A couple of years ago, my husband and I hopped on a plane with a buddy of ours and headed to Costa Rica. The purpose of the trip was to spend 8 days on our enduro motorcycles (street legal dirt bikes) and explore Costa Rica on and off-road.
You can read about that adventure here on Bucket List Publications!
People have asked me numerous times for the names of the places we stayed, where we took surf lessons, what side of Costa Rica to explore, and various other things.
I decided to share my thoughts, our experiences and what I would next time (if we aren’t on motorcycles).
I’ll start with a couple of pieces of advice:
1. As soon as you land in San José airport, get out of there asap. This is actually what our tour guide told us when we were there last. While at the airport, stay close to everyone in your party, do not let your bags leave your hands, and haul ass out of there.
2. Explore, Explore, explore. Costa Rica is a smaller country so it is only a few hours to get to one main city to another. I would recommend staying somewhere different throughout the trip. Maybe 2 nights in a city then move to the next. If you decide to stay at a resort the entire time, I would recommend renting a truck and explore during the days. I have some cities below with some suggestions of things to do.
Transportation: I would rent a 4×4 truck of some sorts. Roads there are crazy. You could be on a paved road then hit dirt and then hit mud, all while being on the same road. 4×4 is the way to go in my opinion!
Motorcycle Tour: If you want to get crazy and have the trip of a lifetime, you can do a guided motorcycle tour like we did. We went through Moto Tours Costa Rica. I can’t say enough good things about this company. They handled everything for us! Showed us so much (on and off the beaten path), made sure we saw everything we wanted to see and had a blast doing it!
Getting ready for day 1 of the tour!
Worth mentioning our buddy was seriously injured and our guide made sure he was taken care of and got the medical attention he needed.
Cities to visit, things to do and hotels to stay at:
We spent our first and last night in this city. It is about 30 minutes our from San José. BEAUTIFUL!! The temperature is perfect. No AC needed. They like to say they have the most “Perfect Climate” in the world. They are pretty spot on. Shorts and tank top during the day, light sweater at night.
View of Atenas
Walking on the mountain roads in Atenas
Where to stay in Atenas:
Vista Atenas Bed and Breakfast. This place serves breakfast every morning and it is to die for. Very simple place but the view looking down from the mountain is stunning. The view at night overlooking the city with all the lights in amazing. Great staff and adorable rooms. They also have a pool overlooking the city. Here is the link for Trip Advisor:
Great spot with a view
Looking from inside the restaurant to the pool out to the mountains
This place is a must. Even if you chose not to stay here, you should definitely do the zip lining tour here. The back drop is a volcano!!! This is THE BEST one in Costa Rica. Below is the link for the ziplining place we did. There are more out there but our guide brought us to this one because it is the best. Also, I liked the fact that they stop you (Im not a fan of zip lines where you have to help stop yourself). This one has the highest zip lines and goes the fastest! Click on the Arenal Volcano Theme park on the left side on the page.
Getting ready to zip line by the volcano
We didn’t get a chance to do this but they also have tours where you can hike the base of the volcano. If we had another day in Arenal this is something that I would have loved to do.
Beautiful town on the ocean. We stayed at the Luz de Vida. www.luzdevida-resort.com Nice place!
Stopped on the beach as we were riding to Santa Teresa
There is a sushi place near by (with to die for sushi) as well as a great burger place. The owner of the burger place won like first or second place on Iron Chef. He got tired of corporate cooking and moved to Costa to start a burger place.
Santa Teresa is also known for their surfing. The waves are perfect. You don’t have to be a good surfer to enjoy them. I recommend getting lessons. You can walk down to the beach and there are a ton of surf tents set up. You can get a lesson then. We found a guy named Jobbie. This guy was a trip. Laid back and good people. He spends part of the year in Costa doing yoga and surf lessons then spends the rest of the year in Los Angels, CA doing the same thing. Here is his link:http://www.surfjobbie.com/
After our lesson, he told us we could use the boards for the rest of the day, then we had a beer with him.
Santa Teresa has tours/hikes that explore waterfalls and other amazing scenery. You can also rent four-wheelers and dirt bikes here.
This place is dirty, very tourist town. The beach has black dirt, there are hookers walking the street at nights (we saw one pushing her baby stroller, classy). I don’t have anything to say about this town that is too nice. It is a tourist town. So if you do hit Jaco, I would make it a pass through, just grab lunch kind of thing.
Hotel in Jaco on the black sand beaches
There were a lot of places that we visited that were off the beaten path. If you rent a 4×4 and explore, stop off at little places like the picture below to eat lunch and whatnot.
Random place at the top of a mountain to grab lunch
We did this a lot and were not disappointed. The fish is fresh, the people amazing, and the country beautiful.
On the side of the road in random places, there are vendors selling “copas or copa”, I always get it wrong. They are shaved ice, with a milk, a flavor and powder mixed together. They sell them in a little paper cup. If you see anything like this, GET IT!!!! We actually got the ingredients so when we got back home we could make them.
Waiting in line
There was so much more we explored, stayed at and experienced. These are just a few of the highlights!
Have you been to Costa Rica before? What/where are some of the things you did and stayed?!