Costa Rica is a wonderful Central American destination that offers travellers the best of both worlds. You can traverse across volcanoes, hike through rainforests, and lounge on world-class beaches. The diversity of the country creates a great basis for any type of trip a person has in mind whether it’s more active or relaxing or both!
When I visited this beautiful country two years ago, I created an itinerary that involved both environments in order to better take in the varying aspects of the country. I started my trip by heading the popular Arenal Volcano area. Due to the low budget nature of my trip, I stayed at a hostel called Arenal BackPackers Hostel in the small town of La Fortuna. While low-cost, the hostel was high quality with an amazing pool, lounge area, kitchen, volcano views, and clean dorms. There was even access to the forest behind the structure which had trails and tons of local wildlife. There are, of course, plenty of high-end resorts in this area as well. I loved staying in the rainforest area because it really gave off that true Costa Rican feel. The sounds of the animals in the forest, the trees blowing in the wind, the moisture in the air, and the volcano in the distance really offered an authentic vibe.
While in this area, I wanted to get out and explore as much as possible. On the first day, I hiked to the La Fortuna waterfall. While a relatively easy and quick hike, the views are more than worth it. The waterfall is truly stunning offering views from both the top and the bottom. Following that, I ventured and did a hike around and on the Arenal Volcano. While no longer active, the volcano has some really interesting and exciting changes of landscape and terrain. As well, it was particularly rainy and misty that day so it created a more mysterious and mystical hike. The trails were lined with black volcano rock and interesting plants that made for an interesting exploration. With wet clothes and tired legs, I finished off the day at Baldi Hot Springs. There was such a range of hot tubs in both temperature and style of décor. Some sections were more rainforest inspired with waterfalls, plants and hidden enclaves. Some sections were more club themed with a swim up bar and lounge chairs in the water. Some sections were more kid friendly with slides. It was truly a jack-of-all-trades with something for any type of night. This was the best way to finish off a long day of hiking.
As a popular tourist spot, there are tons of day tours available. One day, I did a zip line tour, which was one of my favorite activities overall. It had been my first time zip-lining and it was beyond exhilarating. There are hanging bridges and unbeatable views. It is just an indescribable feeling soaring through the open rainforest. I also joined a river tour, which was a great way to see wildlife. We spotted howler monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, and tons of birds. There are plenty of other options too like white water rafting, ATVing, canyoning, horseback riding, rapelling, and other such adventures. You will never be wanting for something fun to do!
Following the rainforest, I headed to the beaches at Tamarindo. This town is the epitome of a surf town. There were even surfboards decorating the entranceway of the hostel I stayed at, Blue Trailz. This was section of the trip was where I wanted to unwind from the high intensity activities of the first half. The beaches at Tamarindo are amazingly spectacular. The water’s warm, the sky’s clear, and the sand’s clean. Plus, there is nothing more relaxing than lying on the beach with the sound of the waves crashing along the shore. Though to keep a balance, I took a surf lesson being persuaded by the plethora of surfboards surrounding me. After many attempts, it was so satisfying to finally stand up and move with the waves-- even if I was only working with small waves! If you’re going to try surfing anywhere, Costa Rica should definitely be top of the list. While lounging was my personal goal for Tamarindo, biking, windsurfing, kitesurfing, boating, paddleboarding, and even fishing are also available. It is remarkable but there is no shortage of adventures to be had in this astonishing place.
Costa Rica is the perfect destination for any type of vacation, which makes it one of my favorite travel destinations thus far. The excitement of blood pumping activity juxtaposed with the relaxation of the beach towns creates a well-rounded trip. Usually after a vacation, I find that I need a few days to recoup but upon returning from Costa Rica I felt refreshed and awakened. Being surrounded by nature is the best way to rejuvenate the spirit. Costa Ricans have a motto of Pura Vida that means pure life. After visiting, it is obvious that the country embodies this with its respect for and appreciation of nature and simple ways of living. Costa Rica is a gem of the natural world that can be sure to spark joy in anyone who visits.