When trying to decide on any new travel destination, a major part of my final decision is based on what kinds of activities are available in the area. Laying out on the beach is really great, but after about an hour it can get pretty boring. Whether it's trying new foods, doing something daring, or just allowing myself to get lost in a new place, I tend to be much more interested in absorbing the culture of a place than absorbing sun rays.
So when preparing for this particular trip (which I should add I had no real choice in choosing - I was there primarily for my sister's wedding), I was very happy to learn Costa Rica is pretty famous for its high adrenaline activities. Much like Cameroon, Costa Rica is a tropical country with a volcanic mountain, beautiful beaches, and an amazing rainforest, making it a prime location for zip-lining, bungee jumping, and spotting amazing wildlife.
My Favorite Activities
- La Fortuna Waterfall - In my opinion, La Fortuna waterfall is the highlight of Arenal; especially now that the Mountain has not been active for a few years. You get to ride into the forest via horseback and cross over hanging bridges while en route to the waterfall definitely adds to the fun. See here for my full recap on the entire day trip.
- Ziplining in Arenal – There are several places to zip line throughout Costa Rica, but if you have the choice, definitely choose Arenal. The views are better and the zip lines are longer. Trust me, you won't regret it.
- Baldi Hot Springs - These hot springs in Arenal were the perfect way to unwind after a long day. There are numerous springs spread out throughout the entire property ranging in temperature. Since I went at night, I didn't get to take advantage of the great views normally available, but it was indeed well worth the hype.
- Boat/Horseback/Jeep transportation - I guess you could say I took the road less traveled with this. Instead of traveling from Arenal to Monteverde via a bus like a normal person, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and get in touch with nature. I first took a 20 minute boat ride, followed by a 2.5 hour horseback ride (in the rain) through the forest, finally ending the journey with a 30 minute jeep ride into Monteverde. This "tour" allowed me to see a lot more of the country than I would have been able to see taking the highway, plus I felt like I was riding to Westeros the entire time - a win/win situation, really. I absolutely loved it, but if you're not comfortable getting a little wet & dirty, this is probably not the option for you.
Where I stayed
Villa Punto De Vista – Manuel Antonio (Quepos)
Things started off really fancy at this incredible villa which also doubled as my sister's wedding venue. Normally I’m all about the budget accommodations simply because I just don’t got it like that, but what a treat it was to be able to splurge and spend a few nights here. Full disclosure: I have never vacationed at a private villa with full service staff, chefs, and butlers before this - WOW. Is this real life? Is this how the other 1% live? Is this what it’s like to vacation like Beyoncé…? Ok, maybe that’s a stretch.
Just a short walk from the beach with its breathtaking views, floor to ceiling glass windows, and impeccable service, this villa was quite a refreshing dip in the pool of luxury. Save for the Howler Monkeys barking in the rain forest at 5am each morning, Villa Punto de Vista was literally a dream.
Hostel Nomadas Backpackers – Arenal/La Fortuna
People tend to have a lot of reservations against hostels/backpackers, but personally, I love them. They’re cheap, location is never a problem, and I always meet very interesting people. Nomadas lived up to that and more offering exceptional customer service (Diego at reception was especially helpful) with pretty decent amenities. Most importantly there was strong Wi-Fi and it was very safe, so it was a win in my book.
Cabinas Vista Al Golfo – Monteverde
Ehhh…this hostel was honestly nothing to really write home about, though I will say it's views into the the cloud forest were pretty insane. Everything else was pretty standard: safe and clean, with strong Wi-Fi (I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that’s what is most important to me), so all was good. They were also kind enough to offer guests free coffee, tea, and breakfast; which was a nice little bonus.
Overall Costa Rica was an incredible introduction to Central America for me - I absolutely loved everything about it. There was also a certain level of comfort I felt the entire time because it reminded me so much of Cameroon. I got to watch my sister get married, vacation with a lot of my family and friends, meet some pretty inspiring people and do some really bad-ass things. I can't wait to head back to the region...but maybe Nicaragua next time?
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