Ben and I usually go away for the holidays, and if follow me on Instagram, you’re well aware that this year we spent the holidays being merry and !Feliz! in beautiful Costa Rica!
This was our first visit to Costa Rica, and Central America too actually!
We were there for 7 nights- 2 spent in Arenal and 5 spent in Tamarindo. Arenal is a volcano in the rainforest. Costa Rica actually has 5 active volcanoes, which I didn’t know before we got there, sort of cool…sort of scary! Arenal is one of them.
Since Arenal is in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest…it rained.. A LOT. Like every day in sporadic torrential outbursts! Although no one really loves rain on vacation, there’s something about the rains there that feel so refreshing, spontaneous and fun. Definitely not a place where you worry about what you’re wearing or what your hair looks like, because chances are you’ll get wet…but when you embrace the natural eco vibe that lives in Costa Rica, the rain just becomes a fun adventure.
We went zip lining through the jungle in Arenal…the views were so beautiful, and it actually STOPPED raining for the hour that we were up on the mountain zipping through monkey-filled trees! Luck was on our side for that one.
Next we went to the hot springs that Arenal is so known for- the magma from the volcano creates rivers and pools of warm water that people swim in at night…it was really beautiful and romantic…it rained (big surprise!) but when you’re in the most perfect warm natural hot springs, nothing about the weather matters.
The next morning we packed up and left Arenal to go to Tamarindo, a trendy hippy beach town known for its surf. On the way to Tamarindo, we stopped to go on a guided hike to Rio Celeste, a waterfall that connects one river to another, creating a really unique color fusion. We also saw some water in the river boiling in a few areas- hot springs that you DON’T want to go in!!
This hike was through the woods, and good exercise, but not too challenging. Along the way, our guide told us a lot about Costa Rican culture and about local foods we must try. We were excited to get to Tamarindo and kick back for 5 days and enjoy the sun and the food!
Tamarindo was super crowded at this time of year, so I’m not sure I would recommend going during the Christmas/New years holiday unless lots of people don’t bother you! Ben and I tend to like a more secluded beach trip.
That being said, it was a beautiful beach filled with surfers, boaters, beautiful tall palm trees and the occasional monkey swinging around. I mean, seeing monkeys is enough to make a trip worth it for me! And the sunsets were spectacular!
The food- in Tamarindo…. is GOOD! SO much fresh seafood, I think I ate my weight in ceviche and fish tacos! The also do chicken really well- slow barbecued, and their veggies are fresh and beautiful. OH and the fruit…ugh, amazing…the best papaya, pineapple and watermelon! We tried different restaurants every day we were there, and took recommendations from locals, which I find is always the best way to find local gems. Down the road from Tamarindo is Playa Langosta, which is where there are a lot of private residences and a quieter beach…which was great for getting away from people for a while!
As for fitness- the options are endless in Costa Rica! The great outdoors is your gym, which is a great way to shake up your routine. We took morning yoga classes, strenuous hikes, walks on the beach, surfed and swam along the calm coastline.
One thing to note..in Costa Rica, like in any foreign country, it’s very important to be aware of your surroundings, don’t walk around too late, and don’t draw too much attention to yourself. We never felt unsafe, but we always kept a watchful eye when walking around.
The country is beautiful and has so much to offer the adventurous traveler!