• First Time Rafting The Pacuare River

    Costa Rica Pacuare 3

    I’ve been to tropical places before, but spending time on the Pacuare River in the middle of a Costa Rican rainforest, was the most isolated I’ve been in the jungle. To give you an idea of my location, their disclaimer said it would take “help” about 3 hours to get to you, should you need emergency assistance. I guess that’s what happens when you drive 4 hours from a major city and begin to raft down 14 miles of river.

    Before I talk about my exciting, first time ever rafting experience.. let me get something out of the way. I did not like my tour guide :(. He was a little extreme in terms of “perfect rafting form” and it took away from my fun a little bit. I understand that rafting is dangerous and everyone needs to be putting in their best effort, but yelling at someone brand new and basically telling them they are terrible at rafting and they just need to move to the back isn’t really the most positive experience to have. HOWEVER. I try to be easy going and didn’t let it get to me too much. I omly mention it here so that others are aware that rafting can be seen as no joke by some people and to know that sometimes, tour guides suck. End of story. 🙂 Alright! Moving on!

    Pacuare River takes about 4 hours to arrive to, coming from San Jose. The drive is beautiful though! You pass some rad river flows from a near by volcano (when I went, the two rivers were actually two completely different colors!!!) and you drive through gorgeous hillsides that make you feel like time has momentarily gone back 40 years.

    Hillside on the way to rafting.

    Hillside on the way to rafting.

    Once you get allllllllll your gear on and actually begin the rafting itself you realize very quickly that rafting is one hell of a work out. It works your legs, arms, core, back and mind. Take that with a grain of salt when deciding if this is an activity for you. But trust me, no pain no gain because it was the experience of a lifetime!

    Riding the rapids felt like a roller coaster, then jumping off the raft in to the cool water felt like a scene out of the Jungle Book. There are usually many other rafts and tourists with you during these excursions, so you won’t feel alone with nature, but if you can tune them out and focus on yourself in that moment, you will remember it forever.

    I can’t wait for another rafting adventure and even though I have nothing to compare it to just  yet, I know Costa Rica has set the bar very high and I hope everyone gets a chance to experience the Pacuare River the way I did!

    View of twin rivers on the way back.

    View of twin rivers on the way back.

     

  • 5 Not Unique But Delicious Costa Rican Snacks

    Delicious helado inthe streets of San Jose, Costa Rica

    Delicious helado inthe streets of San Jose, Costa Rica

    Costa Rican cuisine is very similar to other Spanish counterparts such as Cuban and Colombian. However, just like each country in the world has their own personal spin on life, this also holds true for the food!

    Yes, you may have experienced these delightful bites in another country, but no trip to Costa Rica is complete unless you check these off your food bucket list.

    1. Imperial Beer

    I am not much of beer drinking, however, Imperial Beer is where it was at for me. I loved drinking like a local and it really just hit the spot on humid days by the beach.

    Imperial Beer after a day at the Manuel Antonio Beach

    Imperial Beer after a day at the Manuel Antonio Beach

    2. Tropical Fruits

    Islands and places near the equator are famous for their fresh fruits and Costa Rica was no exception. From their blood oranges to star fruit, everything tasted so flavorful that it was great! But the standout fruit snack was their pineapple. Better than Hawaii or the Philippines, Costa Rica is where I have had THE BEST pinapples of my life. It’s also their main food export, so I’m sure that means something. Don’t believe me? Go there and try it or come at me bruh! ;P

    3. Casado

    A casado is a fairly all encompasing meal in Costa Rica. It has rice, black beans, plantains, salad, a tortilla, and an optional entrĂ©e that may include chicken, beef, pork, fish and so on and so forth. Get the picture? It’s their go to meal that you can mix and match to your heart’s desire. You can usually find these at small food outlets called sodas for a super cheap price, sometimes as low as $5 for a huge plate of food.

    Typical bistec casado

    Typical bistec casado

    4. Gallo Pinto

    Gallo pinto somewhat ties in to the casado except this is just a focus on rice and beans. I normally had more of this in the morning for breakfast versus the afternoon. If you aren’t down to eat a whole casado, sometimes just a portion of gallo pinto is all you need to get the tico (locals) experience.

    Examples of gallo pinto for breakfast along with some fresh fruit!

    Examples of gallo pinto for breakfast along with some fresh fruit!

    5. Plantains

    Last but ABSOLUTELY NOT least are plantains. They serve plantains with literally every meal. Breakfast.. lunch…dinner. Everything comes with plantains. You are meant to eat them as part of the main meal, however, I like to save the sweet flavor as dessert. Long story short, I ate them all the time, they were always delicious and I was part plantain by the time I left Costa Rica.

    TELL ME! Have you been to Costa Rica? What was your favorite food item or snack?

  • What To Know When Going To Manuel Antonio

    Walk through the Cloud Forest (cloudy rainforest) to get to the beach of Manuel Antonio.

    Walk through the Cloud Forest (cloudy rainforest) to get to the beach of Manuel Antonio.

    Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s National Parks. Word of mouth and a few helpful forums told me this was the place to go to experience the beach life of Costa Rica. I don’t want to say they were wrong, but I do want to say to take it with a grain of salt. By that I don’t mean it was terrible! All I mean is be prepared!

    The idea of going to the beach from San Jose is all too tempting. I didn’t realize that 2.5 hours per google maps actually meant 3.5 – 4 hours in Costa Rica. The laid back attitude and traffic will delay your journey. A day trip may not be in your best interest if you are on a time crunch. Be ready to leave early in the morning and arrive late at night if traveling from San Jose to Manuel Antonio.

    We made a stop to see some crocodiles.

    We made a stop to see some crocodiles.

    Closer image of the crocodiles. There were so many!

    Closer image of the crocodiles. There were so many!

    So when you finally arrive, let me talk about the humidity… again. I know. But of course the humidity is ampliphied by the proximity of the beach. Of course wear appropriate clothes, but mostly, be aware of the humidity because you may find it hard to breathe. The walk from the entrance to the beach is steep in both directions, and like me, you may have a difficulty breathing due to a heart problem or asthma, etc. Bring plenty of water to keep yourself cool.

    Walking through the rainforest of Manuel Antonio.

    Walking through the rainforest of Manuel Antonio.

    You are walking through an actual rainforest, or cloud forest as they are called in Costa Rica. That means there are animals everywhere! Monkeys, birds, deer, moths, sloths, and mosquitoes! These animals will want to come to you… I don’t just mean the cute monkeys. I also mean the mosquitoes. Wear bug spray, but put it on BEFORE you get in to the park. They are very protective of their wildlife and park rangers will frown upon you launching bug spray in to the air. I’m warning you. The beautiful rainforest demands blood for you to pass through it.

    So many monkeys! Almost as many as there are bugs.

    So many monkeys! Almost as many as there are bugs.

    There are SO MANY PEOPLE. It is not only a popular tourist destination for foreigners, but for Costa Ricans alike. This is not the park to have a secluded moment on the beach… UNLESS… you are brave and willing to wonder off from the pack, like I was. I found a little cove at the far end of the beach where there was no one! Even though I was only a 10 minute walk from the masses, it was a welcomed break from the crowds.

    Found my little peace of quiet in Manuel Antonio

    Found my little peace of quiet in Manuel Antonio

    Speaking of the beaches, Manuel Antonio beach is beautiful and makes for some great photo ops, but it’s a rocky beach and difficult to get in the water if you have sensitive feet. I know Costa Rica is known to have some of the MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!! But… I would say this one was only super nice. I know I can’t judge the whole country based off of one beach, but I’m just saying. Maybe it was also the cloudy weather? I guess I may never know… unless I go back of course.

    After your time spent in Manuel Antonio, prepare for the trek back to the entrance. It’s exhausting and you think you’re never going to make it, but just remember, there’s cold coconut water and beer at the end of the rainforest. Cheers.

    Imperial Beer after a day at the Manuel Antonio Beach

    Imperial Beer after a day at the Manuel Antonio Beach

  • Things To Know When Visiting Costa Rica

    Hanging out on the beach at Manuel Antonio! The humidit was intense.

    Hanging out on the beach at Manuel Antonio! The humidit was intense.


    It rains and it’s humid. Like REALLY humid.

    I know Costa Rica rains.. hence their rainforests. I did not know that it rained so much too the point where I don’t remember being completely dry. My hair… my skin… my clothes.. EVERYTHING was moist the whole week I was there. I’ve been in humidity, but sometimes I forget how sticky it can be. My recommendation is DO NOT where form fitting shorts, because you WILL have a terrible time trying to put them back on once the humidity has kicked in.

    They take USD

    No need to change your USD currency if you will be visitng popular tourist destinations. $1 was equal to $500 Colones when I was there. Fairly straight forward to buy items, your change will just come back to you in Colones. I personally still enjoy changing my currency. I like to think it makes me look more local.

    One of my favorite looking buildings in San Jose, Costa Rica.

    One of my favorite looking buildings in San Jose, Costa Rica.

    It’s not as cheap as you think it would be

    Speaking of money… be warned.. Costa Rica is not a budget traveker’s paradise. Sure you can buy a meal for about $5 – $8 bucks at a local Soda (small hole in the wall spot). The downside to Sodas is that they are not commonly located in the capital. In the capital, where I stayed, the prices were equivaletn to the United States. Sometimes I would catch a break and buy street empanadas or meat on a stick for a low cost, but that was only sometimes. The hotels, transportation and tours were all still relatively pricey. Not a bad thing, but just something to be aware of.

    The Capital (San Jose) is pretty centrally located. Centrally FAR.

    I wish I had time to bum around on a small beach town, but alas, I only had 1 week. Instead of being isolated on a beautiful beach, I opted to see as much of the country as I possibly could in a short amount of time. I chose to stay in San Jose which was centrally located to the sites I wanted to see. Now, if you want to follow in my foot steps, I must warn you that just because it was central, doesn’t mean it was close to anything. San Jose was roughly 2 hours away from anything of natural beauty. It’s a sweet location for some people, but I know all that travel time is not ideal for all. I personally enjoyed it.

    San Jose is the red dot. We went to North to Arenal, South West to Manuel Antonio and East to Pacuare.

    San Jose is the red dot. We went to North to Arenal, South West to Manuel Antonio and East to Pacuare.

    Bring Bug Spray and Sunblock

    I don’t get bug bites and sun burns are a foreign concept to me… but my best friend was with me and ended up with about 25 bug bites and some gorgeous looking sun burns. In fairness, I used sunblock too. But not because I burn, but because I don’t want cancer.

    You need to like animals

    Costa Rica is full of wild animals who have integrated their natural habitat to that of their surroundings. For the most part, they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. As a matter of fact, the locals don’t like you bothering them, so don’t. But if you’re calm and steady, you can see some real gems! You have more luck seeing animals when near the rainforest versus the city. For example, I saw the most animals when I was hiking through Manuel Antonio, their National Park and also Pacuare River when I was river rafting. Some animals I saw are pictured below! (But I definitely saw more than what is pictured.)

    It's a sloth in a tree!

    It’s a sloth in a tree!


    A deer! A female! Ray... a drop of golden sun...

    A deer! A female! Ray… a drop of golden sun…


    It's Marcel from Friends!

    It’s Marcel from Friends!

    Pura Vida

    Last but not least, be ready to learn the Pura Vida lifestyle! Pura Vida is a saying meaning Pure Life, but it really means anything positive. It means, have a nice day, thank you, you’re amazing, enjoy your stay, have a great life, best wishes, cheers, you’re a rock star… you get the deal? The Costa Rican people are happy and kind and you’ll have the best experience possible if you let their lifestyle find a place in your heart too.

    PURA VIDA!

    Pura Vida it up at Manuel Antonio

    Pura Vida it up at Manuel Antonio