Have you ever had a destination you've been dreaming of going to? I most certainly have quite a few and Costa Rica was at the top of that list. I couldn't believe it when I was sat on the plane on my way there. It felt as though it was a pinch me moment and I'd wake up and it was all a dream. Costa Rica had been somewhere I couldn't wait to visit due to its nature, it embodies everything I love from caring about the planet, sustainability, food and culture!
Once we had touched down our first stop of the trip was in Arenal and this was my favourite location. The view from our bedroom was stunning even when the clouds were out. Our first activity there was a volcano hike. This wasn't planned as we were meant to do a boat ride but due to problems outside of our control we decided on a hike. During this hike we saw so many animals in their natural habitats and I was in awe. We saw howler monkeys, snakes, sloths, birds, a caiman and Coatimundis.
To conclude our time in Arenal, we went to Tabacon hot springs. These are pools/bodies of water that are heated up by the volcano. The fact that it was raining that day didn't bother me as much due to the warmth of the water. I hadn't experienced a thermal hot spring before, so it was a new experience as I'm used to cold pools and seas.
A gallery of photos from Arenal
Our first full day in Monteverde we went zip lining through the cloud forest and it is my highlight of the trip. As much as I have done ziplining before, I hadn't done it on this scale. To reach the first point of descent, we had to take a cable car up to the peak of the mountain, where we had to climb higher, at this point I was shivering out of coldness and nerves the two combined are not ideal! From this highest point which was more than 800 ft high we would begin our descent zipline by zipline. We completed around 12 ziplines, most of the time solo and the odd few paired up. It was incredible. I loved every moment of it and was sad, yet relieved when it came to the end out of sheer tiredness.
Later that day we went on a Don Juan Coffee and Chocolate Tour. This was a new experience for me as I have been an avid chocolate eater but had never been aware of the process till now. We went through the steps of how it's made and had a go at the process ourselves. From picking the fruit in which the cocoa bean lives. Side note I had no idea the cocoa bean was in a fruit, which I must say didn't look very appetising but was actually quite delicious. The drying and fermentation, the grinding to cocoa nibs, we saw it all and it's a very long process, but the taste of chocolate makes it worth it.
To round off the day we were taken on a night walk in the forest. This isn't for those scared by creepy crawlies. I won't lie there were times I shrieked and wanted to turn back. But I stuck it out for the whole duration of the tour. Picture this. It's around 10 pm and pitch black, I'm stood there with a torch in hand and wrapped up head to toe so there were no access points for the creatures. We ventured off into the forest on the hunt to spot the nocturnal inhabitants of Costa Rica.
You were split into mini groups, and the guides had walkie talkies to tell each other where they had spotted something of interest. Along this journey we came across a lot of mammals and insects I never knew existed. It was really exciting as I'm a big animal lover. A list of what we saw will follow and is not limited to as it will vary each night what creatures you will come across. From what I remember we saw Kinkajous, Olingos, a toucan, a snake, a tarantula and a glow in the dark scorpion. I must admit the creepy crawly side of it was not for me! But as a whole it was a fun experience.
A gallery of photos from Monteverde
The last leg of the trip was in Guanacaste where we stayed in a beachfront resort. This was time for unwinding as we had been on the go non-stop since we had arrived. The hotel was great as it had a number of restaurants with different cuisines. It also had a number of pools to lounge around so you weren't fighting for a sun lounger at silly o'clock in the morning!
The hotels I stayed at in order.
Arenal Springs Resort & Spa - 4.5/5
The resort was beautiful and in a great location, the view from the room was amazing, the staff were very friendly and helpful but I can't give it 10 as I only had two meals (breakfast) there so I'm unsure of what the menu is like as a whole. We also only had one sunny day so I can imagine the surrounding area being stunning during the summer months.
El Establo Mountain Hotel - 2.5/5
The location was great, the views from the room were breathtaking and we had the most amazing sunsets and sunrises. The rooms themselves were a bit of a let down and the breakfast was reasonable. It was a struggle to get Wifi in the rooms, so often we had to go elsewhere in the hotel to pick up a signal. There was a lovely viewing point where you could see an abundance of hummingbirds.
Hotel Riu Palace - 4/5
A beautiful resort, the rooms were a little odd (purple/pink accent colour) and one night we had an ant problem but other than that it was perfect. There were activities and entertainment all day and night, so you'll never find yourself bored. There were about five or six restaurants with different cuisines from around the world as well as a buffet, so there was always something for someone (downside is you need to book in advance as they are popular.) The hotel is right on the beach, so you have the option of one of the many pools or the sea.
If you would like to see more of my trip to Costa Rica head to @JetoffwithJazz and watch my Costa Rica highlights.
Let me know in the comments, where is your dream destination? Or what has been your favourite destination to date?