Costa Rica was 10 out of 10 one of my favorite vacation spots so far and a trip I definitely recommend taking! The food was absolutely to die for like the freshest seafood I’ve ever put in my mouth and the people were so kind and welcoming! We relied heavily on travel blogs to create our itinerary and it helped us find some awesome local favorites, so of course, I want to share all of our trip details with you!
COVID and Travel
First things first, before we got to Costa Rica we ran into a little speed bump courtesy of yours truly, CoronaVirus *eye roll*. Due to COVID, many countries are now requiring trav
el insurance which will run you about $10 a day. (click here for a list of countries and their travel policies) Luckily we were very early for our flight and had time to struggle through the spotty airport WIFI and purchase our insurance. There were five travel insurance providers available but the only site we could get to be responsive was Sagicor. At the end of our trip, we needed a negative COVID test to return to the states. Our plan was to schedule this test through our hotel but they were fully booked for appointments that fit our time frame (the test results are only valid for three days), so we resorted to booking our test through the airport. We thought that getting the test at the airport would be hectic and stressful but it was actually a very smooth and seamless process! We booked our spots and paid for the test ahead of time so the whole process upon arrival to the airport was only about an hour! Very very easy. Covid did make the it about $300 more expensive for us to travel on this particular trip and while that is annoying we would both agree it was well worth the experience! The travel insurance we purchased at the beginning of the trip did not cover our COVID test to return to the states and after discussing with an insurance agent I learned that an insurance claim can only be filed if you are having COVID like symptoms and visit an in practice provider. – again, annoying but also not the end of the world.
Hotel and Transportation
OKAY now to the fun part – the trip! We decided to fly into Liberia and stay in Tamarindo CR which is the cutest little surfer town you’ve ever seen. We scheduled our transportation to and from the airport with 506 Transfers, a family-owned transportation and tour company that I just could not say enough good things about. They were so welcoming and our driver gave us a ton of amazing recommendations for our stay. Local favorites really are always the best, you know? Our driver had two cold beers waiting for us in the van which just screams vacation mode: ON. (ask for Jimmy) We stayed at a boutique hotel called Jardin Del Eden and it also surpassed expectations – again super friendly staff and a gorgeous location. Breakfast and dinner were included in our stay and when I tell you the food was incredible.. The food was INCREDIBLE. Breakfast was served continental style with a buffet. You don’t want to miss breakfast, even if it’s just for coffee because that’s where you will be presented with your selection from the dinner menu that evening. We had dinner here three out of our five nights and were not disappointed once. My last hot take on the hotel food situation is that you must get an espresso martini at some point during your stay. When I tell you this is the BEST espresso martini that will ever grace your taste buds with its presence I am not lying. Y’all I am PICKY with my espresso martini and this little gem, well she hit the SPOT. You know what I mean? Hotel Jardin Del Eden also provides access to a private cabana section right on the beach which was so nice because we had a place to relax and lay without being approached by all of the people selling things on the beach. No shade here but sometimes you just need a break from the local coconut salesman.
After checking into our hotel we immediately went to explore the town! There were a ton of adorable bars right on the beach, I’ll list some of my faves below! We then had dinner at the hotel restaurant (delicious!) and then tried to go find some nightlife but unfortunately due to COVID restrictions everything (and I mean everything) closed at 9. We were definitely a bit disappointed by this but it was most certainly not the end of the world! Knowing the nightlife situation we definitely packed our days full of activities and didn’t miss a thing.
So technically this was our first full day and we spent it on an all day excursion! We were picked up early in the morning at our hotel and then drove for 2 hours to our destination. The first activity was ziplining and it was an absolute thrill. I am scared of heights and so is Chadd so our nerves were high but we had so much fun! This was such a beautiful way to see into the jungles of Costa Rica. You still won’t catch me on a roller coaster or climbing mountains but this was a really fun way to conquer some of my fears as well. Next up was horseback riding, white water rafting and a visit to the natural hot springs where we took a mud bath and washed off in the cool river. White water rafting was so so so much fun and definitely our favorite part of the excursion. The downside of this particular excursion was that we had such a big group that everything took quite some time.. Overall I probably would not do an all day event like this again unless maybe it was closer to where we were staying. I think next time I would try to do just a couple of these excursions separately and more privately. At times being in a big group did feel like herding cattle if you know what I mean. There was always someone offering a horseback ride on the beach for like $35 and I think this is def the better way to do it so you aren’t crowded next to everyone and their mom on a horse. As far as the other parts of the excursion the tour companies are very easy to find so we probably did not need to go so far out of our way but, I’ll be honest, I absolutely insisted this was booked in advance – my b.
My BIRTHDAY! We started the day with a nice breakfast at the hotel and then got picked up by 506 transfers to go on a private ATV tour through some of the back roads of Tamarindo. Our tour took us to three private beaches that were just stunning! The ATV tour was by far the best tour that we took while on our trip, I mean I definitely thought my thumb was going to fall off from holding the gas down for so long and I may or may not have caused a minor ATV accident but all that aside this was something I 10/10 would recommend and would love to do again. Tamarindo was a pretty touristy town so it was really nice to take a little dive through the backroads and see more of what the country is really like. I really could not recommend this little company enough. They were so sweet to us and gave us beer after the tour while we waited for our shuttle to pick us up. Ask for Daniel if you do the ATV tour with 506 transfers, he was the best! For dinner, I was dying to go to Pangas, a local restaurant that was very highly recommended to us as the best restaurant in town! They have their own boat and do their own fishing so this fish is quite literally the FRESHEST catch. We weren’t able to make reservations here for dinner so we went for lunch after our tour and were not disappointed! Hands down the best ceviche I have ever had.. They served their ceviche with these thin crispy plantain chips that were just lightly salted and omg I’m hungry just thinking about it. For dinner, we popped into a little beachside Italian restaurant called People, and let me tell you all the food here just did not miss. The pasta was so freaking good. Like who would have guessed that Costa Rica would have amazing Italian? Not this girl. The sunset at People was gorg and the monkeys were so cute playing in the trees, the whole thing was v v dreamy and pretty much the most picture-perfect way to spend my 25th birthday.
Day 4 & 5
Chill day. We spent our day lounging around, laying on day beds, walking the beach, and just living Pura Vida style. You know? Exactly how you should spend your time in Costa Rica. We bought some bowls as souvenirs from a guy on the beach and I popped into a local shop to buy a new bikini which I changed into immediately, obviously. We spent our last day in CR on a booze cruise because you know naturally we wanted to be hungover for our day of travel. Isn’t that just a vacation tradition anyway? Being on a boat never disappoints and seeing the sunset from a boat just hits different. It was the perfect way to draw our trip to a close!
As promised, here are some of my favorite bars and restaurants that we went to on our trip! El Be! – This bar was right on the beach so the views were amazing and the drink specials made the whole situation even better! This is the perfect spot to grab a tequila sunrise and kick back to watch the waves. Nogui’s – Apparently this is the first-ever bar in Tamarindo! They used to receive shipments of ice on Thursdays which would keep the beer cold until Saturday. On Sunday the surfers that were camped out in the area to catch some waves would just drink warm beer. This bar has grown with the town and now serves breakfast lunch and dinner – not to mention cold beer every day of the week! Sharkey’s – This bar is filled with TVs so if you need to catch a game this is where to go! I imagine that if the nightlife was popin’ during our trip this would have been a total hot spot! El Mercadito – The cutest outdoor fool hall with tons of options! Vegan/vegetarian friendly and a great place to stop by for a quick beer or 6. When we stopped here for a drink there was a DJ and tons of stray cats so you know I felt right at home. Pangas – A little further walk from town but very much worth it. This restaurant is where we had lunch on my birthday and they were v v highly recommended to us by the locals. The restaurant has its own boat so the fish and seafood is top tier! People – We had dinner here for my birthday and it was so freaking good! Like the pasta was easily was some of the best pasta I’ve ever had? Idk how to explain it and maybe it was just soaked in butter but it was to die for. The espresso martinis here were also v v good. (not as good as at the hotel but still v good) During dinner, we also got to see a pack of monkey friends playing in the trees as the sunset, how dreamy is that? Crazy Monkey – We didn’t actually go here but we were recommended to try it. This definitely seems like a club and is at the top of an overgrown stairway so we didn’t even try, but I think if the nightlife was happening it would be super fun here! Anyway, I highly recommend this trip to anyone that wants to explore but also have a lazy leisurely day at the beach! We went in June and the weather was amazing but we were told it was the beginning of the rainy season and that December/ January is a beautiful time to come since that is when their summer begins. I would love to know your experience if you’ve traveled to CR and me a dm! I hope this post was helpful & happy travels!