One week ago I returned to the U.S. after treking through Costa Rica for three weeks. We had the time of our lives! It was an amazing trip. When we came back, we were a little sad our adventure was over. We really miss the beauty of the country.
But there was no time to feel sad for long. We rested at home for three days and headed straight into our 32 hour drive to California. Yes, yes, we are a little nutty. But we signed up for a Tony Robbins’ Firewalk Seminar the following week and needed to make it to Los Angeles, California in three days.
With our schedules so full since we returned, I haven’t been able to post everything about the trip yet. Although I have some amazing pictures of us and experiences I want to share with you. Over the next few weeks you’ll hear more and more about the trip.
In the meantime, let me share with you some quick highlights.
This is my best of the best list. The best hotels, cities, and experiences just to get your appetite wet.
Best Hotel near San Jose and Juan Santamaria International Airport
This hotel is so absolutely beautiful. It has the most amazing views of the city. Each room has a taste of luxury. With flat screen, a rain shower, stunning floors, and comfortable beds, you’ll feel like you stepped into an oasis. By far, this was our favorite place to stay. Every time we went back to San Jose for a night or two, we stayed here just to revise our energy or get a taste of luxury after a rustic experience.
Soda Lidia’s Place
Trip Advisor Reviews (they don’t have a website)
We ate a lot of good food while we were in Costa Rica. There are several places that stand out. In fact, I’ll write a whole post just about food a little later. For now, I want to highlights a restaurant whose food really hit the spot. Soda Lidia’s Place in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica was absolutely delicious. The red snapper was amazing. The best I had in Costa Rica. I went to several places that served me a bougie red snapper. No head. No tail. No whole fish. I can get that back home. Lidia’s which was recommended to us by a local exceeded my expectations. They put the whole fish on your plate covered in spices, potatoes, veggies, and of course beans and rice on the side. It was so delicious. I really enjoyed it. The best I had in Costa Rica.
Most beautiful ocean water
Montezuma had the most beautiful ocean water I saw in all of Costa Rica. It was a bright blue color that begged for you to come jump in. Our stay here was very short. But we couldn’t help but notice the beautiful blue color of the water was unlike any we’d seen in other parts of the country. And there were plenty of parts calm enough to hang out in without waves swinging you around.
Most relaxing experience
Baldi Hot Springs
We did not fall in love with the city of La Fortuna during our three day stay there. It rained the whole time. We didn’t even see the volcano, which is the only reason we went. We stayed in one hotel that was infested with ants and the second hotel was a little rustic for our taste. So the Baldi Resort was the rainbow to our storm. It was amazing. Even in the rain we had a great time. The hot springs were warm to hot. Once I found the hot area, I was hooked. It was just a beautiful and relaxing experience. My whole body was grateful.
Best car rental
Dollar Rent a Car
Dollar was breath of fresh air after renting from Budget. It was half the price of Budget. Plus they tell you the entire cost upfront. We felt deceived by Budget when the actual cost of the rental was more than twice the estimate they gave us online when we reserved the car. It was ridiculous. Most of the extra cost was from the mandatory insurance the country requires. But come one. Why not include that in the estimate. They also charged all these extra fees like $250 if you brought the car back dirty, which in Costa Rica is a guarantee. Dollar on the other hand was amazing. They picked us up from our hotel room and took us to the rental office. The cost of the rental was the same as the estimate. Everything was straight forward — no surprises! We’ll definitely use them again if we return to Costa Rica.
Most beautiful beach
I know this is not usually the one listed in the tourist flyers, but we loved this beach. It was so picturesque that it looked like it came straight out of a movie. It was so absolutely beautiful. With the rainforest on one side and the ocean on the other. It didn’t get much better than this for us. The key is to go into the national park and walk to the beach. This part is so much better than the crowded section you see when you first drive up. A bonus was the cute little monkeys hanging out right there in the trees on the beach. There were dozens on them. This was our best monkey viewing experience. If you’re going to Costa Rica for beautiful beaches and to see monkeys. You get the best of both at Manuel Antonio.
Best Wildlife Reserve
Jaguar Wildlife Reserve
We almost missed this place completely. I just happened to see it on trip advisor while we were in Puerto Viejo, and we decided to check it out. It was awesome. We got to play with monkeys, see baby sloths up close, learn about different snake species in Costa Rica, and a lot more. The volunteers were super sweet and very knowledgeable. It costs $15 per person when we went. And all profits go directly toward caring for the animals. Definitely support them and take a tour.
Best holistic experience
The Farm of Life
We started our trip at the Farm of Life. We spent our first 7 days in Costa Rica at this beautiful paradise, in the middle of the most stunning views. Literally everywhere we looked, it was absolutely beautiful. The owners, Brian and Jody were amazing. They were well versed on health and wellness and could tell you a lot about Costa Rica. Our stay there was magical. Every time hubby mentions it, I tell him I forgot we started our Costa Rica trip there. It seems like a dream. If your looking to cleanse, improved your health, or just rejuvenate your spirit, this is the place to be!
Best Organized Tour
The Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
We did this tour while visiting La Fortuna. It was great! We saw everything. Monkeys, cayman, which look like alligators, a variety of different bird species. It was great. Also, they stop at this really cool restaurant on the way to the tour that has over 400 iguanas hanging out along its perimeter. Big, big iguanas. Is pretty cool to see. They pick you up from your hotel and drop you off after the tour. They even provide lunch which was filling. Definitely worth a trip.
Sky Adventures Ziplining
Ok so this was the only ziplining we did while in Costa Rica. But it was pretty darn amazing. We went up in a canopy that gave us a beautiful view of the rainforest. It was raining the day we did it. In fact, it rained three days straight which was the whole time we were in La Fortuna. And it was dry season! So check the forecast before you go. But even in the rain, we had a good time. This zip line tour has so much to see on a clear day. In addition to the rainforest, there was a beautiful lake and a volcano. Matt zip lined while Skye and Iwatched for as long as we could see him then we rode the canopy back down.
There were 8 zipline cables Matt rode down so it took him about an hour to finish. So Skye and I hung out in the gift shop and restaurant until he finished. The guides were great. They give a brief 15 minute training on the equipment and how to properly zipline. They’re also very diverse as I heard one guide give the same training in English, Spanish, and Dutch. So they’re use to all nationalities visiting.
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