2018 was filled with a lot of travel for me and first big trip of the year was to Costa Rica with Kyle’s family. We traveled to the Guanacaste Region which is the Northwest area of Costa Rica. This was my first time in Costa Rica but a lot of what I had read/heard was that this area was not as rain forest and jungle like as down in the Southern part of the country. The Guanacaste region is more dry and not as green or lush as other areas. Not that it really mattered to me but I would love to go to other parts of Costa Rica in the future.
There are no direct flights from Denver into Liberia so we had our layover in Atlanta. This put us into Liberia fairly late and we still had an hour long drive to the resort. As we got closer to the resort, the road conditions worsened with quite bumpy roads.
Our first day there we did some exploring around the resort. We stayed at Hotel Riu which was an all inclusive resort that I would highly recommend. Close to the hotel, they had a lot of pools and lounge chairs. These filled up quick! Through out the day, Hotel Riu staff would have different games and competitions by the poolside which were really fun to watch and be a part of. And lets not forget about the unlimited alcohol beverages if you are of age! The icy mixed drinks hit the spot on those very hot and humid days!
A short walk from the resort leads you right to Matapalo Beach. They resort had different ocean equipment you could rent including snorkel gear, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards. Through the resort, you could also book snuba (snorkle/scuba) trips which I will get to it a little bit. The resort also seemed to have plenty of beach chairs if you wanted to bask in the sun all day. I tried to bask in the sun to get my tan on but Oh Em Gee…the heat was unbearable if you were in the direct sunlight! So lots and lots of sunscreen! The beach also had a sand volleyball court and was often filled with iguanas.
I wouldn’t say we really had any set plans for our trip to Costa Rica. We more of played most of it by ear. Kyle and his dad really wanted to do some salt water fishing so the three of us had gone on a half day guided trip. We ended up getting skunked that first day of fishing it was still nice to get out on the water and we saw multiple sting rays jumping out of the water.
Later in the week, we ended up doing another guided fishing trip with the same guides. This time, Kyle’s family stayed with the guides to fish and the boat had dropped Kyle and I off at this secluded beach where Kyle was trying to target some Rooster Fish. This day made for a relaxing day on the beach for me as I pitched my hammock and enjoyed the sun. I even had a few local visitors (3 kids) on the beach including a furry four legged friend name Simba. Otherwise, there were no other people to be found on this beach. Later in the day, the boat picked us back up and the rest of the family had caught a red snapper and grouper. We ended up taking the fish back to one of the resorts restaurants where they cooked it up for us!
As mentioned earlier, the resort offered outings for snuba diving trips. If you are unfamiliar with this, snuba is a mash up of scuba diving and snorkeling. You are hooked up to a regulator and you can dive around 15 feet deep. However, the air tank you are connected to is floating above you. It was pretty windy at the time we went out to snuba so this stirred up the water so it wasn’t as clear. But our snuba instructor did a great job of finding and point out marine life. I was feeling anxious about the snuba diving but got comfortable fairly quickly. Overall, it was an experience that I would be interested in trying again now that I know what to expect.
We also spent a day in a town call Tamarindo which was an hour drive from the resort. Again, getting there takes so long because of the poor road conditions. If you get car sick easily, then this might not be the trip for you. Tamarindo Bay is one of the best places for surfing and Kyle’s sister was interested in this. Being that this is one of the best surfing spots in Costa Rica it wasn’t a surprise that it was packed. Even the water was packed with surfers. Kyle and I walked around the town looking through some of the souvenir shops, stopping by a local brewery, and walking the beach finding some pretty cool seashells. As you walked up the beach, you made your way towards an inlet which I guess is where some caiman hang out. Can’t say I am disappointed not to see a caiman! We also wanted to take the opportunity to eat some authentic Costa Rican food.
And the best for last! I am like a kid in a candy shop when it comes to animals and experiencing wildlife. I remember the first time I held a monkey in Honduras and boy was my day made. Coatimundi, or Coati for short, are a common animal to see in Costa Rica. When a Coati lives near the resort, they are quite used to people and getting food from around the restaurants. On our first night at the resort, we had dinner at this grill that had open access to the outdoors. In walks a Coati right into the restaurant and he gave no shits about the people that were surrounding him. He was quite cute!
But even better than the Coati was a place called the Monkey Bar which was about a mile walk down the beach. The Monkey bar is full of wild Capuchin and Spider monkey’s! We heard through the grapevine that you can feed the monkey’s here and once I figured that out, I was sold! All you had to do was raid the morning buffet at the resort for hard boiled eggs and fruit, walk a mile down to the monkey bar, and voila! Again, these are wild monkey’s but they are quite used to humans to get food. Who knew that Capuchin’s LOVED hard boiled eggs. You didn’t even have to crack and peel the shell off. These smart little dudes knew exactly what to do and this was definitely their number one choice to fruit. I had so much fun that I made Kyle come back with me a second time!
The remainder of our trip was full of relaxing on the beaches, snorkeling, and chilling at the pool. I would say that the snorkeling here did not disappoint. It took some effort to fight the waves during high tide to get out to where you needed to be. But once in the right spot, the water was clear and there were a lot of things to see during snorkeling. Some areas of the reef were filled with black sea urchin. There were also report of increased jelly fish in the area so you had to look out for those!