Seven Highlights of Costa Rica

So I went to Costa Rica over the Christmas holiday and had read up on lots of things to do, places to go, cost of living..etc. And although it prepared me decently for the trip, I found the thing that was the most beneficial was having a local (someone who used to live in the area) show me around! I’ll just get right into it and explain as I go.

La Fortuna

My sister and I started off our trip by flying into San Jose which is the capital and usually the easiest/cheapest place to fly into Costa Rica. We headed up North almost right away to La Fortuna, the city residing right next to the infamous Volcano Arenal.

We stayed at the Hotel Los Lagos Arenal which had really nice amenities including a gorgeous view of the volcano, and 11 natural hot spring pools, including one swim up bar.

I would not suggest staying at this specific resort if you are on a budget because it is quite pricey, including all the food and drinks which are in $US. But the town itself is beautiful and the hot springs are a must-do!

You are able to do day trips to most of the hot springs in the area which I would recommend!

Tortuga Island

Tortuga Island is a small island on the Pacific coast close to the city we were staying in, and I must say that it was a real treat!

My family and I booked a day-tour and went with a large group of people on a ferry over to the island but I’m sure you can take a short water taxi to get to the island as well. I’d almost just recommend the tour though because it came with a fresh healthy breakfast, snorkeling, banana boating, lunch, unlimited drinks (my fave haha), and transportation to and from our accommodation.

What was really amazing about the company we used – Costa Cat – was that they were determined to make as little waste as possible for their tours. For an example they gave us each a metal cup to use for our drinks all day instead of disposable ones.

My sister and I went on a (moderate) hike on the island that lead to a nice viewpoint. And she almost got trampled by a deer, but that’s another story haha. There were 3 different levels for hiking and we took the “hardest” but like I said, it was moderate lol.

ATV Tour to Jaco Falls

If you know me, you know I’m an adrenaline junkie. Always looking for the next adventure to get my blood pumping. This sure was able to satisfy!

We ATVed through multiple terrains such as street, stream, hills, large rock, sand and grass so once you started getting used to one type, it switched up so it was a challenging adventure.

We drove up and down hills in a forest until we finally made it to Jaco Falls. It was a short walk down to the falls from there, but after getting so filthy on the ride over and 30-degree heat, I gladly jumped right into the waterfall pool. It was magical to play and swim around in this secluded area where it was just my cousins and I and one other couple.

After the falls we headed up to a gorgeous viewpoint and restaurant where we were able to order freshly made chicken empanadas, which were beyond delicious.

Manuel Antonio Park

Heading into the trip, this beach is what I was looking forward to the most. I was super excited to see so many wild animals and hangout in one of the top beaches in the world.

It’s safe to say that it met all my expectations 🙂

We headed to the park for 7am which is suggested since it gets too hot for the animals during the afternoon. We hired a tour guide who had binoculars to show us wildlife. At times it was a little slow because we were such a large group (9) and we all wanted to see what he had pointed out. Without him, we would not have seen half of the animals that we did.

Sloths, monkeys, tree frogs, humming birds, crabs, and raccoons are just some of the amazing exotic animals that we were fortunate to see on this day-trip!

The beach had soft luscious black/tan sand mixed that felt like silk on my feet. The sky had not a cloud in sight. The water was perfectly refreshing with not too many waves crashing 10/10

Bonfire at Playa Hermosa

See this is where the local friend comes in handy haha! He took us to a beach near his house (actually pretty much the beach was his backyard) but it was amazing. We built a ginormous bonfire and watched a surfing competition into the sunset.

You know it’s just one of those moments that you can’t really replicate but wish you could.

We drank wine from the bottle, watched the gleaming stars from below and enjoyed each other’s company. Not much else needed to be said!

Costa Rican Food

YUM, its pretty unbelievable that I can truly say I did not have a bad meal once the entire two weeks I spent in the country!

They have two traditional meals that I found to be super delicious, chicken and rice is the name of the dish, it is saffron rice with chicken chunks, and veggies all mixed in with beans and a salad on the side. Second meal is a cosado which is a protein such as fish, beef, or chicken with rice and sweet beans, salad and fried plantains.

Both EQUALLY as good! Who knew that rice and beans could be so delicious haha!

Jaco New Years

This might have been my most favourite part of the whole trip. LAST BUT NOT LEAST – New Years in Jaco, local style.

Most people around midnight head down to the beach which stretches 7km long in a crescent shape (which almost adds to the magic) to light off fireworks and lanterns into the ocean.

With the waves crashing, surrounded by people, when the clock strikes midnight everyone cheers and has firework shows along the entire beach. It was sooooo cool to look left, right, and up and see all the different fireworks crackling.

Nowhere in Canada (where I’m from) would you ever be able to experience this because of safety regulations, but that is what makes it what much more special!

It was a grand sight to see, I must say!

This sums up the most amazing parts of my trip, although its usually who you travel with that truly makes the best impact!

Let me know in the comments if you have been to Costa Rica and have tried any of these things or if you found this helpful for your upcoming trip ♡