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One of the fun things about living in a different state is all of the new travel opportunities. Not only are there tons of fun road trips to be had, but a lot of interesting places are now a lot closer and cheaper. So when we found a killer deal on tickets to Costa Rica for spring break, we jumped on it. We had to drive four hours south to Miami to catch a plane run by some airline that we’d never heard of (TACA, the national airline of El Salvador), but doing so saved us a bunch of money… and we made it back in one piece!
We rented the cheapest 4×4 we could find, a tiny little SUV called a Suzuki Jimny. It turned out to be perfect as it had just enough room for me, Melanie, and our luggage. While gutless and bumpy, it always made us smile with its Tonka truck looks.
First we headed up to a town called La Fortuna (map) near the Arenal volcano, pictured above. The volcano is fairly active but not TOO active; we saw a bit of steam in the day and some brief lava flows at night. There was a ton of stuff to do in this area, and we chose some more adventurous options including whitewater rafting and ziplines. Both were amazingly fun. We also went on a really nice walk at Arenal Hanging Bridges, which has a series of trails and suspension bridges through the rain forest. We saw all kinds of flora and fauna, including a sloth and monkeys. The place we stayed, Hotel El Silencio de Campo, was excellent as well. We would have liked to stay a lot longer, but we also wanted to include the beaches in our trip, so we headed off after a few days.
Our next stop was an overnight in Jaco (map), which is a touristy and Americanized town on the Pacific. We stayed there just as a halfway point to our final destination and didn’t do anything in the town, but we really liked the place we stayed, Aparhotel Vista Pacifico. It is perched up on a hill overlooking Jaco and the Pacific, and had a really nice vibe to it. It was really cheap as well.
After Jaco we headed through palm orchards down to Dominical (map), where we stayed a few nights and enjoyed the beaches. Not only was the sand soft and the water bathtub worthy, we had the beaches pretty much all to ourselves. Unfortunately the waves didn’t make for very good swimming or snorkeling, so don’t count on Costa Rica for those activities. But we still had a lot of fun walking, wading, finding cool sea shells, and seeing crabs, birds, lizards, and spectacular views.
The town of Dominical was small and quiet, which we liked. Just enough stuff, like a grocery store and a burger joint, but not touristy or crowded. We stayed at another excellent place, Shelter from the Storm. (Thanks TripAdvisor.com for helping us find all these great places to stay and things to do.)
Overall this was one of our favorite vacations; the country was beautiful, the people friendly, and there was lots of adventure to be had. Just be sure to avoid touristy areas like Jaco and Manuel Antonio (Quepos). We felt very safe the whole time we were there, had no problem driving around the country with a good map, and language was not a barrier as everybody we encountered spoke at least a little English.
Click here for the photo gallery. The video is below. (After you press play be sure to pick 720p or 1080p if your computer/connection supports it!)No comments
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