Monday, May 6, 2013
costa rica: part one
We split our trip to Costa Rica into two parts. We were there a total of five days and wanted to spend about two days exploring around the Arenal Volcano & then the other two days in the Tamarindo/ Playa Conchal area at the Westin Resort. We wanted the best of both worlds: adventure and relaxing beach time. The map above shows the driving we did on the first half of the trip: San Jose to Arenal Volcano National Park.
1. After flying into San Jose, we rented a car and drove to the Zarcero Topiary Gardens (which was conveniently located on our way to La Fortuna--where our hotel and the Arenal Volcano are located)
I'd definitely recommend making a stop here (if you can make it work) because the gardens were really lovely and quite unique. It's free of charge & doesn't seem to be that big of a tourist stop.
2. Next up, we stayed the night at the Trip Advisor recommended Campo Verde hotel right at the base of the Arenal Volcano. We had a great view, comfortable room and a lovely breakfast. We definitely recommend it.
Don't judge me please. I'm not a model and I get real awkward posing for pictures when I am by myself.
3. Just down the road from our hotel was the Paradise Hot Springs. We went at night, but I'm sure it would be amazing during the day as well. They have multiple pools that are different temperatures, a bar with drinks/snacks for purchase, and a very friendly staff. It's $23/person to get in (kinda steep but you can stay for as long as you'd like and it truly is very relaxing)
4. The next morning we hit up the Arenal Hanging Bridges. It's a three mile hike around and is a $24/ person entrance fee. We really enjoyed this couple of hours. We saw a monkey, extremely deadly snake (don't remember the name just remember how freaked out I was after the dude showed it to us) and quite possibly the largest group of French tourists I've ever had to weave my way past in all my life.
Cute little guy, eh? He was super mellow and would have none of the snacks we were offering him.
Some friendly tips for those of you who are planning on visiting the Arenal Hanging Bridges--wear appropriate shoes (aka tennis shoes/hiking shoes that you don't mind getting muddy) We were wearing sandals and it was a bit rough. The trail is made up of hollow concrete blocks laid on their side and sandals are pretty much the worst thing you could wear. Also, unless you enjoy being trapped amongst large groups of tourists being led on very slow tours--go early in the morning. We went right after it opened and were grateful we did (it was still busy but by the time we got out it was much more crowded!)
I mean, right? It's pretty surreal.
On your way out, make sure to grab some coconut water. It's delicious.
He's a man of the people (right babe?)
5. La Fortuna Waterfall was one of our trip highlights. Any of y'all been here? We really did fall in love with it.
The waterfall itself was gorgeous and though the water was a bit chilly, it was refreshing after the hike down (it's a short hike consisting of all steps and is a great butt workout on the way back up)
He's a looker, I know.
Word of caution--be careful on the rocks getting in and out of the water. Luckily I managed not to fall, but Rob seriously fell 4-5 times and got extremely lucky that he didn't hit his head against anything! Have any of y'all been here? I'd love to hear about your experiences if you have! It was one of our favorites.
We loved the couple of hours we spent here!
And afterwords, we went back down into the city of La Fortuna and ate at Soda Viquez (another highly rated Trip Advisor recommendation) and it was so delicious. Seriously, I'm dreaming of it as I write this review. The service was amazing, we both loved our meals and ate every bit of it. Probably the best meal we had while in Costa Rica.
Okay, so that wraps up Part One of our Costa Rica experience! Stay tuned for Part Two because it only gets better! And as always, let me know if you want to know more about anything specifically or have any questions :)