Our trip started by flying into San Jose, Costa Rica. There are only 2 airports in Costa Rica- Liberia and San Jose, since we were doing some of our vacation towards the southern part of Costa Rica San Jose made perfect sense. Renting a Suzuki 4×4 jeep to start our adventure, and now thinking back so glad that we did that! We drove from the airport to Jaco which is a little beach town only 53 miles but it takes 1 hour 20 minutes to actually get there. We arrived just in time to catch a beautiful sunset, we stayed at the Best Western- only because we bought a vacation package which included the car. I’m not even going to write about the hotel because it was not something I would stay in again, I think when hotels say ALL INCLUSIVE it means the food is terrible! Anyhow we spent 3 nights in Jaco, exploring the beaches and some unique lodges in the hills.
From Jaco we took a 3.5 hour drive to La Fortuna, this is there is an active volcano the last major eruption happened in 1968. Had a great time hiking, doing a chocolate tour and ziplining over the rain forest. Below is our detailed adventures, enjoy!!!!
Hiking Trip in Carara National Park
So we decided to take a hike through the rainforest, we read up on some of the review of this National Park and most people mentioned to hire a guide. I was still a little reluctant by our guide Victor was excellent! He took us to a smaller entrance away from all the tourists, he reminded us to spray our skin with misquito spray because no doubt we would be tasty morsels for this bugs. He unloaded his huge binoculars- at this point I was saying “he is definitely a bird watcher” so off we went to spot some Macaws in the trees. Our luck we found several and got the rare glimpse of them eating from the trees.
Another great part of the rain forest of course is just admiring the beauty of the forest. The trees are quite amazing, the height as well as age of these trees. Don’t miss an opportunity to hike here to see some of these beautiful trees.
Want to know more about taking this excursion, check out our YouTube Video on this great DayTrip from Jaco.
After a rather hot and sticky day of touring the rainforest, our guide Victor told us about this restaurant. It has incredible views of the water and the rainforest, definitely worth the drive. Check out this restaurant on the link below.
We decided on one of our days that we would take the afternoon to go to Macaw Lodge. Looking at the reviews of the lodge tourists recommended this lodge just to go check out and even take a little hike. So glad we did, there was an incredible waterfall you can hike to and beautiful landscaping around you. The employees are so friendly and so glad to see visitors coming to the lodge to visit, we felt a very warm welcome, almost like visiting a family member.
Macaw Lodge takes approximately an hour to drive from Jaco to get there and we had a 4×4 little tracker to get us up the hill. So plan for extra time to get to the Lodge.
Take a drive down the Coast
One of the afternoon we decided to take a drive towards Playa Manuel Antonio. We stopped off along the way to check out some hidden gems, there are some great beaches along the way that were deserted. Honestly this is partly because its the wet season so the tourism is slow, during our entire trip we only had a couple of days of rain but it would rain and then blow over. I would recommend actually coming to Costa Rica during the wet season to avoid the crowds. The wet season lasts May through November so keep those months in mind.
Experience = priceless
where we stayed
In La Fortuna Costa Rica we booked Hotel Rancho Cerro Azul, the reason why we booked this is there are very few hotels that have bungalows with AC. That is extremely important especially this time of the year due to the rainstorms coming in and out during the day it becomes quite humid. The hotel is 1.5 km from town, not too far but suggest that if you want to go into town than you either rent a vehicle or take a taxi. If you choose to rent a car there is so many other things to see in the area, like the Volcano hikes, waterfalls, hot springs, etc. The hotel is a small run establishment, in the evening the guy who worked the front desk also will be your bartender and can also get you towels.
They also have a river/creek that runs below the hotel that is just a small walk. In the evening they offer a nightwalk to view the snakes, lizards and frogs, we did not do that just too tired from our hikes during the daytime.
Breakfast was not included in the package for us but it runs about $7, pretty good price. You have your choice of 3 options- Pancakes, Eggs and Ham or Bacon, and a more authentic Costa Rican breakfast with beans. It was more than adequate and the views are great looking into the rain forest, as we were sitting there having breakfast a Toucan was in one of the trees watching everyone eat breakfast. Where in the world do you get to see that?
Rain Forest Chocolate Tour
We booked a Chocolate tour near the hotel, we have been in Costa Rica before so we had already done the tour on the coffee bean and thought this one might be interesting. It did not disappoint, we learned an amazing amount of information and details about the Cacao bean. It’s a worthwhile tour to learn how it is produced on the plantation and the process of going from the pod to something delicious. Get ready to try some chocoloates, FREE SAMPLES Here are some pictures of our fun tour. Click on the link below to book your own tour of the plantation. Cost is $25 per person
So one thing I do have to mention is that for some reason in Costa Rica you can’t just hit a trail and go hiking. They charge for every entrance into a park including this one. Cost for this trail is $18, they do not accept credit cards so bring cash. Bring plenty of water for your hike, took us a little more than 2 hours to hike to the Summit. Its a great hike and so beautiful to hike through the rainforest and beautiful views of the volcano. Put this one on your bucket list.
Make sure you take one of their hiking sticks along the hike and then when you finish up leave it for the next hiker. Also make sure that you are wearing good shoes, no open toed shoes. We did not have hiking shoes but wore our tennis shoes and those worked perfectly fine. Enjoy the view at the top, its a lovely hike to take in all the rain forest.
Natural Hot Springs
Have you ever wanted to sit in a river that is heated by a Volcano? Well head to La Fortuna, Costa Rica to check one off your bucketlist!
La Fortuna is famous for its Volcano, but did you also know that they have great hot springs that you can check out. So we did a little research on several different options. Most of the Hot Springs in La Fortuna are connected to hotels, really great way for hotels to capitalize on this Natural wonder. So you can pay for a day pass to visit several different hotels and sit in their hot springs, but keep in mind they have made it more tourist friendly so water slides, beautiful bridges, pools, etc. It can cost anywhere from $39-$139 for a pass to visit the hot springs, but we found this Hot Springs that is right off the road, in fact you can park on the side of the road, walk over the bridge and there will be an entrance that you must pass through a cut out fence and then you are in your own Natural Hot Springs. Cost is $0. Check out our You Tube video for more information on this.
A trip to Costa Rica is never complete without taking an adventure on a Zip Line!!! This one had a total of 8 zip lines in the tour, they offer different packages whether you want to see Hanging Bridges, scale down a waterfall or simply zipline through the rainforest. The cost for this zipline was $84, there are numerous companies throughout La Fortuna that offer some great Zip Line Tours.
My go to products
You can never be too prepared! I’ve been stuck in the rain without anything too many times to NOT bring an umbrella with me. This handy thing is compact and easy to travel with you, wherever your destination may take you, especially in the wet season in Costa Rica.
Water Proof Rain Jacket by Marmot
Yep so this is approved, officially made it though some heavy downpours of rain while we visited Costa Rica during the wet season. I especially like that fact that under the armpits you can unzip so that you can get some venting.
Costa Rica is absolutely gorgeous and such a fun place to explore, but the combination of humidity and a little bit of perspiration it can leave you feeling extra grimy. I carry these deodorant wipes with me so that I can clean up on the fly if I need to, or if I simply can’t deal with the humidity.
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