Costa Rica Blog
Costa Rica in one word: fascinating. It has everything. From volcanos to cloud forests, countless waterfalls, extreme hills, long beaches, stunning sunsets, beautiful animals, the warm climate make Costa Rica the perfect destination for nature lovers, adventurers, surfers and chillers. It’s for everybody really. I was mind blown by the biodiversity of this country and the Costa Ricans (tico’s as they call themselves) really have the pura vida vibe.
What Pura vida means? It’s a way of life to enjoy the little things to the fullest. Don’t stress, pura vida!
Me and my boyfriend Raymond spent two months in Costa Rica and absolutely loved it. We had many adventures but the one that made our stay extra special was our Nomad America experience.
In this Costa Rica blog I share our top 5 most unique experiences in Costa Rica and why you should consider adding it to your list.
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1. Nomad America Adventure in Costa Rica
From driving through the most steep mountains to a breathtaking view over the volcano. Waking up on an empty beach, dancing under the stars, spot whales, sloths and turtles. Getting suspicious (and at moments scared) about every sound made at night, watching people’s admired faces while driving by, falling in love with new places and meeting great people.
This experience with Nomad America was unique and will never forget it.
Adventure in an adventure
The moment I saw a picture on instagram from Nomad America, I wanted to experience it myself. Sleeping on top of a Suzuki Jimny and visit incredible places in Costa Rica this way.
Being in Costa Rica during this time of Covid is already an adventure and adding this way of traveling definitely felt like an adventure in an adventure.
The guys behind Nomad America were very friendly and helpful.
- At the moment Nomad America is very flexible with reservations and annulments due to Covid-19. This made us more comfortable planning ahead and thanks to this we were secure we could rent the car.
- Nomad America provides all the gear you need to be able to cook, bedsheets, pillows, hammock, shovel and coolbox. They also give you a phone with internet so you can keep in touch through whatsapp if you have any questions.
- The guys from Nomad America advised us to visit the Pacific with the Jeep instead of the Caribbean because the Caribbean is more flat. You make full use of the 4x4 car in the Pacific due to it’s hills and I have to admit that I’m very happy with the choice.
- If you don’t feel safe camping in the wild, go to a camping place. I recommend only sleeping at the beach when there is someone else camping too.
- Our route: Fortuna, playa Rajada, Juanillo, Tamarindo, turtles, Samara.
2. Enjoy the biodiversity in Corcovado National Park
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Corcovado National park is located at the south Pacific coast of Costa Rica and it’s skipped by many visitors due to lack of time. When you speak to the people that skipped Corcovado they show regret and I understand why.
Corcovado was by far the most impressive place I’ve visited in Costa Rica. It’s biodiversity, humidity of 70%, 4x4 vehicle roads to get there and the wildlife makes this place astonishing.
You can only enter the National Park with a guide. You can arrange a guide at the place you’re staying.
We did a day tour for $79 a person and it was so worth it. The tour started at 5 a.m. and we were back at our hotel at 5p.m.
The guide drove with us to the National Park. It was a 2 hour off road drive but it felt like the adventure and wildlife spotting started there. We saw cayman, monkeys, river otters, many different birds and it was a nice way to get to know our guide better. At the National Park we saw so many different animals, an anteater, coati’s, woodpecker, ara’s, toucans and so much more. If you’re very lucky you can see puma’s too. I learned that they are more likely to be found at the coast of the National Park because that’s where the food is.
There are two ways to go to Corcovado, through Drake Bay (by boat) or Puerto Jimenez by car. We stayed at the last village and it was very nice.
What I wish I knew before was that you can also easily stay in the National Park. I’ve heard that the sunsets are from another world. By staying at the National Park you can explore and see more.
3. Relax and surf in Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa really captured our hearts from the moment we got there. We heard it was a nice surf town with a great vibe so we stayed in Santa Teresa for 6 days.
We liked it so much that we decided to come back after a few weeks of exploring Costa Rica to relax some more, surf, write, read and enjoy the beach vibe that we liked so much.
In Santa Teresa you see people of all ages. You see many groups of friends, couples, young families, retired people and solo travelers. It’s for everyone that fancies the beach, stunning sunsets, surf, healthy food and a laid back vibe.
A place 30 minutes drive from Santa Teresa that’s worth visiting too is Montezuma. Some people prefer it over Santa Teresa because it’s more quiet and I understand why. I prefer Santa Teresa though.
If you’re in Montezuma I highly recommend having lunch at Playa de los Artistas restaurant. It’s at the beach, great decor and the food is extremely delicious.
Santa Teresa is also known for the good food. My favorite food spots in Santa Teresa:
The Bakery (all day), Katana (asian cuisine, best sushi I’ve ever had) and Banana beach (the hamburgers were surprisingly good).
What I liked most about Santa Teresa? The surf vibe and the happy faces. Everyday we went to the beach to see the sunset and travelers would pass by and sell some banana bread, brownies, cookies so that they could prolong their stay.
Watching people play frisbee with friends, seeing dogs play and people surf was so much fun. Everything was aligned there.
4. Visit the jungle in Tortuguero
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During our travels in Costa Rica I always asked people I met what they liked the most and when they started talking about Tortuguero their face changed in a passionate way. ‘Oh Tortugueroooo’ and they started to talk about their journey to Tortuguero with sparkles in their eyes, I wanted to see it with my own eyes so we added Tortuguero to our list and it was so worth it. We loved it!
We dropped the car at the dock for $10 a day and took a small boat to Tortuguero town. The boat ride was breathtaking. You could really feel that you’re going deeper in the jungle. We saw a crocodile, caiman and many different birds.
The boat dropped us off at our hotel in the town and it looked so cozy.
Tortuguero town reminded me of a town on an island, yet it isn’t an island. Small, lively, cute shops, many restaurants and happy people.
We stayed in Tortuguero for three days but I could have stayed for a week because it’s so peaceful.
I was surprised by the amount of activities you could do there: national park hike, boat ride through the national park, night tour, chocolate tour.
In Tortuguero it feels like you’re in a different world because you’re so surrounded by nature and a different lifestyle.
The nature and wildlife were impressive. We saw monkeys, dolphins, crocodiles, caiman, otters, parrots, toucans. There is so much that we didn’t see like jaguars (chances are high that you can see one), venomous frogs and snakes.
I felt a little bit empty when I left Tortuguero and I think that says enough.
5. Stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge in Fortuna
This was our first stop after arriving in San Jose and we were wowed by the green roads to our destination. It reminded us so much of Jurassic Park and we had that song in our heads the whole time.
When we got to the entrance of our hotel me and my boyfriend looked at each other and we were so happy because it felt so special and authentic.
We were fortunate to have an upgrade to a bigger room and they gave us a room with front tickets view to the volcano. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were.
The first morning when I opened the curtains I saw a toucan flying in front of me.
The hotel itself was so beautiful and in touch with nature. They have an amazing terrace with a spectacular view to the volcano. We spent so many hours there just watching it and taking it all in.
What I only noticed when I was there is that the lodge is situated in the National Park so you have free access (or maybe it’s already included in the price) to many trails at any time.
We were wowed the whole time because it was our first Costa Rica nature experience. We saw a green frog with red feet, many hummingbirds, monkeys, coatis, anteater, toucans and some really cool birds.
They have a cool pool with a hot tub too and they offer Spa facilities aswell.
Outside the Observatory Lodge you had lots to do like visit the hanging bridges at Mistico and enjoy some hot springs. We decided to visit the hot springs where the locals go for free and I’m so happy without choice. It's located in front of Tabacon. Ask and they’ll show you the way.
Our stay at Arenal Observatory Lodge will definitely go to our top 10 most amazing stays we’ve ever been. It was an amazing experience.
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