If I don't start this story with that phrase, no one would believe that I've actually been to Costa Rica. So, there it is. Pura Vida! A phrase that means "pure life", but is basically used in every way possible. Hippies getting high all day? Pura Vida! Response from the mechanic who accidently drilled a large screw into the inside of your car? Pura Vida! (True story.)
These are a few of the highlights from my recent trip to Costa Rica, collected in one huge blog post.
Life in Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa truly is a paradise. Magical sunsets, dogs running free everywhere (and I mean everywhere) and if you do not have a surfboard while walking around, people might look at you funny. I was here for almost a week and well, I understand why people who come here simply never leaves. Everything looks like a postcard from paradise.
Yoga with a view
If you are going to Santa Teresa, taking at least one yoga class is mandatory. I recommend Hotel Tropico Latino, who has several classes every day and the most amazing view right by the beach.
What is even more mandatory when in Santa Teresa is of course surfing. If you have never been on a board, like me (let's forget my sad attempt last summer in Biarritz), you need to take a lesson. Amit at Del Soul Surf School was awesome. He managed to explain the basic technique, get me up on the board and actually take a few waves in less than two hours. My biggest problem was the fact that the waves freaked me out a bit.
This wave is so small it's embarrassing to call it a wave.
I'm Swedish, our waves could barely make the water in a bathtub splash over and here they were way over my head. But after a while and with the help of some encouraging pep talk like "this wave is so small it's embarrassing to call it a wave", I did get over it and started to just enjoy it. It was awesome. I might very well take a full on surf trip this summer.
Rappelling in Manuel Antonio
This was one of the things I REALLY wanted to do and it was beyond awesome. There are an infinite number of tour operators, so we went with the company our hostel recommended, Quepo Canyoning. The guides were great and I pretty much laughed (or screamed) the whole time. We got to do several ziplines (one of them I did upside down), rappelling in a waterfall and a so-called "monkey drop". The excitement!
The Hostel Culture
Anyone who has ever met me knows I love hostels. Not all of them of course, but the concept. There are a particular culture and openness. A feeling that anything can happen and you never know who you end up sharing a room with.
Out of the six hostels I stayed at, these four are the ones I recommend.
Hostel Casa Del Parque, San Jose I just stayed here one night when arriving in Costa Rica. Nice and clean place and the owner was really helpful on how to get where I was going. Would stay here again if passing through San Jose.
Kokua Hostel, Santa Teresa Kokua is one of those hostels you could easily think "I'll just stay one more night" until you realise you have been there for months. There is just that vibe to it. Also, the owner is really great and helpful.
Hostel Vista Serena, Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio is not really a must-see destination, but this hostel makes it worth the visit. There is something about the common room (it might be the view) that just makes people start to talk to each other and hang out.
Hotel Kangaroo, Jaco If it wasn't for the horseriding tour, I would not recommend anyone to go to Jaco. But if you have to, Hotel Kangaroo will make you feel right at home.
Horseriding in Jaco
Before my trip, I searched for horse riding tours in Costa Rica. One place caught my attention. Discovery Horse Tours, operated by Chris and Andrea Wady, is dedicated to treating horses the right way. The main part of their horses are rescues. Not that you could tell, because these were the most healthy and happy horses I've seen in my life. (And I've had my own horses for a large part of my life.)
I took two tours, the Jungle Spa Ride and The Back Country tour. I recommend both of them. The scenery is so beautiful it makes you want to cry (and chain yourself to a tree, so they can't make you leave, like ever). Chris and Andrea are amazing people (obviously), and Liana, who was my guide for both days, is really fun and inspiring. Definitely worth a trip to Jaco!
As you can probably tell, I really love Costa Rica. These two weeks was a small preview of everything the country has to offer and just writing this post makes me want to book a one-way ticket back.