If you read my post about my New Year’s intentions, you would know that we are now planning a trip to Costa Rica in July. This was originally going to be for our 10-year anniversary, which will be in October 2016, but for various reasons, we decided we didn’t want to wait to go. So we’re going in July, and we will figure out something else to do for our 10-year anniversary. Anya keeps calling it “Pacarica” and asking why we are calling it “Costa Rica.” Silly girl.
This is a little different for us because we are used to planning big European trips, but as it turns out, it’s not that much different. We are using the same resources (mainly Tripadvisor), and have consulted with our travel agent, who has been there. Here are our thoughts so far:
1. We are planning to fly into San Jose and transfer to Monteverde, which is famous for its cloud forest. We have found a lodge that has an enclosed balcony where you have a view of the forest and can see monkeys and other animals hanging out in the trees. We are excited about having breakfast on that balcony with our Costa Rican coffee. But the best part might be that it is only $70 a night. We will spend 3 nights here and will explore two different cloud forests and take a night tour.
2. We will then transfer to La Fortuna/Arenal, which is about 3 and a half hours away. We are considering a transfer that is a combination of a van, boat ride, and horseback riding through the forests. We thought it would be neat to make the transfer more of a tour. We have read that the views are fantastic and it sounds like a great experience.
3. Once in Arenal, we will stay at the Nayara Hotel Spa and Gardens. This will be our one indulgence. It is a super nice resort and each room (even the standard rooms) are stand-alone casitas with balconies, some of which offer views of the Arenal volcano. Luckily, our travel agent is able to get us a much cheaper deal on flights and our stay at this resort and we will save almost $200 by letting her book this for us. (By the way, people tend to think that booking trips or parts of trips through travel agents are more expensive. While that may be true in some instances, we have had several instances where the prices have been the same or even better, so it pays to look into it!) We plan to hike around the volcano area and see La Fortuna waterfall. We also want to visit one of the hot springs while we’re there, as well as take a day trip to Caño Negro. It is a little north of Arenal, closer to the Nicaraguan border. It is somewhat remote, especially in that there are no trails. You visit by boat. Supposedly, you have great chances of seeing wildlife while there as well.
4. After 3 nights in Arenal, we will transfer to Playa Hermosa on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. It was a huge debate about which side to visit, and we finally settled on the Pacific side, partly because it is closer to the other airport in Liberia, making our drive to get to the airport much easier, shorter, and cheaper. The pictures of the sunsets and the views we have seen are absolutely gorgeous. We have lots of options here, including a day trip to Nicaragua, a day trip to a park that features waterfalls and mud baths (Ok, I normally wouldn’t be into the mud bath, but where else would I do this?!), snorkeling in nearby Playa Ocotal, a sunset cruise in Playa Coco (only a 10-minute taxi ride from Playa Hermosa), and we hope to spend at least part of a day just relaxing on the beach. We have also found that there are several massage therapists who offer massages on the beach at a really inexpensive price, so we may be taking advantage of that as well. After doing some research, we found the perfect hotel. It offers free breakfast and amazing window views of the ocean from some of the rooms. It is up on the hill, which means it is a 5-minute walk to the beach, but we have read that it is worth it. Eric also read that the attached restaurant has happy hour each day and that drinks and certain food items are half-price at this time. Another great thing about it is that it is only around $100 a night!
Our travel agent will be booking our flights, the hotel in La Fortuna/Arenal, and our private transfers. We looked into public transportation but decided to go with private transportation so that we could leave whenever we wanted, and it will make for a quicker trip, which means we will spend less time in transit and more time enjoying our trip. We plan to book most, if not all, our tours, and the other two hotels.