It was a fantastic year for me; I took the train across Canada in the summer and then Costa Rica for Christmas with my family. I was in Costa Rica for a little over a week but managed to do so much, which means a significant amount of time was spent on the road headed to other areas. Still, it all worked out, and I had a great time.
San José, Costa Rica’s capital city
This is an exciting city partly because most of its architecture and culture is European influenced. The area’s inhabitants came under Spanish rule in the 16th century and became heavily colonised. San José has a small population of ~288,060, likely due to most of the work and income being made in the coastal areas and San José being inland. The country as a whole, however, has a population of ~4.6 million.
Looking out your window in the city is always a delight because the town is surrounded by mountains off in the distance. It has its busy areas with clothing stores, restaurants and other types.
Still, it also has a few places that seemed rundown, and I’m unsure of the reasoning behind that. A few years ago, I saw the city, so maybe it has changed. I really do hope so. With no national standing army, more money is available for the police force.
They are pretty well equipped, so I felt pretty safe walking around. But much of the window peeking and strolling around wasn’t until the second last day when we actually stayed the night in San Jose.
When we first arrived in San José, it was right into the transport van for a roughly 4.5-hour drive to Manuel Antonio on the pacific coast. Yeah, the drive was long, but it was worth it for the scenery. Also, the distance between may look short on a map, but a lot of the driving is weaving around mountains and hillsides.
We stopped twice along the way, once on a bridge to watch the American Crocodiles by the river (American Crocodile is a subspecies of the crocodile). From what I’m told, the second stop was in the Pacific Coast town of Jacó, the surfing mecca of Costa Rica.
We only stopped there for 30 minutes, then we were back on the road; it was also a night at this point, so we didn’t get to see much. Finally, ~4.5 hours later, we arrived at our resort Byblos Resort & Casino, a beautiful resort. Still, there wasn’t much for a casino, it was just a tiny room with a few things you would find in a real casino, but honestly, I was not there to gamble.
Our Ocean Catamaran
Took this catamaran out into the Pacific to spot a whale, but unfortunately, we didn’t see any. However, we did get to go snorkelling which was loads of fun!
C130 Turned Restaurant
Saw this really cool C130 that has been turned into a restaurant. Didn’t get to eat in there though, maybe next time.
Biodiversity of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is well known for its biodiversity; Costa Rica is among the countries with the highest biological diversity. This is one reason why Costa Rica’s ecological protection laws are some of the best. However, ecotourism in Costa Rica is enormous. It is one of its primary sources of revenue, so preserving the rain forests and various habitats in the region is crucial. For example, in Manuel Antonio, you have Manuel Antonio National Park; it’s small but very diverse in wildlife life.
After Manuel Antonio, we hopped back into the van. We drove a few hours to Arenal, where we got pretty close to the volcano. Arenal Volcano was active at the time but with only lava trickling down periodically and visible at night, not enough pressure for anything crazy. Arenal has since stopped and is dormant. While in Arenal, we managed to get in some horseback riding, zip-lining (which was terrific), relaxed at Tabacon Hot Springs 20 minutes from the volcano, stayed overnight at a gorgeous resort, then went white water rafting into another resort in the jungle!
It was my first time white water rafting, and I loved it! We took on up to level 4 rapids, then for 30 minutes, drifted through a small canyon where we got to hop out of the raft and swim freely. In total, I think we rafted for 2 hours, including one-stop.
Then we arrived at the fantastic ecological jungle resort, Pacuare Lodge. If you click on sustainability, you can learn about what makes Pacuare Lodge an environmental resort. At the resort, everything is open concept, where walls are a screen or a small wall that doesn’t meet the ceiling, very Tarzan’ish. In the bungalows, the beds have enormous white mesh canopies to keep the bugs out. However, I still checked under the blanket and sheets for scorpions and other deadly creatures. I only needed to watch the film ‘Arachnophobia’ once, lol. It was a very relaxing resort that offered tours of the surrounding area, including a waterfall. They also have a honeymoon suite in the canopy of the trees, something for you to think about if you’re in the market for a honeymoon spot.
We ate out breakfast, lunch and dinner in a Two Floor Jungle Hut. Upstairs is where we had “Happy Hour”! The best nacho dip I have ever tasted was during happy hour, and I’ve been trying to find that dip… the search continues.
Unfortunately, while exiting the van in Arenal, I left behind a memory card with many pictures. I was crushed when I noticed it was missing, but life goes on. This is one trip I will never forget, I will definitely book again to a destination of Central America.