Costa Rica is a country of vast landscapes, gorgeous views and scenery, and an outdoor enthusiasts dream. Its generous spirit permeates all those who inhabit it. This is a country that speaks to everyone. It’s a natural playground that calls to hikers, surfers, bird-watchers, scuba divers and anyone looking to be inspired by natures gifts. Our magical two weeks spent in Costa Rica is time etched in our memories and one we look forward to revisiting.
Several years ago we traveled to Costa Rica for a two-week vacation. We had not taken a vacation in many years, and needless to say, wanderlust was calling us. We had always previously traveled to Mexico or the Caribean islands for vacations as they are a short flight from New England. As we are no longer “spring chickens” we wanted to expand our travels further abroad and possibly research areas we might like to spend more time during our retirement years. That being said, we love the tropics. Warm weather, water, outdoor living, Costa Rica has it all.
With our destination determined, we scheduled the trip and arranged to have my daughter meet us there. She was in her first year of college in North Carolina and we hadn’t seen her for five months. What a way to bond and celebrate the end of her first year in school! From the moment we arrived, we knew this would be an unforgettable experience.
Atenas, notorious for the “best climate in the world” (and I have to agree), is located about 30 minutes west of San Jose. The views from this area are spectacular, to say the least. Our rental overlooked a breathtaking valley below us, Arenal Volcano to the left and a portion of the town itself to the right (gorgeous nighttime view). We spent the first few days at our rental, chillaxing! Loved cooking on the terrace and just hanging out by the pool for a large portion of our time.
We visited Costa Rica toward the end of May and enjoyed a very early sunrise (around 5 a.m.) each day and a very early sunset. It’s normally dark by 6 p.m. Needless to say, our bio-rhythms adjusted rather quickly to this pattern as this is our normal schedule at home as well. Early to rise, early to bed (well, maybe not 6 pm early). Many early mornings I enjoyed some of the best organic coffee after my practice that I’ve ever had soaking in the view of the valley.
As we wanted to immerse ourselves into the local culture and experience what ¡Pura Vida! is all about, we did not rent a car. We used local transportation instead. Our rental home was a lovely, albeit hilly, walk into town. On our first excursion into town, we experienced ¡Pura Vida! (simple or pure life) in all its glory. An older gentleman, Leo, and his wife, Cecilia, offered to give us a ride into town where they were headed, just because. No prompting, no solicitation, just an offer from a kind couple seeing us walking a distance.
We were adopted and fell instantly in love with both of them. Leo took us countless times to La Feria´ (farmers market held every Friday), both picking us up and taking us home.
He showed us his favorite local meat shop as well as where to get the best ceviche in town. We were invited on my Mother’s Day to their home for Sunday dinner with their entire family. We had both of them over for lunch at our home. They shared fruit with us from their orchard which we juiced.
We remain in touch with Leo and Cecilia and their family to this day. Be assured, we hope to see them again and soon!
Atenas welcomed us. Exploring the town and its uniques character was always a joy.
Our daughter jumped at the prospect of getting a little spa treatment with a local woman Cecilia recommended.
We so enjoyed our days at the home we were almost reluctant to go elsewhere but adventures awaited us. We took the local bus from Atenas to Jaco and enjoyed a few nights there. On the return bus ride, we were dropped off on the highway and told to walk up the hill and call a taxi in order to get home. We did, what a hoot!
We enjoyed a day spent at Los Chorros falls. A popular cooling spot with the local “Ticos” (native Costa Ricans) and their families on the weekends. These falls were magnificent. Although not the largest in Costa Rica, they are off the beaten path and were well worth the trek.
For us, travel is a way of exploring and immersing ourselves in another culture. We enjoy the “off the beaten path” approach. This trip was meant for us to connect as a family after being apart for an extended time. It was that and more.
So what are my top 5 reasons to visit Costa Rica? Easy. ¡Pura Vida! being the first. What exactly is ¡Pura Vida!? It’s a WAY of life. A slowness of pace that we don’t experience anywhere here in the states. It’s pure, kind and generous. It’s a life most aspire. I know I do.
- ¡Pura Vida!
- The People
- The Stunning Nature
- The Food
- The Biodiversity
Have you gone to Costa Rica? What were your favorite Costa Rican travel destinations? Feel free to comment below, or follow me for another adventure coming up soon!