I’ve traveled to a lot of places in my life but most have been for work (yes, wakeboarding is work) and it’s pretty rare that I find myself somewhere new. When I travel to a country for a competition, I am always hyper-aware of what I eat and how much I’m using my legs, trying to conserve my energy for the event… it sounds so odd but it’s true! This trip to Costa Rica was a much needed mid-season break.
TOP 5 THINGS WE DID:
Ate at Gilded Iguana
Surfed in Tamarindo
Tabacon Hot Springs
La Fortuna Waterfall
Proyecto Asis Wildlife Refuge
Roughly six months ago, Broc and I decided we needed to go to Costa Rica ASAP. We had been dreaming of another surf trip since our plane left Bali over two years ago. I’ve never been to Costa Rica and getting there proved to be a bit of a mission. A month before our flight, we were strangely notified that our connecting flight out of Panama would be delayed, so we spent 5 hours wondering the airport sipping burnt coffee and knocking over Duty Free sunglasses. I ended up buying some.
We’d heard nightmares about rental cars and insurance deals over there. Amazingly, when we arrived to rent our car the price was the same as the one we were quoted online. *We used My Tan Feet for 20% off.* We decided to risk it for the biscuit and take the minimum insurance coverage, but splurged for the GPS after they told us that signage was not their beautiful country’s forte.
We embarked on our 4 hour drive from San Jose to Nosara. The drive definitely kept us on the edge of our seats (I say that, but I actually took a short nap but vowed to stay awake after I saw the horrors Broc was facing). There were more potholes than paved road in some places. WHOLE FAMILIES are walking in ALL BLACK on the sides and middle of the road. Guys on motorcycles decided that lights were not a necessity. It was real life frogger. If I had to sum it up in one word I would choose ‘terrifying’.
The next day we awoke to the sleepy little surf town of Nosara with some not so sleepy waves. A big swell was conveniently rolling in and we were in way over our heads. Literally. Nosara was cool to experience, but we definitely spent way more time underneath our boards than on them. After relocating to Tamarindo, we kind of wished we’d skipped Nosara :(
Gilded Iguana is an all outdoor restaurant but it somehow feels kinda indoor, too. A local recommended it so we decided to head there for my birthday dinner. The vibes were cool and the live band was funky. Fancy birthday margarita for me, Imperial Lights for Broc. Add some calamari to the mix and file this under one DELISH bday dinner.
Surfing in Tamarindo was so fun! We were warned that this is a touristy and crowded place with baby waves… but it turns out that’s exactly what we needed with our baby skills. We stayed at Casa Aura and it was a literal DREAM. The tasty breakfast and beach in our backyard was so sublime that we ended up going off script and staying another night.
When we were nice and crispy and all surfed out, it was time to embark on our four hour drive inland to Lake Arenal (thankfully in the daylight). We arrived to lush rainforest and the most beautiful backdrop of the Arenal Volcano. We stayed at the Lost Iguana Resort and got a nice little room upgrade after telling them it was our honeymoon. Oops. Our room led to a balcony with the most magnificent view of the volcano. We sat in our rocking chairs and sipped coffee in the morning, basking in our fake honeymoon bliss.
Was the Tabacon Hot Springs a cool experience? Sure. Overpriced? Absolutely. We paid $90 for us both to go in from 6pm-10pm. Drinks were $12+ so we put our self-control to the test and limited ourselves to one. Tabacon is made up of layers and layers of secret hot springs surrounded by jungle and it was nothing like I’d ever seen before. In some places you can sit under the cascading water and be pounded by a waterfall and it kinda felt like a really bad massage. It was pricey but I'm glad we did it.
On Broc’s birthday, our last day in CR, we went to probably the most accessible waterfall in the world: La Fortuna Waterfall. After paying the $30 entry fee, we descended roughly 500 stairs and were greeted by a breathtaking waterfall. We had fun trying to swim as close as we could to the powerful surge of water. When we came back up, we got our first taste of some real wildlife: a monkey trying to pee and throw poop on an American girl he didn’t like the look of. We were delighted.
Before heading to Costa Rica, I had one goal in mind: SEE A SLOTH. This proved to be way more challenging than I expected. I thought they were like what dogs are to America, but alas they are not, and we never saw any. Desperate to see some wildlife (sloths), I found Proyecto Asis Wildlife Refuge on Yelp. We paid around $100 for both of us to do the tour and then to stay and feed the animals. I sold my shoes to the tour guide as he wanted to give his girlfriend some slightly used (just a few hikes) Vans, so this knocked the cost down to $70. I can’t guarantee this method works every time, but it’s worth a try. The tour and volunteering was so informative and we left with something we already knew: humans suck and animals are the best.
I love coffee and I love food and Costa Rica does both so well that it is naturally now one of my favorite countries. I cannot wait to go back and (hopefully) make my sloth dreams come true.
**P.S. I borrowed Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult to take on this trip and WOW! I loved it so much. It is one of the best books I've read in a while. It was pretend-to-go-to-sleep-and-shine-my-phone-light-under-the-covers good. I kept trying to ditch Broc so I could keep reading it.