We had a wonderful trip to Costa Rica and I want to share some of the highlights with you. We visited in late September-early October, which is usually considered to be the rainy season in Costa Rica. After some research, we determined that the East Coast of Costa Rica was going to be our best bet at this time of year. And we were not disappointed.
We arrived in the evening, after a long day of travel, so we decided to spend the first night in the capital, San Jose. While we wanted to visit Costa Rica for the nature, we were glad we got to see the capital and some of the local culture. Before heading to the East coast, we spent our first morning visiting the city center, checking out the old building, watching street musicians and getting our first taste of Costa Rican fauna: the butterfly museum. It was an exciting experience for the kids. So many butterflies!
In the afternoon, we left the city and headed to the South-East corner of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo. It was a nice first stop of our trip. Puerto Viejo is a relaxed beach/fishing village and we finally were feeling that we were on vacation. As soon as we arrived, we made our way to the beach, which was a good idea, as storm was coming and we ended up witnessing strong rainfall that evening.
Puerto Viejo beach on a stormy day
But this didn't dampen our spirits. We loved our cabins at La Costa de Papito, and enjoyed a nice relaxed evening and dinner at the wonderful restaurant.
On the next day, our adventures continued and we got the chance to visit the nearby rescue center. It was a great opportunity for the kids to see the local animals upclose, and to get to know new species like ocelot or sloth. But the big highlight was being able to take care of the baby monkeys. What an experience for our 2 year-old. From stuffed animals to real animals. She had a blast.
Sloth at the rescue center
After a few days in Puerto Viejo, we made our (long and tricky) way to the highlight of our trip: Tortuguero. The trip included driving on bumpy road for 30 or so minutes (not great when pregnant) and a long but beautiful boat ride. It included a stop at the mangrove village of Tortuguero (incl. tasting a freshly cut coconut!). Our final destination was the Turtle Beach Lodge, which you can only access via boat. It is not high end luxury, but the location is amazing. We had howler monkeys over our heads the whole time (one dropped a coconut 2 inches away from Daniel’s head; that was a little scary!)
The "entrance" to Turtle Beach Lodge
The jungle around it is amazing. Wow! We were able to enjoy it through the various little canals and by foot (Daniel almost stepped on a Fer-De-Lance viper!). We got to see a variety of monkeys, basilisks, iguanas, caymans, frogs, etc...
We also got the chance to see turtles lay their eggs on the beach. What an experience, and great timing that the season coincided with our visit.
Capuchin monkey watching us paddling in our canoe
After a few days in paradise, we made our way to our final destination, Monteverde. We had read wonderful reviews about the region, but whether it was because of the rainy season or because we were limited by the kids in terms of activities, we didn't enjoy it as much. Our favorite activity was hiking in the tall bridges in the middle of the rainforest. It's definitely an experience although I didn't think we saw very much wildlife in the tour. So it was basically a hike on bridges.
We spent the remainder of our days visiting a coffee plantation (in the pouring rain), enjoying the pool at our hotel (Monteverde lodge and gardens) and by nice weather, walking around in the gardens or into town.
This rounded up our first (but hopefully not last) trip to Costa Rica. We hope we can visit again soon.