Costa Ricans are proud of their "Pura Vida" lifestyle. If you're unfamiliar with this expression, I recommend experiencing it first hand if possible. The phrase to me is more of a vibe or a feeling which is uniquely Costa Rican. It is as much your frame of mind as it is the essence of Costa Rica's people. Pura Vida translates to pure or simple life, and Costa Ricans fully embraces this philosophy. You can say Pura Vida in place of hello, goodbye, and a few other phrases in between.
I created this trip as a "Come with Me" trip to help my clients and others feel more comfortable returning to travel Post-Pandemic. Our trip started in San Jose, Costa Rica, with an overnight stay in a hotel, before beginning our 800-mile journey through the country's many biospheres.
In this report, I'm covering the first half of our nine nights, with hotels we stayed at, tours we took, and other tidbits along the way!
While touring San Jose, I found the capital city to be more relaxed and less hectic than large cities in the United States. I recommend staying in San Jose at least one night before heading out to the delights this whole country holds, especially if you have traveled from the East Coast of the US or Europe. Below are the first four days of our tour, with highlights from San Jose to Guanacaste.
Day One: Overnight at Doubletree By Hilton Cariari, San Jose
We were greeted at the luggage claim by our tour operators and transferred to our hotel. If your travel style requires a respite from trains, planes, and automobiles, consider staying somewhere to relax after the first 24 hours of travel before heading out on your adventure. The DoubleTree hit the spot as it provides a jacuzzi, pool area, and dining at the hotel or other options close by. Extend your stay to golf on their 18 hole course before or after your tropical adventure.
First 1/2 of Day Two: Doka Coffee Plantation Tour
We drove 45 minutes to our first tour of a coffee plantation. Doka's tour immerses visitors to share in the festivity of the production and process of Costa Rica's most famous agricultural product. Doka has the oldest Wet Coffee Storage in the country still in production. It moves solely by the force of water without using any electricity, resulting in its designation as a Historical and Architectural Heritage site by the Government of Costa Rica in June 2003.
Second 1/2 of Day Two: Nambu Beachfront Bungalows: Guanacaste
The coffee plantation tour was a way to break up a 5-hour drive to our next hotel and beachfront stay in Guanacaste. This region of Costa Rica has a rich history. Guanacaste was annexed to Costa Rica in 1824 from Nicaragua and is one of the most popular regions for tourists and locals alike. Known for its fine sandy beaches and dryer climate, I recommend spending more than two nights in this area if you can!
Day Two: Nambu Beachfront Bungalows Review
Our second hotel in playa Carrillo is a beautiful resort a short distance from the paradisiac beach. You can walk down steps on the property to enjoy the sound of waves and swim in the Pacific waters. Each Bungalow was broken up into 2 or 4 hotel rooms, each having slightly different accommodations. Each night, all faced the beautiful sunsets from the dining or pool deck area.
Day Three: Guanacaste-Playa Carrillo Tours: Whale Watching, Dolphin Swim, and Mangrove Kayaking
Guanacaste is one of the most popular provinces in Costa Rica due to its hot, dry climate. This area lies between two mountains in the far northwest corner of Costa Rica. On this day, some of us took a boat ride with Octopus Tours and caught sight of a male Humpback Whale, swam with dolphins, and spotted a giant sea turtle. Others headed to discover an intimate look at the local wildlife paddling six miles down the Ora River. Some saw spider monkeys and iguanas scurrying up the Mangrove trees and many birds living in the swamp area.
Day Four: Monteverde- Off The Beaten Path to the Cloud Forest
After our short stay in Guanacaste, we headed to the secluded Monteverde Cloud Forest, a place you have to see to believe, where trees grow to heights of 100 feet! Our two-hour drive ended with a tour through the forest to see this spectacular ecosystem. Our group was fortunate enough to spot the elusive quetzal! We saw both the male and the female building a nest not far from the path we walked. This bird is the national bird of Guatemala. However, Costa Rica is known for establishing these national parks to preserve and foster native plants, insects, birds, and animals in all of The Americas.
End of Day Four: Monteverde- Check-in to El Establo
At the end of our full day to and through part of the Cloud Forest, we arrived at El Establo Mountain Hotel & Private Reserve. Nestled in the misty cloud forest, the cooler temperatures and mountainous area offered a completely different feel from the dry, sunny beach vibe of Guanacaste. The hotel was spread out and offered shuttle services to and from the reception area and restaurants. The rooms were large and housed in condo-style units, some with vaulted ceilings and others with walk-out patios. The view from our rooms was stunning. You can see the valley below and the sun setting between the mist of the clouds from the mountain.
By day four the entire group was settling into the active pace of the trip and thrilled with all the unique experiences we shared. I created a photo circle to share each other's pictures and videos for the entire tour. Some are included above with the photographer's permission, and more to come in the next edition of "Our "Pura Vida" Costa Rican Experiences" next week!
Until then, if you are ready to head to Costa Rica for your next Adventure click here to get started!