While watching TV one night, I asked Cameron what places were on his bucket list. He said New Zealand and Costa Rica were two places he would like to go. I opened my laptop and looked up plane tickets for both. Round trip from Orlando to San Jose on Copa Air was only $300. Without asking, I booked it!
Tip: we went the first week of June, which is rainy season. Hotel and ticket prices are lower this time of year. It’s the same as what we’re used to in Florida during the summer, so we knew we’d be fine!
We flew into San Jose, rented a car through Budget, and made the beautiful drive to La Fortuna. The city has a lot of traffic but once you’re out, driving is pretty easy. Just be mindful that a lot of bridges are only one lane and biggest car has the right of way.
When we arrived, we checked into Hotel Los Lagos, which is at the base of an active volcano. The property is incredible! Our favorite feature were the hot tubs. There are several as you walk up the property and they are all fed by the natural hot springs from the volcano. The higher you go, the hotter they get!
Our first day in La Fortuna, we went to the waterfall park. There are 471 steps each way so wear comfy shoes! Also, be sure to wear a bathing suit so you can jump in at the bottom! The water was cold but it was worth it.
Our second day we went zip lining at Arenal Park. There are several companies in the area but we went with Sky Trek based on reviews and safety. It was an absolute blast! One of the zip lines is over 600 feet in air!
As I’ve mentioned before, Cameron is always a little skeptical when it comes to traveling. I love eating at ‘hole in the wall’ type places but he was not into that idea just yet. Until I finally convinced him to let me pick a dinner spot! We had passed Soda Las Flores the day before and I was set on going. We pulled up and the owner walked over from his hotel next door to seat us. We talked for a while and he gave us great food recommendations. Then his wife walked over and started cooking! They were incredibly sweet and hospitable. They sat with us and taught us various Spanish words and phrases that they thought would be useful on our trip. The food was so great that Cameron came around to my restaurant choices and hasn’t questioned me since! Soda Las Flores has been painted a different color since we visited, but here is a picture when we were there:
We stayed two nights in this area and then it was off to Manuel Antonio for our remaining 3 nights! It took a few hours to drive here from La Fortuna, so we arrived late afternoon.
We wanted to see the beach before dark so we drove straight there. You have to pay for parking but we just wanted to take a peak – only 15 minutes or so. The attendant was so sweet when we told him we just got into town. He told us not to worry about paying and to go enjoy! We ended up having a blast and staying for over an hour. When we returned to the car, we apologized and tried to pay. He wouldn’t let us! He told us just to promise we would come back and park with him tomorrow. Of course we did!
We went and grabbed some drinks to watch the sunset and then headed to our rental. We stayed at Manuel Antonio Estates in a studio apartment (#9) for $50 per night. This was perfect for us because of the price and the location. It was right in between Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park.
The next day, we went to explore Manuel Antonio National Park. The entrance fee is $18 and you can pay extra for a tour. The tour wasn’t in our budget so we just followed behind a group to see if they were pointing out any exciting wildlife. The most hilarious little critters are the monkeys. But be sure that any food in your bag is in a sealed container or ziploc – they have a great sense of smell and will happily unzip your bag to steal your snacks. Also, don’t smile at them! Showing your teeth is a sign of aggression.
We walked to Playa Espadilla Sur and hung our backpacks on a tree. This beach was amazing and it was just the two of us! We played in the sand and then took our snorkels and masks to see the beautiful variety of fish swimming near the rocks. When we left, we didn’t take a trail back. We walked up and through the trees. For the first time ever, I was skeptical about an adventure! I wasn’t sure we’d ever find our way out but this ended up being a ton of fun!
On our way back to the rental, we spotted a happy hour sign at Raphael’s Terrazas. So we got ready and then headed back that way for dinner and drinks. The views were incredible and the staff was beyond nice! We stayed late into the night and had so much fun talking with them.
The next day, we went to the Manuel Antonio Estates office to see what sort of excursions we could book for the day. As soon as I saw horse back riding, we were sold! The entire day was great. We drove to the farm and hopped on our horses to go for a ride through the rain forest. Each tour company has rights to their own waterfall so we were able to go up and have a private swim! There is a changing hut so you don’t have to worry about having a wet suit for the ride down. We encountered some heavy afternoon rain so be sure to pack a good rain jacket if you visit in the summer.
When we finished the ride, we went back to the farm and the family cooked lunch for us.
Later in the day, we went back to Raphael’s Terrazas for another fun evening with great people!
The next morning, we rented boogie boards and enjoyed the waves for a few hours before having to head back to San Jose and fly home.
This trip was all around amazing and we had the best time! We will definitely visit Costa Rica again and explore different areas of this great country. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!