“Pura Vida”: Highlights of Costa Rica

Note: I traveled to Costa Rica in July 2021, prior to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant. I know there are mixed opinions on whether it’s smart or safe to travel internationally, regardless of being vaccinate, so take this as you will.

After a year and a half of staying home in the States, I’ve finally embarked on my first international adventure since the pandemic: Costa Rica! I know there is still some debate on whether to travel internationally right now, which is why I was hesitant to book something for this year. But after careful thought and consideration, I decided to book a 4 night, 5 day adventure with FTLO Travel.

Lots of beach time in Tamarindo

FTLO Travel is a millennial-based group travel company, focusing on slower, sustainable travel and creating a welcoming community of fellow solo travelers. I will be sharing more about my experience with FTLO (stay tuned!) but here are some highlights of our adventure in and around Tamarindo, Costa Rica!

Every hour is happy hour in Costa Rica!

Located in the Guanacaste Province on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Tamarindo is a beach town with plenty of sand, surf, and sun to enjoy! The town is a mixture of locals, expats, and tourists all looking to experience “Pura Vida”, Spanish for “pure life” or “simple life”. And let me tell you, after witnessing some of the most beautiful sunsets, you’d want a piece of this “pure life” as well!

Sunsets here were absolutely breathtaking

While we spent most of our time in Tamarindo, we did venture off for one full day in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, a two hour drive away. The National Park includes an active volcano, hot springs, and plenty of jungle to hike or zip your way through. We had an action-packed morning with Guachipelin Adventure Volcano Zipline Tours, in which they had us going down slides, jump off a Tarzan swing, rock climb, and zipline upside down!

First time going down a slide on a zipline!

After getting an amazing adrenaline rush, we fueled up on lunch and relaxed at the Rio Negro Hot Springs. Since we were all a little sweaty, we luckily had an ice cold, refreshing river to dip into before soaking in 100 degree Fahrenheit springs.

Enjoying the hot springs after an adventurous morning!

After our adventurous day in the jungle, we also spent an adventurous morning on the beach by learning to surf! I had taken 2 other lessons in the past, but always struggle to stand up. Being out there in the relentless Central American waves brought a new perspective and appreciation for the sport!

My hilarious face standing up on a surf board for the first time (without help!)

And with all of our active adventures, what better way to wind down with some delicious food! I’m a pescatarian (only eating seafood for meat) and felt the need to take advantage of all of the seafood dishes Tamarindo has to offer. From freshly caught red snappers, to all varieties of tacos, there’s plenty of fresh food to enjoy! I even ate the best ceviche of my life, which was a vegan version of this dish!

Salmon tacos from Green Papaya Restaurant!

Our last day was a free day to as much or as little as we please. I decided to keep the active excursions going by embarking on a snorkel tour with Pacific Coast Dive Center. The half day tour was spent exploring Catalina Islands, with two 40 minute snorkel sessions. It was the perfect amount of time spent out on the water, swimming with the fish and sea eels!

Playing with the OG GoPro Hero while snorkeling!

Whether you’re an active adventurer like me or you prefer to just each and lounge at the beach, Tamarindo is the perfect coastal town in Costa Rica to enjoy these types of vacations! Five days was not nearly enough time in Costa Rica, but was the perfect amount of time for getting my feet wet back into international travel!

5 responses to ““Pura Vida”: Highlights of Costa Rica”

  1. One of my favorite regions in Costa Rica!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a lovely region for sure!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks lovely. Was it stressful with all the necessary testing and stuff?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A little bit but not as stressful as I thought it would be! The main stressor was getting my test results back in time (I had to take a test in Costa Rica) before my return flight home. 😬

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I’ve heard about people not getting it back in time, or having their flight time changed and suddenly their test is no longer within the valid 72-hr window. Ugh.


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