This would be my first trip to Central America. We hadn’t taken a vacation in years. Yes, we travel a lot for work but it’s work, so we usually schedule a couple extra days on work trips and try to see everything we can in a short time. It’s like speed dating a city on crack and it always leaves us exhausted. So, as we started to plan an actual 8 day vacation we had to think about what that looked like with no work. It was kind of a scary thought. What will we do for 7 nights and 8 days without work? What a concept and sign of our times.
I got intrigued by all the possible destinations and started researching like crazy. I wanted adventure while being off the grid so to speak. I wanted jungle, sun, ocean, animals, kind people, and a simpler way. After talking to few friends and hearing how much they loved Costa Rica, I started to look up possible vacation destinations in there. I am a VRBO kind of girl and started looking for houses to rent in Costa Rica when I stumbled upon a beautiful Finca in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. It had everything… it was private, in the jungle, had an infinity pool, a outdoor cabana by the pool, a fantastic view, a fully-loaded kitchen, outdoor shower, visits from Howler monkeys, iguanas, and a critter I had never heard of called a “Coati.” I showed the house to my husband and it was a done deal. Immediately, I wrote to the owner and within 2 days we put half down for our stay. We chose February 19th for its dry season and right after a full moon to ensure we would see the turtles of Ostional come up on the beach to lay their eggs.
We booked our flights and now it was time to wait… our trip was 6 months away.
Nosara is famous for its surf and world-renowned yoga, and arguably put Costa Rica on the map as a yoga retreat destination. This strong surf and yoga culture as brought sophisticated health conscious expats from all over the world.
For decades, local associations have kept the beaches clean and the surrounding protected national parks and forest relatively undeveloped. It has the cleanest water table in all of Costa Rica, with clean ocean water and no dumping of gray or black water into the streams or beaches. It is one of the few coastal towns that lacks nearly any development on the beach.
This unique combination of Central American culture and pristine Costa Rican wilderness attracts all kinds, including the rich and famous. High demand has led real estate prices to soar, but people continue to move and to buy. The quality of life here is so high, many choose to relocate regardless of the cost.
LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY
The Nosara region is located on the North Pacific Coast of the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste, about 100 miles west of the capital, San Jose, and sits between the popular beach towns of Playa Samara and Playa Tamarindo.
It consists of five beachfront towns: Playa Nosara, Playa Garza, Playa Guiones, Playa Pelada, and Playa Ostional. When many people cite Nosara, they are usually referring to the most popular beach town of Playa Guiones where most of the restaurants, yoga studios, surf shops, and hotels can be found.
The Ostional Wildlife Refuge borders Nosara and is the largest Olive Ridley turtle nesting site in the world. The Nosara and Montana Rivers are two of the longest in Costa Rica and are teeming with wildlife. The rivers meet the ocean in Playa Nosara.
The official town center of Nosara is located about five miles inland from the beach and is where most of the local Tico population resides. It has medical facilities, supermarkets, a local airport, a pharmacy, banks, and a post office.
Like most of Central America, Nosara has a rainy and a dry season, but enjoys warm weather year round. The dry season coincides with the highest season for tourism and runs from late November through April. On this trip, we visited during the dry season in February.
During the dry season, temperatures average in the mid eighties. Days are long and sunny with stunningly beautiful sunsets. With no clouds in the sky you can also enjoy incredible nightly stargazing. The offshore winds create clean, consistent surfing conditions and surfers can ride waves all day long. The jungle is still green and beautiful and the rivers crossing the roads are mostly dried up so it makes crossing easier.
The rainy season begins in May and ends in November. During this time the jungle becomes even greener and the foliage comes into bloom, bringing tons of wildlife. It tends to rain during the late afternoon and evening, with sunny mornings for beach time.
Temperatures are about five degrees cooler and many tours and accommodations are available at discounted rates. The rainiest months are September and October, when rain can fall all day. During this time many businesses close, re-opening in November.
I am going to write the rest of this post in a timeline style including everything we did from places we ate and what we loved, where we visited, and what we did during our 8 days in hopes that it will help you if you are planning on visiting the Guanacaste region and really have no idea where to start. I promise it was magical and we are forever changed by this adventure. We have made life long friends and plan on returning several times in our lifetime. We are even in the early dreamy stages of owning land there one day.
BEFORE THE TRIP
We made sure our passports were up to date and checked if we needed any additional documentation to enter the country. We live in Los Angeles, CA and we booked our flights with Alaska airlines, a direct flight form LAX to Liberia airport. Americans do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. However, you must have a current valid passport that does not expire within 30 days of your arrival in Costa Rica and a departure ticket (either to return to your country or go to another country). When traveling with a passport, citizens of the United States, Canada, and most Latin American and European countries are allowed to stay in Costa Rica for 90 days.
Next, we both scheduled appointments with our Dr’s just for a quick check up and to get any necessary vaccinations. We were told we would need the Hep A shot and Tyfoid. The Hep A shot is a series of two shots in a 6 month increment. Since we waited for a week before our trip, we could only get the first part of the shot. They sent us on our way with a prescription for typhoid and anti-diarrhea medicines. I filled both. The typhoid medicine is not cheap, even with insurance. I paid $68 out of pocket. When I got home and read the directions I found out the typhoid oral vaccine is given in a series of 4 capsules that are taken 1 per day on alternating days (days 1, 3, 5, and 7). On this schedule, you will take 1 capsule every 48 hours for 7 days and one of the side effects was it could cause bad nausea. I was hesitant, to say the least, and decided to hold off. I started asking everyone I knew that had traveled there in the past few years and none of them had taken the typhoid pill or shot, or even the hep A and had zero problems. (But please research this and do what is right for you.) So, I was out $68 because I was not about to ingest a living virus of typhoid if I really didn’t need it. All good.
Unfortunately, I also purchased a bunch of other gear I didn’t really need either, like flat fanny packs that could be hidden under our shirt for our money and passports. I read some blogs that said this was wise to deter theft. They were great for zip-lining to hold our phones, but that’s the only time we used them. I do use them at home now when I go for run to hold my keys, so I guess it wasn’t a total waste. Costa Rica is very safe and the people are so kind there, I never once felt compromised.
I also purchased all kinds a natural bug repellants that I didn’t need. Neither of us ever got bitten. This might be different in the rainy season, but we were totally fine. There are a lot of huge bugs in Costa Rica, but they never messed with us. They were just part of the adventure. One thing that I do suggest picking up is grapefruit seed extract, if you are concerned about food born illness. I purchased both pills and drops. I used the pills the first few mornings with a large glass of water and the drops were for washing produce. After a few days I stopped taking the pills because I was less worried about the water and food. I did keep using the drops diluted in water to wash produce as an extra pre-cautionary measure. We had zero problems with the food or drinks in Costa Rica. We never felt sick at all. Here is the brand of grapefruit extract that I used Nutribiotic GSE. I believe it’s always a good idea to pack when traveling to a foreign country. I also purchased it in pill form GSE Capsules.
I am a self-professed over-packer. We took one large, one medium, and one small suitcase and loaded them up. I needed space for all my preventative medicines, creams, and fanny packs. In truth, I only used two pairs of workout pants and jog bras, one pair of tennis shoes that I didn’t mind getting dirty, five t-shirts, one pair of shorts, three bikinis, a swimsuit cover up, three sundresses for dinners, one denim shirt, one light sweatshirt, sleep clothes and underthings for eight days, a baseball cap, sunhat, cross body small bag to carry money, one sarong, two pairs of flip flops, and a strappy flat shoe. Oh, and don’t forget a bandana if you plan on renting ATV’s for the dust, which I highly recommend doing. Roads in Nosara are unpaved and very dusty in the dry season. This was half of my suitcase. The other half I never touched.
We also packed some food items and we were so glad we did. I purchased a ton of protein bars, different kinds of raw nuts, and a couple bags of pretzel thins. We arrived at night and our plane was delayed, so we missed our dinner reservation and this held us over until morning. Also, I am so thankful I thought to bring a small jar of instant coffee. This is a life saver if you are a coffee drinker and not staying at a resort. Even though Costa Rica is known for great coffee beans there are not many coffee places in the area. I only saw one during our stay, and I never purchased coffee while we were there. I just drank my morning espresso at the house while listening to the howler monkeys and birds each morning.
The money used in Costa Rica is the colón. We did not exchange any money for the colón in advance as the American dollar is excepted there, but they will give you change in colón. We used our credit card for dinners and for the market in Nosara and brought cash for all activities, most places only except cash. I would say for a week stay a minimum of $1,500 cash for two people and a credit card for meals at restaurants and groceries would suffix, depending on how active you want to be. Make sure you don’t bring anything larger than a $50 bill, as it may be hard for many places to make change. We brought $2,000 cash in $20’s and $50’s and came home with roughly about $600. And, we did a lot.
DAY 1 TRAVEL
We arrived early at the airport for our flight to get checked in. Thank goodness we did because one thing we did not realize is that because it was Alaska Airlines, we didn’t need to go to the International Terminal at LAX. Unfortunately, we parked at the international area only to end up walking five terminals to get to the right check-in. They weighed our bags and one was over 50 pounds, so we had to do some shuffling to do. Finally, we got to our gate and settled in. We have a ritual every time we fly… the hubs heads out for coffee and tea and extra waters from Starbucks and when he returns, I go in search for Vegan eats. Lucky for me LAX has many vegan options, and I found a great quinoa salad, a green juice, and some nuts. It’s about a 5-hour flight going and around 6-hour flight returning. The Alaskan planes do not have screens on the back of the seats, so you will need to purchase what looks like an iPad for $8 to get entertainment during the flight.
After a mimosa and a movie, it was time for a nap. I slept awhile, ate some lunch, watched one more movie, and we were there. Customs at Liberia is quick and simple and it also a great place to buy duty-free wine, alcohol, and waters. Once we picked up some beverages and our bags, we went through the customs scanners, and headed out to the rental car pick up area. I would rent your car in advance and make sure you get a 4-wheel drive. There are a lot of unpaved roads ahead. Also, I would get full insurance, but don’t buy the insurance when you are booking your car online. Wait and purchase it once you are at the car rental desk. We got our car from Budget and the driver from the airport was very sweet. They do accept tips. One thing we did notice right away is that people do move a lot slower in Costa Rica, so don’t get frustrated when it takes awhile to get your rental car. Because of the time of our flight and a slight delay, we knew we would be driving mostly in the dark anyway. We got our car, loaded up, and headed out for our 2-hour adventure drive to the coast.
One thing you will notice right away on your drive is that there is a lot of poverty and probably not what you are used to seeing at home. But one thing we learned in our eight days is that these people are all about familia, the pure vida lifestyle, and are truly happy. So, who really is living in poverty? The first leg of the drive was on paved roads with sprawling land all us around us, easy-to-follow road signs, and almost Africa-like views. Just as it started to get dark it was time to turn off the paved road.
The owner of the house informed us that as soon as we passed a blue church and a little soda, we needed to turn left on a dirt road. A soda? We later learned that “Sodas” are small restaurants that serve up the best local flavors and also sell what else? Soda. They love their Coca Cola in Costa Rica and your will see signs for it everywhere. Once we passed the church and the small soda, we turned left and it was on. There are no street lights and it’s a bumpy ride. Also the road rules are much less stiff in Costa Rica, so get ready for motor bikes and ATV’s speeding by you at all times. At first it is a bit shocking, but you quickly become just like them in your driving endeavors. It’s actually pretty freeing and fun. We laughed our entire drive. Luckily the owner of the house guided us to the house via cell phone, or I often wonder if we would still be driving. It was nuts. So much so that I would suggest trying to arrive earlier so you can see where you are driving. I promise, it will make your trip much easier.
When we arrived at the house we were greeted by Yorjani waving a flash light to guide us in. Yorjani and his partner Maureen run the house for the owner and are so sweet. We loved them upon first meeting. Yorjani spoke English pretty well and showed us the in and outs of the house. We liked him so much we invited him to sit down with us and have a glass of wine to know him better and to learn more about Costa Rica. Remember, we missed our dinner reservation, so it was snacks and wine for the night. After Yorgani left, we marveled at the size of the bugs outside, the geckos scaling the walls, the sounds of the jungle. My husband jumped in the warm pool and we crashed early to get ready for…
DAY 2 TURTLES
We woke up early, sunrise to be exact, to the sounds of Howler monkeys in the treetops. After marveling at the beauty of the jungle all around, that we couldn’t see on our drive the night before, we decided it was time to venture out to pick up groceries and learn our surroundings. We set out to go find the town of Nosara. I was excited because I had done my research and it housed the famous Bodhi Tree Resort and Yoga Institute. I was all about connecting to my inner zen. As we drove down the bumpy roads and crossed a few shallow rivers, we realized there is not a lot of road signs and many times we felt lost. We managed to flag down a local who said we could follow him as he was going the same direction we needed to go. We came to a fork and the man waved us in the direction of Nosara, which landed us at Super Nosara grocery store. This is the main grocery store, where you most likely will be shopping for the bulk of your supplies like food, alcohol, water, and toiletries. On the second level you can find things like flip flops and household products as well. They carry many recognizable American brands that you will pay more for, but you can also buy comparable local brands for less. Super Nosara also has a decent size produce section with organics. Bonus. I found everything I needed to make some great plant-based whole food meals during our stay.
There is another grocery store around the corner about a 1/2 mile away, but it’s a bit smaller and we preferred Super Nosara. We decided to come back to Super Nosara later and keep on checking out the town. We drove into what we thought was Nosara and we freaked out a bit. It was tiny, less than a block, and nothing like the pictures I saw online. We stopped and couldn’t find anyone who spoke a lick of English. I kept asking for the yoga institute like a crazy woman and no one knew what I was talking about. I looked at my husband with a look of fear, thinking we were screwed for the next seven days? Obviously, the whole “pure vida” thing hadn’t kicked in for this LA girl quite yet. We hurried back to Super Nosara for help, where we met some tourists from Canada. One of them had a map he had printed off the Internet that illustrated the lay of land and where all the points of interest were. I will include the map at the end of this post, as it was extremely helpful to us. We ventured on through Nosara and into Playa Guiones, following directions from the map straight to the Bodhi Tree Resort. We grabbed a yoga schedule, booked massages for Thursday (Day 5), and felt a huge sense of relief. Feeling much better, I realized I was starving and dehydrated. We stopped at a small stand to get a fresh coconut water for $1 each. The young man running the stand chops off the green shell right there in front of you sticks a straw in it and you walk away happily sipping your fresh coconut.
From there we cruised around on foot to check out stands with locals selling jewelry, sarong wraps, knick knacks, etc. Along side the main road there were some restaurants, so we decided to stop at Coconut Harry’s because it looked like a fun spot with its wood tables and outdoor seating. This was by far the only meal I disliked in Costa Rica. They were very limited on Vegan options, out of a lot of things on their menu, and the food was bland. On the upside, they had great beer on tap which made it a fun place to grab a beer or cocktail, but skip the food. We then headed back to stock up on groceries at Super Nosara and head back to our Finca, 20 minutes away, to get ready to meet Yorjani and see the turtles. We spent around $280 US on a week’s worth of groceries and paid with a credit card.
One of the first things I learned about Costa Rica was the turtles of Ostional. I had only seen things like this on National Geographic, and I knew I had to schedule our trip around seeing them coming in to lay their eggs. If you’ve never seen it, it’s an amazing phenomenon of thousands of sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs on Costa Rica’s beaches. Definitely add this to your bucket list. I promise you will not be sorry. It literally blew my mind, and I was overtaken by emotion and tears. It was just so perfect. It seemed as if everything was in perfect order for those few short hours I spent with the turtles of Ostional.
Apparently the turtles are on schedule with the moon cycles, so we referenced a chart to help us schedule our trip. You can’t enter the nesting site without a card-carrying guide who is usually a local. They charge anywhere from $10 – $50 per person. $50 was the highest price I saw at a hotel advertising for guided turtle tours. Bring cash.
A few tidbits about the turtles: The Olive Ridley turtles are world famous for their arrivals at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Ostional is a protected nesting beach on the Niycoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. Usually toward the end of the moon cycle, just before a new moon, the turtles start arriving. In the days and weeks leading up to an “arribada” (means arrival in english), the turtles will have gathered just off shore waiting for the right moment. They wait for the high tide at night, using the high surf to propel them farther up the beach and the protection of darkness against predators. We arrived about an hour before sunset as they had started to arrive. There thousands and thousands of turtles, as far as the eye could see, coming out of the ocean. They literally arrived in waves, slowly hauling their heavy bodies out of the surf and up the sand to dig their nests, lay their eggs, then turn around and head back to the ocean. This was a top three life experience for me, thus far. My time on that beach with the turtles transformed me. I forgot about everything else that was happening in the world. I was truly present, in the moment, overcome by emotion, and even cried (happy cry). It was just so beautiful and a moment I will never forget.
Walking back to our cars, I realized I was starving. La Tortuga’s Pizzeria was right there next to where we had parked. It’s a quaint little pizzeria with covered outside seating. We ordered mojitos, vegan pizza, and salad. There we talked with locals, some expats, and learned even more about this magical place. This was the first moment I felt truly relaxed and not in a hurry. I think the turtles changed me or “pura vida” was starting to take hold of me. We headed home, jumped in the pool, and went to bed early. We really functioned best going to sleep with the sun and rising with it the entire time we were there.
DAY 3 BABY TURTLES
My cup runneth over. I was already so happy from experiencing the mama turtles coming in the night before, but then our guides shared with us that there were baby turtles hatching on a different beach from a previous egg laying. We woke up before sunrise and the howler monkeys and drove down the hill to Ostional to meet Yorjani and see the babies. Each day in Costa Rica I thought there was no way we could top the day before, but I was proven wrong day in and day out. We walked over the sand dunes down to the water and walked along the beach for awhile. It was a beautiful morning walk on a nearly deserted beach. We saw baby turtle tracks on the sand heading for the water, but no babies. Yorjani explained it was day 6 of them hatching, so we might not see that many babies. Then we saw it, the cutest thing ever, a baby heading for the ocean. In that moment that baby became mine, and I turned into a mama bear. I was not leaving that little one’s side until it was safely in the ocean. No bird or dog was going take her on my watch. You cannot help them to the water because they need to learn their way and imprint the beach so they know where to come back when they mature at around 15 yrs of age. My baby turtle worked so hard and would get tired and have to take mini breaks. It’s a long trek for a tiny turtle that is just about an inch long. When she finally made it into the surf it was a celebration. I watched our little friend fight her way through the surf and into the ocean. I said a little prayer that she would avoid predators, grow strong, and come back one day to lay her own eggs. We watched two more babies make their way to the ocean, then called it an early morning and headed back to the house for a lazy day by the pool. PURA VIDA baby. I was all in.
Our house was about 10 minutes away from San Juanillo, a small fishing village. I heard of a great restaurant there called, “Ancient Peoples.” Around 2:00pm, we got a little hungry and decided to check it out. It is a small, bright-colored building with outdoor seating, a small gift shop, and apparently has a tattoo artist. We found a shady spot under a tree, and I ordered the falafel wrap and cocao shake. It was right up my plant-based alley and it did not disappoint. It was fresh and perfect. I highly recommend it for lunch. Full bellies and lazy we spent the rest of the evening at the house, and I made dinner at the house while we watched the sunset over the jungle.
DAY 4 QUADS
Check out my husbands hair from all the road dust (pack a hat and bandana)
We had reserved two quads we were picking up in the morning to keep for 24 hours. After a quick mini lesson (how to turn on, off, brake etc…), we were off. Yorjani followed us back to the house in our rental car, where we dropped off the car and picked up his quad. On the way we stopped by Yorjani’s mother’s house and met his family. We met his sister who was a chef at Ancient Peoples and his niece, a nursing school student in San Jose. The family was warm and kind. They also had puppies. I love puppies and wanted to adopt all of them. They served us fresh coconuts, and we invited them to come to our house for dinner on Friday. New lifelong friendships already budding. After dropping off our car we set out on the quads for at least six hours.
We drove through the Rio Rosario river.
Up and down beautiful empty beaches.
We drove about 6 miles to the town of Morbaya and stopped by a beachside restaurant called, “The Tiki Hut.” There they have an outdoor shower in the back for those who arrive on quads or motor bikes and are full of dirt and dust. All of us took advantage of this, clothes and all. It was so warm I knew my clothes would dry quickly. I loved the Tiki Hut and can’t wait to go back. We had amazing food and tropical drinks. I ordered a plate of beans and rice with greens, hummus, plantains, and a coconut margarita.
We jumped back on our quads and headed into San Juanillo, where we swam in the ocean for the first time during our visit. It was so warm and so blue. There was not a soul on the beach. I love Costa Rica beaches, many times you have them all to yourself. We said our “good byes” and drove home to get ready for a dinner reservation at Hotel Luna Azul, just a hundred yards from our Finca. Hotel Luna Azul has an amazing view from above the treetops of the jungle to the Pacific Ocean. They do not have many menu choices for a plant-based foodie, but they were very kind and willing to accommodate me. I had beautiful beet salad and vegetable risotto. I highly recommend this restaurant for the view alone. Try to book your reservation for sunset. You won’t be sorry.
DAY 5 BODHI TREE
Another day in paradise. We woke up early, my husband took a quad down to Ancient people to grab breakfast and, when they were not open yet, he discovered another restaurant called, “La Sodita” that quickly became another favorite. La Sodita offers homemade food, freshly cooked every day, fresh juices, smoothies, and desserts. They offer Costa Rican, as well as international foods, with lots of vegan and organic options. I loved their fresh turmeric drink. One of the owners is an expat from New York, that fell in love with Costa Rica on her first visit, purchased land, and now lives there full-time to run her restaurant. I’m a little bit jealous. Next stop, The Bodhi Tree Resort in Guiones for some yoga, massages, and good healthy eats.
Pictured above: The sign out front of Bodhi Tree
Check out this shala below. You literally feel like you are doing yoga in the tree-tops. They also offer an arial class in this shala.
We started with a level-two yoga class with male instructor wearing no shirt, perfectly tanned, and ripped. (I practice yoga at home, but at this point I was attending an intermediate class twice a week, at best.) This was a moment where my husband and I looked at each other and wondered if we might die in this class. I’m happy to report we did not die and something kicked in for me and my yoga practice was better than it had been in while. Maybe it was the sounds of the jungle, the open-air shala, pure vida, I don’t know, I just know I found my inner zen. Bodhi Tree has an amazing breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet. It’s not completely vegan, but was plant-heavy with tons a fresh fruit and salad fixings, hummus, warm plates, watermelon juice and a juice bar. They also serve organic wine and beer with the dinner menu.
I highly recommend stopping by Bodhi Tree for the food or a massage, if yoga isn’t your thing. If yoga is your thing definitely check it out. You will love everything about the Bodhi Tree Resort. We also had amazing massages in there open-air rooms, facing a small pond and fountain.
After a perfect day at the Bodhi Tree, we stopped by Super Nosara on our way back to Finca Los Seunos to pick up some extra supplies for our dinner party the next night.
When we got home we had the best surprise ever. A family of howler monkeys paid us a visit. It was group of about 10 monkeys with two babies. They were just as curious about us as we were them. A few came up close to get a look at us from the trees, the females with babies on their backs kept a safe distance, but still close enough for us to see them well.
I also got a glimpse of the huge iguana named, “Iggy” that lives at our house. What’s next?
My heart was full. I love my animals and this was the perfect trip for me. Still, I’m thinking it can’t get any better than this.
DAY 6 ZIP LINING
I purposely put this day off until day 6 because, if I was going to fall from the sky to my death, at least I got five full days of Costa Rica in. We booked the morning slot before it gets too hot. We were scheduled from 8am-12. We called the night before, gave them our first name, were told to show up a 7am and it cost $75 cash per person. This is one thing I have always wanted to try, but was terrified to do. I chose capri yoga pants, a sleeveless tank, my flat fanny pack to hold my cell phone, and tennis shoes as my zip lining uniform.
We arrived at a few minutes after 7 and right away they where getting us fitted in our harnesses and helmets.
I had no time to back out, even though I thought about it a few times. The Tico’s that worked there were very sweet and assuring that it was safe. I felt like I had a heart beat in the pit of my stomach and all I could think about was my cat Rooster at home and who would care for him if something happened to us? Why had I not worked this out before hand? Will his little cute face be waiting for me at the window to come home and I never come? While I’m getting worked up, I look over to see my husband swinging in a hammock laughing with a few of the guides without a worry in the world. Story of my married life.
After our entire group was harnessed up, the 20 of us were loaded on the back of a truck and started the 20-minute bumpy trip to the top of the jungle canopy. The ride up alone was an adventure. Lots of nervously laughing and joking people. When we arrived at the top, we learned there are 11 lines and they taught us how to use their braking system, aka, our hands. At the end of each zip line you place your brake hand behind the cable to slow you down. I think they enjoy it more when you don’t break and come flying in and they have to catch you.
Then, they started hooking us up to first zip line one-by-one and we were ready to rock and roll.
To be honest, I didn’t look down the first run for fear I would hyperventilate. I just looked straight ahead to the end point. With in less than a minute I was at the end. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins and I liked it. I was ready for the next one. I got braver with every line and, by the end, I was hanging backwards, spinning, and giving the “Look mom, no hands.”
After we finished all 11 zip lines, we scrambled to Ancient People again for a few Imperial beers and falafel. We were wiped out and needed to recover for our dinner party that evening.
Dinner gathering: Maureen, Yorjani’s other half, offered to make beans and rice, and I was in charge of making chickpea tacos, salad, guacamole and pico de gallo. Easy enough, I can make chickpea tacos in my sleep. They arrived and Maureen and I prepped, chopped, and cooked together. This is one of my favorite things… being in the kitchen cooking with people, talking, laughing, creating memories through food. Then, the rest of the family arrived. There was swimming, drinking, eating and good conversation, even with the language barrier. It was a perfect evening and way to end day six.
DAY 7 LA LUNA
Our last full day in Costa Rica. I could feel the sadness creeping in. When you are planning your trip to Costa Rica try to plan for at least eight days there. Ten days would be even better. We did something everyday and we still had down time to relax, but I would preferred 1-2 more days. Speaking of downtime, we decided to enjoy the house for the bulk of our last full day before our dinner reservations at La Luna in Guiones later that evening.
I spent most of my hours napping in the cabana, floating around the pool, reading, and listening to music. At one point, I said to my husband that I didn’t remember ever being this relaxed. He agreed. We got a text from our friends and we agreed to meet up down at the beach in San Juanillo.
The beach in San Juanillo was bit busier than we had experienced previously, but it was Saturday and there were families having picnics and swimming. There is a cute little bar on the beach with cool seating going up the side of hill.
Little cabanas with grass roofs.
I also found a little beach boutique selling amazing dresses and beach wear from Israel. I picked up a few dresses… again cash only. Our friends arrived and we took a little cabana and ordered some Imperial beer. After a bit, we went down and jumped in the ocean and then it was time to go home and get ready for La Luna.
La Luna had gotten rave reviews from many people back home, so I guess you could say we saved the best for last. La Luna is the type of place you want to save for a special occasion and when you go, you might as well go all out. It’s the prettiest restaurant in town — the only one on the beach. Set on top of a little sand cliff, it has aa amazing view, especially at sunset. It was our last night and our last drive into Guiones. We booked our reservation for a sunset dinner with a table on the beach. When we arrived I was taken by how beautiful it was, located right on the beach. There’s seating both inside and out, and each option is gorgeous in its own right — all white-washed furniture and flickering candles and golden sunlight. It definitely seemed more on the higher end of the restaurants that we had visited the past week. The customers were mainly tourists and everyone was dressed in their best beach wear and dresses. The food is mediterranean, as the chef is Israeli. They had lots of options that could easily be veganized or already were. We ordered mojitos to start, a wood-fired pizza, flatbread, the mezzo plate with hummus and baba ganoush, and quinoa salad. Everything was amazing. I can’t wait to go back. They also have a great gift shop to pick up gifts for people back home.
La Luna; Playa Pelada, Nosara, Costa Rica; ph 506-2682-0122; Open Monday – Sunday 11am – 11pm
Driving home we stopped at the only gas station we had seen during our week there in Nosara and filled up our rental car. We arrived at our house poured a glass a wine a jumped in the pool for a warm night swim.
DAY 8 LAST DAY/FLYING HOME
We woke up to a huge family of Coati wandering around below the house. I felt like they came to see us off. While packing I got the worst muscle spasm in my back and couldn’t even stand. I immediately wondered if I was going to be able to travel home. On the other hand, staying longer wouldn’t have been so bad. Wink, wink. Turns out all the quad riding and zip lining had really taken a toll on my back muscles. By the time my husband had us all packed I felt much better. So we said “Adios” to Iggy the iguana, the monkeys, the coati, the jungle, the pool, and the house and we left.
We drove down to San Juanillo for one last lunch at La Sodita with our new friends. It was so bitter sweet. We promised to come back soon, having no idea it would actually be in July just five months away. We hugged, cried a bit, and drove away.
On the way out we saw a familiar horse that had got out of his coral, standing in street to say “Goodbye” to us. It made me smile, and I truly realized just how much I love this place.
We drove back to Liberia, dropped off our barely recognizable car from all the dust, and shuttled back to airport. The Liberia airport is loaded with gift shops, so if you didn’t have time or find any souvenirs during your vacation, the airport has you covered.
DAY 9 RE-ENTRY
No one told me I would be completely depressed upon arriving back in the states. Everything felt different. From the moment we went through customs I felt it. Everyone around seemed in a hurry and grumpy. No one was smiling. Traffic was a mess. Cars were honking. Sirens sounding. I was truly thrilled to see our three rescue kitties and get lots of love and snuggles, but I felt such a sense of let down.
The next day, we dragged our depressed bodies out to run errands. I couldn’t get over how unhappy the people at the grocery market were and everywhere we went. They looked like they were on the treadmill of life. I search on the Internet to see if anyone suffered from depression after coming home from a trip like this and was shocked at how common it is. One blogger said it the best and it stuck with me. She said, “When we travel we have so many new experiences, and experience other cultures and other ways of being and it changes us. When when arrive back to our lives, family, friends we find that everyone and everything has remained the same and that is hard to deal with.” I totally understand that. I was changed… for the better. I had experienced pure vida and now I want it all the time. As the days passed, I started to get back into my routine but I still carried with me those moments, the calmness, the turtles, the views, the beach. They are a part of me now, and I can’t wait to go back. I highly recommend you add Costa Rica to one of your travel destinations.
The day after we left this beautiful bird came to visit our Finca. Yorjani sent us this photo. Sorry I missed you little bird. I’ll see you next time.
I highly recommend this guidebook for your travels… Costa Rica: The complete guide by James Kaiser