It’s a few month back but better late than never.
I went in February this year for a two week trip to Costa Rica. Like most of my holidays it was a 5 min decision back in November. Best decision I could make. Since I just had 2 weeks it had to be either the Pacific coast or the Caribbean. After a lot of research, which is new to me, I decided to go to the Caribbean coast.
I want to go back now to see the Pacific beaches too. Not only this but also much more of this beautiful country.
Costa Rica what I have seen so far is a lovely, amazing and very green country. It’s incredible how many rain forest/ national parks they have got and how beautiful everything is. The wildlife is amazing, it’s bird heaven, sloth heaven, monkey heaven and many more in one.
My decision to visit the Caribbean coast was easily made, I wanted to get a little more of the chilled out vibe from the Caribbean and was hoping for less tourists, which doesn’t work in Costa Rica. It’s a tourist heaven and so easy to travel.
Of course when you go to Costa Rica you have to visit at least one of it’s rain forest and volcanoes. The most famous volcano is Arenal which is an active volcano and it erupted a few years back.
My itinerary at the end looked like:
- La Fortuna (which is actually not even close to any of the coasts but it’s near the volcano called Arenal) (3 nights)
- Tortuguero (2 night)
- Cahuita (3 nights)
- Puerto Viejo (4 nights)
I arrived very late at Costa Rica’s San Jose airport, so I spent a night in Alajuela at Maleku Hostel and out of convenience on my last night too.
Malku is a small hostel next to the bus stop in Alajuela which was very convenient for my travel the next day. They offer free airport transfer (hostel to airport) and as far as I know also storage facilities. The staff is very friendly and help with everything. http://www.malekuhostel.com
I took the bus to my first stop La Fortuna. The bus ride was roughly 5 hours and I was standing most of the time. I gave my seat up for a mum with her two kids. The bus ride was exhausting but I loved the views all the way up to La Fortuna. The whole way I thought that it would be brilliant to have my own car to stop here and there, if you have a chance and your budget allows it, hire a car!
After arriving in La Fortuna and finding my hostel. I was very exhausted and the weather wasn’t very good either. So I relaxed at my hostel which felt like being in a nice hotel resort. It has a pool and a bar! 🙂
Check it out it’s Arenal Hostel Resort
It’s maybe a bit pricey but it was well worth it.
There are many activities you can book while in La Fortuna, from zip lining to hiking or just relaxing in one of the natural hot springs. I decided to book an extreme 2 volcano hike.
What can I say it was extreme but would recommend it to everyone who is going. It was very rainy on that day and we were basically knee deep in mud. Everything was slippery and the climb up and down very steep too. After we managed this hike we went to see some waterfalls, monkeys and crossed a hanging bridge. The highlight of it was the hot natural river at the end of a long day with some cocktails. Since I had mud literally everywhere I jumped in fully clothed. It was so good. If you ever go to La Fortuna book this trip or go and have a look for the hot spring river it’s free!
Some photos of this very crazy but beautiful hike:
On my second day, my muscles were so sore that I had to take it a bit slowly. But eventually I went for a little walk and just 20 min away from the hostel is a river with a little waterfall and a Tarzan swing where I spent the rest of the day. It was a very refreshing and fun way to spend my last day in La Fortuna and the best it was free too.
To get to Tortugero my second stop I took a shuttle bus (6 hours) to a pier and then a boat for 1 hour. You can get the public bus to the pier but the journey takes about 12 hours with a lot of stops and changes. It’s via San Jose too which would have been a nice 1 night stop over but I just haven’t had enough time to do it.
Tortugero is a National Park and a protected wilderness area on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast. It’s a nice little village, very quiet and really not much to do except enjoying the National Park and it’s nature. People normally go there to see the Turtle nestling. Of course I wasn’t there to the right time and could unfortunately not see it. Definitely check it out before you book to see if you are in the right season.
I spend 2 nights in Tortugero at a very lovely and small hostel called Aracari Garden. http://www.aracarigarden.com/home-1.html
I booked a canoe trip with the hostel for the first day and the owner is doing the tour with you. Almost every hostel/hotel is offering the tour and most of the people are doing it. Don’t book this tour with a motorboat. The noise of the motor will scare all the animals away. You will see much more on a normal canoe. The tour starts early in the morning after you paid the fee for the national park entrance you head out on the canal to spot, birds, caimans, lizards, monkeys and many more. The canal and it’s surroundings are part of the National Park and the entrance fee allows you to come back later to have a stroll around the park by yourself too.
In the National Park I finally was lucky and spotted my first sloth and of course monkeys. I do love sloths, they are the cutest ever!
They also have Jaguar’s in Tortugero, obviously you hardly ever see one but maybe you are one of the lucky ones to see one.
My next stop was Cahuita and to get there from Tortugero you take a boat for 4 hours and then a taxi/bus to Cahuita.
I shared my taxi with 3 people so it was cheaper and more comfortable. Cahuita got recommended to me and I spent 3 days at Hakuna Matata hostel (wasn’t my favourite hostel but they had a pool and it was an okay stay).
Here the link to the hostel: https://www.booking.com/hotel/cr/hakuna-matata-hostel.en-gb.html?label=gen173nr-1DCAEoggJCAlhYSDNiBW5vcmVmaFCIAQGYAS64AQbIAQ7YAQPoAQGSAgF5qAID;sid=a6f096dd06467f029f4654f9db0d5bc1
I think 2 nights would have been enough in Cahuita.
I got here not only to see the National Park, which is beautiful right next to the beach but to go snorkeling too. I’m an certified diver and wanted to enjoy at least a little bit of the underwater world in Costa Rica. I found diving pretty expensive in Costa Rica that’s why I decided to just go snorkeling. Due to weather conditions and bad current I couldn’t go at the end. I spoke to a tour guide and there was no way to get to the reeve which is around 200 m away from the beach.
Cahuita is pretty small but they have bars/restaurants and they get very busy during night, I didn’t try the nightlife but I got told by other travelers. The beach best to swim is in the middle of their National Park and it’s a beautiful surrounding with the trees in the back and the blue sea in the front. It takes you a day to wander through the National Park and you will see a lot of wildlife.
My stay in Cahuita was very quiet, I spent a day in the National Park and on my second day I was chilling in a hammock due to warm rain most of the day. I enjoyed doing nothing and relaxed a little bit.
One evening I was lucky and saw a lovely sloth mum with her little baby – I spotted her climbing along the electricity wires in front of the hostel.
Puerto Viejo was my last stop and the craziest one too. This little beach town is full of backpackers and it has a bit of a hippie vibe you feel like you finally reached the Caribbean.
I spend 4 days at Kinkaju hostel and really enjoyed it. It’s a small hostel and probably the most expensive one in my 2 weeks travel in Costa Rica but also the most homey one. My bed was so comfy 🙂 Check it out here: http://www.hostelkinkaju.com/
I can really recommend it! It’s on a side road which means it is quiet during the night but within a 2 min walk you are on the main road with all you need.
In my 4 days in Puerto Viejo I rented a bike and discovered the surrounding areas. Next to it’s big surfer beach “Playa Cocles” they have many little beaches. To discover them I cycled all the way to Manzanillo with stops at Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Playa Punta Uva. You can also walk to Playa Cocles from Puerto Viejo it’ll take about 10-15 min.
I had one day where I just relaxed at Playa Chiquita and Playa Punta Uva but I also enjoyed the nightlife and partied hard to the next morning at one of the nights.
Puerto Viejo has a lot to offer for foodies too, local cuisine, international food, very nice vegan/vegetarian restaurants and coffee/bakeries. I had very good seafood here and my mouth is still watering when I think about it. Of course you can book different tours too, just have a look around and see what they offer 🙂 I didn’t do a lot of tours to save some money but next time I definitely will do more too.
After all I can’t recommend Costa Rica enough for a holiday. I definitely want to come back and see more of this beautiful and easy to travel country. Just keep in mind, Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America, next to Panama. Save a bit more money to experience it to the fullest.