Pura Vida Tales pt. 2: Weekend Adventures

For my final post, I wanted to conglomerate my weekend adventures aside from the cultural activities done with ICDS. Costa Rica is beyond amazing and has anything and everything for all people. Surfing, white water rafting, hot springs to name a few of things my friends and I were able to do while in country.


Monteverde is a cloud forest 3 hours northeast of San Jose. We took a bus there and back for about $12 round trip, which I’d say was a pretty good price. We stayed in Monteverde for two nights and 3 days. On the trip, we went zip-lining through the forest, which was so awesome! I think it was a total of 3 hours and in this we rappelled 50 meters straight down, then climbed back up those 50 meters through a hollowed out tree, and the longest straight zip was around half a mile long!! Others on the trip went for a night tour of the jungle which would have been super cool if I didn’t hate bugs and other creepy crawlies (spoiler there were a lot of both). Before we left, we also went on this cool free hike and saw this really neat tree bridge!

Playa Jaco

The next destination was more for weekend trips in my opinion. In Jaco, the beaches aren’t the best, but you can get there in 2 hours and stay the whole day, which is perfect for a day trip. I was lucky enough to be able to go out to Jaco three times while abroad. The first time I went, we actually went to a beach about 15 minutes north of Jaco called Playa Herradura at the recommendation of my host family. I am so glad I took their recommendations because Herradura was gorgeous and the waves were so, so gentle. Herradura is more of a local’s beach so it wasn’t touristy at all. The other two times I did a day beach trip was to Jaco itself, which is much more touristy and the waves there are really rough. The rough waves make for some pretty decent surfing. The beach itself is more sandy whereas Herradura was rocky.

Playa Manuel Antonio and National Park

My main focus for travel spots for Costa Rica, and the world really, are beaches, so my third travel destination was Manuel Antonio, and boy oh boy, it sure did not disappoint. We spent the majority of our three days at the beach where we saw red macaws and Capuchin monkeys, but we also went white water rafting. The rafting could have been better, but we also went during the dry season when the water level is VERY low. I would recommend going early in the year if you want Level 2 rafting, but later in the year when you want more hardcore Level 4. Manuel Antonio is also home to the Manuel Antonio National Park, which many of the group toured. But, like I said, the beach is my thing.

La Fortuna and Volcano Arenal

I know I JUST said that the beach is my happy place, but my fourth trip was more inland. We went to La Fortuna, the home of the breathtaking waterfall La Fortuna, pictured to the right. The pictures really don’t do any off the sights any justice, but this one is done especially dirty. In La Fortuna I went horseback riding, had a spa day at Baldi Hot Springs, and to the waterfall twice because I could not get over how gorgeous it was. The hot springs are naturally heated by the nearby and active Arenal volcano (pictured below). Thankfully, it has not erupted in many years and does not pose any active threats.

Guanacaste: Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta

For my final trip, I needed it to be a beach and literally all of our host familes told us we NEEDED to visit the beaches of Guanacaste before we left the country. I do have to say, the beached of Guanacaste live up to their hype. For two whole days, all that we did was lay in the sand and play in the water. There was nothing else that any of us wanted to do, and that’s what we did. Guanacaste is the name of the province itself, so we actually stayed in Tamarindo and went to Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta (left and below). This last trip was the perfect ending to a perfect study abroad trip in every way.

Thank you all for tagging along on my journey through Costa Rica! I really hope that I am able to help at least someone plan out their perfect stay in such a gorgeous country.

Ciao, Hanna

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