Highlights of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a beautiful country and offers so much to see and experience.  One of the reasons tourists fall in love with Costa Rica is that it is not over touristy. In my previous post Costa Rica “Pura Vida”,  I have included my itinerary and some tips to help plan the trip. This one has a description area wise of what all we covered in our trip – Flamingo-Conchal, Guanacaste, Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio, Peace Lodge, Verablanca and San Jose.

Flamingo-Conchal, Guanacaste
This area is home to beautiful palm, studded beaches. conchal beachThe water, a shade of turquoise and the fine white sand both look stunning. We stayed at the Westin Conchal Resort.westin conchal resortwestin conchalwestin conchal resort poolwestin conchal poolsidewestin conchal pool It was an all-inclusive beach and golf resort located on Conchal Beach. The resort was a beautiful place with open air check-in area, spacious rooms and easy access to the beach. The location was just so good, right on the beach, had a gorgeous pool, many restaurants and food options to choose from, activities during the day, entertainment at night.

img_0831img_0834img_0837

We also saw wildlife throughout the grounds– monkeys, lizards, iguanas, birds and more.img_0847

They had many activities/tours there or in surrounding areas to indulge in – zip lining, tours to visit water falls, National Park Tours, surfing lessons, snorkeling. For the more adventurous, deep seas fishing, scuba diving, and other water sports were an option as well.

Arenal Volcano

Positioned within Costa Rica’s fertile northern lowlands, the Arenal Volcano is stratovolcano – a large, symmetrical volcano that’s built upon layers of ash, rock and lava. Arenal began erupting in 1968, when it exploded and then after 2010 has been in a resting phase. We stayed at Arenal Springs Resort and Spa which is an eco-resort with thermal hot springs surrounded by tropical gardens and has such a direct, lovely view of the mountain with the volcano.arenal resort1arenal resort2arenal resort3

Tours which we took:

Cano Negro Riverboat Safari – The place was located a little over one hour away from La Fortuna and is home to one of the largest populations of Caimans, which were in plenty. The area is also home to both spider monkeys and congo monkeys which we could hear howling from miles away. Also, got a chance to see some birds – toucans, spoonbills and trogons.

Arenal Hanging Bridges offered a glimpse into the canopy of the rain forest. The hike had terrestrial trails and bridges through the tree tops giving a great view of the forest.hanging bridge1hanging bridge4hanging bridge5hanging bridge10 The hike was breath taking. We saw howler monkeys, sloths, poison dart frogs, insects that look as if they are not from this planet, gorgeous birds, & lush plants and trees. The trees were the largest I’ve ever seen and grew in such unique ways to reach the sunlight.hanging bridge6 There are 16 bridges on the rain forest and all the bridges are unique and worth visiting. Only 6 of the bridges are hanging or suspension bridges.

Some of them are high up and can swing a bit. These bridges are 48 to 98 meters long.

The Natural History and Nature tour –  El Silencio Mirador is a series of hiking trails and nature reserve located 7.4 miles from La Fortuna and 3 miles from the Arenal Volcano. We went on one of the trails in the afternoon, an easy hike through the rain forest from the base of the volcano. There is a lookout point called mirador near the end which has incredible views of the volcano and surrounding hillsides.  arenal volcano tour2This half day tour included entrance to the private reserve, transportation and a guide which our resort helped us book.  

alligator spotAlligator spot on way to Manuel Antonio 

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is a popular beach town nestled in the rain forest on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast.manuel antonio beach Its main attractions are the national park and gorgeous beaches. — Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest park in Costa Rica, but one of the largest in terms of biodiversity. The park has wildlife such as sloths, monkeys, toucans and parrots. Our guide spotted and pointed out a variety of wildlife, flora and fauna here.manuel antonio1manuel antonio3manuel antonio4manuel antonio5manuel antonio7manuel antonio8

Peace Lodge, Varablanca

We spent the last two days of our trip here which was the best part of the entire trip and the most memorable. Would highly recommend going here – reservations have to be done well in advance as the place gets sold our pretty quickly. While planning, we first booked here and then based on these dates made the bookings for the rest of the trip.

peace lodge9peace lodge11peace lodge10

The Peace Lodge is a luxury boutique hotel located on the same property as the renowned La Paz Waterfall Gardens.  Peace Lodge was placed 4th best in Resort category in all Central & South America by Conde Naste Traveller’s Magazine. I would recommend staying at least 2 nights at the Peace Lodge, so you have time to do both the activities at the hotel (which are so many) as well as the rain forest waterfall trek (highly recommended) that they have.peace lodge activities1 The Peace Lodge captures the best of Costa Rica, the lush jungle backdrop and the wildlife sanctuary showcases a real taste of what Costa Rica has to offer.peace lodge2 This isn’t just a hotel, but also a wildlife park filled with animals, waterfall hikes, fishing and food and the scenery is just unreal. Each room is different and is so beautifully decorated and has its fireplace, cave showers, jacuzzies on the terrace, hummingbird feeders and gorgeous views.

From the balcony you have beautiful views of the luscious green flora, amazing!peace lodge1 And imagine your own personal hummingbirds to greet you each morning. There are feeding times for all the animals that you can participate in. There are also two different walking trails at the La Paz Waterfalls trek.  to view five majestic waterfalls ranging from 25 ft. to 125 ft. high cascading down the canyons of the La Paz Riverla paz6la paz1la paz2la paz3la paz4la paz5 We used to look forward to waking up and venturing off to the different parts of the gardens, from waterfalls to beautiful flora and fauna and watching beautiful animals, to catch fish from the pond.peace lodge3peace lodge4peace lodge5peace lodge6peace lodge7peace lodge8 This place was beyond all my expectations and I just can’t say enough good things about this resort.

San Jose

We had a full day here before our flight back from SJO airport. So, we hired a car with a guide who took us around the main spots of the capital city. We visited downtown’s main plaza called Plaza de la Cultura which  was busy with people heading to and from work or shopping on Central Avenue. plaza cultura1plaza cultura2plaza cultura3plaza cultura4plaza cultura5The city is distinguished by its Spanish colonial buildings. The Gold Museum, National Museum, Jade Museum and the National Theater were located within walking distance of the plaza.national theatreClose to the Plaza was the Avenida Central which is a pedestrian shopping street that eventually leads to the Central Market. There were vendors, souvenir shops, street performers everywhere. We also saw the Gran Hotel, historic building from 1930 located near the National Theatre.gran hotel While driving around we also found our favorite Asian Food place – P.F.Chang where we stopped for lunch.pf chang

Qué dicha!” Have a great time exploring.

Leave a Reply