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Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Curious what backpackers do in Costa Rica? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Day131

    After being in Nicaragua for almost 3 month it was time to leave for Costa Rica. Luckily I wasn't leaving by myself. Rozsa had decided to come with me to Santa Teresa and Anna was joining us till Rivas from where she was heading to Granada.
    Of course my last night at the surfcamp involved some passionfruit mojitos but as we had a long day ahead of us we had decided to leave on the 8:30 shuttle from Playa Maderas. So I enjoyed one last free hangover breakfast with eggs and gallo pinto. Packed my pancake as a snack for the journey and said my goodbyes to everybody. It wasn't easy leaving the camp after over 6 weeks of working there but I was also excited to be back on the road and see new things. But first we had to make our way to Santa Teresa. I knew how to get there but wasn't quite sure if it was possible to get there in a day as the last ferry from Puntarenas to the Nicoya Peninsula was leaving at 5pm. So I figured to just take one step at a time and just stay somewhere overnight in case we can't make it.
    So Johannes gave us a ride from the surfcamp to Casa Maderas from where we took a shuttle to San Juan del Sur. Here we probably jumped on the wrong bus which was leaving 30 minutes later as the busdriver told us the other one was going another way. I was a little annoyed by that but decided not to get into it. This 30 minutes won't make us miss the ferry in Puntarenas, right? Also I could use the time to by some rope as new straps for my little backpack in SJDS.
    We took that bus to Rivas. Back to that crazy bus station where you can't trust anybody as everybody is just trying to sell you a taxi. Again they told us the next bus to the border was running in an hour but it left almost immediately after we got on it.
    The bordercrossing was fairly easy as I had been here before on my visa run a few weeks ago and new exactly where to go. Once we made it over to Costa Rica the bus for Liberia was already waiting and again left right after we got on it. Things seemed to work out fine. Until we made it to Liberia. It was 1:30 by now. From here we had to take the bus to Puntarenas. The next was running at 2:30. According to the one bus driver this was taking 2 hours. According to another it was 3 hours. So all we could do was hoping the first one was right so we would make it in time for the ferry at 5. We met Laura at the bus stop, a girl who was also going to Santa Teresa. She was Colombian living in Costa Rica. Funny thing was that she came over to asking us how to get there. We told her what we knew and traveled together from now on.
    It would have been a pleasant surprise if the bus would have made it to Puntarenas in the promised 2h. But unfortunately the second bus driver was right - we made it to Puntarenas at exactly 5:30pm. Half an hour to late - maybe that half an hour we lost due to the wrong bus in SJDS? ;)
    But luckily there was another ferry running at 8:30pm. This one just didn't have a bus waiting on the other side bringing us to Santa Teresa. We decided to find a restaurant with WIFI to figure out what to do next.
    Turned out hotels in Puntarenas were really expensive and as we all just wanted to get to Santa Teresa we decided to go for the last ferry and pay a taxi taking us from there.
    We spend the time waiting for the ferry in the restaurant with greasy hangover food while Laura told us the story of her life. She was so funny and open hearted. It was fun listening to her and it definitely made the waiting less annoying!
    The ferry ride was kind of interesting as it was completely dark and you couldn't really make out where we were going. The following taxi drive was pretty crazy and fast but still it was 11:30pm when we finally arrived at our hostel. This 14hour journey was a nice welcome back in the world of traveling :)
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  • Day132

    I had chosen the hostel in Santa Teresa to be closer to Playa del Carmen. This beach break was supposed to be easier then the main break in the north of Santa Teresa. Debbie, who had been in the surfcamp in Nicaragua when I first got there as a guest, was volunteering in a hostel up north and we met the next morning to go surfing together!
    The waves were a lot different than what I was used to as they weren't as powerful but after a while I figured it out and actually had a lot of fun.
    After our session we walked with Debbie along the beach to her part of town. On the way back we walked along the street and checked out a few stores and hostels here as Rozsa wasn't sure if she wanted to stay where we were. The area up north was definitely nicer but as I came here for the surf I was really happy with our location.
    I went back in the water around 4pm and was hoping for a nice sunset afterwards. But it rained most of the time I was in the water and even though it didn't really matter as long as I was in the water I didn't really feel like sitting on the beach in the rain afterwards.
    It kept on raining the whole night and only stopped for half an hour which we used to run to the super market to buy some stuff for a first self made dinner in a long time. When we got back to the hostel it smelled amazing. A couple was making chicken curry with everything you can imagine. Even fresh peanuts and cilantro as a topping. I don't know if they saw Rozsas jealous eyes walking in with our pathetic ingredients for spaghetti with tomato sauce but they invited us immediately as they had far to much anyways. So we put our stuff aside for the next day and joined their delicious dinner!
    The next morning we actually went surfing with a pretty big group from our hostel. It was nice to have other people around again. The conditions were perfect in the beginning. The sun was just coming up and I caught a few nice rights going directly at the sun. Such a nice way to wake up!
    Later I met Debbie again at Banana Beach. A fancy beach club with expensive but really nice smoothies and cocktails. As it wasn't raining that day I went back to the beach for sunset before preparing the pasta we got around the night before with Rozsa. We hung out at the hostel talking to our roommates. The next morning I left early to make my way all the way across the country to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast.
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  • Day134

    I knew I couldn't make the journey to Bocas del Toro in one day so my plan was originally to spend one night in San José. But as lots of people recommended Puerto Viejo I figured I should try to make it there to avoid San Jose. From Santa Teresa there was an early morning bus going straight to San José. San José has a lot of different bus terminals but luckily the bus to Puerto Viejo was leaving just 2 blocks down from the one were I was arriving. We arrived 10 minutes before that bus was leaving and it was raining heavily. But the next bus was leaving in 2 hours so decided to make a run for it. A guy got of the bus together with me and when he heard me asking for directions to the bus terminal for Puerto Viejo he joined me to find it. We were running up and down the streets in the pouring rain. Everybody we asked send us another way. At some point I decided to just trust my intuition and kept running the way that felt right to me even though one guy had told us otherwise. I was super happy this turned out to be the right decision and we could finally see another bus station and a bus marked "Puerto Viejo" parked ready to go. We dropped our wet backpacks at the bus and ran for the counter to buy our tickets. A minute later we were sitting on the bus soaking wet but laughing and happy that we made it!
    The busride took longer than expected so it was almost 8pm when we finally made it to Puerto Viejo.
    Some of the nicer hostels in Puerto Viejo are not right in town but a little further down the road towards Playa Cocles. I thought about going there as this was supposed to be the surf beach for beginners but as it was late and dark I decided to stay in town and check out the beach tomorrow. After checking in and a quick dinner at my hostel I met Linda, a girl I had met on the bus, for a drink at a nice restaurant called "Madre Tierra". We talked a lot about jobs and traveling. She's in the lucky position to combine her job with traveling and lives in Costa Rica right now. It was really nice talking to her.
    The next morning I woke up early and went out to explore the town and the beaches. Unfortunately it was grey and raining on and off so everything looked a bit sad and uninviting. You could still get the caribbean-reggea-vibe of that town but as lots of places were closed (due to the early morning or low season) I didn't really feel like staying. I went to have a look at "Salsa Brava" a Point Break close to town but there were absolutely no waves so I knew there was no chance of Surf at the other beach as well.
    So I decided I had seen it all and caught an early bus towards Panama.
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  • Day135

    After so many border crossings this one was fairly easy and uneventful. As I had already left Costa Rica once I knew I would have to pay $8,- leaving tax at some random little shop before the border so I started looking for signs as soon as I got of the bus. After I got my stamp to leave Costa Rica I had to cross a bridge to get to Panama. The area between the borders is always weird but this bridge over Rio Sixaola was actually quite nice.
    On the Panamanian side there were lots of guys who wanted to sell me a shuttle straight to Bocas. But after I told them I wanted to take the public transport they actually showed me where to find the bus to Changinola. There I changed to Almirante from where I had to take a boat to Isla Colon, the main one of the islands of Bocas del Toro. I shared a bench on the boat with the typical couple you meet traveling everywhere: He, a little older, white and rich. She, a little younger, local and beautiful. But I tried to not be judgmental and when the boat left they both cracked a can of beer and tried drinking it while the boat jumped over some heavy waves. When this made me laugh they offered me a beer as well and now we had a lot of fun together drinking our beer on the bumpy boatride. It showed me again that it helps to keep an open mind and not have to many prejudices.
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  • Day143

    And so now I find myself in Costa Rica, having taken the most lax border crossing in the world. The border has local people riding bicycles up and down and families taking their children across. The only people who go into the immigration offices are the tourists.

    But anyway, finding myself in Costa Rica is pretty good because I've always wanted to come here.

    First stop on the map is Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast. The town has a Jamaican/ Caribbean vibe to it and is on the beach but also in the jungle. In a way it reminds me a lot of Thailand.

    Tom and I arrived at around 3pm and had a total mind fuck seeing as we had gained another hour (now 7 hours behind the U.K.). We are staying at the Selina's here which I like a lot less than the one we stayed at in Bocas. We chilled for a bit and I got into a political debate with this American guy by the poor for about an hour or so. Them Tom and I walked into town and had a big faff over trying to get money out of the cash machine. We went to the supermarket and nearly had a heart attack when we spent $14 on literally not much food at all. CR is expensive!

    I ended going to bed quite early because gaining the hour had really played with my body clock (so help me for when I come back to England). On a separate side note to all my loyal, avid readers - I've finally booked my flight back to London on 13th September from Varadero in Cuba. 🙌🏼

    The next day we got up early for yoga which I really enjoyed. We then rented bikes with no brakes - to make them stop you had to cycle backwards which was not that fun to get used to. We cycled to Punta Uva which is one of the nicest beaches in the area. We sunbathed until it became overcast and then slept until it started to rain and then we had to cycle back to the hostel. It then continued to rain pretty much all afternoon and I had to walk 1km in the rain with my big backpack to my new hostel which I prefer a lot more. The rainy season here is pretty full on and stops everything!

    In my new hostel I spent the next day just chilling until around midday when it was time to speak to Josh. We've barely spoken since he left Colombia just due to being busy and having no wifi in the San Blas.

    In the afternoon I went on a run to Playa Cocles. I haven't put on a pair of running shoes in an embarrassingly long time (since March) but have thought it's time to have a bit of a detox and get back on the fitness wagon. I ran 8.45km and it was okay until it was time to turn back and then it was a bit of a struggle. I stopped along the way to get water and OJ and also to take some photos of the beaches - cus they were so pretty and the sun was shining.

    When I finished I went and lay on the beach for a bit and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon sun. I then went to the supermarket and got some food for dinner. I made a healthy dinner of quinoa and brown rice with parsley, pepper, onion, sweet corn and chickpeas which was really delicious. I had a pretty quiet evening because I've got to get up at around 6am tomorrow to get the bus to San José and then onto Manuel Antonio.
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  • Day148

    Another day, another bus. Or two in fact. 10 hours of travelling later I arrived in Manuel Antonio which is on the Pacific coast, the other side of Costa Rica. It sure does rain a lot in CR and arriving in Manuel Antonio was no exception!

    I was lucky to meet a nice English couple on my journey over, Georgia and Dan, and we got to Selina's hostel together. We had a 10 person room to ourselves which was luxury. The first night I think we all went to bed before 9 o'clock, just worn out from the day's travel.

    The next day we went down to the beach in the morning because it was sunny. It didn't take too long for the overcast to come though, and after we headed back and chilled. I went on another run - this time shorter than the last but there were lots of hills and some very yappy dogs.

    The day after we went to Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio which was the reason for coming all the way down here. We were so lucky as we saw lots of monkeys, some sloths, snakes, frogs, raccoons, humming birds and loads of other wildlife! On the way out we saw a giant sloth with its baby in a tree, really close up. It was a really hot day and finally - sun - so we went back to the pool and sunbathed. In the evening we had some drinks and played cards. I had a bit too much to drink and ended up puking on my bed (oops - but I blame the disgusting mixer we were drinking).

    The next day I got up real early to be on the bus for San Jose. So excited to see my mum and sister and travel with them for two weeks!
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  • Day151

    We were picked up early at 6am to begin our two week tour of Costa Rica. Tortuguero, in the north on the Caribbean coast up first. This place is famous for green turtles nesting on the beach.

    We were lucky one night to see them! Although it was the beginning of the season so we only saw one, we saw a massive turtle laying its eggs and then covering them up with the sand. I was surprised at how big and powerful the turtle was, as when we were standing behind it the turtle would hurl sand at you. It was a really cool experience though.

    The place we were staying in was called Evergreen Lodge and was right in the middle of the rainforest. We had monkeys and other wildlife right on our doorstep and saw them up close. Mum and Rosy were freaking out because I saw a big frog in our room.

    We went on a boat tour of the national park one day and were lucky to see all sorts of other wildlife including snakes, cayman, lizards (one known as the 'Jesus Christ' lizard because it can walk on water for about 6-7 metres), sloths, birds and loads more.

    We also went on a kayak tour of the lake around our lodge which was fun but my arms started to hurt after a while and it was difficult to row completely straight! We had a few days of rain but also a good day of hot sun so chilled by the pool and read my book.

    It's been a great start to the holiday, with lots of wildlife. Next stop is the Arenal Volcano in the middle of Costa Rica.
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  • Day155

    Arenal (La Fortuna - but we were way out of town) was loads of fun. For starters we were staying in a spa hotel that was really nice.

    The first day we went to see the hanging bridges in the rainforest. The suspension bridges themselves were cool (very high and moved around a lot) and the wildlife was more of the same we've seen elsewhere in CR - sloths, monkeys, snakes, etc which is always good to see!

    We also did a walk around the volcano which was good. The first time it erupted was in 1968 and last time in 2010, making it pretty active! You aren't allowed to climb the volcano but you can walk around it.

    After a lot of walking we then went to Tabacon hot springs which are the nicest hot springs I think I've ever been to. We also had a buffet dinner which was to die for, but I filled my plate to the brim and ended up having four different types of meat and lots of the little desserts. I went to bed at 8.30pm with the biggest food coma.

    The next day we had a chilled day of no activities so spent the day by the pool and also at the gym. It was nice to have a day where we just enjoyed the hotel because it's so fancy and even has a pool bar where you can eat sushi in the swimming pool.

    We're off on a boat to Monteverde tomorrow. Already halfway through Mum and Rosy's holiday, and two weeks into my time in Costa Rica - time goes way too quickly but it's been great so far and we've got more good stuff to look forward to including the cloud rainforest and five days on the beach in Guancaste.
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  • Day156

    Arriving in Monteverde via boat the first thing we wanted to do was the longest zip line in South/ Central America. At first I didn't think it was as good as the ziplining that I did in Peru, because there they let you go upside down and they wouldn't here, but actually after doing a few it was really cool! You zip line right over the canopy of the cloudforest and for much longer than in Peru. The views are amazing and totally worth it.

    The next day we did two more walking tours of cloud forests and we saw more wildlife but it is starting to feel a bit samey and I'm getting to the end of them. We did however see a quetzal which is a rare bird and the symbol of Guatemala which was pretty cool! And lots of hummingbirds and an owl.

    The hotel we were staying in was another really nice one, although once again a bit far out of town. They had the nicest food ever, amazing views over the Pacific and a jacuzzi!

    Now we're off for five days at the beach on the Pacific coast in Guancaste. I'm really looking forward to it. It's cold and rainy in Monteverde and I'm starting to lose my tan. Next up is Potrero before heading crossing los frontieres en Nicaragua! Pura vida!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Costa Rica, Costa Rica, ኮስታ ሪካ, コスタリカ, 코스타리카, କୋଷ୍ଟା ରିକା, คอสตาริกา, ຄອສຕາລິກາ, កូស្តារីកា, Còsta Rica, Cósta Ríce, Cốt-xta Ri-ca, i-Costa Rica, Khosta Rikha, Kosita Lika, Kositarika, Kosita Rika, Kɔsitarika, Kosta Riika, Kostarika, Kosta Rika, Kɔsta Rika, Kostaríka, Kôsta Rîka, Kosta Rikà, Kosta Rikaa, Kosta Rika nutome, Kostariko, Kostaryka, Kwasta Rika, Orílẹ́ède Kuusita Ríkà, República de Costa Rica, كوستاريكا, کاستاریکا, کۆستاریکا, کوسٹا ریکا, קוסטה ריקה, Κόστα Ρίκα, Костарика, Коста Рика, Коста-Рика, Коста-Рыка, ཀོ་ས྄ཊ་རི་ཀ།, Կոստա-Ռիկա, კოსტა-რიკა, कोष्टारिका, कोस्टारिका, कोस्टारीका, કોસ્ટા રિકા, కోస్టారికా, ಕೊಸ್ಟಾ ರಿಕಾ, கோஸ்டாரிகா, കോസ്റ്ററിക്ക, কোস্টারিকা, ကော့စ်တာရီကာ, 哥斯达黎加

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