We began our adventure to Costa Rica flying in to the capitol of San Jose. Bumping our way through the bustling and populous city, we passed by beautiful old churches, vendors selling local produce and artists displaying their creations.
We first stayed at the Hotel Presidente. With a newly renovated lobby and plans to redesign the rooms, this quaint but charming hotel was perfectly located for our stay in the city. Although the rooms are somewhat small, the modernity combined with historic roots gives this hotel a sense of place while providing modern comforts. The entry greets you with lush plants twisting about a contemporary staircase that spirals up to an even more unique lobby. The historic building used to be a sewing factory, and the new design has integrated this antiquity nicely.
After experiencing the local “Chili Guaro” (a cocktail made of Costa Rican Guaro Cacique, tomato juice, tabasco and lime), the group took off on the incredible Montado En La Carreta. This party bus takes Costa Rican locals and tourists on a fun and crazy ride through the streets of San Jose. Operating on Friday and Saturday nights, the bus stops at unique local bars, clubs and breweries. The concept is to supply party-goers with a safe means of transportation, all the while giving tasty drinks, hip-shaking music and maracas to boot!
Our next stop was to the Arenal Volcano region. During our drive we got a sense how Costa Rica is considered “The Switzerland of the Americas”. There were vast and sprawling hills, winding roads with wild horses and abundant plantain trees. The country was truly a feast for the eyes. Arriving at Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa, we were greeted with rosemary infused fruit juice and cold towels. The staff at the resort was overwhelmingly kind and helpful throughout our stay, setting this resort apart.
The rooms are vast and spacious with extremely modern bathrooms, complete with an intricate stone-floored shower. This resort is very well-known for its mind-blowing hot springs and spa, and it did not disappoint. Spending a leisurely afternoon in the hot spring pools, eating plantain chips while drinking cocktails and hopping over to the pounding volcanic falls for an impromptu “water back massage” was a truly magical experience.
While in the Arenal region we had the good fortune to go on multiple excursions. The first was a hike through the exotic rainforest, walking across the infamous hanging bridges and checking out the wildlife. We got to catch a glimpse of a multitude of creatures including toucans, viper snakes and lizards, all while being serenaded by the cicada’s song.
Our second activity in this region was perhaps the most daunting of them all. Pure Trek Canyoning company strapped us up to the teeth in harnesses and marched us off to our first waterfall to rappel. The first drop was over 180 feet and we were told to twist around, place our butts in the air and let go! Just as we were starting to get the hang of it, the line abruptly stopped. Without warning, the Pure Trek Canyoning guides swung us under the raging falls, soaking us head to foot with ice cold water. Through the thunderous falls banging on our helmets, you can hear distantly the cackling laughter of the guides and travel companions below. Truly, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The entire activity includes four waterfall rappels, one monkey drop (a free-fall), rock climbing and hiking beautiful trails.
The final resort we visited was Rio Perdido. Located in the inner Guanacaste region, far off the beaten path and surrounded by lush greenery and tree tops. The open-air lobby is constructed from beautiful dark wood, and offers 180-degree views of the forest canopy. The rooms are individual bungalows with a fresh and bright design aesthetic, and are even equipped with a hammock on each porch! The food at the resort is absolutely fantastic, from the shrimp ceviche to the casado tipico. Only 50 feet from the lobby entrance is where you may begin a zip-lining adventure. With 15 platforms, a pendulum cable, Tarzan swing and hanging bridge, this activity is not to be missed. Also on property is a great white water tubing excursion along the Rio Perdido river. It is important to keep in mind, however, that this activity can be somewhat daunting depending on the time of year and how high the water levels are.
All in all, for the adventurous, Costa Rica is not for the faint of heart. You have to have a great sense of adventure for this particular destination.
Courtney Lavarnay & Kate Johnson