• Tina

Travel Costa Rica | How to Spend 5 Days of Pura Vida

Updated: Aug 21

It's Luckie's milestone birthday and we are going on an adventure! We wanted to visit a country none of us traveled to before, so Luckie, Mimi Greg and myself headed down south to Costa Rica!

PURA VIDA! It's a terminology we frequently heard (and chanted) while in CR. Simply translated, it means “simple life” or “pure life”, but in Costa Rica, it is more than just a saying...it is a way of life and we experienced this first hand.

We landed in San Jose around 12:00pm heading for Jaco, a beach town that's about 2 hours southwest from San Jose. It took hours to get our rental car and by then we were starving, so we decided to grab some food at an authentic Costa Rican restaurant on the side of the road. We finally arrived at Selina Jaco Hostel close to sundown. We realized that this was the first time any of us has ever stayed in a hostel, so this will be interesting!

The hostel was so adorable with eccentric and colorful mural artwork and furniture. After looking around, we quickly realized that we may be one of the older occupants staying here! Oh well, get in where you fit in! We stayed in a dorm style room with three bunk-beds and a private restroom. This was place full of life everyday - all day! We only stayed there for 2 nights, therefore did not take part in any communal activities, i.e group dinner, trivial night, etc.

We had dinner and drinks at The Green Room and I have to say it was probably my favorite part of being in Jaco. The staff was friendly, food was delicious and so were the drinks! The cover band of two was phenomenal and very talented. We sang along with just about every song! I think Greg tried to wink at the the lead singer a few times. Hehe.

Jaco's night life was very interesting. Prostitution is legal there so it made for an interesting people-watching night. We decided to try out this rooftop bar in town because...well, we love all things roof top. We were in for a treat however, as the new owner just bought the space and was the in the process of revamping it. He was the most genuine, and giving person we've ever met. He not only showered us with pura vida love, but also free TEQUILA SHOTS!! If you're in the area, go visit him at Luna Lounge on Avenida Pastor Diaz & Calle Bohio.

The next day, we drove almost 2 hours to get to Nauyaca Waterfalls. It's a 5 mile round trip hike with moderate terrain and some elevation change. There's usually a pick-up ride you can pay extra money for, but since we got there a bit late, we missed that ride. The falls were beautiful and you can actually swim and dive off the bottom fall. I would like to say that seeing the beauty of these falls was the highlight of the day, but it wasn't! As soon we started to head out, a torrential rainfall came pouring down! We didn't pack for this, so needless to say, we were soaked and covered in horse poop-mud water by the time we reached our car. Yes, for some strange reason, trekking in the rainstorm and through poop-filled mud water made my day!

We were starved and went in search of food and found a restaurant called Phat Noodles. We are always down for unique food and based on their menu, they became our next unique food victim. The food was okay, probably not as authentic as I'd prefer it to be, but the decor was so adorable and the spicy margaritas were delish!

Unfortunately, we only had a short time in Jaco and had to make our way up north to La Fortuna the next morning. On the way there, we decided to stop for lunch and thought Playa Herradura had some nice food options. Boy! Were we happy we did! In fact, in hindsight, we all agreed that we should've stayed here instead of Jaco. It's more quaint and not as busy and touristy as Jaco was. We had a delicious seafood meal at El Pelicano Restaurant. The staff was so welcoming and accommodating - and the sangria...it was both beautiful and so good (especially after topping it off with champagne). And yes, sangria's can be beautiful!

The drive to La Fortuna from Jaco was supposed to be about 3.5 hours. Um, no! After a gorgeous drive up, around and through the mountain, we made it there in a total of 5.5 hours. Oh! Make sure you fill your tank with gas because we almost ran out! We stopped a stranger on the side of the mountain road and he was able to find us 2 liters of gas to get us to our destination! Whew!

We finally arrived at Selina La Fortuna and OMG! Everything about it screamed free spirit, wanderlusting vibes. We made our way to our tee-pees and decided to do some hand laundry while there. There weren't any washer/dryer options, but there was a washateria across the street. It only caused us $5USD to have a pile of laundry done. We opted for this as our clothes did not dry overnight like we had hoped. One thing that would've made the stay better was to have a fire around the pit. We would've had to go lug our own logs from somewhere though...it was already late so we decided to call it a night. I personally could've stayed here a few more nights minus the mosquitos that ate me alive throughout the night - despite having a mosquito net.

We woke up the next morning, ready for our excursion! First up, zip lining through the rain forest. I've done several zip lines and this was probably the second best (next to Cabo)! The 9 cable lines were all high up and long - a great combo for mild adventurists. Next up was repelling down a 50 meters cliff. In my opinion, this was just...meh. We were hoping to repel down a waterfall cliff but that wasn't the case. We were then lead into a teepee where a representative from the Villa Maleku shared with us her tribe's history and culture. We ended our excursion by walking across the street to soak in hot springs. There, we rubbed our bodies down with volcano mud and relaxed in the springs with drinks in hand. This entire excursion with GO ADVENTURE COSTA RICA lasted about 3 hours and cost $60USD per person.

We rushed back to the Selina and grabbed our luggage to head out to San Jose. It was a 3 hour drive and our flight was the next morning. On our way out of town, we decided to stop by a roadside restaurant to grab some food to go. Mimi and I went to order and noticed that the ambiance was pretty lively outside and festive inside - strobe lights were circling the room. Even the chairs had those nice ribbons tied around them like you see at weddings. We finally ordered our food and decided to order some beers while we waited. Several people came up to us for quick conversations and all of a sudden we had a small circle of people hanging out with us. An older man approached me and we started a broken conversation - me in broken Spanish and him in broken English. I asked him if this was a party or a wedding that we may have accidentally crashed. He responded back in his broken English, "no, this is where women come to rent themselves". Say what?! No wonder we were getting strange stares. An hour later we got our crappy to-go food (this place was not obviously known for their food) and made our way to San Jose with some nice belly laughs!

Later that night, we had dinner at this AMAZING authentic Costa Rican restaurant, La Posada de las Brujas. They have a full portion menu as well as a small plates menu. I would recommend ordering their small plates (which is not small, by the way) so that you can taste everything! My favorite was the pig's feet soup - yes, I said that! We ate so fast I didn't take pictures! Okay, I really want some pigs feet soup now.

What a memorable trip! Here are my personal highlights:

1. Staying in hostels was not as adolescent (and dirty) as I thought it would be.

2. Greg almost got a beat down by taking a picture of a hooker transvestite.

3. Singing our hearts out on the mountain drive up to La Fortuna.

4. The waterfalls and zip lining was so much fun! Zip lining through the rainforest is a must and I'm glad I get to check it off my list now!

5. Trekking in a storm and through poopy mud water for over 2 miles.

6. Accidentally stumbling into a whore house and making friends there!

Until next time, Costa Rica! Pura Vida!

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