At the end of January me and the Mr packed our bathing suits, rash vests, hiking boots and my 35mm film camera and set out on an almost two week journey to Costa Rica. We were looking for guaranteed sunshine, beach with the promise of adventure and Costa Rica was just that AND more. I spent a considerable amount of time planning this trip, gathering recommendations, tips and deciding which areas to visit so maybe this travel diary could be interesting for some of you considering or planning a trip there too. Ready, set, GO!
The first 5 days of our vacation we spent surfing in Santa Teresa, a remote but very beautiful beach town in the Nicoya peninsula. It’s very hard to describe this place… have you seen the movie “The Beach”…. it’s like that! Once we got through the long and not so comfortable journey we arrived to this dusty little town which at first seemed like a Quicksilver commercial. Extremely attractive and über cool surfer boys and girls roaming the streets, wild horses running on the beach and practically no sign of mass tourism! In fact it seems like Santa Teresa is a haven for surf loving expats who spend a few months of each year here or even decided to move permanently! We stayed in a cool tree-house type lodge, the Canaima Chill House which we absolutely loved. Big bedrooms, absolute relaxation, the only negative I’d mention that you need to go with a car everywhere as its located up a very steep road approx 400m from the beach. Every restaurant we went to had a very healthy menu, coconut milk coffee, chia pudding, eggwhite omelettes, smoothies and juices…. exactly my kind of cuisine! 🙂 Our favourites were Zwart Cafe and The Bakery. I have witnessed some of the most amazing sunsets of my life in Santa Teresa (and I have been spoilt with some gorgeous Ibiza sunsets already) just unreal…. the beach clubs are very different here too (Rocamar Beach Club and Ranchos Itauna were amazing)… no fuss, no bling, everyone barefoot gathers around the fire while the DJ spins his sunset chill out tunes. Mega love!
The second part of our journey took us to the famous Arenal Volcano… a must see according to every travel book & blog I’ve seen. Well…. in the 3 days we spent there we haven’t actually got to see the volcano as most of the times it’s covered by clouds and while the area is naturally extremely blessed, after Santa Teresa’s purity this seemed to be the typical example of a beautiful place being ruined by mass tourism, Burger King and the likes. We expected wild, lush forests, but actually the hiking routes are all asphalted and you even have to pay an entrance fee… reminded me of a theme park instead of wild nature. Also, mental note…. the rain forest is called rain forest because it’s raining most of the time! (I know! :)) Even though Arenal hasn’t impressed me much, we were lucky to spend those few days in one of the world’s best hotels (nr 2 according to Tripadvisor in the world), the Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens. Pure bliss, best service, absolutely recommended. We also took part in a white water rafting trip which was such an amazing adrenalin flush, my first but definitely not last time rafting!
To finish off our trip we wanted to spend the last few days somewhere on the beach in a hammock with a good book. We found the absolute perfect hotel… the Alma del Pacifico! It’s in a very quite area, but very easily accessible from the capital/airport. Our beach villa was just out of this world… we spent the last days floating in our private pool watching the tide come in and sipping Bloody Mary’s. The hotel also hosts many weddings and I could hardly imagine a more ideal setting so if any one of you is searching for a destination wedding location, definitely have a look! One of the absolute highlights of the trip was the sunset horse riding trip on the beach… I felt like we were in a cheesy romantic movie as Alex and I cantered on the empty beach with sea water splashing around…. huhhhhh back to reality now!
Overall this was definitely one of my favourite vacations ever and I’d happily return in a heartbeat. Anyone planning to get married in Costa Rica? Take me with you! 🙂
All photos shot on 35mm Fuji400H film and scanned & developed by Carmencita Film Lab