So I’m starting this chapter with an oops and an apology! As most of you know, I’m quite new to this whole Blog, Gram thing … as well as being technologically challenged. So I had about half of this post written, photos added etc… and totally forgot to save it as a draft . I popped on to finish up and POOF it’s gone! So I apologize for taking so long between posts AND I’m accepting tutoring on how to navigate WordPress and write a successful blog
Now on to Costa Rica!
Are you dreaming of a tropical get away? Someplace with beautiful beaches, wonderful local cuisine, friendly people, and lots of varied activities? Maybe someplace family friendly? Or perfect for a honeymoon ? Are you a nature enthusiast? Or a thrill seeker?
Well Costa Rica has it all! This Central American country has coastlines on both the Caribbean and the Pacific. Roughly one quarter of it’s area is made up of protected jungle and rainforest just teeming with wildlife. The temperatures remain hot throughout the year, with the only distinct difference being rainfall. Rainy season typically runs from May to November , with dry season running December to April.
We chose March as the perfect month to escape the cold New England weather and explore the Guanacaste region along the Pacific coast. This area is known for it’s beautiful beaches and it’s biodiversity.
Once we decided on Guanacaste, it was time to choose our accommodations. We were traveling with another couple, ( fun, fun, fun ) and we all agreed that a mid priced smaller resort would suit our needs. We wanted beach access, with restaurants and nightlife within walking distance. We did not rent a car on this trip…more about that later.
As usual for me, I began my research for accommodations on TripAdvisor . It’s so simple to use the filters for price and amenities.
This region on of Costa Rica is popular with tourists and boasts lots of options for accommodations. Everything from simple huts on Airbnb to bigger resorts on the busy and well known Flamingo Beach or luxurious villas with chef service available.
We opted for Bahia del Sol, a boutique hotel resort directly on the shores of Playa Potrero. Our room rate included daily A La Carte breakfast, complimentary morning yoga classes, and free WiFi . We saved approximately 10% by booking directly through the hotel website, bringing the cost to about $160/ night . Our room was very spacious, though a bit dated. There is a newer block of rooms that were much brighter and more modern…this would be my choice for a return visit!
The resort itself is just lovely. A beautiful oasis with lots of vegetation, and animal life to observe. You could hear the howler monkeys at certain times and we fell asleep to the sounds of waves crashing…it doesn’t get much better than that!
The hotel also boasts a spa, a small swim up bar and a very nice open air restaurant . I would not hesitate to stay there again.
As I mentioned there are a lot of options at various price points in this area.. so it’s very easy to find something to fit all budgets and needs! My best travel advice, regardless of where you’re headed, is do your research! There is so much information at our fingertips, so use that to your advantage when planning.
We loved the Playa Potrero neighborhood. We found several really good restaurants within easy walking distance…literally right down a small dusty side street! Some with live music or other events at night..so it was perfect. I’ll list some of our favorite spots a bit later.
We knew we would want a guide for some excursions so we opted not to spend money on a rental car. This worked out especially well due to the number of restaurants and activities within walking distance of our hotel. Bahia del Sol does offer to arrange airport transfers for a fee ( along with other concierge amenities). Their transfer rate is approximately $95 each way from Liberia Airport. Liberia ( LIB) is the closest airport to this region.
I did my research and found a better price through Costa Rica Best Trips. We paid $150 round trip + gratuity. Costa Rica Best Trips is a tour company that offers a variety of excursions. Because of the consistent excellent reviews, we chose them for our excursions as well as transfers. Best decision we could have made!
Excursion #1 was a customized trip to the Arenal Volcano, a 2 hour rainforest trek, zip lining and a visit to the La Fortuna hot springs.
This was a full ( long) day beginning with pick up at our hotel around 6:30am. Our guide, Rodrigo, arrived on time and ready to go. Let me just say, if you are looking for an exceptional guide with extensive knowledge of Costa Rica, it’s history, landscape and especially it’s ecology and wildlife then Rodrigo Vincente is your guy! Rodrigo was personable, engaging and so fun to spend the day with. He never rushed us and kept us thoroughly entertained throughout our 14 hr day!
Arenal is a few hours drive from Potrero, so be prepared! This excursion included an amazing breakfast of gallo pinto ( typical rice dish of Costa Rica) overlooking Arenal Lake. The perfect way to fuel up for the day!
Next stop was the rainforest and it’s hanging bridges. It was at this point that we realized how fortunate we were to have Rodrigo as our guide. I swear the man could talk to the animals! We were in awe of our surroundings the entire time.
After our 2 hour rainforest trek it was time to for the real adventure! An exhilarating first time zip line experience high above the forest! I was a bit nervous at first, but once I got the hang of it, it was all systems go! Wow, is about all I can say. Whether you’re experienced or not, I highly recommend a zip line course while visiting CR… despite the unattractive helmets
The next stop was at Los Lagos Hotel and Spa for a delicious plated 3 course lunch followed by time in the hot springs. I was just a bit disappointed in the springs as it was a very resort like atmosphere with man made falls and more like a theme park than the natural pools I was expecting. The pools are all fed directly by the rainforest springs and heated from the volcano though! The water certainly felt amazing and it was a great way to relax after a fun filled day!
We piled into the van, full, tired and relaxed to begin the drive back to Potrero arriving well after 8pm. Rodrigo even stopped along the way so we could watch the sunset! If you’re heading to Guanacaste, do yourself a favor and reach out to Rodrigo at firstname.lastname@example.org you will not regret it!
Two days later we were back on the road with Rodrigo for Excursion #2.
For this tour we chose a Jungle River Cruise. Once again Rodrigo arrived on time with a smile and warm welcome. We rode out to a national park and refuge stopping along the way when Rodrigo would spy howler monkeys or macaws in the trees… such a treat!
We arrived at the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Cipanci and boarded a small boat for the cruise on the Tempisque River. The river and it’s surroundings are home to an amazing array of wildlife. We saw everything from crocodiles, to monkeys, to herons.
After departing the refuge we ended our tour with a visit to an authentic open air restaurant for what we all felt was our best meal of the trip! Cooked entirely in cast iron over open flames. We feasted on chicken in salsa,beef, rice, beans and handmade tortillas…so good!! We even sampled mango that Rodrigo gathered on the side of the road.
Excursion #3 was our final “ booked” outing. We had an absolute blast on a Sunset Catamaran Cruise with Panache Sailing. The catamaran was pristine, the staff were fun and interactive, the drinks flowing and the food was surprisingly really good! We’ve been on some boat trips where the “ snacks” are a flight sized bag of chips . But Panache provided wrap sandwiches, fruit, and fresh salsa and chips! The biggest surprise was bumping into a friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in almost 40 yrs..on a catamaran in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! What are the chances??
The rest of our time in Costa Rica was spent soaking up the Pura Vida lifestyle. Pura Vida means simple or pure life and it certainly embodies the spirit of this country.
We relaxed by the pool, walked the beach, ate and drank our hearts’ content. I will share some of our favorite spots in the Potrero neighborhood for food and drinks.
The Beach House was our go to spot. An easy stroll down the beach from our hotel and some of the friendliest staff and best food. Try to book ahead for the Costa Man ( Darin Talbot) live show on Sundays at sunset. So much fun! Ask for Gustavo as your waiter and tell him I said Hola! Definitely sample the Chiliguaro shot…yum!
The Shack was another great spot to grab a cold drink and authentic meal. Located a short walk down the side street from Bahia del Sol. We enjoyed yummy Arroz Tipico con pollo while watching cows stroll down the street
For dinner, we really enjoyed El Castillo, literally right across the street from our hotel. A varied menu, with lots of fresh seafood choices and nightly specials. They have live music some nights as well.
If you’re craving something other than typical Tico ( Costa Rican) meals. I can recommend La Forketta, Italian restaurant. They have everything from wood fired pizza to pasta and fresh seafood in a nice casual setting.
And my final recommendation is more for nightlife than food..though it is a restaurant and has nightly specials. Perla’s Pub is a fun venue to hear music or participate in game nights such as trivia or bingo. Our first visit they had a great live band playing.
Well this turned out longer than expected , but only because there was so much to love about Guanacaste, Costa Rica. I hope you’ve enjoyed and are maybe inspired to visit ! There are so many other areas to explore, so I’m confident this will not be our last visit. Until that time comes, I will work on channeling Pura Vida in my daily life…while I dream of rainforests and Chiliguaro
Happy Travels and
Ciao for now! Xoxo
I will get back to you soon!
Ciao for now
I'm excited to connect with you!