That was the first and the constant phrase we learned upon arriving to Costa Rica! It was used to say “hi”, to say “thank you”, to say “good bye” and to use as an explanation. The literal translation was “pure life” In essence, it was an attitude, almost like you only lived once, so make it purely about life. This could also be used to describe our 10-days trip to Costa Rica – it was pure and it was about life!
Costa Rica has been on my bucket list for a while now. Finally, we decided to check it off the list this year. We went there to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary. What a perfect choice!
In summary, we transversed from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific coast and visited four areas/cities: San Jose, Tortuguero, Arenal, and Manual Antonio. In total, we travelled over 1000km in 10 days. This was probably closest to “backpacking” we would ever get. The landscape and diversity of wild life were both impressive. The Costa Ricans (ticos as they called themselves) were very genuine and welcoming. We absolutely loved the country and the people!
We started our journey in San Jose, the capital. We were only there for a day so we only visited the highlight museum – the Gold Museum. For a small museum, there was a lot of gold on display. Very impressive. We also enjoyed one of the best Sangria we’ve had in a while! The Argentine parrillada was divine. We inhaled that BBQ in matter of minutes!
We then headed over to the Caribbean coast to visit the Tortuguero National Park. Tortuguero meant turtle in Spanish. We unfortunately missed the eggs-laying season. However, the experience of a true tropical RAINforest was still unforgettable!
Tortuguero NP was located amongst canals and it resembled like a mini Amazon rainforest. To get to the park, we had to drive to the nearest port to board a boat. Then it was another 1hr45mins to the lodge. The boat ride was beautiful and relaxing. The rain never stopped when we were there. The funny part was our guide, Andres, said, “this was NOT rain”. And clearly, there was water falling from the sky. By nightfall, we finally realized what he meant – there was rain, and then, there was TORRENTIAL RAIN!
The one day and one night we were at Tortuguero, we felt like there was water EVERYWHERE and ALL the time. Our clothes never dried. It was that humid and rainy. Thankfully, it felt tropical, meaning, it never felt cold. Just very damp. We visited the national park and saw a lone remaining baby turtle. We also saw numerous awesome animals: baby crocodile, iguana, leaf-moving ants, etc.
Then, it was time to change the scenery again. We headed over to Arenal Volcano area. It was still in the jungle, where rainforest dominated the landscape. However, it was dryer and much less rain, which made the Californian in me happy! We had few adventures in Arenal, including walking on the hanging bridges, hiking down to see La Fortuna Waterfall, hiking up the volcano national park, and ended the adventure in the hot spring.
We definitely saved the beach for the last. Towards the end of our vacation, we would celebrate the anniversary. Since we both loved the beach, we ended the trip with visiting Manual Antonio National Park. Oh my god – it was THE BEST BEACH ever!
Modestly, we could not say we’ve been EVERYWHERE, but we’ve traveled enough to know when we found a gem! Can you think of a beach where you could see the crystal blue water along a sandy beach AND see white-faced monkey and raccoons patrolling the beach, almost next to you? Moreover, there was some three-toed sloths hanging on the tree, almost like posing to entertain you. What a unique setting! Best of all (yes, there were a lot of “best” associated here…) The water was WARM. The beach was perfect to swim and to learn how to surf. I could move here. Really.
It was an unforgettable trip! We will definitely return. It is not that often that we want to return to the same place. Costa Rica is one of the rarest exception!