On #AdventuresofRnL we decide to celebrate a year-long engagement by running around the western coast of Costa Rica. On this trip, we're in search of wedding venues, fresh ceviche, and sunny beaches.
Leti and I enjoy traveling together. Thus far, we have managed to travel during the "offseason" resulting in a more budget-friendly trip. That means, staying in an Airbnb, packing a backpack and exploring the city on foot.
UPDATE: We said 'I Do!’ in Costa Rica. Here’s how it all went down. Click HERE.
Spending 9 days on the West Coast of Costa Rica
Last year's adventure took place in Spain, where Leti and I got engaged. This year, we knew we wanted to be somewhere tropical, and previous conversations about destination weddings were lead by Costa Rica.
It just so happens that Costa Rica topped my list of places to travel to, which meant I was easily convinced.
We targeted an all-inclusive location on the west coast, allowing us to fly into Liberia Airport via Southwest. To help us select a resort in Costa Rica, we worked with Lisa from Romance Travel Group, a company we worked with before. They helped us plan the first leg of the trip, placing us in El Jobo, at Dreams Las Mareas.
Dreams was beautiful! We were scheduled to spend 3 days at the resort, and we spent most of our time near the water. Dreams is rather large and like most all-inclusive resorts, they offer something for everyone. No matter the shape, size, appetite, etc. Which is great news. The bad news is, you can easily forget you're in Costa Rica. With that said, we were anxious to get out and see more.
We head south to Tamarindo Bay
Stop #2 is in Tamarindo, a small beach city, which is a 2.5 hr drive from El Jobo. Fortunately, Budget Rental cars had an agent at Dreams, allowing us to book in advance. There were not many other options which didn't require us to burn an entire day traveling from point a to b. So we hunted down a deal online and went with it.
The car we received was a Daihatsu something or another. The cheapest AWD vehicle available at that time. This thing was hilarious. We didn't care, and I really enjoy driving, no matter what it is.
Looking ahead, our third stop was way off in the mountains and back towards the airport (now 3hrs away), so it made sense to have a car. Also, we didn't plan on staying put for long, as we were determined to visit a few surrounding beaches we learned about. Ultimately, the car was the best option for the trip we planned.
Once you arrive at the city center of Tamarindo, you're greeted by the beach front and surfers. In fact, the one main road that runs through the city is only a few hundred yards from the water. Look West and it's all blue, look right and there are properties lining the mountainside, and everything in between was built for entertainment.
Check out Iguana Surf Shop. The owners are from IL and they run a pretty rad operation, which includes rental properties in town.
What we loved most about this town is that it had everything you wanted and more. The view, restaurants, shopping, etc. We spent our first night in town with front row seats to one of the most amazing sunsets we've ever witnessed. Not too shabby, eh?
Tamarindo felt familiar to me. After spending some time in SoCal. There was just something so reminiscent of Redondo and Hermosa Beach; which brought me back. The vibe was carefree and easy going (definitely a surfers' town). It didn't matter if you were visiting Tamarindo or if you were Costa Rican, you were welcome to grab a spot on the beach and chill.
I'm not sure where the famous Costa Rican saying, "Pura Vida!" originated, but Tamarindo owned it. It truly felt like their way of life reflected the meaning of the country's motto.
Knowing we wouldn't get to see everything in a couple days, we did want to at least get to one other beach. We spent time at Playa Flamingo for a day after stopping through on an ATV tour. It's one of CR's top-rated beaches, and there's no disputing it. The biggest difference was that it felt more luxurious at Playa Flamingo in comparison to Tamarindo's beach.
The beach is much more private and only road that passes through the town is lined with private homes, condominiums, and resorts. One of the perks of being there in the offseason allowed us to be one of the few people at the beach, and it was incredible. We definitely recommend spending the day there and if you choose to not pack a lunch, grab a bite at Coco Loco. This beachside cafe was delicious.
There are a few other spots worth checking out which is why we can't wait to go back! For now, we say goodbye to the beach and head inland to discover out what Central America's tropical forests are all about.
Next, we head to see Volcanoes of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
To round out our trip, we're headed towards Liberia Airport and to a town called Bagaces. From what we had learned thus far, there's nothing in Bagaces. Until, we mentioned a resort named Rio Perdido. Then it began to ring a bell. Here's why:
Making the trip up to Rio Perdido was really unique. The drive was filled with scenes of an entirely different side of Costa Rica we had yet to see. Similar to most rural towns, we passed the occasional house spread over an acre of land set beside a farm.
Eventually, the houses disappeared, as did the road.
BTW: The GPS App called WAZE saved us from getting lost, not once but twice! We highly recommend it.
A place like Rio Perdido is needed after the hour-long trek up the rocky side of a mountain. The resort calls itself a "thermal experience", due to its proximity to volcanoes which produce naturally hot springs. It felt like we were on a wellness retreat at RP. There are only 20 bungalows which meant we wouldn't be getting splashed at the pool by a kid with a dozen flotation devices strapped to his body.
Two types of people venture out here: The first are people looking to find some peace and quiet, the other type are those who are looking for some outdoor adventures. The former was why we chose RP as a destination, but after being handed a map and learning about the forest preserve they were centered around, we made an exception.
After hiking several miles over of the course of 48hrs we packed up the rental and made our way back onto solid ground. Surprisingly, the Daihatsu made it!
There's a good chance it was aware that we had enough over-the-road thrills, allowing us to get back to Liberia Airport and catch a flight home.
My return home felt rather melancholy as I was relieved to be home safe, but not having the option to climb through a tropical forest was disheartening. Fortunately, we are excited to focus on our return to Costa Rica in 2018 for our wedding. (Fingers crossed!)
That means RnL's Costa Rican Adventure will have a part 2 in the near future. Stay tuned!
Additionally, if you would like to know more about our trip, feel free to contact me, here.