Pura Vida – Costa Rica
The first thing you may notice about Ticos is the, “Pura Vida”. This symbolizes a way of thinking or an idea of letting things go, and simply enjoying life. After everything I had heard of Costa Rica, the people (Ticos) and the beauty, it’s not hard to understand why I have wanted to visit such a place for many years.
Our itinerary for our first visit to this wonderful country, came from simply researching online and playing the safe route. If I were to visit this country again, I would definitely do things differently. With that being said, I hope you will be able to learn a little from our mistakes, and hopefully you will be more knowledgeable if you are planning a trip this way.
From where our flight landed in San Jose, we took a shuttle to the car rental company. Mistake number one for the budget traveler. After all the add-on costs such as insurance, car upgrades and gas, we spent about $350 to $400 for transportation for one week. This seemed worth it at the time, but I would much rather take the bus, which takes you just about anywhere for extremely cheap, and spent the money we would have saved on fun adventurous things. Although, I must say, driving in Costa Rica was not as stressful as I had imagined. Especially with a GPS, which was one of the upgrades we added at the rental company.
Now, with our GPS in hand, we drove North West, through the Cloud Forest and on to Tree Houses Hotel in the town of Santa Clara. We arrived after dark and had to maneuver our way through the unmarked roads. Tree Houses Hotel is a unique Bed and Breakfast where the cabin style rooms are built high up in a tree. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. They only have 3 tree houses on the property, so it is VERY secluded. When you are taking a shower, the only thing between you and the outdoors is a screen!
In the morning, everybody gathers in the common area, which is a separate house where innkeeper, Renee, makes you a wonderful breakfast of eggs, toast and fruit. Renee is very informative and eager to answer any questions you may have about the area. There are a few hiking trails on the property, one that leads to a waterfall.
This place is not for the faint of heart or those who get squeamish around animals. We found this out after we got to know our neighbors, a family with 3 kids, who took us over to their tree house to show us the family of bats that were living outside of it. For more info about staying here go to Tree Houses Hotel Costa Rica. The rooms are slightly more expensive than the other places we stayed, but well worth it.
After our hike we got back on the road to make the short drive to La Fortuna, where the active Arenal Volcano is located. We checked into the Lavas Tocotal. Our large room had a nice panoramic view of the volcano and was right next to the pool. We took it easy the rest of the day. We ate lunch at a small restaurant in the center of town, walked around a bit, and found a good deal on a zip line tour for the next day.
After dinner, we drove about 5 minutes to Arenal Paraiso Resort to soak in their many hot spring pools. We had originally tried to book a room here, but they didn’t have any availability, and after visiting this place, I can see why. They have 14 pools, 13 of them with thermo-mineral water. The temperatures vary from 78 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. We pretty much had every pool to ourselves, although I’m not sure how often you will be able to get that lucky.