Posted by: martinworster | September 25, 2009


PLAYA CARRILLO – headed here after three nights as my little sister Camilla was joining us. A two hour drive south of Tamarindo via Nicoya. We drove past the airport was she was to be landing. It was literally a strip of mud in a forest clearing. Not even an airport building. I’ve seen some primitive airport set ups in my time but this won hands down. Playa Carrillo was a large crescent shaped beach with small waves. We stayed at the lovely hotel Llyenda just south of the town. A bit of a panic as I got an email from Camilla saying her flight had been cancelled. She was landing in San Jose the next morning and needed to get to the coast quickly to join us. I managed to get her on a flight to Tamarindo – back from where we had come from.  


PLAYA GUIONNES – our next stop – a small beach resort near Samara. We stayed at the Harbour Reef resort which was lovely. Set right in the jungle with a three minute walk to the large crescent bay. At the time the surf was small – but the waves were gorgeous. Long rights and left peeling off allowing for long rides on the gentle, undulating waves. At times I would have liked a bit more juice to the swell but it was a good way of getting used to the spot. It wasn’t too crowded which was also a massive bonus. We spent four nights here getting into a lovely rhythm of surfing, reading, sleeping, drinking and sunbathing.


There were recycling bins on the beach for every type of material. You don’t see that in the US. Pura Vida. Even the take away sandwiches we bought came in cardboard boxes, not the typical styrofoam containers you get here. 


Kept hearing what at first we thought were dogs yapping – which we later learnt were howler monkeys. A few days later we saw our first troupe. The noise was deafening – an incessant howling and hollering – which is how we found them as you follow the racket. I met a lady who ran an animal refuge. The rapid development of the area and increase in tourism has resulted in deforestation and the building of power lines which electrocute the monkeys when they swing on them. They electrify and burn to death – as the horrific photos on their pamphlet revealed. 


Brief two day sickness – upset stomach and aches and pains. This coincided with a horse ride along the beach and through the jungle. Typical. Reminded me of the first time I went horse riding – in Ecuador when I also had severe diarrhea – not fun.


As would be expected in a Latino country, football is very popular. Every little village has a ‘campo’ (pitch) in the centre of the town – driving through the region on a Sunday we saw lots of games as the villages played one another. I was also lucky enough to watch Costa Rica play Mexico in a World Cup qualifier – which they lost. If I’m honest they weren’t very good – but then they only have a small population of 3 million to chose from.


BACK TO PLAYA LANGOSTA – for some strange reason we decided to go back to our first hotel Barcelo. This time around it was less appealing to me. It’s almost like the McDonalds of hotels. It is a chain of hotels so staying here felt like it could be Majorca, Albufeira or St Lucia with little indication of the local culture. I missed my little paradise sleeping amongst the noise of the jungle.


PLAYA AVELLANES – beach 15 KM south we visited for the day. Massive stretch of postcard perfect white sand. As is true of most of the surf spots here, it’s amazing how the waves are so affected by the tides. Most of the spots only work on high tides – you can arrive when it’s low tide and it’s flat as a pond. Slowly as the tide builds the waves do. Lovely Ibizan style bar and restaurant here right on the beach.


MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST – the beach section of our holiday was over. Now it was time to don our explorer hats. Costa Rica is renowned for it’s national parks and we drove for four hours across bumpy and dangerous mountainous roads to Monteverde where you can walk amongst the canopy of the rain forest via long suspension bridges. An amazing experience as you are right among the leaves and foliage. Very thick jungle spreading out as far as the eye can see. Stayed in the mountain town of St Elena which is an adrenalin junkies paradise offering excursions into the local region – zip lining, canyoning, white water rafting, night treks. You could easily spend a couple of weeks here so it was a shame we only had one night.


ARENAL VOLCANOE – there aren’t many active volcanoes left in the world and Arenal is Costa Rica’s largest and most famous. It’s a classical conical volcano. We never got to see it on a clear day – as is common. It’s in the central highlands surrounded by greenery which in the tropics means there is always cloud cover. It was still very beautiful – we hoped the cloud would break and we could see it in all it’s glory. Hiked a bit around the base. Drove around at night to one of the observation points and were lucky enough to see orange molten lava spewing down the side of the hill. Melissa even saw it spurting out of the top but I was in the car at the time.


We stayed at a lovely resort with endless hot spring pools heated by thermally by the volcano. Lovely. I loved Costa Rica. Easy to travel in, beautiful, green, very friendly locals – there is so much to see and I will be returning very soon. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: