“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night”
~Edgar Allan Poe~
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! I was the lucky winner of some amazing friends who were willing to venture off to Central America with me for my birthday! My #1 goal? Zipline!! But first, find a place to stay. I found an Air BnB about four months prior that turned out to be the perfect place; secluded enough to be quiet yet close enough to not have to drive far for some fun and adventures.
We arrived shortly after noon at the Budget car rental place. How many girls does it take to figure out a car and Garmin GPS? Apparently none. After spending our first 2-3 hours in Costa Rica in the parking lot trying to find an address, one of the employees thankfully noticed our dilemma and programmed in another Budget rental place close to where we were meeting our host from the Air BnB. Fun fact about Costa Rica: Once you get outside of the major areas, there are no physical addresses, no numbered streets. Our Air BnB host could only drop a pin on Google Maps for the location we were to meet.
After a 2 ½ hours drive, we ultimately arrived at our meeting place and were STARVING, to say the least. We grabbed food and then finally drove up the steep dirt and gravel road leading to our Air BnB. A 4×4 vehicle and a driver with no fear are prerequisites for getting to places that will take your breath away and make the trip worthwhile. The photos for the home we stayed do not do it justice. The trees had toucans hopping around from tree to tree. Parrots could be seen flying overhead as we stood out back by the infinity pool that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. Welcome to our humble abode! The view was breathtaking!
We chose to stay in an Air BnB for our 5 days there instead of a hotel or resort because we wanted to be immersed in Costa Rica and take in as much of nature as possible. Plus it was quiet. The only noisy neighbors we had were the wildlife. We were able to get some fun workouts in being outside too…and you can’t beat the view while doing it! Renting a home also made it nice because we had the option to eat out or cook something at the house if we chose. The supermarkets were well stocked with fresh fruit, great food, and booze. We cooked breakfast in the mornings and had enough for snacks and smaller meals if we chose not to eat out.
Langostino: This place was fantastic! Maybe it’s because we had barely eaten all day, but it seriously was great food. The ceviche and entree portions were HUGE and super tasty!
PorQue No: The ceviche was SO GOOD! It came out in a huge bowl which is probably meant to be shared, but I devoured the entire thing myself. I also had a dish with rice, beans, pork, and plantains. AMAZING! Be sure to walk around down at the beach and explore. Just be careful of the slippery rocks as the water does splash up on them.
Dominical: I was told this was the southern-most part of the touristy area. It had several stores and surf shops, along with a small supermarket and store fronts with fresh fruit. There are also several bars and restaurants to choose. The gents serving bar at Tortilla Flats gave me a tasty birthday shot that tasted like a bloody Mary. Be sure to get the Banana coffee cocktail there too! Super delish! We also swung by the En Fuego brewery our last night in CR for dinner and drinks. I ordered the tuna entree which was at least an 8-ounce piece of tuna! It was seared and quite delectable! We made friends from other countries by playing a drinking card game…and made a couple of enemies too due to our loud laughter.
Manuel Antonio National Park: $16 entry fee gave us access to some easy trails in the park. You can also get a guided tour ($50 adults, $35 children) where they will tell you about the park and take you to areas that the wildlife is know to hang out. They even have a huge telescope so you can get a closer look at the ones in the trees. The first trail we went down took us to a pretty waterfall nestled among the trees. Sloths and monkeys could be seen along the longer trail around the island. Every area that broke free among the trees showed different landscapes from various angles and overlooks around the park. So beautiful!
Safari Adventures Canopy Tour: I discovered this group last minute when we got to the National Park. I paid a $20 deposit ($80 total) and then the remaining once my shuttle arrived at the main office in Quepos. The shuttle took us up to the starting point which was about 30-40 minutes from the office. The guides told us interesting stories about the island and its history during the drive and small hikes along the zip lining path. The course had twelve platforms, ten lines including a Tarzan swing and another for rappelling down by a waterfall. A photographer was on hand for photos that were available for $20. Everyone that worked for the company was super nice and the other people in my group were so fun! The entire tour lasted roughly 5 ½ hours
The Nayauca Waterfalls: The main office to pay the entry fee is located on the main road in Dominical. Google Maps will take you right to it. You can choose to hike ($8/person) the 5 miles to the falls, ride a horse (~$70/person), or have a truck (~$25/person) drive you straight to them. We wanted some exercise, so we hiked, and the views were incredible! Definitely, take some water with you as it does get humid as the day goes on (we got there around 10 am). There is a restaurant and bathrooms about halfway up if you want to stop and take a break. The lower and upper falls are about 70 to 150 feet high, respectively. We went to the lower falls to take a dunk in the water. The mist alone was substantial enough to soak you, clothing and all, after a mere 5 minutes of standing there. There was no way to escape it or hide from it down there. Haha! There is an area to the right of the waterfall for people to jump off the rocks into the waterhole. Worth mentioning: I highly advise jumping in feet first even if you see other people diving in. One of my friends dove in and hit her head on a rock under the water. 1-hour turnaround at the Emergency Room which included two x-rays, stitches, and fabulous bed-side manner to the doctors for less than $200. Thankfully she is okay and didn’t break anything. She did up with some stitches and one hell of a story though! Haha!
Rico Tico Jungle Grill: The view overlooked the Pacific Ocean from the mountain top, and we even had a little monkey visitor during our meal. Haha! The menu had a lot to choose from, but we were all craving ceviche. Being that the portions had been huge every other time we ordered it, we only ordered 2 to share. The servings came out and were very small for the $15 we were paying so we were a bit disappointed but we also knew we were in the touristy area, so we expected to pay a little more. This place quickly redeemed itself when our entrees came out. Not only were the entree portions very generous, but everything was so tasty! As far as the cocktails (it was happy hour), the mimosas tasted mostly of soda water, but the sangria was on point! Our server recognized our mimosas weren’t being drunk so he swapped them out for sangrias. Bonus point to the server!
I want to give a huge thank you to my girlfriends that made this trip unforgettable! I love you to pieces! Would I return? YES! Absolutely! I would like to check out different areas like the volcano and the Arenal area. I think 5 days is plenty of time to enjoy Costa Rica and still relax. If you want to travel to more areas though, you will definitely need to stay longer than a week. Here’s a sloth video for everyone in the meantime…Pure Vida!