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. […] 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? […]

    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!

    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!

    Awesome photos!
    Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cheers,

    Sarah

    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™‚

    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.

    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!

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

    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!

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