Costa Rica simply has to be one of my favourite places to have visited this year. From dense jungles and rainforests, long stretches of undeveloped coastline, wild cascading waterfalls, volcanoes and the most diverse and lush vegetation, this country undoubtedly has it all.
My housemate and I spent months planning and then ten days doing a road trip from Arenal volcano, down the pacific coast, from San Jose, Papagayo to Nosara then Santa Teresa.
We were initially considering whether to travel down the Caribbean coast but opted to explore the Pacific coast as there is more of a diversity of activities en route (a great decision as I couldn’t recommend this route enough!)
Doing a road trip is by far the best way to see this country but be warned the dirt roads should not really be called roads. We ended up getting our 4x4 seriously stuck up a steep mud hill in the middle of the jungle and for a while, it looked as though we'd be sleeping in some remote part of the jungle so make sure you’re going with someone who is not only super confident in fixing vehicles but also strong enough to get yourselves out of whatever ditch or predicament you come across.
Our first stop was Arenal volcano where we stayed at The Springs Costa Rica. This place was huge and infamous for it’s multitude of hot springs and incredible views of Arenal volcano. We weren’t short of an activity here either and decided to go tubing down the river! What an adventure and an afternoon well spent.
We visited during rainy season (August) so we experienced rain for around 65% of the trip. Don’t let that put you off though as Costa Rica is beautifully green at this time of year and driving and trekking though the midst of forests and jungles is serene. Zip lining through the jungle was definitely a highlight and we did this at Sky gardens which I highly recommend.
Below I’ve highlighted the two places I visited which stand out for me and left me with nothing but good memories.
This was our third stop after Arenal and it really is a little hidden gem! Having opened its doors last December, Kasiiya Papagayo, situated in one of the earth’s “blue zones” embodies everything I love about Costa Rica. An ecological, luxurious sanctuary nestled amongst 123 acres of wild land, this little hidden paradise is nothing short of exceptional!
There are only 5 tented suites on the property and each one is strategically placed to offer guests a sense of seclusion, luxury and immersion into the naturural beauty that surrounds it. It really did feel like we were far away from the madding crowd, with the sounds of monkeys waking us up at 5am. (The oddest kind of alarm clock!)
Luckily for the 3 days we stayed there, Jess, myself and another couple were the only ones on the property with a full team of staff catering to our every need and with communication being through a walkie-talkie, Jess and I couldn't help but find it rather bizarre but we adapted quickly.
Our suited tent was stunning with access to the private beach, a huge open decking with a copper bath tub and shower outside.
The architecture was modern, simplistic yet not over-bearing so as to detract you from the natural surroundings. Built from all natural materials on wood-framed platforms and powered on 100% solar energy, the water is fresh from the well and the vehicles within the property are electrical. The property exemplifies the countries empowering initiative to go 100% carbon-neutral.
What I loved about this place is that it’s all about going at your own pace, there are a number of activities to get involved in or if you just want to chill, there’s no better place to do it than here. The sunsets are an absolute killer and every evening at 5pm we had a driver transport us up the cliffs to the sunset dining area which is stunning in design and provides the most insane view of the peninsula.
Jess and I involved ourselves in every activity possible with the on-site movement guy Bruno (a real life mowgli I called him!) It’s super cute as all the staff live on site in their own tents so it really is a proper little community! The team even hosted a BBQ and camp fire one evening where we all roasted marshmallows and enjoyed each other's company. Super cute!
Bruno took us paddle-boarding a couple of times where we were an amazing two feet away from dolphins. We then paddled over to another beach away from the bay and saw turtles. We followed this by going snorkelling to see a variety of gorgeous tropical fish then immersed ourselves in kayaking, tree-climbing and then we had our own private movement class and did a very extremely steep hike, which ended up in multiple falls, cuts and bruises but what an adventure.
We also had our very own chef who provided us with 3-course meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We certainly over-indulged, the food was mouth-wateringly refreshing and filling from fish tacos to chocolate crepes. I have to confess that every single mouthful was devoured with love and appreciation.
This was definitely one of the best places I have ever stayed and it’s for anyone who wants to disconnect and re-connect with nature, it’s so true that you can go at your own pace, we were pretty active the majority of the time but also relished in the chance to chill on the beach, read a book, indulge in the cuisine. Kasiiya really is the embodiment of peace, tranquility combined with fine luxury.
It’s expensive but worth every penny!
This place is great for travellers who want to meet other like-minded travellers. It’s slightly more built up for tourism but the local cafes/ boutique shops and hostels are all situated on a big dirt road parallel to the beautiful stretch of wild beach where you will find all the locals surfing or giving surf lessons.
Geared up for avid surfers and yogis, Jess and I went surfing a few times but the wave conditions weren’t the best. We stayed at a lovely apartment up on the hill and hung out at the Earth cafe most afternoons for lunch (they have the most delicious earth bowls and The Bakery is worth a visit to experience the most incredible almond and Nutella croissants!
It's a real chilled out vibe here, loads of locals and travellers congregate on the beach for the sunset (the sky turns a gorgeous purple pink) with a few beers. Make sure you head to Satori for dinner, it's literally melt in your mouth sushi! There's always some live music happening somewhere which is great for an evening soiree and a recap of the day's adventures.
This is one of those places that is unique, different from anywhere I've been and if there is one way to describe how I felt when I boarded the plane to leave, it is with the knowledge that one day I'll go back.