Costa Rica Journals

Costa Rican Road Trip

An October 2006 trip to Costa Rica by Linda Hoernke

Rainmaker Conservation Project Photo, More Photos
Quote: The rainforest, the ocean and friendly people made this a memorable trip. Getting lost in the jungle, driving on roads that are only fit for animals and wearing a constant coat of bug repellent made this a great adventure.

Costa Rican Road Trip

Overview

Costa Rica Driving Photo, Costa Rica, Central America
Quote:
My husband and I spent two weeks driving through Costa Rica. We had made no reservations except for our airfare and car rental. This is the only way to go. We flew into San Jose where we spent two days visiting the museums and other points of interest. From there, we drove north to Arenal National Park. We hiked the park and viewed the volcanos light show at night. Next we drove to the coast in Guanacaste and to Hermosa and Coco Beaches. We traveled south along the coast to Tamarindo and then east to Puntarenus. On to Manuel Antonia were we spent three days with a stop at Tarcoles before heading back to San Jose. We hiked in the rainforest, visited the hill country and played in the beaches. We v...Read More
Quote:
The lodge is set in the middle of the jungle with rooms that look out across the rainforest toward Volcan Arenal. From the infinity pool and hot tub you can take in the sounds of the howler monkeys and birds. The rooms vary in size and price from a bunk house type atmosphere to a spacious room with a patio that has views of the volcano. The restaurant is very good and has an observation deck to sit in hopes of getting a view of the volcano spitting its smoke or that faint glow of fire from the top. Arenal Lodge will also set up hiking and other tours through Arenal National Park. There is a trail to an amazing waterfall nearby and a small museum which is interesting.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Arenal Observatory Lodge
Arenal Volcano National Park
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
+506 692-2070

Best Western San Jose Downtown

Hotel | "Best Western Downtown"

Quote:
This hotel is clean, comfortable and has a friendly staff but it is also in the middle of the Red Light and Drug District. The hotel will get cabs to take you anywhere you want to go and is helpful on planning tours but, you can not walk outside the hotel at night and it is not safe to walk in the area alone during the day. They have a pool and a small restaurant.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Best Western San Jose Downtown
7 Avenue 6 Street
San Jose
+506-255-4766

Hotel Mango

Hotel

Quote:
Hotel Mango is located a few minutes from Juan Santamaria International Airport. This charming place has a small pool and a pleasant atmosphere. The restaurant serves delicious meals. A clean and helpful staff to start or end your visit in Costa Rica.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Hotel Mango
500 meters East of the airport
Alajuela, Costa Rica
(506) 2443-1200

Hotel Villa Lapas

Hotel | "Hotel Villa Lapas Eco Lodge"

Hotel Villa Lapas Photo, Costa Rica, Central America
Quote:
The lodge focuses on the conservation of nature. Located next to Carara National Park and close to the Pacific Ocean, it is a birders paradise. The rooms are spacious and clean and the river side restaurant offers international meals which can be bought as a package with your room. They have a swimming pool and hot tub set in beautiful gardens along with hiking trails along suspension bridges and to the Santa Lucia Art Village and colonial church. The church is a must see... beautiful but simple. The staff are friendly and helpful and will help with your experience in Costa Rica.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Hotel Villa Lapas
AP 419-4005, San Antonio De Belen
Tarcoles, Costa Rica
637 0232

Hostel Manuel Antonio

Hotel | "Manuel Antonio Hotel"

Quote:
Hotel Manuel Antonio is located at the end of town and within walking distance of Manuel Antonio National Park. The rooms are clean and large and directly across from the beach. They have a safe in the room where you can store valuables. There are vendors across the street where you can buy souvenirs, food or rent surf boards. We stayed three days and found many good restaurants within walking distance. This is a great hotel to explore Manuel Antonio Park from.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Hostel Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio, Quepos, Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
2777 5050

Tamarindo Diria Hotel

Hotel | "El Diria Playa Tamarindo Beach Resort"

El Diria Hotel Photo, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Quote:
El Diria Beach Resort is located on the north pacific coast in Guanacaste. There are 113 rooms which are surrounded by gardens and it is the only hotel located directly on a white sand beach. The rooms are clean and spacious and have a patio from which ocean and sunset views are incredible. The open air restaurant is next to the swim up bar where the the best foods Costa Rica has to offer is served. The rooms include cable TV, air, a mini bar and safe deposit box.


Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 20, 2006

Tamarindo Diria Hotel
SANTA CRUZ
San Jose, Costa Rica
506-290-4340

Lukas Restaurant

Restaurant | "Lukas"

Quote:
Lukas Restaurant is situated in a pueblo of artsy type shops. The food ranges from seafood to steaks and local dishes. Would recommend this restaurant for a romantic dinner followed by a walk through the shops. The service was great and they have a good wine collection.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Lukas Restaurant
El Pueblo Shopping Center
San Jose, Costa Rica
506 257 7124

Marlin Restaurant

Restaurant | "The Marlin Restaurant"

Quote:
The Marlin Restaurant is located on the main road into Manuel Antonio and right across from the beach. We ate there all of the three nights we spent in Manuel Antonio. The food is great and for dinner we were served large shrimp, rice and beans wrapped in some sort of pastry shell. The whole thing was covered with a garlic sauce and was out of this world. The happy hour is from 4:30-6:30 where you could order two drinks and pay for one. The pasta with camarones (shrimp) are delicious and filling. Tables have umbrellas to protect you from the sun and on the weekends, they have music.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Marlin Restaurant
In front of Manuel Antonio Beach
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
(506) 2777-5222

Arenal Volcano National Park

Attraction | "Arenal National Park"

Arenal Volcano National Park Photo, Costa Rica, Central America
Quote:
The Park was created in 1995. The volcano laid dormant from 1500 until 1968 when it erupted and destroyed 2 villages, killing 80 people and 45,000 head of cattle. Arenal was highly active in 1998 and in 2000. We made arrangements for a guided hike with a tracker through the National Park and the rainforest to the base of the volcano. Howler monkeys screeched from the tree tops and the guide pointed above us to a group of them in the canopy. The guide cut back dense foliage with a machete and we followed. The monkeys were swinging from the trees and one got close enough to photograph. Ant hills were three feet high and roots of trees rose above the ground. The guide stopped again and sniffed the air. I...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Arenal Volcano National Park
Central Costa Rica
Costa Rica

Carara National Park Photo, Costa Rica, Central America
Quote:
Carara is the northern most tropical wet forest on the Pacific Coast. The park is an oasis for wildlife. We saw a sloth and many birds. Iguana raced us down the trails to the two bridges within the park. The trails are a series of long loops that are connected by the bridges. We saw poison arrow frogs and agouti, a large type of rodent. Champagne mushrooms grew on the side of a few logs and flowers and vines crept out of trees.It was hot and humid hiking the trails but for bird lovers, it is paradise. Carara also has another trail which parallels the Río Grande de Tárcoles and has short branches to the laguna and marshes. When hiking this trail it is best to park at the ranger station and walk to the ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Carara National Park
30 miles west of San Jose
Costa Rica

Grecia & Sarchi Daytrip

Attraction | "City of Grecia & Sarchi"

Grecia & Sarchi Daytrip Photo, Sarchi, Costa Rica
Quote:
The road to Grecia & Sarchi winds through mountain villages, coffee plantations and farmlands set in the clouds. We first reached Grecia where we stopped for lunch and to visit the village park and the metal church that was imported from Belgium to Puerto Limon in 1897. The church was transported by oxcarts to its present day location but sat in the plaza for 10 years before being reconstructed. The plaza in front of the church was a good place to watch the people and buy a few souvenirs from the vendors. Continued toward the mountain village of Sarchi and crossed a rock bridge that was built in the 18th century and thought by locals to have been built by the devil. Hit a pothole in the road that ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Grecia & Sarchi Daytrip
Costa Rica
Grecia & Sarchi, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Beach Photo, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Quote:
Manuel Antonio became a National Park in 1972. Even though the Park is the smallest in the country, its combination of rainforest, beaches and coral reefs make it the most beautiful. We walked to Manuel Antonio National Park from our hotel and hiked the Cathedral Trail into the rainforest. The trail took us up and over the top of a peninsula to Playa Manual Antonio. We saw large iguanas, birds and scorpion tail geckos. The view of the Pacific Ocean were only enhanced by the sparkling springs and dense jungle around us. The water is crystal clear and we swam off a rocky point before continuing along the coastal part of the trail and back into the jungle. We reached Playa Espadilla, a horse shoe shaped ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio Park Road
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Catedral Metropolitana

Attraction | "Metropolitan Cathedral"

Catedral Metropolitana Photo,
Quote:
The Metropolitan Cathedral is a neoclassical temple that was built in 1878 by Spanish architect, Jose Quirce. The stained glass windows came from Paris and an antique German clock is imbedded in the outside wall. The organ came from Belgium and has over 3000 tubes, making it known throughout Central America. In 1888 the structure of the temple was destroyed by an earthquake. The bell tower was demolished and metallic towers were imported from Belgium. In 1990 and 1991, the Cathedral suffered from two more earthquakes and the main foundation had to be reinforced. Reconstruction was then done of the original bell towers. A mass in English is given on Saturdays at 4pm and the Cathedral is open every day ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Catedral Metropolitana

San Jose, Costa Rica

Monkey Park

Attraction

Quote:
The Monkey Park is an animal rescue center. The center helps endangered species that have physical disabilities or were hunted and captured illegally. Situated in a beautiful garden, the animals are nurtured until they can again be released into the wild. Some of them were permanent residents because of different problems. They also have a breeding program for the animals where they plan to release the babies within their park and protect them. There are trails to visit the animals which include monkeys, birds, crocodile and other animals, along with a butterfly garden.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Monkey Park
18 Km On Main Road To Flamingo Beach In Portegolpe
Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
(506) 2653 8032

National Museum of Costa Rica

Attraction | "Museo Nacional de Costa Rica"

National Museum of Costa Rica Photo, Costa Rica, Central America
Quote:
The National Museum houses an exhibition of Pre Columbian artifacts from indigenous cultures more than 12,000 years ago. There were stone spheres on display from Southwestern Costa Rica. Some of them are over 8 feet in diameter and weighing 15 tons. Some believe that they were symbolic of high rank or that they may have been used as territorial markers. They also found spheres in smaller sizes where they had been placed in lines… maybe some type of astronomical significance. The museum had a jade display and some gold pieces. We stopped for a bite to eat at a restaurant across the street from the museum. The waiter explained the holes that were on the outside walls of the National Museum. He said that...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

National Museum of Costa Rica
Street 17
San Jose, Costa Rica
+506 257-1433

Pure Vida Gardens & Waterfalls

Attraction | "Pure Vida Gardens & Waterfalls"

Pure Vida Gardens & Waterfalls Photo, Jaco, Costa Rica
Quote:
Pure Vida is a botanical garden that is set in the mountains overlooking the Pacific. The walkways and trails are easy to follow and lead you past four waterfalls, including one you can climb. Birdwatching is great and you may even get to see a scarlet macaw. Other wildlife including monkeys inhabit the area and the trails are lined with some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. They have an on site restaurant that is a good place for lunch and the gift shop is filled with Costa Rican handicrafts.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Pure Vida Gardens & Waterfalls
South Of Tarcoles Bridge Toward Villa Lapas
Tarcoles, Costa Rica

Rainmaker Conservation Project Photo,
Quote:
The project is one of the last remaining areas of primary forest in the Central Pacific. Rainmaker is located within the Quepoa Biological Corridor which not only protects the rare Harlequin Toad but hosts over 60% of all flora and fauna found in Costa Rica. We hired a guide to take us on a three hour hike past waterfalls and across a series of suspension bridges which rose above the rainforest floor and into the tree tops. The guide pointed out many plants, some of which were poisonous to the touch. Bats had built a shelter from the palms of a tree and were hanging upside down in their new home. Moss glowed with a greenish iridescence and birds flittered about. The guide plucked a small lizard from a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2006

Rainmaker Conservation Project
22 kilometers from Quepos
Quepos, Costa Rica