here's a quick summary of our 6 week cr vacation back in january.
started by staying our first night at alegria b&b with george in alajuela, about 10-15 minutes from sjo. as usual, george went the extra mile where ever possible for us, even though we were only staying one night. alegria is spotless, modern and for us, the only place to stay in alajuela. you won't be disappointed with your stay here. our first destination was zancudo, golfito. we rented the rancho at sol y mar for a month and did self catering nearly every night here. zancudo is not for the high maintenance tourist, and we find its simplicity and remoteness a huge plus. how remote is it? the nearest atm is about an hour away, the nearest super market even further. there are a couple of good convenience stores though. did a fishing trip with nelson cerdas, a zancudo native for a half day. didn't catch, but saw loads of dolphins, a humpback whale, a sea snake and tons of turtles so it was well worth the price paid. one of our favourite pasttimes here is to drive to playa pavones to watch the surfers ride one of the world's few left breaks. also here is the stunning rio claro waiting to be explored. one huge bonus this year was the rodeo in nearby conte. this is a huge event that draws people from miles around to watch the boys ride bulls. my personal favourite would have to be the drunk rodeo clowns socializing in the bullring. we liked it so much we went the second night as well. if you have the opportunity, definitely do this. it is a huge community event and a great way to rub shoulders (literally) with ticos. usually there is a mobile disco right next to the bullring after the bullriding and i gotta say i love partying with costa ricans!
next stop was montezuma after an overnight stop in jaco. jaco jaco jaco. nuf said! if you haven't been to montezuma, you absolutely have to go. you haven't really been to cr until you've spent a few days in montezuma. this time around we stayed at amor de mar and will definitely be staying here next time around. clean, friendly beautiful ocean front lawn, this, like anywhere in montezuma is walking distance from everything else in montezuma.
next was samara. i don't know why it took me so long to get to samara, but i'm glad i did. this is a clean, relatively quiet and very friendly town. we stayed at brigitte and lothar's samara palm lodge. i can't imagine a better b&b than this. lothar is a star and the samara palm lodge is beautiful. ten out of ten here. at just over two hours drive from montezuma, samara should be on everyone's list of places to go. good nightlife, great beach with decent surfing and nearby playa carillo make samara well worth it.
if you want a busy beach town that parties nearly as hard as jaco, then playas del coco is the place! the beach here is so-so, but it has everything else in spades! on the way in i saw a sign for riu, and barely resisted spray painting monkeys crapping on it. gf woldn't let me. plenty of stuff to do in and near pdc, by far our favourite was a daytrip to rincon de la vieja park. prepare to be amazed. beautiful waterfall and amazing mud pots bubbling away, boiling ponds and mini volcanoes puffing steam and sulphur. oh, there's animals too! simply amazing. if you are in the area and don't go to rincon park, you are doing yourself and your family a huge disservice.
the last stop was arenal, stayed at the family owned and run vista del cerro, these guys are great! it's a fairly basic hotel, but it's spotless and the price can't be beat. a we just can't get enough of la fortuna/arenal. so much to do and see here. you absolutely have to do the hanging bridges. lots of animals here. we've seen more toucans in the lf/arenal area than anywhere else in cr, and got closer than we ever have before to these birds here than anywhere else. perhaps the highlight of our visit to the area was rio tenorio. this park is simply outstanding. we didn't see many animals, but the river and waterfall will blow you away! we also did a river tour on the cano negro. this is a birdwatcher's fantasy! i can't remember the name of the company we went with, but they were great. it's a pretty long drive from lf to the river, but worth it. on the way we stopped at a restaurant that had hundreds of iguanas lounging in the trees outside, and there were some HUGE ones there! on the way back we passed through a town called muelle and noticed that there was a carnival-type setup at the bullring. we assumed there was a rodeo going on that night so we headed back there when the tour dropped us off. we were in luck, there was bullriding going on. the atmosphere was happy and welcoming as were the locals. again, if you get a chance to go to a tico rodeo, DO IT!
as usual we had an unbelievable time in costa rica and can't wait to return. we used tucan limo services for private transport as usual, and like alegria b&b we don't feel any need to try anyone else, because they will only be second best. thanks again luis y rocio! you wanna know how dedicated luis is to his work? even though he had been beaten up by a sea snake, he still showed up for work to for us! if you want to know how a proper transport company is run, go with tucan, and thank you to all the ta members for posting your wealth of cr experience and knowledge here.
thanks costa rica!