Last year, we spend about a week in Costa Rica and we had a great time! Costa Rica is an immensely beautiful country with an abundance of tropical wildlife. Cool fact: while Costa Rica only has about 0.03% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity!
Although we did quite a bit during our stay, we certainly only saw a fraction of what the country has to offer. In this blog entry we will take you along our itinerary, but if you're heading towards Costa Rica, make sure you do your homework. The country may be small, but one could spend a month there and still come home feeling a bit unfulfilled.
So what did we do and see? Let's get straight to it!
MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK
Manuel Antonio is often called the jewel of the Pacific Coast. It is home to one of the top beaches in the world. It is one of the smallest parks in Costa Rica, but it is the most visited due to its varied fauna with 109 species of mammals and 184 of birds.
I loved seeing so many monkeys playing around and the time we spend on the beach was greatly relaxing.
Just look at that completely satisfied look on my face as we leave the park at the end of the day. Manuel Antonio is certainly not to be missed by anyone planning to visit Costa Rica.
About 45 minutes north of Jaco you can find the highest waterfall in Costa Rica located in Manantial Agua Viva Park: Bijagual Waterfalls. We chose to go the base of the falls and getting there is not an easy stroll. Prepare for at least an hour going down and a little more going up, strictly on manmade walking paths and rocks. The scenery is as stunning as you'll ever find though and prepare to see frogs, monkeys and snakes along the way.
This was the map we used to get to the falls and to several areas where we could dip in the water.
There are several Costa Rica islands worth visiting, and one highlight is Tortuga Island, located off the southeastern shore of the Nicoya Peninsula. It is only accessible by boat, but there are several Costa Rica tours that can get visitors there from a variety of mainland cities. Since our homebase was Jaco, it was easy to book a tour to the beautiful Tortuga Island.
And the best thing about the tour? We made lots of friends!
CROCODILE RIVER TOUR
Many operators are active on the Tarcoles River taking tourist to see wild crocodiles, and Jose's Crocodile River Tour is a household name in the area. We had an awesome time!
We decided to drive to the heart of Costa Rica to see the Arenal Volcano and spend the night there. It was a great ride, although we would like to advice people to not simply follow Google Maps when embarking on a similar drive. Unless you're in possession of a 4x4 vehicle, it's better to stay on the main roads. They may be longer in length than the roads Google Maps figures out for you, but believe us: you'll arrive at you destination in half the time and be spared of a lot of nerve-wracking moments. Nonetheless, we helped a sloth cross the road which kind off made up for all the surprises we faced.
Now the volcano -and its surroundings- were stunning.
Arenal is well known for its many relaxing thermal waters and we visited Paradise Hot Springs, a place that is just as magical as it sounds. I love water and since this water is naturally heated by the volcano, I could not have been more at ease. It was simply wonderful.
Adrenaline inducing activities are popular around Arenal and hanging bridges are a great -and safe- activity to do with kids like me. We visited Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park and it was thrilling.
Although we had seen smaller snakes on our trip a couple of times before, at Mistico we got eye to eye with a fairly big (and scary) one.
LA FORTUNA WATERFALL
Close to Arenal, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica can be found: La Fortuna. Daddy took me in the water, and although it was quite cold, we had -as you guessed by now- an amazing time there!
After swimming at the waterfall, we did a hike around the location.
As mentioned before, our homebase was Jaco. We would really recommend people to rent a car, since driving around Costa Rica is relatively easy to do. Jaco is great place with lots to see and do.
We stayed at Beach Break Resort and the pools really made our stay there a success! I enjoyed myself to the max and we look back on one of the most beautiful trips we did.
Well, bye monkeys, bye snakes and bye iguanas: we're off to The Netherlands again and hope to see you all once again!