Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Mix together two adventure-loving young couples…some amazing wildlife-viewing opportunities…a zipline or two…and you have one fantastic “escape” to Costa Rica.  The best part about this itinerary? They never even went to the coast. I love that they explored the interior of Costa Rica and thoroughly enjoyed its “Pura Vida” spirit.

Hi Ann, 

We had a really great trip. Everything went really smoothly. We had lots of time to relax by the pool, especially in Arenal, but we also hit Rachel’s goal on her FitBit tracker every day. I thought things would be a lot more crowded than they were. We had small groups for everything and nothing felt overrun with tourists. 

To make sure I remember things I guess I’ll go through in order of the itinerary.

Day 1 – Transfer to Monteverde went well. No issues getting to the hotel. 

Day 2 – The Monteverde reserve tour was really nice. We had a really well-informed guide and a nice small group. It was us and a family from Canada that we kept seeing around Monteverde for the next few days. We had really good luck with wildlife and saw 4 quetzals, a sloth, lots of hummingbirds, an olingo, and I’m sure some other stuff. Unless people are trained at wildlife spotting, I think a guide is absolutely the way to go. We wouldn’t have seen anything we did without the help…

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The coffee tour was really great too. Tim and I aren’t coffee drinkers but it was still a great tour. We got to pick coffee since it was in season! They also showed sugar cane and chocolate processing. We came home with lots of cocoa nibs!

Day 3- On our own, we did the hanging bridges at Selvatura. They were probably the most underwhelming part of the trip. You don’t really see any wildlife and they aren’t really in the canopy, more over the gaps. The ziplining was a much better way to go for that.

The night walk was pretty cool, but it was apparently a pretty slow night wildlife wise. We saw a tarantula though, which was pretty impressive, as well as some other spiders. We also saw lots of coatis and a porcupine. No frogs or snakes though! 

El Establo – Overall I thought it was a pretty nice hotel. It would be interesting to stay somewhere smaller and more like the Eco-lodge the night walk left from, but I’m sure those booked up much farther in advance. Having the pool was nice though, and there was a nice little outlook with hammocks and picnic tables for sunset watching. The food there wasn’t as good at Manoa, but it was still a solid Costa Rican breakfast. I really liked the rooms too, they were spacious with high ceilings and rustic feeling. The staff were also very nice. 

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One advantage of the hotel was that it was walking distance to a restaurant called Sofia, where we ended up eating twice because it was so good! 

Day 4: The land-boat-land transfer was easy. We were actually the only ones on the boat which was pretty surprising. 

The Arenal hike was really interesting. My dad was trained in geology so I’m always biased towards those things. I think I would have liked a longer hike around the volcano in retrospect. At night the springs were fantastic. I was at Baldi last time and I liked this one much better! We hung out at the “more natural” part and the bartender even brought us frosty tropical drinks while we were in the hot springs! 

Day 5: Loved Ecoglide! I liked that they had the double wires for safety too 🙂 All of us loved the Eco-gliding, even Tim who is afraid of heights. Tucker and I did the Tarzan swing. That was one of my favorite parts!!! We should send you the video of it. 

At night we arranged another night walk from our hotel to try to see frogs since we didn’t on the first night walk. It had rained that day a bit so conditions were better for it. We went to Arenal Oasis Eco-Lodge and Refuge or something like that. It was incredible. We saw tons of frogs, at least 8 different species including the red-eyed tree frog, and according to our hotel desk staff it is more natural than the other frog place in that area. I would highly recommend that to  other people. 

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Day 6: River float was really amazing too. The guides were great, as with the whole trip. We saw so many howler monkeys and lots of birds. There were a few people on the tour who lived in Barrington, Rhode Island, so very small world! 

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Day 7: Relaxed at the hotel all day (Arenal Manoa). We really loved the hotel. It felt like being in some sort of tropical paradise with all of the flowers and plants everywhere. The room was really nice, and having the view of the volcano from the porch with rocking chairs was definitely something we took advantage of. It was really nice having the regular pool for the day and the hot pool for the evening. We had rooms 232 and 233, which were probably the best ones there, a view of the volcano (in theory…) and no view of other cabins or anything. I would recommend that hotel very highly overall. The food there was also very good. Papaya, pineapple, and watermelon for breakfast every day, along with the gallo pinto and plantains. The waitstaff were great too and by the end remembered we were a group of 4, two cafe drinkers two not. 

If there’s anything else you want to know or have questions about, let me know! Thank you again for planning it all. It would have been nowhere near as good without your help. 





You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)