Thursday, January 15, 2015

Costa Rica Coast to Coast - $800

Awhile back, I decided to go to Costa Rica. The country has an amazing reputation, having built eco-responsibility into their constitution, and being the site of such diverse flora and fauna. They;ve attracted a lot of retirees to their beautiful shores. Not many small countries have coasts on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific, and I wanted to see both.

I saw sales on package tours through travel agents, and broke down the trip into parts to find a better deal. After scoring pretty good airfare because I travelled during springtime to exploit lower prices - $400 round-trip from BWI to San Jose, I found a tour company that had a 4 x 4 driving package - Costa Rican Trails.

I really liked this company. We went to a hotel arranged by them on the first night, then they met us in the lobby the next morning, went over the details of the trip, and gave us our 4x4. The whole process took less than an hour. They thought it was great that we planned to your almost the whole country in one week, and supplied us with good maps. We split the cost between two people and it was an amazing deal at around $300 each.

The beauty of this package was the flexibility. We were able to just drive to a destination and pick from a list of hotels that accepted vouchers supplied by Costa Rica Trails. Not a single place disappointed, and several practically amazed with their amenities and delicious food (breakfast was often included). We also just stocked up on food to take with us on the trip at a local grocery. I think we ended up spending around $50 each on gas, and about $50 total on food.

We saw so much.. starting at San Jose, we headed out to the Caribbean coast, down through Limon, and to Cahuita, a small town not far from Nicaragua. It was gorgeous. We made friends with the guy at the front desk and wandered around the town.

Next morning after enjoying some beach time, we moved on the the heart of the country.

There is also a black sand beach in the area - simply beautiful.

Our hotel at Arenal Volcano was lovely. We had several to choose from and just picked one. We got a bungalow overlooking the volcano and got to sit in some hot springs.

Back on the road ....

Monteverde Cloud Forest was incredible. You can see the continental divide down here, as well as tons of wildlife.

We headed for the Pacific Coast next, out on Nicoya Peninsula, we stopped at Samara. We had a great time here and I loved the beach.

 Friends on the road!
 Amazing beach...
And what a sunset!

Manuel Antonio was our next destination, and we had to make a pit stop on the way for a rest.
The pacific coast is gorgeous.

Back to San Jose to return the car. I didn't know what to expect. We'd been off-roading, we'd been on treacherous stretches, we even had to wade into water to check the height before driving in. But they just looked at the 4x4, said "Great!" and sent us on our way.

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