Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Costa Rica November 2010

10 days of absolute bliss in Costa Rica. Pura Vida....Where to start?

Planning wasn't easy as there was so much when wanted to see but not enough time to see in all in 10 days. Based on recommendations from friends and reviews on the internet we ended up settling for Arenal and Manuel Antonio. 


We arrived in San Jose at around 8 PM and instead of spending the night there we rented a shuttle via Costa Rica Shuttle to drive up to Arenal the same evening. Our driver Gorge was great and we made it up there in about 2:30 hours. The ride in itself was interesting to say the least. Fog and rain would show up from nowhere and disappear and reappear quickly.  
We stayed at Royal Corin, which is right off the main road and about 5-10 minutes from La Fortuna Town. 
The pool was stunning, with beautiful waterfalls and Jacuzzis scattered around the pool.

What to do:
Don Rofinos for dinner. 
Hanging Bridges
La Fortuna Waterfall (which we didn't do)
Gallo de Queso at the Sodas (Costa Rican fast food)
Guanabana local drink. 

Manuel Antonio

What to do:
- Must do: Water rafting on the savegre river with Amigos Del Rio. You will be astounded at the amazing waterfalls, rain forest and canyons. We rafted in the rain which was absolutely magical. 
- Canope Safari (amazing lunch at the end of the adventure) Super friendly staff and great ride to the course. We found out that "technology" or rather computer chips are the main product exported to foreign countries. 
- Surfing on Manuel Antonio beach. After the Canopy Safari the shuttle was dropping everyone off and made a stop at the beach, we decided to hop off and enjoy a bit of sunlight before the rain started again. The rain never did start and we ended up picking up a surf board and surfed till sunset. It was magical. We ended the day by taking a dive in the ocean and savoring our victory of being able to stand up a few times on the board. 
- Bambo Jam to have a drink and dance to the local bands

Where to eat:
Kapi Kapi (our favorite!)
Victorias (great italian food but owner Mark was a little too involved and disruptive)
Cafe Milagro (cute little coffee shop though we found 2 hairs in our food so we decided not to go back)
Luna Mar (a little on the empty side when we went but the seafood was fresh, healthy and tasty.) 

Not recommended by locals though we didn't have a chance to try it:
El Avion

Recommended by locals though we didn't have a chance to try it:
La Luna in the Gaia Hotel (we heard the food was excellent though it's a bit on the pricey side)

We stayed at The SUU. Beautiful boutique hotel probably inspired from the Miami architecture and style. Everything is white, from the ceiling to the slightest details. Very clean rooms though our iPod was stolen on the first evening. Unfortunately one bad seed influenced our whole experience so we would not recommend this hotel if you care for your belongings.
The great thing about this hotel too is that it is located 5 minutes away from a local beach called Playa Biesanz. We went there early one morning and had the whole beach to ourselves. There are no activities to do there but it's great to lay out with a book or go for a peaceful swim. Some other hotels we heard were nice are:

- Arenas Del Mar (it is the only hotel that's actually on the beach)
- Parador (the hotel is a bit older but the pool is great. This one is also close to the Biesanz beach mentioned earlier)
- Gaia (this was our first choice though it was sold out when we were ready to book our trip)

I liked being up in the mountain versus down by the beach. It is much closer to the night life activity (restaurants, bars etc...) and is a mere 10 minutes cab ride ($10) to the Manuel Antonio Beach. 

Local sayings:
Con mucho gusto to say thank you which I thought was very cute. 
Buenas to say hi at any time of the day.