My husband and I first visited Costa Rica on our Honeymoon four years ago. We had such an amazing time that we decided to return with family two years later. Both stays were incredibly magical. The wildlife all around is like the things of storybooks with their sloths, red-eyed tree frogs, motmots, and howler monkeys to name a few. Different from most of our trips, we chose to change it up and stay in the rain forest part of the country rather than near the beach. The scenery is gorgeous and the excursions went beyond our expectations. We truly enjoyed this experience and would love to return for a third visit, with a few nights to visit the coast.
Side story: A motmot flew into our villa window one morning and stunned himself, landing on our balcony. He remained there, unable to fly or walk much. We spent an entire day nursing him back to health. Brian fed him grapes and water until he was able to fly away. One minute he was with us, the next he was flying off to his bird friends. I hope he made it okay.
Where to stay:
- Nayara Resort Spa and Gardens – This is the only place we have stayed, but we highly recommend it. The resort is part of what made our two trips unforgettable. It is pricey, but the amenities and customer service are like no other. All villas are private and have either a hot tub or infinity pool on the balcony. The resort is a nice size, with numerous restaurants, pools, bars, and two spas. Golf carts are available to take you around the resort or you can enjoy the walk. There is also an adults only side, called Nayara Springs.
Where to eat:
- We only ate on the Nayara resort, but we enjoyed all of the yummy Costa Rican food. We especially enjoyed the fresh ceviche, fresh fruit, and tasty cocktails.
What to do:
- Hike the Arenal Volcano. This is harder to do during the rainy season, but it is an amazing hike if you’re able. There are also many other excursions to do around the volcano.
- Zip Line – For those up for an adrenaline adventure, we recommend this company! (also see tip below)
- Hanging Bridges – This was our absolute favorite excursion as you get a chance to see some incredible wildlife up close. With the help of your private guide, you will walk through the rain forest at a leisurely pace and be made aware of any possible sloth, monkey, bird, or other creature sighting you could have. It changes daily as to what you will spot (cannot predict wildlife), but we have such incredible photos and memories from this trek.
- Tour the city of San Jose
- Visit one of the many hot springs. We tried Eco Termales and Tabacon. Both were very nice, but we enjoyed Eco Termales the most. Tabacon is larger, but has more crowds and can be louder. Both can be a romantic getaway but also allow children and families. You can spend an entire day here, and return to your hotel relaxed and rejuvenated.
Tip: Costa Rica’s rainy season is from around May to mid-November. We were here during this time for our first visit, and found that it mostly drizzled with just a few downpours. We were still able to do all of our excursions (except the volcano hike). You can find better deals during this time, but be prepared for some rain. Of course, my first time ever doing a zip line was here (not a beginners course either) and it poured on us the entire time, pelting our faces as we completed the 7-line course. It was fun, though slightly scary, and it did take me a while before Brian could convince me to do another zip line.