Costa Rica Travel Tips – (Part 1)

I just returned from an amazing week in Costa Rica with friends, it was one of my best vacations in recent years. Costa Rica has so much to offer, whether you are looking to relax or take on a new adventure

Keel billed Toucans - sited on the road to Monteverde

We started our week with two nights in Monteverde. The drive from Liberia takes you through beautiful, green meadows with grazing cattle and higher into the mountains you pass coffee plants hugging the hillsides. If you are lucky, as we were, you will view several varieties of birds, including colorful toucans. The small town of Monteverde is casual with a variety of restaurants and accommodations. Tip – be sure to sample the local ice cream, the cows are known to have sweeter milk that makes it delicious.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve provided us with a full morning of hiking in the most peaceful setting imaginable. We saw a variety of plants and birds and an amazing view at the Continental Divide. The overall beauty is just hard to put into words. Our afternoon was spent walking the hanging bridges in Monteverde. This experience gives you a chance to see the forest from the top looking down. Tip – be sure to pack your binoculars, it’s the best way to see the birds and monkeys.

Trail in the Monteverde Cloud Forest

For the next four nights, our journey continued with a drive around Lake Arenal to the town of La Fortuna. This is the center of activity for visitors to the Arenal Volcano. Tip – Don RuFino in downtown La Fortuna is an excellent place for lunch or dinner – atmosphere is casual but the food is elegant.

In the Arenal area, we enjoyed a variety of activities including:

Bird watching – we did a special hike in El Silencio Reserve. Tip – get up early to see the birds when they are active, we started our hike at 6:00am. Over the course of 7 days, we saw 45 different types of birds, including hummingbirds, toucans, Montezuma Oropendola, woodpeckers, Collard Aracari, Emerald Toucanet, Swallowtail Kite, Rufous Motmot, just to name a few.

Zip lining – you can’t go to Costa Rica without doing at least one zip line adventure. Not only did we have the thrill of zipping over the rain forest but we saw Spider monkeys and a variety of birds.

Rappelling through waterfalls in the Arenal area - yes this is me

Rappelling through waterfalls –as if jumping backwards off a ledge isn’t enough, imagine doing it through 5 waterfalls in the mountains of Costa Rica surrounded by the beautiful rain forest. This was my first experience at rappelling and that first 165 foot drop was a blast!

Arenal Hanging Bridges – this reserve has 17 bridges with great bird and monkey viewing opportunities, waterfalls and the lush rain forest.

La Fortuna waterfall – this spectacular 210 foot waterfall is worth the hike down to – Tip – be sure to wear your swimsuit, the water is cold but swimming at the base of the waterfall is memorable.

Thanks for reading the first part about my fabulous trip to Costa Rica and I hope you’ve enjoyed all the little tips throughout my journey. Stay tuned for more Costa Rica Travel Tips!

Costa Rica – Day 2

Apple Vacations offers escorted vacations to Costa Rica!  The 7 night escorted “Discover Costa Rica”  tour is one of many specialized tours created for you!  You will fly into San Jose and stay 2 nights, transfer to the Arenal area and stay for 2 nights and then transfer to the Guanacaste area to relax on the beach for the final 3 nights.  This tour includes specially selected excursions throughout!  Travelers have the option of choosing the Deluxe or Luxury version of hotels.

Arenal Nayara Hotel Boutique / 5 Apple – This resort is a component of the Deluxe version of the “Discover Costa Rica” tour.  The resort boasts beautiful views of the Arenal Volcano and the surrounding countryside.  This little jewel features 44 suites and rooms nestled in a tropical jungle paradise.  Apple clients will receive the Deluxe Casita Suite that features an indoor/outdoor shower, jacuzzi, hammock on the balcony,  iPod docking station, and DVD player with free movies.  Heated pool with pool bar and pool cocktail tables.  One open air restaurant and bar, free WIFI, free International calling and a mountainside spa!  There’s even a state-of-the art Wine Bar available for guests to sample the 32 different varieties of wines from around the world!  I sampled the 2004 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay – Tasty!  Lots of walking up and down hills.  Wonderful property! Continue reading

Costa Rica – Day 1

lirGreetings from Costa Rica! Or, as they say here – “Pura Vida” – Pure Life!

Getting Here:
Flew from Philadelphia direct to San Jose via Atlanta on Delta. Was met outside of Baggage Claim by a Swiss Tours representative who “tagged me” with a Swiss Tours badge. Customs/Immigrations was super fast and very easy in this very modern and air-conditioned airport. My air-conditioned transfer bus was waiting as soon as I stepped outside.

The Transfer:
Got the opportunity to see a bit of San Jose. This capital city offers everything you’d expect of a big city – many cultural attractions, lots of dining and great nightlife! The transfer to the Arenal area (about 3 hours) went by quickly as my guide gave me some great background information on Costa Rica while we drove through stunning vistas of misty mountains, valleys, sugar cane and coffee plantations. I have arrived in the “Green” season – end of April through the beginning of December. The weather is cooler and wetter. Stopped at a local place on the way called El Jardin (about an hour into the transfer) for a great lunch with the locals! Continue reading