10 Favorite Pura Vida Costa Rica Moments
La Fortuna Waterfall
1. Fly to Costa Rica on Avianca
We booked our one-week Costa Rica experience with Adventure Life Tours. Our flight on Avianca offered competitive prices to Costa Rica. We splurged and upgraded to Business Class from LAX to San Jose in Costa Rica. There were 12 extra large seats with friendly stewards and stewardess. The food was fair and the beverage cart offered a variety of waters, sodas, beer and wines from Costa Rica and Chile.
A cool dip in the stream
2. Once You Land Drive to Arenal Volcano Area
Located near the base of the Arenal Volcano is the La Fortuna Waterfall. At 5,437 feet, the Arenal Volcano looms over the pastured green hillsides and remains one of the country’s most active volcano for the past 43 years with major and minor eruptions.
It's an ideal moderate hike to the bottom of the falls. A local non-profit association administers the waterfall. The entrance fee is $8, with all proceeds being reinvested into local conservation efforts.
The trail is easy to follow through the rainforest and takes about 15 minutes to hike down. There are stairs and switchbacks to the waterfall, so allow at least one hour going down and coming back up.
Bring a swimming suit to swim below the fall and in the stream. On a hot day, its very refreshing. Look up to take nature photos of the birds and other wildlife.
Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa
3. Stay at least One Night at the Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa
Arenal Kioro offers 27 acres of land, surrounded by two streams that flow into the Arenal Volcano National Park. The property offers multiple private Thermal water volcanic pools for guests to soak in after a day of hiking.
The gardens are lush with a wide variety of plants and flowers at the base of the volcano. Upon checking in, the friendly staff offers guests a complimentary drink or cocktail.
The hotel hosts 53 suites, 11 with one king bed and a daybed and 42 with two Queen bed and a daybed and all offering panoramic volcano and mountain views. In each room is large hydromassage jucuzzi-style hottub, air conditioning, safe deposit box, minibar, coffee maker, hot water, direct dialing telephone, cable television, hair dryer, key card, safety locks and wireless Internet.
There are two restaurants offering local and international cuisine. The casual restaurant by the pool was under utilized when we were visiting. Upstairs the restaurant serves a complimentary breakfast buffet and sit down dinner in the evening.
Families enjoy the pool and ping pong tables near the small gym.
Ask for a second floor room. We had room 603 downstairs and could hear the guests above while we were trying to sleep.
Soak in a Jucuzzi Tub
Popular Activities in Costa Rica
Zipline above the Trees
Visiting Animal Reserves
Meeting Local Ticos
Eating fresh produce
Boating on a Lake
Searching for Sloths
Meeting friendly dogs
Boating with Tourists and Backpackers
4. Take a Boat on Lake Arenal
Arenal is very mountainous and there isn’t a direct route between Arenal and Monteverde. It’s 66 miles that winds around Lake Arenal and through the town of Tilarán, and takes upwards of 4 hours with a 4x4 vehicle. By bus, it’s 8 hours.
The best way to travel is by taxi from your hotel, then boat on Lake Arenal and taxi to Monteverde, it takes only 2.5 hours and is a fun alternative. A lot of backpackers go this route. The boat captain will venture over to areas that offer wildlife viewing.
Once you reach the other side, be aware that part of the road is dirt with rocks. It can be bumpy at times as you traverse by small cattle and dairy farms. About halfway on the trip is a rest stop for food, banos (bathrooms) and souvenirs.
The town you reach before Monteverde is Santa Elena. It offers a lot of hostels, some restaurants and lot's of activity offices.
Zip Line Adventure
5. Go Zip lining in Costa Rica
We booked with 100% Aventura Canopy Tour in Monteverde. Guy manages the activity center and is very positive and outgoing. He has a team of trained guides at each platform station to hook us into each line. We flew over tree tops and rappelled down a platform.
They claim to have the longest zip line in Latin America with 1590 meters in length. For those seeking more of a thrill, there are two Superman zip lines and a 148 ft. tall Tarzan swing.
A photographer takes photos at various station and displays them on a television screen back at the office for guests to see and purchase a disc of their photos for $5 to $20.
6. Bird Watching
The jungles won over nature and bird lovers. Birders flock together to see the extensive array of birds in the neotropical region with as many as 894.
Birds are found in the Cloud Forest, Rain Forest and even along the side of the road. Keep your eyes looking up and your binoculars in your hands.
We saw beautiful herons, ibis, black and turkey vultures, kites, wood quails, parrots, toucans and lot's of multicolored hummingbirds.
7. Manuel Antonio National Park
Established in 1972 for its beautiful beaches, wildlife and hiking trails. In 2011, it was listed in Forbes magazine as the world's 12 most beautiful national parks.
There is diversity here inside the tropical forest leading down to the sandy beach with warm Pacific Coast water. With 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds this is where we saw a beautiful brown-throated three-toed sloth and Hoffmann's two-toed sloth. We also saw white-headed capuchin monkeys and mantled howler monkeys.
It is the second most visited park in Costa Rica with easy access to a multitude of accommodation and restaurants offering a wide range of flora and fauna attracting surfers, swimmers, birders and ecotourists.
The Water is Very Warm in Costa Rica
8. Eat a Casado plate
In Spanish "Casado" means married. In Costa Rica a casado plate is a marriage of white rice, black beans, sweet plantains, salads, avocado, steamed vegetables and homemade tortillas. You can add chicken, beef, pork or fish as a protein. It's relatively inexpensive and very filling. Ideal for lunch.
A Traditional Costa Rican Meal
Eat Tres Leches for Dessert
Master Bedroom at Si Como No
Great Pool at Si Como No
9. Stay at Si Como No
Si Como No is a property near Manuel Antonio offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
The staff is friendly and the rooms in this boutique hotel are large and clean with unobstructed views. There is an inviting family pool with a swim up bar, water slide and waterfall. There is also a more private Adult-only pool.
The property has two restaurants - one more casual that offers breakfast buffet in the morning and sit down lunch and dinner. It's located right next to the pool. The other is more seafood-centric and located near the street in a jungle-like setting.
The property offers a spa and small movie theatre with movies rolling nightly at 8 p.m.
Across the street is a wonderful butterfly reserve. The hotel gives guests free passes. It's a fun spot to see wildlife along a path and enter the butterfly pavilion.
The resort offers a free ride down to the beach and Manuel Antonio National Park throughout the day. They will pick you up too.
River Rafting in Costa Rica
10. Paddle Down A River
The Savegre River is known as one of the rivers in the world with beautiful scenery and thrilling rapids. It's located near the central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The Naranjo River is located ½ hour east of Manuel Antonio, then up past villages and farms into the vast mountain forests. Paddle in a 6 person raft down class lll and III+ rapids that continue for most of the trip.
We woke up early and took a shuttle to the River Rafting office for a casado breakfast. The 40 minute drive by small bus to the river was fascinating as we learned all about the King Palm oil plantations before heading to the Class II-III whitewater of the Savegre River. We stopped once at a waterfall and enjoyed seeing a variety egrets, osprey and kingfishers. We made another stop to eat a fresh fruit snack before the end of our trip. A photographer followed us throughout the trip documenting us digging deep into the water, riding the rapids and putting our paddles in the air after a successful ride. After the river trip, we returned back to Quepos for a hot casado lunch and then shuttled back to our hotel.
What is included in the tour - Professional guides, all safety gear, fruit snacks, Breakfast and/or lunch and round trip transportation from hotels in Manuel Antonio.