Now that I’ve shared my personal must pack list for a trip to Costa Rica, let’s dive into the details of our getaway.
We (me, Vishnu, Vishnu’s brother, my sister, and her husband) spent a total of 6 nights in Costa Rica, including short stints in San Jose on our way in and out. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of where we stayed these nights, but they served the purpose and were super cheap! I will say, though, that the fast food in San Jose, namely Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, tasted pretty delicious. Even better than the states!
Ok, so we woke up super early on Thursday to drive (we rented a big SUV) to La Fortuna/Arenal. We were being picked up at our La Fortuna Airbnb around 9 am for our hiking excursion. The drive took a little over 2.5 hours and was scenic and beautiful.
And that was the start to a very fun 2.5 days in La Fortuna/Arenal…
WHERE WE STAYED
I’m very thankful to my sister and Adarsh (my BIL) for doing the majority of the planning behind this trip. They did an amazing job picking great places to stay and the best excursions.
Like I said, we stayed at a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom Airbnb. The whole vibe reminded me a lot of India. We even had a mini farm next door!
In my opinion, the best part about this particular home was the fact that the owner was incredibly gracious and kind. And that it had a washing machine for all our dirty hiking, rapelling, and rafting clothes. I bet everyone else would say they loved the hammock and the location! Ha!
Overall, I think all five of us would recommend this place.
WHERE WE ATE
In terms of meals, we really only had to think about dinner because we ate breakfast at home (in the form of bananas, bars, and PB sandwiches) and lunches were covered as part of the excursions, with the exception of zip lining.
Rainforest Café – We had high hopes for this place as it came recommend by one of our hiking guides. Personally, I felt like the food was a bit Americanized and not as authentic as I wanted. My sister and I shared some yucca fries and nachos, while the guys ordered special plates with a few different items. I did, however, love the fried plantain with cheese on Vishnu’s plate and had a few bites of that.
Don Rufino – This was our more fancy meal while in La Fortuna/Arenal. Overall, I really enjoyed the ambiance and food. There weren’t too many vegetarian options on the menu but what they did have was great. My sister and I shared a cauliflower steak with couscous. However, the butternut squash risotto that came with the chicken dish stole the show. I’m already thinking of how to recreate it at home!
Chill Out Café (lunch) – Because we had a 5 hour drive ahead of us, we wanted to make sure we ate before heading from zip lining to Manuel Antonio. I will say, for what it was, the food at Chill Out Café was pretty decent. I ordered a veggie quesadilla and fries (because duh!) and liked it a lot. Everyone else ordered tacos and said they tasted better than expected.
WHAT WE DID
La Fortuna Extreme Hike – This was a crowd favorite excursion. And I liked it a lot too! I will say that a baseline of fitness is probably something that should be recommended, as certain portions of the hike were very challenging. My favorite parts included seeing all the cool animals and birds, the views of the volcano, the team work our little group displayed as we climbed up and down for eight miles, and our super energetic guide. At the end of the hike, you go to a hot ‘river’ for an hour to relax. Not my favorite as the river was very rocky and the water pressure crazier than expected, but all in all, it was a great way to end the day!
Desafio Combo Canyoning and Rafting – I ended up loving both of these excursions more than I expected. To be fair, my bar was set pretty low to begin with. The waterfall rapelling (crayoning) definitely got our adrenaline up and proved to be a challenge. Essentially, you rapell down four waterfalls and incur two ‘ wet surprises’ along the way. There is a bit of ‘hiking’ involved with this so I highly recommend taking your water shoes with you. After a breakfast break, we headed to the river for the rafting portion of the day. This was a ton of fun, mainly because our guide was awesome. He let us get in the river and float along, and he also let a few of us ‘ride the bull.’ FYI – I didn’t do this! All in all, I would highly recommend this combo package – just remember adventure is the name of the game. Oh and lunch was pretty delicious too!
Sky Trek Zip Lining – I ended up loving this more than I thought I would (a personal theme for the trip!). Don’t get me wrong, it’s frightening if you think too much about what you’re about to do, but if you can get over the height element, it’s amazing! We zip lined across/down seven different paths, all of varying heights and lengths. The guides were awesome and made sure you had a lot of fun along the way. Again, highly recommend this adventure!
Next up, a little bit of adventure and lots of relaxation in Manuel Antonio…
P.S. To be honest, I was very nervous about all of the excursions we signed up for. I kept imaging someone getting seriously injured. I’m happy to share no one in our group got hurt over the course of our 6 day trip. We owe this in large part to our guides and the safety standards they follow. I felt safe and secure at all times. Also, as Vishnu pointed out, the safety regulations in Costa Rica probably surpass those in the US, as tourism is their main industry.