When traveling, its often difficult to see what “real life” is like in the destination area. We love Costa Rica, but its actually hard to tell how much you like a place if you don’t leave an all-inclusive resort. You might love the resort, but what about the the 99%+ of the country you’ve left unexplored. During our last trip, November 13-20, 2019 we made a stronger attempt to see and experience more of the true Pura Vida lifestyle. Yes, we were still tourists, but we went off the beaten path and embraced our freedom to explore without the constraints of tours and resort gates.
We rented a car, visited numerous beaches, and lodged in three different locations with various accommodations including a condo, a tree house and ended at an all inclusive resort.
Flying into Liberia, we then traveled through the Guanacaste area of the country. The many stops along the way included everything from the local grocery store to watching turtles hatch on the beach. Eating at local sodas, a picnic on the beach, a smoothie from the farmers market, and gourmet food at the resort, kept us well-nourished and energized for each adventure. Magical experiences like sunsets, wildlife encounters, and the feel of the sun rays and ocean waves, left lasting memories in our hearts and minds.
We mapped our route taking into account travel time. We started and ended closer to the airport to guard against travel delays or unforeseen obstacles. We didn’t want to panic if we drove up on an accident or road closure. We also avoided too much night travel as the roads are literally foreign to us.
We spent the first three nights in a condo “The Oaks” near Tamarindo. Then we drove south to the “Turtle Lodge” in Ostional and spent two nights. We finished the trip with 2 nights of luxury at the adults only “Occidental Papagayo”, just 25 minutes from the Liberia airport.
I highly recommend this form of travel. Costa Rica is a safe country (always use common sense when traveling anywhere!) Not only do you have freedom and spontaneity when you have your own vehicle but you can view the countryside as you travel. You can stop at any beach you like, in any town or village you want or even along the roadside for a quick picture. Sure, there’s some extra responsibility that accompanies it, but that also results in control. We had a general schedule and route determined before arriving in Costa Rica, but we could adjust it as we saw fit.
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