Pura Vida was one of the first phrases I learned in Costa Rica. I learned that the literal translation of the term is pure life, but the true meaning is “full of life” or “living a great life” . I definitely felt that I was full of life on this trip. Costa Rica is one of the adventure capitals of the world. From waterfalls, volcanoes, hanging bridges, hot springs, and tropical rainforest, there was something to see and do for everyone. Living a pura vida life means having eternal optimism. It means internalizing the realization that people are not as fortunate as you, and your life is not as bad as you might think. Life is to be enjoyed thoroughly everyday, regardless of your circumstance. Always strive to live a peaceful life, enjoy the natural world around you, and build a deep relationship with your family and friends.
Transportation & Accommodations
We rented a car from Dollar Car Rental. I would personally recommend Adobe Rent A Car. This is a 100% Costa Rican company, and they do not have hidden costs as most other car rental companies do. I highly recommend renting a car as most flights land in the capital of San Jose, and there is not much to see or do in this area. We chose to drive to La Fortuna, and we spent the first few days of our trip here. The last two days we wanted to sneak in some beach time so we headed to the beach town of Quepos. I personally loved being able to have a road trip and take in all the beauty the country has to offer. If you are pressed for time, and only have time to visit one location I highly recommend La Fortuna because this is the place everyone can find something to do, and seeing the waterfall and volcano are a must for any bucket list. We opted for Airbnb and Vrbo since it was a group of five of us traveling. Hotels and resorts in the area are rather expensive, and this was a great way to save money. What I loved about both the homes was they were very private and safe. The home in La Fortuna had a beautiful view of the volcano in the distance and it was very close to the downtown area and all of the activities we wanted to do. The other home in Quepos was in the middle of the jungle and we could see monkeys in the trees! There were yoga mats and hammocks to relax in after a day at the beach. I have the links for both listings below.
La Paz Waterfall Garden
This was our first stop on our way to La Fortuna and it didn’t disappoint. This Garden was more like a park filled with animals and jaw dropping waterfalls. We were able to see several sloths up close, monkeys, birds, and wild cats. One thing that I found very unique to this place is that they had 26 different species of hummingbirds! This was a pricy activity to do at $48 a person. I loved that this place was a sanctuary for animals who are not able to be released back into the wild. There is a lot of hiking in this garden and let me tell you it was one heck of a workout with all the steps. Seeing the waterfalls up close was just breathtaking and made the hike worth it.
Mistico Hanging Bridges
This was one of my favorite things we did on our trip. Remember to bring a rain jacket because you will be in the middle of the rain forest. I figured that since we were traveling during the dry season I wouldn’t need one, but boy was I wrong. Luckily, the gift shop sold rain jackets. Although it rained, it only lasted a few minutes and then the sun came back out. I loved seeing all the wildlife and the views of the volcano were incredible. I’m afraid of heights, but I loved going across those hanging bridges the views were out of this world. Just don’t look down because it can be a bit terrifying! You will get one heck of a workout here as well hiking around. The cost per adult is $26 which was definitely much more affordable. Keep in mind they only allow a certain amount of people into the park at a time, so you must call ahead and reserve a specific time slot. Also, you must have closed toed shoes to enter the park.
La Fortuna Waterfall
If you are going to visit just one waterfall this is the one to see! This 200 foot waterfall emerges from the jungle and drops into a beautiful pool below. One thing that made this waterfall very unique was that you can swim in it, but let me warn you that water is ice cold! This is by far the most beautiful and breathtaking waterfall I have ever seen. I sat there and was just in awe of how something so incredible was a part of our earth. It is quite the hike down to the waterfall. I recommend bringing snacks and plenty of water. Of course bring your swimsuit and a towel as well.The entrance fee is $18 per person.
The Springs Resort and Spa
The Springs Resort and Spa is the place to go for ultimate relaxation. Although I have never seen an episode of the bachelor, I still though it was pretty cool that an episode of the show was filmed here. We chose to do the Multi-Adventure package. This is a two day pass to the resort. It costs $119 per person and lunch is included on one of the days. It includes unlimited access to all the hot springs and towel rentals. Two activities were included in the pass and we chose the horseback riding and the river tubing. Both activities were so much fun! After all the fun activities we spent the day relaxing in the beautiful hot springs. The hot springs come from underground water that is heated by the volcano. The water is rich in minerals and salts. The resort definitely boasts the best view of Arenal Volcano. I think for the price and everything that is included this was a great package deal.
This beautiful beach is in a bay which means the water was calm and perfect for swimming. If you drive here there is limited parking at the side of the road. You will walk through the jungle for about five minutes before reaching the beach. This beach had beautiful mountains in the background and was surrounded by the jungle. It was so tranquil and there was hardly anyone there. The best part was this is a public beach so it was free!
The best place to get a delicious and affordable bite to eat are these restaurants called Sodas. They are all over Costa Rica and they serve some delicious authentic dishes. Some of my favorite restaurants we dined at were; Red Frog Coffee Roasters, Que Rico Arenal Restaurante, and Cafe Milagro.
Costa Rica is by far one of my favorite countries I have visited and I think it has something for everyone to enjoy. I will definitely be back one day to explore more of its beauty. I hope you guys enjoyed this blog and I hope you are all staying safe and healthy!