At Last – We Make it to Costa Rica!
Despite the sweltering heat and long lines at the border, we were excited to arrive in Costa Rica. Indeed, it was a country we had heard much about and promised an abundance of delights. With incredible wildlife, pristine jungles, misty volcanoes, not to mention stunning beaches to explore, it sounded like our kind of place.
After a night in the capital of San Jose, we jumped on a local bus and headed to Quepos, the nearest town to Manual Antonio National Park. Quepos is situated on the Pacific coast a few miles from the park. We had some lunch and then a wander around town before checking into our accomodation.
Wildlife Spotting in Manual Antonio National Park
The following day, we took a bus to the park and spent the day exploring the beaches and jungle. The trails were easy and well-marked. We weren’t lucky enough to see a sloth, but on the other hand, we spotted white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, coatis, vultures, racoons and magical morpho butterflies. It’s a beautiful park, small and manageable by foot.
A Beachside Paradise in Uvita (Apart from the Crocs!)
Our next destination was Uvita, known for Marino Ballena National Park. We stayed in a cabin in the jungle and enjoyed much of our time sitting outside watching butterflies. The national park is known for its sandbar, which when the tide retreats, forms the shape of a whale’s tail. Appropriately, whales can be seen from the beach at certain times of the year when they visit Marino Ballena. The wide expanse of sand is backed by jungle and ‘Beware of Crocodiles’ signs were numerous.
Surprising San Jose
All roads lead back to San Jose. As a matter of fact, you cannot travel far in Costa Rica without returning to the capital where most of the buses connect. San Jose generally receives a bad rap, but we were pleasantly surprised by it. There’s some cool street art on Calle 17, in addition to several museums and an impressive national theatre. Furthermore, the hub of the city is Plaza de Cultura, which is surrounded by streets which are brimming with shops and restaurants.
We rounded off our Costa Rican trip with a week in Cahuita. Situated on the Caribbean coast, Cahuita is a laid-back, rough-around-the-edges town, which we soon fell in love with. Indeed, it could be in the running for the perfect place to live one day!
Our Caribbean Beachside Abode
We stayed in a little cabin right on the beach. Owned by Walter (a local) and Patty (an American ex-pat), the lush tropical garden was stunning. What is more, we spotted our first tree frog in the garden – an exciting moment! There were hammocks hung between the trees, a cute waterhole, funky sculptures not to mention colourful birds and butterflies everywhere. And a resident cat too.
Spending hours watching the waves crashing onto the shore was just what we needed. In the light of the traumatic incident of T’s injury, it was a perfect opportunity to chill out after traveling through Central America. The surf seemed special in Cahuita and was mesmerising to watch.
Rasta Vibes in Cahuita
Our lodgings were about a half an hour walk from the tiny downtown area, along a dirt track and past wild beaches full of driftwood. The core of Cahuita consisted of a small bus station, a couple of reggae bars and one or two general stores. Furthermore, Rasta culture was alive and well in this ramshackle little town.
Cahuita National Park on Our Doorstep
One of the things that had attracted us to the idea of visiting the town was the fact that there was a national park that you could walk into. We took the trail along the coast early one morning. Full of beautiful butterflies, we saw many monkeys and were even lucky enough to spot a sloth and baby. Admittedly, it was hidden in the leaves of a tree, but at least we were able to catch a glimpse.
Costa Rica is a beautiful country and one we would like to return to one day. It was more expensive than other Central American countries, but there were plenty of accommodation options and it’s easy to get around by bus. With eco-friendly policies in place and much of the land protected, it’s one of the best countries on the planet to see wildlife and enjoy the experience of being in nature.