Hello friends! I know its been awhile since my last blog post, but honestly I lost a bit of motivation in these COVID times, in addition to some major changes going on as well. (More on that later…) BUT! I am back with another blog post, this time to a destination that is closer to my American readers and open as of now for leisure travel from the US – Costa Rica!!
Please travel when you feel safe, and as responsibly as you can. i.e. get tested before and if possible after your flights, minimise contact and adhere to COVID rules.
Currently Costa Rica does not require a negative PCR test upon entry or on arrival. However you must have a letter from your travel insurance/ insurance policy stating that any COVID related health costs will be covered the entire duration of your trip. In addition you must fill out a Health Pass within 24 hours of arrival. You can fill it out here.
DAY 1-2: Fly into SJO, Costa Rica then head to Manuel Antonio
On your first day, take it easy explore San Jose. For us, our flights took us all day to arrive in Costa Rica in midnight – so we immediately went to bed on arrival. The next day we got up early to pick up our rental car. Regarding renting, make sure that whatever car insurance policy you have covers rental cars. Call ahead if need be to check if it is sufficient or you will have to purchase theirs. Now, is it safe to drive around Costa Rica? Absolutely! The hardest part is driving in San Jose as the streets are crowded and traffic rules are seemingly optional lol.
Once you’ve picked up the car, make the drive to Manuel Antonio. It’s a beautiful park by the beach where we caught a fire sunset. This is also the place to do parasailing if you’d like. It was pretty pricey so we skipped this one.
Where to stay: Hotel San Bada (although its a bit of an older property, it’s literally right outside the entrance of the park so you won’t have to deal with parking)
Day 3-4: Manuel Antonio to Jaco
On morning of day 3 – I recommend waking up early-ish and heading into the park to spend some time at the beaches there. When choosing which path to walk in, I recommend walking the newly built ramp on the right side. It takes you in midst of the jungle plants and you can hear monkeys howling!
If you’re short on time, walk the path down to Playa Manuel Antonio (#6) and grab a spot. There are little snack shacks near by where you can buy food/ snacks.
Once you’ve soaked up enough beach, drive towards Jaco which is a more touristy town with a bunch of options to eat and drink. We ended up eating at the Jacowalk – I don’t really recommend where we ate so I won’t include it here. But the Jacowalk is basically an open air plaza with lots of different restaurants and shops.
Start off Day 4 with an ATV ride. It’ll take around 3 hours. We booked our tour through Riders Adventures. Our guide was super nice and took a bunch of photos and videos for us and took us through a fun muddier course! Be prepared, wear sneakers you don’t care about getting muddy. Because you will get soaked and muddy.
Optional stop: After your tour, make a stop by Playa Blanca as the last beach stop on this trip before you go on your way to Monteverde.
Day 5-6: Monteverde
As you ascend up to Monteverde, try to catch the sunset over the layers of mountains. It’s really so beautiful. This area is also pretty popular for tourists, so there will be plenty of restaurants and shops. The drive from Jaco take a bit of time so take the first evening to relax.
Where to stay: We booked this container home Airbnb that had the most amazing views! I highly recommend it even though the wifi only worked the first 5 mins.
On the morning of Day 6, head to the Selvatura Adventure Park for some zip lining and suspension bridge action. You can find packages of different activity combos you can choose.
After the activities, make the drive over the where you’ll be staying the next few days – La Fortuna!
Day 7-9: La Fortuna, Costa Rica
There are so many cool places to stay in La Fortuna, we decided to try them all! La Fortuna is a super popular tourist destination because of the possibilities of seeing the beautiful and massive Arenal Volcano on a clear day. And our local friends told us that if we were really lucky we could see it spew lava at night! (We were not so lucky lol, but it would’ve been cool!)
Where to Stay:
Budget – Selina La Fortuna
A hostel with super cute tipi tents with beds that were actually quite comfy! However, I want to note that it is not the most COVID safe location to stay. If you are high risk, you should avoid!!
Comfort – Tifakara Boutique Hotel
I super recommend staying here, we had a little bungalow to ourselves with an open air shower AND there was a sloth on the tree right outside!! How lucky!!
Luxury – Tabacon Thermal Spa & Resort
Such a beautiful property and booking a nights stay here comes with access to their thermal spas 2 hours before they open to the public!
What to do:
Book a horseback riding tour – they have trail options to either go up to the base of the volcano or you can do a ride through the jungle to a waterfall and loop back around to view the volcano. We ended up skipping since it was raining quite a bit by the time we arrived in La Fortuna area.
A sloth watching and coffee tour – this was prior to us staying at Tifakara and seeing the sloth there. But I still think it’s worth it to do this tour, in conjunction with the coffee tour. You really can’t see the sloths with an untrained eye so with the tour you have a guide with a telescope! We saw THREE!! and two with babies. Tip: WEAR LONG PANTS AND SNEAKERS!!
Spend a day at a thermal spa – If staying at Tabacon isn’t in your budget, don’t worry there are plenty of other options near by as well as the option of purchasing a day pass for the spa at Tabacon!
Day 10: Back to San Jose to catch your flight
And just like that, ten days have gone by in a flash! We actually took a full day to rest in San Jose before flying out of SJO Airport. Hope this blog post gives you a good idea on where to go in Costa Rica! I say this every time, but I always wish I had more time to explore the rest of the country, but it’ll have to wait til next time. Before I leave you, let me emphasize again the importance of pants/ bug spray – especially during the sloth walks where you might venture into unpaved paths. And to convince you further, heres a picture of my poor leg after.
Special thanks to our friends from Amsterdam who invited us to visit them in Costa Rica (where they’re originally from). Thanks for showing us around guys! <3