Pura Vida! Costa Rica in a nutshell.
In May, I travelled to my dream destination of Costa Rica with Rainbow. It was a five-day, whistle-stop tour, but we squeezed in everything you’d want for a first time visit. However, this should be done in about 10 days for a well-paced trip!
On the first day, we flew to San Jose, the capital and main international airport, and stayed just one night at the beautiful Hotel Grano de Oro. We dined at their fabulous restaurant and enjoyed our first taste of Costa Rican cuisine, before an early night to rest up for the next day of adventures.
The next day we drove to Arenal, a journey of about three hours. Arenal is the name of the volcano itself (still active), the region, and the National Park – the main tourist town is La Fortuna. We stayed here at Kioro Suites & Spa, a fabulous location with lovely gardens and great views of the volcano, which you can even see from your own in-room hot tub.
We also visited a few other hotels in the area, there are lots of choices for all budgets and tastes, our favourite being the stunning Nayara Hotels. Being volcanic, the area is known for its hot springs, which you can visit for a relax after the multitude of outdoor activities on offer! But my highlight was the sloth tour, it was amazing to see these adorable creatures up close and just on the edge of the town. The guided tours are a must, lead by local guides who are so knowledgeable about the wildlife and environment.
After exploring Arenal, we drove to Monteverde, another three hours away, including a scenic ferry journey across scenic Lake Arenal if time had allowed. Monteverde is the cloud forest region, higher and cooler, and the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts, sports enthusiasts and especially wildlife lovers.
We stayed at Senda Monteverde, a luxury mountain lodge hugging the edge of the forest that you get all to yourself. Night walks are one of the best exploring activities as you follow an expert guide through the forest after dark, pointing out all the nocturnal animals and insects – you have to be lucky to spot them though!
Our key highlight here were the Sky Adventures Park, definitely something to add in whilst you’re here! We enjoyed a scenic gondola ride up above the trees, then a thrilling zipline course back down to ground level. Plus, we joined a guided walk through the forest over hanging bridges that get you up close to the diverse wildlife. We even saw the stunning and rare Quetzal! Even if you don’t want to zip line, you can spend the day here walking the trails and enjoying this unique environment – there’s plenty to see!
Days 4 and 5
During our final days, we travelled from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio, our longest journey nearing on five hours, with a lunch and a shopping stop on the way. Manuel Antonio sits on the Pacific coast, a national park as well as a small tourist town with local bars and restaurants to explore.
This is the ideal place for a relaxing beach stay to unwind at the end of your adventure-filled trip. During our trip, we stayed at the Parador Resort & Spa, a lovely colonial style hotel, though we also visited Arenas del Mar for lunch – the only five-star beachfront hotel and a real treat to finish on. Following a nature walk through the national park, encountering more sloths, monkeys, parrots, iguanas and much more, we could relax for a bit of pool and beach time before catching our flight home.
There is so much to see and experience on this trip, it really is an amazing country. It’s not for your fly-and-flop beach lovers, this is definitely the place for the outdoors and nature lovers, though it can be done on a budget or in complete luxury!
Costa Rica champions sustainable tourism, they have such a fantastic attitude towards welcoming the tourists they rely on, whilst making sure it stays pristine and protected for the future. It’s an easy, safe country with friendly people if you want to travel independently, or the local guides used by Rainbow can escort you throughout – their passion for their country, environment and natural resources really came through and made this the perfect experience. I can’t wait to go back!Date posted: 24/10/23