Adventures in Costa Rica
“To see the World in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
~ William Blake
Want a great trip for you and your family? Two years ago this June we had a wonderful adventure in Costa Rica where we fell in love with:
• The people, called Ticos, mostly descended from the Spanish but many people immigrated here from Europe, Central America, United States, even Quakers objecting to the US draft. They are well educated with 94% literacy rate and have no standing army.
• The landscape is amazing, ranging from mountainous cloud forests to tropical beaches and rain forests.
• The food is from everywhere – Costa Rica is a melting pot of people!
• The coffee – the conditions and weather of CR are just right to grow coffee beans.
• The “Green Season” where there were less tourists and great deals to be had.
We read books, checked out the internet, trip advisor and VRBO (vacation rental by owner). Our trip comprised of three “mini trips” within our trip.
1. We wanted to see the Arenal Volcano, which is constantly spewing rock and lava;
2. The Monteverde Cloud Forest and lastly…
3. A jungly beach. We chose the beach at Manual Antonio outside of Quepos because it was more remote and had monkeys to see!
From Denver you can take a direct, overnight red eye flight on Frontier Airlines to San Jose. Via other airlines you can also fly into Liberia.
June 3 – 6:
We got our rental car and drove to Arenal. The mountains were green and beautiful; we felt like we were in a tropical Switzerland. On the way there we saw children going to school in little small towns with corrugated roofed homes.
It was cloudy and rainy when we arrived at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, the volcano covered with clouds. This is one of my favorite places we’ve ever stayed! The property is the closest you can get to the volcano. It has wonderful walking paths and a great restaurant. We knew there was a chance that we might never see the volcano. We stayed in the rooms that housed vulcanologists at one time. This is a great deal for families. In our room there were three sets of bunk beds with a shared bath and breakfast all for $99/night plus taxes during the green season.
On the second day, the volcano showed itself and at night the light show was amazing!! I couldn’t believe I was seeing the perfect volcano, the kind you used to draw as a kid. I fell asleep watching. I must recommend eating at the Lava Lounge in La Fortuna, the town closest to our hotel. We also ate at a Soda, a cafeteria style eaterie, where we had great Costa Rican food. One typical food is in Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto, composed of rice and beans fried together with cilantro, onions and peppers. We loved swimming at Baldi Hot Springs in La Fortuna, too.
June 7 & 8:
The drive from Arenal to Monteverde is only 60 miles but it took nearly 4 hours to get there. We drove around Lake Arenal. The volcano is always in sight. We passed Swiss farms, German bakeries, narrow bridges over streams, green fields with skinny India-looking cows, wild impatiens, ominous clouds, the rockiest road we’ve ever driven on, torrential rain and then just as we were wondering if we were going the right way, we pulled into town and ate at the Swiss Miramontes. Another adventure!! We’ll never worry about driving on dirt roads in Colorado again!
At Monteverde, we had a little cabin at the Arco Iris. We were within walking distance of the town. Monteverde is a combination of tourist stores, restaurants, ice cream and coffee shops. We had some delicious meals here. We especially loved Pizzeria de Johnny’s. I had an amazing tenderloin with gorgonzola. The pizza was good, too.
We took a guided hike through the cloud forest with Adrian. We got to see the elusive quetzal, insects like the glass wing butterfly and many incredible humming birds.
The next day we were picked up Selvatura Zip Lines and experienced the most amazing adventure through the forest. I’m often a chicken when it comes to activities like this. But the 15 zip lines were exhilarating, the last going just a little less than a kilometer! There is a hanging bridge path for those who are not sure they want to try the zip line.
June 9 – 13:
We had a wonderful drive down to Manual Antonio. Here we stayed in a condo at the Hotel Parque Villas. I must admit that I loved the air conditioning the best at this condo. It was fun for the kids to see TV again. Plus we loved having a kitchen. La Mariposa is my recommendation for staying in a hotel. We spent a lot of time there and had many morning cups of coffee with this incredible view.
Sunset in Manual Antonio
The highlight of the trip here is our experience going into the Manual Antonio National Park. It is a combination of rain forest, beaches and reefs. Right when we entered we saw a sloth. La Playa is one of the most beautiful beaches that I’ve ever seen. After a wonderful time swimming we walked a peninsula called Punta Catedral. We felt like Indiana Jones going through the forest as we sweat like we never have before. Then we heard noises and suddenly six or seven monkeys surrounded us. It was a little frightening as the “Grandpa” of the group came down from the trees to inspect us. We must have passed muster because he went back up and brought the baby of the group to look at us. Then as quickly as they came, they left. Wow!
We just scratched the surface of the adventures within Costa Rica! There are rivers to raft, other beaches to discover and people to meet. Oh, and of course, more restaurants and food to discover. And one more thing…coffee to drink.
We can’t wait to go back someday!