Costa Rica is one of those places that can be ideal for total relaxation, or a busy adventure. I think for a first time trip, the more active adventure is a good choice. I recently took a small group to Costa Rica. We began the journey in San Jose. We chose to stay an extra night at the start because of a late night arrival. This turned out to be a great idea. It gave us the opportunity to wander around San Jose for the afternoon before our active tour began the next day.
An early morning start the next day took us through the city and toward Tortuguero National Park. This is on the eastern side of the country. We spent 2 nights at the Evergreen Lodge. There are a few lodges in the area. All of them accessible by boat. For a little more money, you can opt to fly from San Jose to Tortuguero if you want to avoid a bus ride and a 1 hour boat ride. But the experience of traveling by bus and boat was great!
While at the Lodge, we were able to feel what it’s like to be in a rainforest. The lodge itself had a variety of options to see and experience this area. Howler monkeys were around each morning. If you’re a bird watcher, this entire trip is one that you must add to your list. The list of birds that we saw each day is endless. My favorite were the Great Green Macaws. Traveling by boat in the area was quite interesting. One afternoon was a trip into Tortuguero to visit the Sea Turtle Sanctuary. This was quite interesting and would be a great addition to your tour. The stroll along the beach of the Caribbean sea was awesome, even though it was windy and rainy. Of course the temperature is warm, so it wasn’t too difficult. Waterproof clothing is a must!
The next 2 nights after leaving Tortuguero were in Sarapiqui at the La Quinta Country Inn. This place was amazing. We were able to go to the Tirimbina Biological Reserve right next to our resort. A visit to the Bat Sanctuary was informative and scary all at the same time! Pineapples are abundant in this area, and a tour of a pineapple farm is a must while there. We also went white water rafting on the Sarapiqui River one afternoon. This was easier than I thought it would be. There are more challenging rapids in other areas, but we were quite happy with our adventure.
Next stop is Arenal! We were thrilled to see the clear skies and sunshine when we arrived and were able to get some great photos of the Volcano. Our resort, the Mountain Paradise Lodge was likely our favorite hotel on this entire trip. We also had a few hours to just relax. Perfect timing midway on our trip. Of course the adventures keep coming. A visit to a local farm provided tons of information on the variety of fruits and vegetables that are grown in Costa Rica. The canopy tour through the jungle offered spectacular views of flora and fauna in the area. Then a visit to the hot springs was an afternoon highlight for all of us.
Our last stop was at the Punta Leona Beach Resort. This is one of the largest resorts (area wise), that I have ever been to. The weather was quite warm, and we really appreciated the air conditioning in our rooms at night. The beach was quite nice. The Pacific Ocean was very inviting. There were white faced monkeys very close to the breakfast area each morning. So much fun to watch them. One other highlight was seeing the Red Macaws flying around this area.
After 12 days of touring this beautiful country, I would easily say that this is one place to add to your list of amazing places to see and experience!