Living the Pura Vida life in Costa Rica – part 1

Costa Rica is famed for its healthy and cool lifestyle amidst cloud forests, tropical rainforest and beautiful beaches. In Costa Rica, you can surf, yoga, hike, kayak, zipline, horseback ride or just bask in the abundant nature it has to offer. I’ve done all of the above in the 20 days that I was there and it was pure fun! I loved all the animals especially the birds and the dogs. The dogs are so friendly and chilled and they too, embrace Pura Vida.

cute colourful macaws fly around here just watch out for them

Arriving in San Jose airport was a bit of a shock. If you have to go to your accommodation in San Jose or Alajuela, I recommend you uber. I got cheated by a very unkind taxi driver in the orange van who said he would take US dollars and he will run by meter but he then insisted I paid him triple the fare in US dollars when he dropped me off half a block from my hostel.

see this? don’t take this. Uber instead

If you are going further like Santa Teresa, Montezuma, Monteverde, Tortuguero and Manuel Antonio, easyride, interbus, greyline all provide better services with WiFi at a flat rate but they have specific departure times.

I spent my first night in Alajuela and some of the hostels do provide airport transfers so do ask. Alajuela backpackers provides a free one to the airport but not from. Alajuela is a safe town and it’s closer to the airport than San Jose. I chose Alajuela as I needed to take a 7am shuttle the next morning to Santa Teresa which is a 4 hour van ride plus a ferry ride. To come back from Santa Teresa to San Jose Airport, you take the public bus that takes the ferry, so you don’t have to carry your luggage if you’re on the van. It departs from outside the pharmacy near the bank and Costa only USD16 or 7400 colones. My kind surf school teacher taught me the public bus option.

Sausage in tortilla bread. messy but delicious sausage in tortilla bread for breakfast. Messy but delicious the seafood soup and ceviche at a good price in the alajuela market. Yum!

Alajuela has banks, pharmacies, atms and my favourite place is the central market. It has a lot of cheap eats and fresh ceviche and fish soups and breakfast options are very very good too! Just follow your nose and also, eat where the locals eat and see what they order and just point, unless you speak Spanish then of course you can just order off the menu.

I spent 7 days in Playa Hermosa, near Santa Teresa town but with a better beach for surfing and yoga. I initially only intended to do yoga but was lured by the calm conditions of the beach to learn surfing and it was so fun. The teachers from perfect sunset school were patient and great and it’s a 1 teacher to 2-3 student ratio so it’s awesome. You can also learn Spanish at the school and the teacher I heard is very good because my roomies could speak Spanish well after 4 days!

with 2 students to a teacher, it’s easy as 1,2,3. My teacher Esteban was really good and patient.

Yoga was my favourite activity. Something about doing it in the wooden shala where you hear waves and birds chirping that makes it so special. The teachers at Pranamar are very good.

The shala at Pranamar has the beach behind you or yoga with the dogs and sunset on playa Hermosa

I booked the entire 7 day retreat with Perfect Sunset school and Gustavo is such a nice host that you would love staying there. It’s a very simple bed with a shared kitchen and somehow, the people I stayed with were so amazing it made it so fun. We went on the ATV to see Montezuma waterfalls and I jumped off it (the waterfalls, not the ATV)! Do bring along your booties or good sandals for the hike there.

placeholder://the Montezuma waterfalls

The sunsets at Playa Hermosa are amazing. You can also go to La Birrerra in Santa Teresa or the infinity pool to watch the sunset. If you do go to La Birrera, the Argentinian fries are amazing with all the kinds of beer they have! On Saturdays, the infinity pool villa has a dance party so that’s the best day to go around sunset time.

La Birrera’s beer and sunset and fries are petty hard to beat

Food at TP8 in Playa Hermosa (TP ocho in Spanish) is amazing. The chef was trained in a Michelin starred restaurant and I love the pizzas and the pasta. The bakery at Santa Teresa is also very very good. I had the fish tacos and my friends had the spinach croissant. Remember to leave some space for their desserts!

fish tacos at The Bakery in Santa Teresa

My favourite street food is the uncle who sells ceviche and coconuts from his van on the beach near the yoga place. I go there everyday after yoga for my ceviche and coconut. He doesn’t work on Mondays and he goes surfing once he’s finished selling his stuff. Check out his biceps 😂😂. He cuts up your coconut too after you finish your drink.

Best ceviche on Playa Hermosa only 2000 colones

For other lunch options in Playa Hermosa, Tiamat has good tuna tartare and colours cafe has good coffee and fruit shakes. There is a ‘Soda’ near the waterfalls that has great curry. Basically, almost any soda has typical Costa Rican food with rice, meat, plantain, vegetables and a drink at an affordable price and they usually open only for lunch till about 5pm. Sodas are everywhere in Costa Rica. Go to the ones the locals go. Weekday Set lunches can range from 2000-4000 colones

this curry chicken is good! Caribbean style but good

When you’re in the hot hot beach, the best thing to eat is Trits. It’s THE ice cream to eat in Costa Rica. Maybe it’s the cookie crust, maybe it’s the vanilla ice cream or the chocolate sauce. The combination is a lethally delicious and addictive Ice cream sandwich you cannot say no too. I think I ate one per day the moment the super(convenience store) stocked it. My roomies were hooked on it too 😂😂😂. At 1000 colones a pop, how to resist?

magic Trits between my fingers

After Santa Teresa, I went back to San Jose for my pick up to Monteverde which is the cloud forest. It’s a 4 hour van ride. You can also go direct from Santa Teresa to Monteverde but I haven’t figured that one out, which was why I went back to San Jose.

Monteverde is high up in the hills and it’s cooler and quite windy and so, no mosquitoes! In Monteverde, I love the zipline adventure and the sunset horseback riding.

At the estate of Equus monteverde horseriding

Ziplining with Monteverde Extremo was extremely fun and although it was raining the whole time, ziplining into the clouds is quite an adventure. Extremo boasts the longest zipline in South America and the Tarzan and Superman ones are so fun. They provide pick up and drop off from your hostel too. If you fancy bungee jumping, they have that activity after your zipline. Do bring good shoes because you need to hike up to the ziplines but the boys who run his at so professional and makes you feel safe and secure.

zipline into be clouds with monteverde extremo

For the best sunset views where you can see the plantations and the ocean, do horseback riding with Equus Monteverde. This family run ranch has a huge property which their tame horses will walk through and you even get a sugar cane drink at the end. You get to see a lot of animals like coatis, birds, cows and other horses grazing. I was lucky to see a sloth in the evening just before the sunset. I was very lucky to be the only one doing the sunset horseride, most people go in the day time but my hostel owner said go see the sunset it’s better, and I didn’t regret it at all.

the sunset with Caramello my horse

If you never hiked at night, you can do so with Kinkajou night walkers. I saw tarantulas, sloths, 2 types of frogs, sleeping toucans and even the endangered Kinkajou. When I did it, it was supermoon December so it was really a very nice walk.

see birds and frogs at the nightwalk the rainbow toucan

If you don’t want to zipline, you can see the canopy of the forest at the canopy walk with the suspension bridges at Selvatura adventure park. It’s an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon and although the bridges to shake a little, it’s not as thrilling as the zipline so don’t fear. Wear good walking shoes too and a windbreaker as it can get cold when it’s windy.

All the activities I’ve done provide pick up and drop off at your accommodation. I’ve stayed at sleepers – sleep cheaper hostel. Clean, simple, right in the center of town and the owner booked all the actives for me. I saw a very nice resort enroute to Extremo called Hidden Canopy Treehouses. The view from there is amazing and the lodge looks beautiful but I’m sure it’s gonna be more expensive.

For food, Orchid cafe has very nice crepes and soups and I heard from my roomies their breakfast is amazing too. The grilled chicken (pollo Asado) in town opposite the supermarket is not too bad and I also tried the pollo frito which is fried chicken. I ate mainly quick food because I always had activities in the evening with too little time in between 😂😂. I only spent 2 full days and nights there as I left on day 3 at 730am for my pick up to La Fortuna where I see the Arenal Volcano.

yummy beef stroganoff crepe at orchid cafe

More on that on my next post. In the meantime, Pura Vida which means pure life, simple life and it also means enjoy life’s simple pleasures, relax, everything’s great and everything’s cool.

posing with the resident Macaws at Extremo

And don’t believe what I say, go see it for yourself!

XOXO,

Stella

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