Just west of the Tabacon resort near Volcan Arenal along Hwy 142, there is a small bridge, under which runs a small stream. If you want to experience hot springs without doing the Resort/Spa for $25, park your car in the spa parking lot and head down to the bridge. At the bridge, carefully climb down on the North side of the street. When down, start hiking south (crossing under the bridge). It may seem strange, but if you keep going, you'll find plenty of places to relax in the hot spring water amongst the peace and quiet of the forest. It was great. I hate resorts, and love to get off the beaten track. This is the best of both worlds. Check out the picture attached.
Manzanillo is a small town a short drive from Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side of the country. If you drive to the southern end of the town, there is a dirt/sand road that continues onto/along the beach. If you follow that road until it ends, you can follow the beach several hundred meters until you reach a trail that goes back into the rainforest. The trail weaves in and out of the RF, on and off of the beach, to many deserted and picturesque stretches of beach. There is plenty of wildlife to be seen and heard along the way as well. This is a great hike and well worth getting a pair of shoes muddy and wet.
The waterfalls of Catarata La Fortuna are an excellent way to kill a couple hours. Near the Arenal area, specifically Fortuna, the waterfalls are a short hike down a well maintained trail. The steps can be slippery when wet. The hike down is a piece of cake, but you may need to take a break or two on the way back up. The waterfall and surrounding rainforest are beautiful. Check out one of the various travel guides or ask around in Fortuna to get directions.
On the road to Quepos from San Jose there is a bridge that you cross over. At the far end of the bridge should be some cars parked and there should be some people on the bridge. They are looking at crocodiles.
The crocodiles just wait in the water with their mouths open. I think that they are waiting for fish to swim into their mouths.
While on the bridge we saw a gorgeous pair of scarlet macaws flying over the river... an incredible image.. but too far away to get a good picture with my digital camera.
We saw some wonderul red, white & blue crabs in a stream that went down towards the beach. I don't know how common they are, but we saw quite a few.
I was dumbfounded by the colours.
I mean how many red, white & blue animals have you seen?? Except of course for the equally exciting Macaws.
Nesting turtles can be found on the beach of Ostinal National Wildlife Refuge, most any night of the year. The massive arrivals called arribadas are usually only between July and Dec..
We were there in Sept, there was a full moon, and as soon as we arrived out on the black sand beach, we could see the Olive Ridley turtles coming ashore.
They drug their heavy bodies, full of eggs, up to the top of the beach and started digging a hole. Soon they started laying their eggs. There were vultures all around, trying to grab the eggs to eat. The turtles used their large flappers to hurry and cover the hole, then they went back to the sea.
What a thrilling experience this was, it seemed I was just dreaming.
Manuel Antonio National Park is popular for it's beaches. Located about 7km to the South of Quepos on the Pacific coast. Just a 3km walk from the Playa Espadilla Sur beach you reach a look out point with excellent views over the ocean and the bay surrounding Playa Puerto Escondido. The walk takes you through forest and the chances of seeing monkeys are very great indeed, in particular White Faced Capuchins plus the rarer Squirrel Monkeys, Three Toed Sloths may also be seen. Look out too for large (harmless) lizards called Ctenosaurs.
Just follow the signs for "Mirador"
Matapalo Beach is located 45 mins S of Manuel Antonio, and about 15 mins N of Dominical. When we went (end of high season) there was 2 other people staying in the entire village! We ate breakfast with large iguanas and wild horses, and took midnight swims under a full moon. It felt like our own secret beach.
The water is warm (although beware of the undertow at high tide), the sand is black, and the locals are extremely friendly.
It is easiest to reach by renting a car, as the buses to/from Manuel Antonio are not consistent. Be warned - in rainy season the road can often get washed out! There are no places to get cash, and most places don't take credit cards. Stock up before leaving one of the main towns.
The beach on either side leads to natural estuaries, where you can go kayaking, or take part in jungle/canopy tours.
Check out my recommendation for Bahari Beach Bungalows under accomodation: http://www.virtualtourist.com/m/t/ea7b1/3/9ca/
Approximately 10km to the East of Turrialba (Cordillera Central, Cartago region) is the Parque Viborana sepentarium a small privately run reptile collection. Among the collection can be seen several of Costa Rica's (and the World's) most venomous snakes (such as the Bushmaster and Fer de Lance) plenty of photo opportunities here! Not just poisonous snakes but a Boa Constrictor, smaller non venomous snakes and Tree Frogs. For anyone wanting to learn about reptiles this is the place to go. You can also get the chance to handle some of the creatures (not the poisonous ones obviously!)
Entrance fee to the serpentarium is US$7.00 money goes towards reptile research.
At Poas Volcano, you can stand at the edge of the crater and look down 900+ feet and watch geyserlike eruptions that leave no doubt this mountain is very active.
There are trails in the park but mostly you will see rabbits, frogs, and toads.
Around 80 species of birds live in this 13,838 acre park so keep your bins handy.
The highway north of Lake Arenal connecting Fortuna to Tilaran is a beautiful drive if you are heading in that direction. The road was full of potholes, so having an SUV to absorb the bumps was beneficial. There were plenty of cars making their way, just much more slowly and in a zig-zag fashion.
The Pacuare Rain Forest can certainly be found in tourist books and on web sites, but where we ended up (and how we got there) isn't for the faint of heart! The Pacuare Lodge in the heart of the rain forest is definitely off the beaten path. We took a shuttle bus from San Jose to a beautiful piece of countryside where we hiked down a small hill to get to our take-off point in the river. Yep--we rafted in through white water. It wasn't difficult white water, but no kids under 12 were allowed to go on the rafting tour, and at least 2 people fell out of the boats! We arrived to a warm welcome from the staff, who maintained the lodge and grounds, and took advantage of the guided canope tour, seeing even more of the rain forest from a birds-eye view. The meals, which were included in the price, were family style but exquisite and shared with some incredible people from all over the world (movie directors, world class violinists, etc.) and were prepared and served by candlelight (no electricity!). We were accomodated in beautifully built bungalows that were enclosed only by screens--sleeping with the sounds of the rain and the creatures surrounding us was very peaceful. We intended to raft out the next day but the enormous amount of overnight rain raised the river to a point where they wouldn't risk our amature necks. We ended up taking a small 4x4 truck out on a slightly washed out dirt road that provided an incredible view of the countryside and a hot and bumpy mode of transport. Highly recommended, but be prepared to get wet--on and off the river.
Our guide at Tarcoles Lodge drove us up to Carara National Park. There we saw several kinds of birds, iguanas, and giant trees.
Several scarlet macaws nest and feed throughout the reserve We stopped on a bridge, 10 minutes from there, and saw them flying west down the Rio Tarcoles towards the coastal mangroves where they roost for the night.
Carara is 56 miles from San Jose, no camping allowed but there are many places to spend the night along the way.
If you can find him, this is a great experiance.
He will fly around to the hotels and land on the beach. You never no were he is going to be, so i can not tell you were to look for him.
You might just ask someone if they have seen the guy flying the Ultra-lite.
I must say that this was first for me. Earlier in the week we did sky trek in Monteverde and this was the day before we left. Sky trek was great but this was awsome...
We took a 20-30 minute ride from the beach hotel and went down along the coast to the town of Montezuma, and the water fall that we swam at earlier. Only difference was that now we were at 1200 feet, i no because i saw the gauge and some planes under us...
The view was great and the ride was absolutly the best. If you get the chance don't pass it up...
Look for my album page to see more pics.
The small entrances to the beaches at Manuel Antonio are breathtaking. I am Costa Rican myself so I have spent many years there but I STILL am impressed every time I go.
Make sure and wear your suit underneath your clothes and pack a light lunch so you can relax and take a swim. Though there are otheres around, they are there to relax and enjoy the view as well..it's quite.
San Pablo De Turrubares, Costa Rica (Formerly La Finca Que Ama Hotel)
Good for: Business
I don’t know how many of you have stayed in an all inclusive hotel before... but this resort was so...more
Very friendly an to other d helpful staff. The newer rooms are excellent. good value relative...more