Studio 747 - A Lifestyle Blog for Creative Minds: My Costa Rica Experience: 9 Days of Pure Adventure

Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Costa Rica Experience: 9 Days of Pure Adventure

Have you ever been to a place that allowed you to completely leave your “regular” life and become immersed in nature? That's how a recent trip to Costa Rica went for me. I was swallowed up by the vibrant green ecosystem and became in tune with the wildlife in what is aptly named the Rich Coast.

The original plan was to explore the country on our own. We would rent a car and go on a true exploration of a country we’ve never been to before. Isn't that the epitome of adventure? However, all that went out the door when a deal appeared on Groupon. It was a two-for-one group tour deal from Costa Rica Monkey Tours that we just couldn't pass up.

Everything that we wanted to do in Costa Rica was offered by this tour. Zip lining? Check. See a volcano? Check. See monkeys and sloths? Check. Relax at the beach? Double check. What we were expecting not to do? Water rafting. But we did it anyways. I conquered fears I didn’t even know I had on this trip. What was more exciting for me on this adventure of a lifetime is that we would see our long-time friends from college who moved to Costa Rica after college and have lived there ever since.

Our first day was mellow and consisted of exploring the capital city of San Jose with one of our friends. We got away from the tourist area and explored the city, seeing it through the eyes of locals. We people watched from a park bench in front of a church that was built in 1797, ate at a small Caribbean eatery, and wandered around another park while soaking up the lazy Sunday vibes.

Parque Central Church in Heredia
Church in Central Park, Heredia

The second day of our adventure began when we were picked up by the Costa Rica Monkey Tours bus for a few hours of original coffee tasting at Britt Coffee Tour and then our first immersion into the gorgeous Costa Rica rainforest at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. It was a magical land of lush and pristine greenery, birds, butterflies, and waterfalls.

Playing with the toucan at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Did you know? Costa Rica has the highest density of biodiversity of any country in the world.

Then the whirlwind adventure began…

We had a choice between hiking and water rafting on our third day, but apparently there was a mixup. We had opted for hiking, but ended up on the water rafting list that left us with the age old question: Do or do not?

So we did and we conquered. After our raft hit a boulder and three of the seven people in the raft fell out into the raging waters, the realization that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary vacation sunk in. All thoughts of relaxation were forgotten as I clung to that raft and rowed like my life depended on it for the rest of the 45 minute journey down the river. We did enjoy a short fruit break halfway through in which I had a chance to fully absorb what just took place. Would I do it again? Probably not. However, I wouldn’t change that experience.

Photo Credit: Fofo Morales, Costa Rica Monkey Tours

It was only fitting that we would get the evening to soak in the hot springs and wash away all the nervous energy that was clinging to me after that rafting adventure.

Paradise Hot Springs Costa Rica

Sure, I’m all for a little excitement, but I was ready for some real rest and relaxation on Wednesday and Thursday. We were traveling to the Guanacaste province, known for its amazing beaches. The beach front resort where we stayed at, Villas Playa Samara, was the perfect place to truly unwind. About a mile down the road from the resort is Samara, a small town full of culture, nightlife, and expats from around the world who have settled into the “Pura Vida” way of life. Small shops, restaurants, and bars line the narrow streets catering to tourists.

In San Diego you don’t see wild horses just trotting down the streets or beaches, so watching a group of horses make their way along the beach with the sunset as a backdrop was one of the major highlights of this trip.

Friday was another day of adventure as we made our way up to the mountainous town of Monteverde to take in the beauty of the cloud forest and zip line over a vast sea of trees. Mentally I was not prepared for SEVEN lines that a rookie like myself probably had no business participating in. These zip lines are not for the fainthearted. After the third one I started to question my usual fearless mind state. My stomach was getting queasy. However, in the spirit of “pura vida” I kicked those fears to the curb. Besides, if I had quit, the only way down was to climb down the trees.

Monteverde is home to a variety of walking trails and suspension bridges to enjoy the vast, deep forest and amazing habitat. Besides the coati that we came across in the parking lot, we didn’t see any animals. However, we did come across several large ferns known to be one of the oldest species of ferns on earth.

After zip lining and a short hike along the hanging bridges, we made it to Hotel El Establo just in time to watch this gorgeous sunset from our room…

A trip to Costa Rica isn’t complete unless you’ve seen the wildlife, and we saw plenty of it on our last day. Crocodiles, monkeys, and turtles, oh my!

Manuel Antonio National Park was our last stop for hiking and lounging on the beach. Beware of the monkeys and racoons, though. They’ll rummage through your bags or even steal them if left unattended.

Playa Manuel Antonio National Park

White face monkeys in Costa Rica

Just when I thought the exciting portion of our trip was over, we come across a crowd gathered along the beach. A raccoon had discovered a nest of sea turtles and started feasting on a few baby turtles, which prompted Operation Save Baby Sea Turtles. A group of people began taking the turtles down to the shore out of harm’s reach while I fended off the raccoon with a stick.

Baby sea turtle in Costa Rica

To say that our vacation was eventful is an understatement. The people we met in our tour group were so nice and Costa Rica Monkey Tours offered an experience to remember for a lifetime. If you love outdoor adventures, add Costa Rica to your travel bucket list!

To see more from this trip, watch this travel vlog...