If you’ve been following me on Instagram or Snapchat, you probably noticed that I just spent a week in Costa Rica! And honestly, it was the best week of my life.
Our trip was a total of 7 days: 5 full days and two travel days. We stayed three days in the jungle/rainforest and two on the beach – it was the best combo of a trip, and I feel like we spent just the right amount of time in each area. Watch my video below for a little recap!
If you want to do Costa Rica on a budget (A total of $2,000 for both of us, not including flights – which I got through my Southwest puntos), then follow my itinerary below!
Day 1: Getting Acquainted to the Jungle
We got to our hotel at Lake Arenal and adventured around the area. We found an awesome private spot down at the lake and hung out for a while and then drove around to find a yummy restaurant in this small town at the lake. I had Casado with fish – a traditional Costa Rican dish with rice and beans. The food there is so clean and healthy!
We stayed at Lake Arenal Hotel and Microbrewery and it was amazing! The from our room was incredible (the first pic below). The hotel is 100% sustainable and even gives energy to the town next to it, which was awesome to learn about. The owner and staff were awesome, and we made friends with all the Work Away kids that were working there in exchange for room and board. Did I mention that the room was only $88 a night?!
Day 2: Exploring the Jungle
We traveled to the other side of Lake Arenal to visit the town of La Fortuna. We went to see La Fortuna waterfall which was insane. The water was soo clear and refreshing…I have a knack for waterfalls, so this was definitely a highlight of the trip.
After the waterfall, we grabbed a bite to eat in the town and then made our way over to the Mistico hanging bridges through the jungle canopy. This experience was incredible…I wish we got this on video, but walking over the jungle was such a cool feeling! We also got to see a ton of wildlife and another small waterfall in the jungle. After that, we sat and enjoyed a beer with a view of the volcano.
Day 3: Freshwater Adventures
Day 3 was mostly white water rafting on some level 3/4 rapids! We went through Wave Expeditions, which I highly recommend. The staff was so friendly and they really took care of us and made sure to show us the authentic side of the country.
On our way there, we saw huuuge iguanas (seriously, like 6 feet long). The crew stopped our rafts halfway through the rafting and cut up some fresh fruit for us while we got to jump off some rocks (see video). Afterward, they took us to a spot in the middle of the woods to give us some Casado and showed us how they make their local liquor, Cacique Guaro. It’s made from sugar cane and tastes a lot like Moonshine/rubbing alcohol…but tastes amazing in mixed drinks. I got to press the sugar cane (still sore from that) and they gave us a shot of the liquor with the fresh squeezed sugar cane juice.
After our white water rafting adventures, we made our way to the hot springs. There are hot springs there called Tabacon that are an expensive resort-style spring, but some of the locals told us that just down the road (literally walking distance) through a yellow gate there are some free hot springs that the locals hang out at. We went in and stayed there until it was dark. We brought candles and beer and chilled until it got cold. Such an amazing adventure!
Days 4 & 5: The Beach
After an adventurous three days, we made our way to relax on the beach! We stayed at the Hotel Punta Islita, a secluded Marriott resort in Guanacaste, just south of the town of Samara. The hotel was one of those all-inclusive resorts where they greet you with drinks and cold towels and have a ton of free activities available. It was awesome to chill and we definitely took advantage of some free activities – we went kayaking, zip lining, and on a hike to see monkeys – but the second day we wanted more Costa Rican culture and snuck away to see the surrounding towns.
Just north of Playa Islita (where the resort was located) was a secluded beach called Playa Carillo which was super clean and gorgeous. Just north of that was the town of Samara where we grabbed a bite to eat and visited the beach there, which was gorgeous. I would say that these beaches were comparable to Tahiti – clean, black sand and warm, clear water. There was even a point break that made for some awesome surf.
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