COSTA RICA :: ARENAL
Collect moments, not things…
As stated in my Monteverde post, locals from Costa Rica drive like they are on a high speed chase, BUT, it is so worth it because I can’t imagine the kind of stress the GPS (or myself) would have figuring out which dirt road to take. Also, depending on the season, the roads can be muddy so you better know how to navigate in and around a pot hole if you plan on renting a car. Hence, our faces looked like this for most of the ride from Monteverde to Arenal.
With that being said, the scenery is beautiful as you travel the countryside…
We booked all of our excursions and town-to-town transfers with Desafio Adventure Company (with a 10% discount I might add – always ask for a deal). It took about 2 and 1/2 hours from Monteverde to Arenal, and we got to stop at a little rest stop half way through where I fell in love with these art adorned tables.
And then all of a sudden you stop at your second rest stop and people just start getting out and children start grabbing your bags and taking it to a boat. OK? First, why aren’t these kids in school? Second, OH YES, we forgot that our trip to Arenal included a boat ride on Lake Arenal. SURPRISE.
A short 45 minute boat ride taking in the beautiful scenery of Arenal Volcano and a 10 minute car ride and we arrive at our most luxurious hotel…
We decided to spend our future children’s college education on our hotel, Tabacon Grand Thermal Resort, in Arenal…sorry kids. Just kidding. Despite it being the most luxurious place I have ever stayed (ever…in life), it was highly reasonable for what was being offered; yummy drinks upon arrival…
lush landscape and artisanal décor…
And those hot springs (which come straight from the volcano – the only natural hot springs in Arenal) and swim up pool bar…
And make sure you travel with people who have a waterproof camera because you can spend hours just doing this…
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” – C. S. Lewis
A motto that would easily describe our excursioning style during this trip…
GO BIG OR GO HOME.
Canyoneering down waterfalls? NO BIG DEAL. Actually, kind of a big deal since I’m pretty terrified of heights despite loving rollercoasters and the like. Of course we were strapped up, and it didn’t hurt that all of our guides were easy on the eyes, but they were asking us to repel down 150-250 ft waterfalls. EEK.
The result? Don’t be surprised if you feel like you could be the next President of the United States…or Beyoncé.
Paddleboarding through Lake Arenal? NO BIG DEAL. I was most excited about this excursion becuase I’ve been dying to go paddleboarding since I first saw celebrities doing it in U.S. Weekly. #wellread.
The result? I need a paddleboard in my life. And the greatest thing about Costa Rica and excursioning, is that you often get a homecooked meal or fruit and beer after working your butt, arms, everything off.
Last, but not least…La Fortuna Waterfall. A short taxi ride and an $11 entry fee and you can pioneer down a large set of steep stairs, but the end result..
Not your average Tuesday.
We went to a tourist trap, Lava Lounge, and a traditional Costa Rican fast food joint, or soda; Soda Viquez for dinner. Our first night we tried Lava Lounge and came home disappointed. While Lava Lounge did have a cute atmosphere, I would definitely pass it up the next time I’m in town for another joint. Our taxi driver gave us our next location, (P.S. all taxi drivers will make you want to clutch on to each other for dear life but also peeing your pants in laughter with their personalities), and told us that Soda Viquez was the best soda in town. Imagine hearty portions of rice and beans, steak, vegetables, plantains; all on a fast food budget. Service is wonderful and I would definitely go back again.
The hot springs at our hotel were open until 10 p.m. so, hello, #RAGEWHEREYOUSLEEP. I DO recommend some sort of sandal while walking in the hot springs at night because there are some sharp rocks that come out of nowhere. But the result? Totally worth it.
~WHAT I LEARNED~
1. DO your best to keep your arm stretched out straight with beer in hand when trying to take a picture while your face is hiding behind a waterfall.
2. DO NOT stop until you find exactly what you are looking for…
3. DO expect to feel exhausted and marvelous and hungry and well traveled and worldly, all at the same time.
NEXT STOP: Manuel Antonio