7 days in Costa Rica 🇨🇷
JFK ➡️ LIB
Julia and I have a direct flight to Liberia. We’re sharing a checked bag and it comes in at 49.6 of the 50 pound limit. Our first triumph of the trip. As the cabin doors close, we realize that no one is coming for the third seat in our row. We stretch out and relax. Vacation has begun.
We rent a car to get us to our first destination, La Fortuna. As the Weather Channel promised, it’s raining when we hit the road, but traffic is pretty light, especially once we hit a dirt road. After 15 minutes of not seeing anyone else, flashing lights appear in the rearview mirror. It’s pretty hard to speed on a road that’s meant for cattle so I figured it would be best to pull off to the side and let the cop pass. When he pulls off to the side in front of us, I start to get a little nervous. There is no one else on this road, and I have no idea what I could have done wrong. When he approaches the window and asks a question in Spanish, I let him know that yo no hablo and he looks frustrated and walks back to his motorcycle. He returns with his phone to translate his speech and shows me, “Why did you pull over here? It’s dangerous.” And I’m like, you pulled me over! After a few more games of charades, we all get back on the road. We can’t help but laugh at the fact that while we thought we were getting pulled over, we’d actually pulled the cop over to check on us.
Costa Rica’s national sport, the zip line
La Fortuna is a few kilometers from the base of the Arenal Volcano. Our first excursion is a zip line course in view of both the volcano and Lake Arenal. No matter what I do, I turn sideways, accidentally brake, and land short of the target. Neither the 11-year-old or the 68-year-old in our group breaks a sweat. Thankfully the views are 360°.
When we get back to the hotel, we soak in the hot tub to unwind before the demands of a couples massage in our room. After the massage, we order nachos to the room and watch TV. It’s only day 2 and we’ve reached peak vacation.
ATV Tour and Hot Springs
We only have 3 nights in Fortuna so we’re double-booked today: ATVs in the morning and hot springs in the evening. Before we’ve even left the parking lot, one rider ditches their own ATV to ride with a guide and another rear-ends the vehicle in front of them. It pours rain, but we both agree that the weather only adds to the fun. Because we haven’t spent enough time in our own hot tub at the hotel, we hit the local hot springs in the evening and enjoy our 5th piña colada of the trip.
La Fortuna ➡️ Tamarindo
It’s about 4 hours back through Liberia and over to Tamarindo. Julia, who had fallen asleep during our original screening of Ocean’s 11 the night before, pulls it up on her iPad. I listen to Danny and Rusty scheme and try to avoid any transit police.
Our bed and breakfast, Sueño del Mar, is perfect. It’s right on the beach and a 15 minute walk to the center of town. It’s still cloudy, but the innkeeper assures us it’s the best day to sail. We take their advice and head out into Tamarindo Bay. The dolphins are frolicking, the beverages are freshly blended, and it’s always a nice change of pace to see a place from the water. After snorkeling and swimming, we enjoy lunch onboard and head back around sunset.
We lean into today’s rainy morning and read on one of the day beds that face the ocean. I should mention that the B+B takes breakfast seriously. The breakfast burrito is a force to be reckoned with and the pancakes are smaller in diameter but taller than the average American flapjack. All that is to say that a postprandial lie down was usually necessary.
When the rain lets up, we walk along the beach into town and have a few drinks at brewery before dinner at an Argentinian restaurant. We’re home and in bed at a delicious 9:45pm once again.
Surf Lessons & Street Rice
After our off day, we’re ready to get after it. We book a surf lesson. Neither of us has been on a board in years, but the waves are beginner-friendly and the instructor, Jeffrey, is just straight up friendly. After an exhausting hour of catching waves, we get cleaned up and clink negronis as the sun goes down.
Our instructor told us that there would be authentic Costa Rican food for sale outside of a bar where his friend is deejaying that night, but when we got there there’s only one woman who looks like she might be in business. When we ask, she pops her trunk, fires up a camping grill and heats up some chicken fried rice. After a few beers inside, the street rice and reggae start to get to us. We leave early and get another good night’s sleep.
Black & White
We catch wind that there’s a “Black & White” party at a restaurant that we want to try anyways. It being a Costa Rican vacation, I have no trouble donning white from head to toe. What we don’t realize is that the party supports a local charity that seems to only be patronized by American expats. The vibe is Real Housewives of Tamarindo. We talk only to ourselves. We’re overserved. We dance and leave.
LIB ➡️ JFK
Back to reality, but with a glow.