Five years ago, if someone had told me I was going to get to go to Costa Rica, I would have laughed in their face. But here I am, about to tell you about the 10 days that I got to spend there!!
My birthday is in February, which usually means crappy weather and leads to a fairly crappy celebration. I’ve been lucky enough since Eric and I met to get to spend my birthdays far away from the rain, ice, and snow that usually hits Ohio in late February.
This year for the BIG 3-0, I suggested Costa Rica! Lucky for me my best friend whose birthday is 2 weeks before mine, and lived in Costa Rica for a year, had the same idea. It was so great having her to help me plan!
We decided to start our adventure on the Caribbean side of the country in Puerto Viejo. This small town is known for its laid back, almost Jamaican vibe. Driving into town there were women selling fruit at roadside stands, men chopping the tops off of coconuts to sell to tourists, and everyone riding around on bicycles. Which we later found out was the main source of transportation around the city. We stayed at a hostel. This was a first for me. I had no idea what to expect, but the Selina Hostel in Puerto Viejo was so nice. We had a private room and bathroom and if I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed we were in an everyday 4 star hotel!
We arrived early and our room wasn’t ready so we went to hang out at the pool bar. Within the first hour of being there my number 1 birthday wish came true!!!
We were sitting at a table, I was facing Eric and the bar sipping on a delicious fresh cocktail. Eric looked up and said “you’re not going to believe this, but there is a sloth right behind you.” My immediate response was “Shut up. You’re full of shit!” But naturally I still had to turn around to check. Sure enough, there was a big 3-toed sloth crawling across the gravel walk way less that 20 feet from where we were sitting!!!! I was able to walk right up to him to snag a quick picture. This will easily go down in my top 10 coolest moments ever.
We visited the Jaguar Rescue during our time in PV as well. Surprisingly there were no jaguars, but there were tons of 2-toed sloths and monkeys. All of these animals are here because they were found in the wild and were either separated from their mothers or injured in some way. Their ultimate goal is to rehabilitate these animals and release them back into the wild. We learned a lot of really interesting things about the animals.
After a couple of days of bike riding, shopping, and drinking one too many Imperials, we realized that we had pretty much done everything that Puerto Viejo offered. Originally, we were scheduled to stay there for 3 nights. After the second, we decided to bump our whitewater rafting trip up a day and continue on to La Fortuna.
We woke up early, threw on our swim suits and packed our bags. Exploradores Outdoors picked us up right outside of our hostel. We stopped at a few different places to pick up other rafters and then we were on our way to their Exploration Center where we were able to store our bags in a secure area and they provided us with a light breakfast as well.
Once everyone had arrived, we hopped back on the buses and made our way to the part of the river where we would start our trip. On the way there they were telling us a little about the area and the river. The Pacuare river is ranked the 5th best river in the world for rafting. Let me tell ya, it did not disappoint!!! We have both rafted before once in the states (him - Colorado, me – West Virginia) and together we went in Chile a couple of years ago. Those experiences couldn’t hold a candle to the Pacuare! The trip was 18 miles long and we went through around 38 rapids. If you are ever in Costa Rica, you need to take a day for this. Exploradores Outdoors is amazing. They do pick ups in La Fortuna, San Jose, and Puerto Viejo. Then once you are finished they were take you to one of those three places even if it isn’t where you were picked up. This is the perfect way to get from city to city since a shared shuttle typically costs about $100/person alone. For $200 total, we received transportation to the Exploration Center, breakfast, the rafting, lunch, and then transportation to La Fortuna where we planned to spend the next few days!
The second part of our Costa Rica extravaganza was in La Fortuna, the adventure capital! I on the other hand am a slight chicken so there wasn’t a ton of adventuring being done. I really wanted to zipline but when it came down to it, just the thought made me nauseous! Instead, we opted to hike to the La Fortuna Waterfall. This is a pretty big tourist attraction so it ended up not being much of a hike. They have man made stairs all the way down to the base of the waterfall. Once you reach the bottom there are two sections. To the left, is calm, shallow, clear water where you can find people swimming and snapping Instagram worth photos. To the right, is the waterfall. I don’t think I have ever seen something like it in my life. It was beautiful yet intimidating. You are permitted to swim in the pool below the fall, but it can be very dangerous. The currents can drag you under and if that happens there isn’t much anyone can do. After a few minutes of admiring its beauty and watching people try to scale the rock to get the perfect picture we decided to make our way back up. This proved to be the challenging part. There are over 500 stairs to climb to get back to the top. We already knew we were out of shape, but DAMN!! Thank God there is a bar at the top!
From the waterfall we hopped in a cab and made our way to The Baldi Resort and Hot Springs. This place was unbelievable!! We had visited some natural hot springs in Chile but it was nothing like this. Our tickets included lunch at the buffet so we started there. Afterwards we made our way to the locker rooms to store our shoes and bag. The hot spring pools start in the lobby area and there are 28 total. They gradually get warmer as you continue to the top. A few of the pools included swim up bars so we started there and grabbed a couple drinks. We gradually made our way up stopping at each pool along the way until we finally got to the very top where there was a massive fountain made to look like a volcano with the naturally heated water pouring into the pool below. Eventually, after a few more Cuba Libres, we made our way back down to the pool with the water slides. Against my will, I was forced to climb the stairs and risk my bikini top and my life to make my friends happy!!! When did I become such a wimp?!
After Fortuna, we made our way south to the Pacific Coast town of Manuel Antonio. We stayed at La Mariposa Resort which is the oldest hotel in town. The website boasted that La Mariposa sat at the highest point in town and offered the best views of the ocean and the sunset. They could not have described it any better! When we checked into our room we looked out the window and saw our neighbor. An adorable little monkey jumping around on the tree outside!
With our love for boating and water we knew we had to schedule a catamaran tour while we were there. Searching around online I found a sunset cruise on a boat called the Ocean King. The boat is 100 feet long and can hold up to 250 guests! There are two jacuzzi tubs on board and a waterslide off the back that you can use once the boat stops for the snorkeling part of the day. The cruise lasts 4 hours, includes 8 alcoholic beverages and a surprisingly delicious dinner. I felt like we got slightly cheated during our tour though. There was a broken down jet ski stranded out in the middle of the ocean. We had to stop and help them and ended up waiting almost an hour for another smaller boat to come and tow the jet ski to shore. But, it wasn’t the end of the world and we still met some great people and really enjoyed our day. Until we got back to the hotel and I realized how incredibly sunburned I had gotten!
Years ago during a trip to Cancun, I was told that regular sunscreen is terrible for the coral reef because it rinses off of your body, sinks to the bottom, and suffocates the coral. So for this trip, since we were starting out on the Caribbean coast, I purchased some environmentally friendly SPF 30. Let me add here that it was February in Ohio, so I had zero base tan, and Costa Rica is only 9 degrees away from the Equator. One hour in the Costa Rican sun was no match for my hippy dippy sunscreen!!! The next day we hung around the pool where I was able to stay mostly in the shade. Ironically enough, we started talking to another couple at the pool. Come to find out, together they patented the formula for Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic’s SPF 100 and SPF 110. I was slightly embarrassed but my awful sunburn after hearing that. Pro Tip* the SPF 100 is the best stuff you can get. You can put it on one time at the beginning of the day and it will not come off even with sweating and swimming. I got that info straight from the horse’s mouth folks!
On day 9 we knew our time was quickly coming to an end. Eric and I had so much fun together on a trip of a lifetime! I don’t think I could have found a better way to finish out the last few days in my 20’s. We had an early flight our of San Jose the next morning, so we took a shuttle back to the capital city. It was dark by the time we got there, and we were exhausted, so we didn’t take any time to explore. I guess that just means we’ll have to go back one day!
I am the mother to one wild child and 2 fur babies. I have lived in the Cincinnati area my entire life. It is unbelievable the amount of things there are to do and see in this city and I can't wait to share them with you! Stay tuned for announcements about our monthly Girls' Night Out events and opportunities to showcase local businesses.