11 Incredible things to do in Costa Rica
2020 was the end of a decade. This decade brought with it a lot of ups and downs in life…more ups though – Thankfully! And with it came immense learning and a lot of gratitude and hence I wanted to end a great year and ring in the new decade at a very special destination…one that I will remember for a lifetime!
I spent almost 3 weeks exploring which place to go to and which country would make my trip really memorable and I finally zeroed in on Costa Rica! I am so glad I did cause I don’t think I could have spent 2020 New Year’s Eve at a better place.
Costa Rica is the land of Pura Vida and everyone swears by it. People even greet each other with that phrase. It means “Living life in the moment” and that’s exactly what we did while we were there as well.
How to get to Costa Rica: Costa Rica has 2 international airports – San Jose & Liberia and they have flights daily from Canada and the United States.
We flew from Mumbai to New York and spent Christmas there, after which we flew Spirit Airlines from Newark to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. It was an 8 hours flight with a 2 hours layover in Fort Lauderdale. United Airlines does have direct flights to San Jose which takes around 5 hours. The ticket price usually is anywhere between $400-500. We paid a lot more since we were going during the peak season.
Best Time to visit: The best time and the peak season in Costa Rica is from December to April which is the dry season and you get plenty of sunshine.
Getting Around: We rented a car at the airport which cost us around 650 USD for 8 days. Car rentals are quite expensive in Costa Rica.
Rent a car in Costa Rica (this wasn’t the car we rented though)
Costa Rica has a lot of volcanoes and rainforests and of course, has the Carribean on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other side. We planned to spend 4 days in the rainforest and 4 days on the beaches. So after spending a night in San Jose, we drove to Arenal National Park and then to Santa Teresa beach/Montezuma beach and spent New Year’s eve in Tamarindo beach.
Where to Stay: While we were at Arenal national park we stayed at Selina Fortuna which is right at the centre of the town and walking distance from all the restaurants there. When we hit the coast, we stayed at Nantipa resort & Airbnbs in Santa Teresa/Montezuma & Tamarindo.
Selina Fortuna in Arenal
Things to Pack: Carry a light jacket, rain jacket and your hiking boots since you will definitely need that when you are in the rainforest.
Here are the things that you absolutely must do when in Costa Rica:
1. Do the Gravity Freefall with Desafio – Costa Rica is an adventure-lovers paradise and trust me it doesn’t get better than Desafio. After having been to 64 countries and having tried all kinds of adventure sports, I hereby claim that I have never ever tried something as daring and scary as this. I have always believed that adventure sports push you out of your comfort zone and unless you push yourself you won’t remember the trip! This was clearly the highlight of our trip.
We started early at 6:30 AM and finished at 2 PM. We drove deep into the forest and here is what we did:
Part 1: Rappelled down a cliff with a waterfall which was 150 feet high.
Rappelling down a 150 feet high cliff-I am just smiling for the camera, I was super scared.
Midway down the cliff, we had to let go of the rope and fell backwards in the water…FREEFALL. 🧗♀
Part 2: We jumped into a 5 feet waterfall ♀
Part 3: Another jump into a 10 feet waterfall and here as we jumped they pushed us under the raging waterfall flow and like a washing machine we were turned under the water.🤸♀
Part 4: We held onto a rope and swung into the middle of a river and jumped.
Part 5: We climbed up a cliff with the help of a rope.
Part 6: THE BIG DADDY – Free fall into a 35 feet waterfall!!!
This was the scariest shit ever but super, super fun!!!
After this, they take you to a superb property for lunch where I met the super sweet owner of Desafio Adventures, Christine and she gave me a tour of a hidden waterfall in her backyard.
The most awesome adventure sport ever! All thanks to Desafio for making this the highlight of my trip
Christine of Desafio Adventures at her private waterfall
This by far will be one of the most memorable days in my history of adventure sports.
2. Bathe in the Natural hot Springs in Tabacon – Costa Rica is filled with hot springs since there are so many volcanoes around. There are Free Natural hot springs as well but I strongly recommend the Tabacon HOT springs. It’s totally an Alice in Wonderland setting and you can spend an entire day there. They have different kinds and levels of hot springs and it’s such a relaxing and rejuvenating activity. The day passes cost 85USD with either lunch/dinner included and is absolutely worth it.
Bathing in the natural hot springs of Costa Rica
Tabacon resort has the best hot springs
3. Go ziplining with Sky Adventures – Another awesome activity in Arenal. There are 7 different lines with one being 150 metres long. You are ziplining high above the rainforest and in a few seconds, you just disappear into the clouds. You can have a look at the videos in my Costa Rica Story highlights on Instagram.
Ziplining with Sky Adventures
And off we go…woohoo!
Just before I disappeared into the clouds
4. Walk on the hanging bridges in Mistico Hanging bridges park – This is best done earlier in the morning when it’s less crowded and you have a higher chance of spotting wildlife. It was a superb experience walking the 3.2 km trail which has 15 bridges, 6 of them hanging.
The hanging bridges of Mistico
5. Go on a Sloth watching trail in Arenal – Costa Rica has sloths in abundance and there are these specific trails where you can spot them on trees. We went on one too and looking at these cute not so little creatures was a simply awesome experience! And while I say this, here are a few fun facts about Sloths…
** The reasons why sloths, sloth so much is because they feed on leaves and since leaves cannot provide as much nutrition and get digested quickly, sloths have a very slow metabolic rate and they sleep to conserve energy
**They climb hardly once a week back to the ground and that is mostly to defecate.
**They can give a run for their money to most swimmers.
**They cannot sustain beyond their usual environments where they are usually found and hence if you are thinking of, you will most probably not be able to pet them!
Looking out for Sloths
A Mamma and baby sloth eating leaves
6. Day trip to Irazu Volcano – Since Costa Rica has so many volcanoes, you must definitely visit one of them during your stay. The Irazu Volcano is a 1.5 hours drive from the capital city of San Jose and it has a very easy walk to the crater of the volcano. It is a 10 minutes hike from the parking lot and you can easily spend a couple of hours here admiring the blue lake of the crater.
The Volcanic soil of Irazu
The gorgeous blue crater lake
The first view of the crater after the hike
7. Visit Rio Celeste waterfall and trek your way to the hot river – This waterfall makes for one of the most perfect waterfalls in Costa Rica, however, you have to be ready to hike for at least 30 mins till you get there. Also, you need to walk down a huge number of stairs to get to the waterfall. You may also want to trek till the end of the trail to see the Hot river which has bubbling water since it’s connected to a volcano. This trail is a very difficult one and is extremely muddy so do wear your rain/hiking boots.
The trek to the hot river in Rio Celeste
Rio Celeste Waterfall
8. Stay in Nantipa resort at Santa Teresa beach – Our best stay at Costa Rica. Nantipa and its owner Mario totally pampered and spoilt us while we were there. We had the most delicious lunch, and superb cocktails at their Manzu restaurant and watched a gorgeous sunset, lazed on the hammocks on the beach and overall had a wonderful time and lived the Pura Vida life :-).
Pura Vida!! Living in the moment
Sunset at Nantipa
Sipping cocktails by the beach at Nantipa
A perfect place for a sundowner
9. Go restaurant hopping at Santa Teresa – Santa Teresa is known for its good seaside restaurants & bars. Few of the ones I would recommend are Ranchos Ituana, Habaneros, The Bakery. Do not miss eating the Gallo Pinto (a local dish) while you are there. On your way to Santa Teresa from Arenal, you could also stop for night sea Kayaking to see Bioluminescent water at Bahia Rica.
Bioluminescent Night Kayaking tour with Bahia Rica
A beautiful sunrise at Santa Teresa
Another glorious sunset
10. If you are there for New Years ….definitely spend NYE on Tamarindo beach watching the fireworks – dine at Pangas Beach Club . After having a sumptuous meal at Pangas, we walked on Tamarindo beach and the entire beach turns into a beach party during New Years. The fireworks at the stroke of midnight are absolutely stunning. The energy is contagious!
Ringing in the decade in Tamarindo Beach
11. If you are a dog lover, meet the cute dogs all over Costa Rica – Costa Rica has so many cute dogs, be it at our Airbnb, on the beach or on our stops during the road trip, these dogs were just adorable!
In love with this pup
The pup at our Airbnb in Santa Teresa Beach
Planning a trip to Costa Rica soon? Let me know if you need any help.
The first sunset of 2020
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I am a fearless, unguarded and fun loving traveller. The word ‘cannot’ doesn't often appear in my life’s dictionary. I was bitten by the travel bug a long, long time ago and it has taken me to more than 60 countries and countless destinations ever since. A born networker—I have met and made a gazillion friends across the world and the experiences so far, has more often than not, left me speechless. The more I travel, the more I realise that how much there is left to travel.
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