travelers and ended up relaxing on the beach trading stories. Not a bad first night now we could start the adventure.
I’d heard that the scuba diving was amazing in Costa Rica so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go on a dive. It lived up to its reputation and got added to my list of top dive destinations. I stared in wonder as a puffer fish blew up in front of my face. I forgot to put something dry into my case unfortunately so it got fogged up and I missed out on some great pictures. You can just barely make it out. In between dives we stopped at Isla Tortuga for some fresh fruit. As you can see in the feature image it was a wonderful setting for lunch. For all the Nomadic divers out there I would recommend adding Costa Rica to your list.
Another activity that’s fun to do is zip-lining. Flying through the trees while monkeys are jumping from tree to tree was exciting. The views were great and the breeze felt good. It was an impressive course of wire with some going at exciting speeds. Afterwards on our hike back up we were treated to a waterfall spilling into a pool halfway up a cliff where it continued down below. We frolicked in the water for a while before continuing up to the start of the zip line. There was a rope to swing into the water and if you were daring you could jump off the waterfall into the water below. Although the locals did not recommend doing so.
The All Inclusive Resort
On our last day in Tambor we stopped by the all-inclusive resort next to the airport to see if they offered day passes. They did and it was only $48 USD for the day and included food and beverages even alcoholic. So we spent our last day chilling in the pool with piña coladas in hand. Wrapping the vacation up with some relaxation. The resort catered to Costa Ricans so we met lots of local people to enjoy the drinks with.
Driving around was an adventure in itself. Definitely opt for a GPS when renting a vehicle. For $15/day you can get unlimited WiFi in the vehicle too! At one point the GPS wanted us to drive through a river. We could see the road on the other side but there was no bridge. It was the end of the rainy season which made the river impassable at that time and we had to find a way around. The roads were narrow and curvy with the bridges only wide enough for one vehicle so use caution.
The country is beautiful and full of natural wonders. Whether you enjoy climbing an active volcano or sitting by the beach, flying down a wire through the jungle or bird watching it has what you’re looking for. It’s often overlooked making it an untouched paradise. Once thing that stood out to me was that standing on the beach you could look in either direction and not see a single building. I think that the local codes prevent anyone from ruining the coast line with huge unsightly buildings.