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Pura vida in costa Rica! What a beautiful country! a completely different feel than many of my vacations- costa rica is enriched in culture and has endless options for whatever type of traveler you are. if you like adventure- they have that - from the volcanoes to rainforests to cloud forests to all types of excursions. if you are more of a laid back beachgoer, that's an option for you as well. the food there is also spectacular, and not at all a fancy affair. food is a big part of traveling i believe, i've been to a few beautiful islands that just did not have the best food-and it really can put a damper on an experience. you won't have that problem here. costa rica is huge, the first challenge was deciding what part we wanted to stay in. traveling through costa rica is not easy, many of the roads are more like dirt paths and gps is not really reliable, so we chose to stay in the manuel antonio area- which is right by the national park. it ended up being the ideal spot for us. we rented a hotel that was up on a cliff, and provided beautiful views of the beach and national park, but had a path where we were able to walk down to the beach in about 20mins. our hotel also had a good 10 restaurants/cafes within a 5min walk where we went out for meals every night. the beach that we walked to almost daily was so nice, very big and not overcrowded, however by about 4-5pm the tide came in and the beach went completely underwater. i think it is mother nature's way of saying- you've had enough sun. from that beach, the entrance to the manuel antonio national forest was only a 10min walk and easily accessible. we toured the park one day and for sure got our fill of monkeys-it was like walking through a zoo. buy your tickets early in the morning for the park if you can, the lines do get long and the days get hot. besides spending time at the beach, park, and hotel pooltime- we also worked in some excursions. ziplining was pretty fun, as well as a horseback ride to some waterfalls and through a private ranch.
some logistical sidenotes about costa rica:
we flew into the San jose airport (their biggest major airport) and rented a shuttle ahead of time to take us to our hotel. this was a good 2 hour drive. from what i hear, san jose and around it is not much of a draw, so to get anywhere, especially to the coast, takes some driving time.
where we stayed was perfect for not having a car. we still had many options of things to do.
I loved our hotel. our room was huge with a balcony overlooking the forest, there was a free outdoor breakfast every morning made to order. and the pool, the pool was everything. the water was the perfect temperature, and it included a small separate area with a swim up bar. i think my favorite activity was coming back for happy hour every night, having drinks and watching the sunset from in the pool.
Cost breakdown of Costa Rica (excluding flights and per person)
hotel Mariposa: $700 (5 nights)
shuttle to and from airport: $200
excursions/park fee: $150
meals/drinks: $500 (5 Nights)
Total for 2 of Us: $3100