Costa Fuckin’ Rica. I love this little country. It’s home to cheap, delicious pineapple and amazing people. Unfortunately it is also home to bird-sized cockroaches and an unimaginable quantity of bugs, but nowhere’s perfect. My brother, my friend and I all traveled through Costa Rica for a quick spring break.
We flew into San Jose, rented a car and drove through the bustling city. It was surprisingly vegan-friendly in the city. We frequented the Luv Burger, a delicious and charming vegan bistro not too far from town. Local restaurants also carry a typical Costa Rican dish called Casado, which can be made vegan. It typically consists of fried plantains, beans, rice and salad/veggies.
You should be able to find this anywhere, so eating vegan shouldn’t be too difficult. However, in smaller towns your options will likely be limited to Casados, which gets old fast.
There were a few things about Costa Rica that I wish I would have known before traveling there. First, you might drive for hours without seeing a functioning gas station. This is especially true when passing through less populated areas. Come prepared with a gas can if you want to play it safe. Also, as you may have guessed, the roads are not well developed. We drove a nice little circle, going from San Jose to La Fortuna (Arenal) to Monteverde, then back to San Jose again.
We were able to see the beach, the mountains, the city, a volcano, waterfalls and more. It was perfect for a 5-day trip. However, one of the roads we had to take to Monteverde was just loose dirt, something the locals warned us about when they heard of our route. With our amazing luck, a monsoon hit while we were on it. There was hardly room for two cars to pass and the heavy flow of water was washing the road off the side of the mountain. I definitely imagined our death in a number of different ways.
Of course the risk was worth the reward because Monteverde was beautiful. If you’re interested in recreating our travel experience, see the itinerary below.
Costa Rica: 5-day trip
Day 1: San Jose (Activity: Mercado Central)
Day 2-3: La Fortuna (Activities: La Fortuna Waterfall, Canyoning, Hot Springs, Arenal Volcano)
Day 4: Monteverde (Activities: Ziplining, Coffee and Chocolate Tour, Night Rainforest Tour)
Day 5: Beach Day + San Jose
The outdoor activities are what make Costa Rica so incredible. Who can resist the temptation of a rainforest? On our trip to Monteverde we had a night tour of the rainforest with a guide named Andres. The tour company, Forest Alive, gave us the incredible experience of walking out on wire bridges and spotting tarantulas, vipers and sloths. Some fun facts about sloths… 1. In Spanish they are aptly named “lazies” 2. Ten thousand years ago sloths grew to the size of elephants 3. Sloths can take a whole month to digest one meal. But I digress. The real fun of this trip was seeing the largest cockroach known to man. If you know me, then you know my extreme phobia of roaches. I swear this thing had a foot-long wingspan.
The highlight of the trip was the canyoning tour we took in La Fortuna. It was the most fun I’ve had in a while. We booked our trip here through Anywhere Costa Rica. The staff was very quick, witty and professional. They hooked you up to ropes, and then you were able to lower yourself down the waterfall. They also held part of the rope from below, so they could swing you into and out of the rushing water. It was an exhilarating experience that also felt very safe.
One of the things Costa Rica is famous for is their ziplining, so we knew we couldn’t miss that either. We went with Extremo Tours in Monteverde and soared on wire lines high in the trees. Some of the lines were football fields long, and they paired you up with a friend. I had the lucky task of braking for both Rachel and I. They gave you a glove that was thick in the middle so you could pull down on the rope to slow down. But we were flying by so fast that whenever I lowered my hand on the wire it ricocheted (just googled how to spell that word) right off. We came in hot and I was honestly fearing for my life for a minute there. All in all, I would NOT recommend Extremo Tours. I think the ziplining experience is essential in Costa Rica — at one point I was awestruck while soaring over a hawk — but the right tour group is also essential. Do some research and read the reviews about which tour is the best in your area.
Lastly, the Coffee and Chocolate tour in Monteverde was surprisingly fun. You were able to see the process of making coffee, from picking the beans to the final roast. Fun fact alert! Coffee that is lightly roasted has a higher concentration of caffeine than dark roasts. They also talked about coffee and sugar cane, and showed us how to crank out sugar cane juice, the most delicious drink known to man. Costa Rica is full of things to love. Great food, people, and nature all around. Where would you visit in Costa Rica?