In Photos: Costa Rica Highlights

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I didn't formally announce or promote my recent trip to Costa Rica. It wasn't because I wasn't looking forward to it, or because I didn't plan to blog about it (in fact, I knew I would blog about it, considering Costa Rica was high up on my travel wishlist for 2013). To be honest, I just needed a bit of a break.

Many people, upon hearing that I'm a travel blogger, assume that my frequent travels mean I am constantly on vacation. But just ask ANYbody else who blogs or runs an online business, and they will tell you that this is not the case at all. Usually when I'm traveling (and especially if the travel includes any sponsored activities), I'm still working everyday. I'm editing photos, updating social media, drafting blog posts… it's often not very relaxing at all, and I come home exhausted.

Puerto Viejo
I hardly ever get to enjoy a place like this.

I wanted my trip to Costa Rica to be different. I didn't set up one sponsored activity or hotel stay. I invited a good friend of mine along so we could spend hours sitting around and talking about school, life, boys, etc. I left our itinerary blissfully open and planned very little. I did take my computer along, but limited myself to only using it to check e-mails and respond to the occasional comments. The only social media updates I made were on Instagram and Facebook, and were done from my phone.

It was a much-needed relaxing break for me. While I wasn't able to force myself to completely disconnect, I escaped from my online life enough to feel like I was actually on vacation.

Manuel Antonio

But, now that I'm back, it's time to tell you all about Costa Rica — and make you envious with photos.

Here were the highlights of my chilled-out week in Costa Rica:

 

The Beaches

My Costa Rican adventure took me to both coasts of the country — I spent two days in/around Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific Coast, and another two days in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side. I definitely preferred the beaches on the Pacific side, but that was partly because we had the best weather there.

Manuel Antonio
A beach within Manuel Antonio National Park.
Manuel Antonio
The public beach at Manuel Antonio – on a “crowded” day during Holy Week.
Costa Rica
A local beach not far from San Jose.
Manuel Antonio
A blissfully empty beach within Manuel Antonio NP.
Puerto Viejo
A beach in Puerto Viejo.

The Mountains

In between the coasts, Costa Rica is actually quite mountainous and full of volcanoes. I don't have many photos of the mountains (mostly because I was usually the one driving through them, and it was rainy/foggy a lot of the time), but I do have plenty of pictures from La Fortuna, with Arenal Volcano looking pretty spectacular around sunset.

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

The Wildlife

Monkeys, macaws, crocs, sloths… we saw them all. I didn't get photos of all of them (birds and monkeys are incredibly hard to catch on camera!), but we saw a lot of wildlife as we traveled across the country.

Sloth
A young sloth at the Jaguar Rescue Center.
Crocs
Massive crocs under a bridge.

Toucan

Iguana
Can you spot the big iguana?
Sloth Sanctuary
A two-fingered sloth at the Sloth Sanctuary.
Tree frog
The green frog that is kind of the “mascot” of Costa Rica.

The Varying Landscapes

I'll admit that I had no clue just how diverse Costa Rica was before visiting. You've got jungle and rainforest; tropical beaches; rolling farmland; and even twisted forests. Would you believe that the photos below all came from the same country?

Puerto Viejo
A jungle hotel.
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Puerto Viejo
The forest in Puerto Viejo – looks enchanted, doesn't it?
Costa Rica
Hilly farmland.
Paradise Hot Springs
More jungly bits.

The Activities

Because of weather and a general sense of laziness, I actually didn't DO a whole lot in Costa Rica. I didn't do any ziplining or horseback riding or extreme water sports. Instead, I stuck to more laid-back activities like sailing, chilling out at hot springs, and snorkeling. All were still awesome, though.

Sailing
Sailing on the Pacific.
Sailing
Sunset from a sailboat.
Paradise Hot Springs
Relaxing at Paradise Hot Springs, in the shadow of Arenal Volcano.
Snorkeling
Snorkeling in the Pacific.

 

There you have it — my week of “vacation” in a nutshell. Stay tuned fore more Costa Rica content soon!

 

Which part would YOU most look forward to?

 

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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49 Comments on “In Photos: Costa Rica Highlights

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  1. Glad you got to enjoy an actual vacation! We’re definitely looking forward to Costa Rica; those beaches look great!

      It was much-needed and lovely! And what a place to vacation… Costa Rica is great!

    Wowzer Amanda.

    I love your pictures, you have a great eye for photography.

    You have fulfilled your mission, I am super jealous and feel that wee bit more cold here in Scotland! ha ha

      Thanks, lady! I do definitely enjoy snapping photos.

      And glad to hear I fulfilled my mission! Hopefully you aren’t jealous enough to stop reading, though! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I loved Costa Rica so your photos bring back lots of good memories โ€“ jealous that you managed to get a photo with the top of Arenal Volcano though, I was there for three days and it hid behind a cloud the whole time!

      We were SO lucky at Arenal! It was cloudy the first night we were there, and rained the whole second day. But then, right before sunset, all the clouds cleared off and I got those great shots. It was magical!

    Great post as usual! The video was fun. I need to learn how to do something with my videos – I tend to stick them on a DVD as is never to be watched again! Also your photos are amazing…I can’t get over that shot of the baby sloth. You should think about entering it in a photo contest of some kind…seriously. Before I ask the next question…you are a great photographer – it’s just not the camera…but do you still have the Canon you mention on the website? I am looking to get a new point and shoot and am busy doing research…am heading for rainy Scotland this fall so looking for a waterproof I can stick into my pocket. I noticed you had some underwater shots as well…. You have an awesome life girl!!! Enjoy!!!

      Thanks, Laurie! I’m making it a point to take more video this year. It’s more work, but worth it I think. There are some things you just can’t capture in a photo!

      As for the photos – thanks for the kind words! I LOVE that sloth photo. It’s actually the background on my computer now! As for my camera, I’ve upgraded slightly to an Olympus E-P2 (and before that was using a similar Olympus E-PM1). It’s a micro 4/3s camera, meaning you can buy different lenses for it and stuff, but it’s not nearly as big and bulky as an SLR. Not waterproof, though…

      As for the underwater footage/photos, I also carry around a little Kodak Playsport, which is like a Flip cam but waterproof. It doesn’t take fantastic photos, but it’s what I use for all my video!

    what an awesome post! I have been wanting to get to Costa Rica, and this definitely sold me! I too never realized just how dramatic and quite different parts of the the country are. Gorgeous photos! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

      Definitely get there soon! It’s by far the most “touristy” place in Central America, but still really chilled out for right now. Glad you enjoyed the photos!

    Looks like you had a great trip! Your pictures reminded us of our trip to Arenal in 2010! We can’t wait to get back to Costa Rica in August!!

    Looks like a great place for a downtime vacation. Costa Rica is definitely high on my list. Nice video and your photographs enhance my desire to go.

      Definitely a nice place for a downtime getaway; especially on the coasts! I loved Manuel Antonio, and could have happily spent the whole week there, I think.

    I didn’t get to go to CR with Gerard when he went but the wildlife is what I remember most from his photos. Would love to visit for myself one day. Great pics as always, A!

      The wildlife (and the flora, too!) is pretty amazing in CR. Can’t wait to put together my sloth post! They are my new favorite animal!

    Good to receive new post notifications from you again ๐Ÿ™‚
    Love the video highlights ending…
    Hola! Hola! Hola!

      Yes, I’m back! Even travel bloggers need vacations sometimes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And how funny was that bird??

    LOVE the pictures! All the colors come out so bright and ‘pure’.
    Costa Rica is high on my list of places to visit and these pictures confirm that I really need to get there.
    May I ask what program you use for photo editing and video editing?
    Thanks!

      The greens there reminded me a lot of the greens in New Zealand – bright and saturated and almost unreal-looking!

      For photo and video editing, I actually just use iPhoto and iMovie!

    This brings back so many memories. I loved every minute of my time in Costa Rica. Did the racoons and monkeys try to steal your food on the beach in Manuel Antonio? I nearly lost my passport there when one took off with my whole bag!

      You know, I’ve heard the stories of monkeys trying to steal your food on the beach in MA… but we didn’t see ANY there! Perhaps because there were a lot of people around for Holy Week?

    I am dying to go to the sloth sanctuary. They are just soooo adorable!

      The Sloth Sanctuary was great – though I enjoyed the Jaguar Rescue Center (which also has lots of sloths) just as much!

    OMG. The sloths, DEFINITELY the sloths! Amazing pictures, btw! The sunsets are stunning!

      I LOVE sloths! Stay tuned for a sloth-centric post probably sometime next week!

    Glad you got a vacation! Your photos look great, and Costa Rica sounds amazing!

    We are currently in Costa Rica! We had 10 days of exploring and today we ‘moved in’ to a house sit we are doing for 3 weeks. I have loved every part we have seen! Costa Rica is so beautiful with so much to see and do, for such a small country!

    I know we will be back again during our travels because there is still so much more we want to see!

      That’s awesome, Nicole! Sounds like a fun trip. Enjoy your house sit!

    amazing! I loved the last landscapes pic! beautiful! How long did you stay there for? you amanaged to see and do so much!

    Your images sum up Costa Rica so well. It has such a perfect balance of everything. It I had to choose a paradise to spend the rest of my life in, it would be there, no doubt.

      It’s definitely a very diverse and interesting place. It makes me want to explore more of Central America!

    Lovely photos and website. Thank you!!! I am returning to CR after spending a year in South and Central America – a hundred years ago ๐Ÿ˜‰ I like your analogy to the saturated greens of New Zealand…. My home country!!! Do you mind me asking which hotel is in your photos of Puerto Viejo? That pool looks wonderful. Cheers.

      Thank YOU, Kimberly!

      As for where we stayed, it was a place called Agapi Apartments. Really nice and chilled out, though not super cheap.

    You certainly packed a lot into your Costa Rica trip! We won’t be able to make the Pacific this time. Unfortunately these was also quite a bit of rain during our trip – even in the dry season. But it happens! Lovely place.

      Yes, we really did see quite a bit! Still plenty left for next time, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Awesome photos!
    Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cheers,

    Sarah

    Wow! Love that sunset sailboat photo!
    Costa Rica seems to be popping up more and more in my feeds.. and I can see why! I need to get there soon. Did you rent a car? Was it intimidating driving there?

      It’s definitely one of the more popular destinations in Central America!

      And yes, we rented a car. Driving in some of the cities was a little crazy, and some of the roads in the countryside were really narrow, but overall I didn’t think it was too bad!

    Love your blog! such great pics and memories to share. My friend and I want to go to Costa Rica in mid January and are finding it hard to find a place we can stay in that is not crazy far from the airport that would also not be too long to get to the sloth sanctuary. If we could stay somewhere midway very close to a beach that would be great. Do you recommend doing what you did and staying maybe 1/2 the week on a beach that isn’t more than 1 or 2 hrs to the San Jose airport then driving closer to the sloth sanctuary on the 3rd or 4th day (staying in Cahuita or Puerto Viejo) then taking the long trek back out to the airport on the last day? I think it’s like a 6 or 7 hr drive from the airport to the Sloth sanctuary though ๐Ÿ™ Thanks for your time!

      Yes, that’s probably what I would suggest! (Though I would probably suggest driving back to San Jose on your second-to-last day and booking a hotel close to the airport. You don’t want anything to happen to cause you to miss your flight on your last day there!

    […] already shared with you video highlights and some of my best photos from my trip to Costa Rica. But which experiences that I mentioned in that post were my favorites? […]

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