“Pura Vida” or Pure Life , a term used by locals in Costa Rica, is an epitome for Costa Rica ‘s natural beauty. Costa Rica is a land of milk and honey for bird watchers, surfers, divers and bikini aficionados alike. If you aren’t into white pristine, sandy beaches, serene natural parks, fantastic sceneries and a rich wildlife don’t bother coming.
To explore this stunning country rent a four wheel car. Costa Rica’s traffic isn’t as overwhelming as in many other Latin American countries however while it might seem like a relatively small country on a map, plan in sufficient time to get from one place to the next. The streets aren’t always in great conditions and while Costa Rica has highways the maximum speed allowed is 80 km. Yep, you guessed it – this is a perfect place to decelerate. We start our tour with a stop-over in San José. Unlike the rest of this fabulous country San José does not really have much on offer and looks run down and surprisingly unattractive. We recommend to keep your stay as brief as possible however don’t miss out on a dinner at La Esquina de Buenos Aires ( Calle 11, San José, Costa Rica +506 2223 1909) The restaurant makes some of Costa Rica’s best steaks and has a real Argentinian flair to it. If you are up for authentic Asian cuisine head to Tin Jo (www.tinjo.com).
Our next stop is Jacó which is a 2.5 hour drive from Costa Rica. Jacó is one of Costa Rica’s unpresumptuous party towns and while the beach might not be as beautiful as in other places this is an ideal place to let your hair down, enjoy the cocktails and party with the local Tico’s who you will find here in plenty.
Where to stay : Jacó offers a variety of low budget bed and breakfast places. Where to eat: Headed by Richard Lemon, Lemon Zest has become an institution in Jacó and offers some solid, international comfort food and a nice terrace.
Next is Montezuma which is located close to the most southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula and is reachable by ferry from Puntarenas or by boat from Jacó (if you aren’t travelling by car). Montezuma is an adorable, laid back village which has attracted hippies, surfers and artists for decades now. Montezuma also offers some of the countries’ most beautiful beaches and a very romantic scenery. This is a great place to unwind and soak up the sun. Rent a mountain bike or squads and take a day trip to the south of the Peninsula and visit the beautiful beach towns of Mal Pais, Santa Teresa and Manzanillo. While in Montezuma make sure to go zip lining above the Montezuma waterfalls – an unforgettable experience. While in Santa Teresa make sure you don’t miss out on a lunch at Nectar located at the Florblanca resort which offers delicious, fresh cuisine.
Where to stay: The Ylang Ylang Resort (www.ylangylangbeachresort.com) consists of tents and beach villas right on the beach in a beautiful, romantic setting. The hotel also offers Yoga Classes as well as a fresh, healthy menu including Sushi and Vegan Cuisine.
From here we head to Playa de Coco. This is another favorite amongst locals and offers a variety of bars and restaurants. It also is one of the best places to dive if you aren’t up for a 10 liveaboat trip to Isla de Cocos. At Isla Catalina you’ll have decent chance to spot giant mantas between December and April. Sharks and manta rays can be spotted pretty much all year long. Isla Catalina is located roughly 50 minutes from Playa de Coco. Be prepared for a very rough boat ride and don’t forget to pack those motion sickness drugs. Deep Blue Diving (www.deep-blue-diving.com) offers daily trips to Isla Catalina.
Where to stay: Hotel Puerta del Sol is a low key option with pleasant, spacious rooms kept in a marina blue and white theme and very friendly service.
Where to eat: Papagayo is one of Playa de Cocos liveliest restaurants with a good variety of seafood and cocktails. If you are looking for something more refined, head to Citron which offers a nice ambiance and solid yet a little uninspiring Mediterranean