Monday, July 2, 2012

Costa Rica Highlights

From May 23 - May 31, Paul and I were in sunny Tamarindo, Costa Rica! We never got to go on a honeymoon after we were married, so I am considering this our honeymoon, belated by 2 1/2 years. We drove to Bismarck to visit family and to drop off the dogs (flying out of Bismarck was the same price as Spokane, plus we didn't have to pay for boarding 2 dogs for 8+ days!) and then flew from Bismarck, to Denver, to Houston, to Liberia, Costa Rica. It was a LONG day.

We arrived in Costa Rica at 9 pm, bartered with the taxi driver for a lower cab ride, and then we were off to Tamarindo. Liberia airport was over an hour drive from Tamarindo and our cab driver was CRAZY. He wasn't really into following traffic laws. We had to drive through such rural areas at times I was worried that he was going to take us into the rainforest, rob us and kill us. It sounds a little dramatic, but I think we were both worried.

 Finally we arrived at our hotel. We chose Hotel Arco Iris based on the reviews on Tripadvisor and other travel sites. As soon as we arrived we knew we picked a good one. The receptionist was so friendly and personally showed us where our bungalow was. The owner greeted us as well when we arrived. We weren't able to see much because it was dark at the time, but the next morning we were able to discover how cute our little bungalow really was!

This is the view from our window, looking out at our hammock (!) and the bungalow across the walkway from ours. 

While our neighbors were still sleeping, I stepped onto their porch and took a picture of the front of our cabin. I read sitting on one of those chairs a couple mornings when I was up early and wanting to read while Paul slept in.

The breakfast they served us was so fun. Every morning we got granola with fresh tropical fruits (watermelon, banana, pineapple, and papaya) on top. Orange juice, toast, jam, butter, and coffee. It was simple but so refreshing.

Paul on the first morning during breakfast:

The first day we spent the entire day on the beach and in the ocean.

We rented beach chairs and an umbrella from a cool surfer dude and proceeded to get extremely sunburned. I've been sunburned on my legs before but it's so much more inconvenient to be sunburned on your shoulder's and neck. It makes everything miserable! Wearing shirts or having my hair touch my shoulders was painful for the rest of the trip. I really screwed up by sitting in the sun all day. Who knew SPF 50 wouldn't be effective 11 degrees from the equator? :(

The day after the beach we tried to stay out of the sun by going on a river cruise. 

We started in the estruary where the river meets the ocean and our guide drove us down the river where it started to get narrower and narrower.

Along the way we saw a few different kinds of wildlife.

Crabs were all over the place! Our guide said they were land crabs but I don't know if they have a more specific name. This one had one big pincer missing.

We got off the boat to walk into the forest to find .... monkeys!! Our guide had a hard time finding them and at one point just left us in the middle of the forest to find them.

Eventually he found one high in the tree! The guide could mimic the howler monkey calls exactly, it was pretty cool.

One thing you must know about Costa Rica... IT'S SO HUMID. We were in the forest for 10 minutes and came out looking like this.

The only relief we got was at night and by the water where there was a breeze. A lot of the days we would go out in the morning and then at night, spending the rest of the day in the hotel room with air conditioning, just because we couldn't stand the humidity any more!

Every night we tried to go to a different restaurant so we could try a little bit of everything Tamarindo had to offer. This is us before a sushi date night. You can kinda see my sunburn. This was before it started to peel and scab and blister, and look really bad. Paul is also a little sunburned but his wasn't nearly as bad as mine.

Iguanas hung out all over the place. On the beach, on the grounds of our hotel, in the middle of the road. It didn't matter to them. It was an iguana's world, we were just visiting. 

Tamarindo itself was pretty primitive in some ways. There was one paved road, the rest were dirt with big rocks sticking out of them. There were no street signs, just signs with names of places and arrows.

This is the one sidewalk that was on the way to our hotel from the main road. The rest of the time we just had to walk on the side of the dirt road and try not to get hit by cars ignoring traffic laws.

The ocean had to be our favorite part of the trip. Living in the midwest, the inland Northwest, and in England, neither of us really had much experience with oceans, especially in a tropical setting. The ocean was tranquil, exciting, and fun.

The last full day we were in Costa Rica we went on a boat cruise on a catamaran with a bunch of other people. Mostly young people, who were into the free booze offered on board. Paul and I were in it for the snorkeling and to just have an excuse to have more time on the water.

One of our guides went snorkeling with us and caught an octopus. We were able to touch it and some people held it to take pictures. Only once I got back home did I find out that octopus is on some of the lists for the most deadly animals! This one was pretty small, maybe a baby, so maybe it wasn't so dangerous.

The bad part of the boat cruise: Seasickness and sunburns. You can see in this picture how much my sunburn is starting to peel and scab over. It was SO painful. Paul hated life and felt nauseous most of the time we were on the boat.

View of Tamarindo from the boat.

Feeling better. Sunburn looks so gross!

The sunset we were able to see on the cruise was amazing. Within a matter of minutes the sun went from being high in the sky to touching the water, to then being gone.

We had enough time to take a couple pictures.

And then before we knew it the sun was going under the horizon.

And then the next day we flew home. It was a wonderful trip. The people in Costa Rica are amazing, so friendly and appreciative that we were there visiting their country. I wish I wouldn't have gotten so sunburned, because honestly that ruined the trip for me a little bit. I wasn't able to do as much as I would have liked to do because of how much it hurt to go out into the sun. The lesson was learned. The next tropical vacation we take will have SPF 75 involved. Now I'm off to daydream of where we should go next...


  1. Great pictures...looks like a wonderful honeymoon destination! Next trip...maybe Spain??

  2. what a fun trip!! I agree - coming from North Dakota, now living on the coast in North Carolina the ocean is awesome! Adam and I are 15 minutes from the ocean where we live and it is a special luxury that I appreciate every single day!