Updated: Jun 2, 2018
Our first stop in Costa Rica was Tamarindo. When I lived in Costa Rica, about ten years ago, I remembered Tamarindo as a sleepy surf town. When we drove into town, I realized how much the town had changed. It's now a complete tourist destination, with prices to match! However, the beaches are as pristine as I remembered, and uncrowded during our "off season" visit.
Our Airbnb was a cozy and bright little unit a block from the beach, perfect! We also had a great little super mercado at the bottom of our dirt road, it's pictured above. On our first evening in town, we dressed up for a sushi dinner at Bamboo Sushi Club, which was set in a pretty in a little zen garden.
Our days in Tamarindo were filled with visits to the beach, including a couple of days at the Langousta Beach Club. The club offered a fun menu, private beach chairs, and a beautiful pool. Fortunately, because of the low season, the staff waived the cost of day passes for us! We stayed until sunset to snap some amazing pictures.
My favorite day in Tamarindo was spontaneous when Benjamin and I decided to walk north on Tamarindo's beach. After a couple of miles, we came to the end of the beach, but could see another in the distance. Luckily, a Tico man offered us a ride across the channel for $1, and we took it! He took us to a private beach, and we walked for hours without seeing another person. By the end of our 8 mile walk, we ran into a family that was staying next door to us! Benjamin loved playing in the ocean with their young daughter, and I enjoyed a taco from a surf shack on the beach. It was a perfect day.
I think there are going to be many points of self reflection during our travels, and this day alone on the beach was the first of mine. There are few times in your life when you are truly alone in a luxurious spot, and this moment just filled me with gratitude for all of the up and downs Benjamin and I have been through in his short life. I realized that all of that hard work and those obstacles had brought us to this perfect moment on the beach.
Another evening out we enjoyed steak at Patagonia, an Argentine steakhouse in Tamarindo. While we were at dinner, Benjamin met a boy just a few years older than him who was folding palm leaves for change. He didn't have shoes. Every night that we could find him in town, we gave him food. He thanked us wholeheartedly.
The bugs in Tamarindo were plentiful. Benjamin got a great shot of a spider we took a few showers with, and a beautiful beetle.
Tamarindo was also the location of my first attempt to paint en plein air. I took a brief watercolor class before this trip in hopes of capturing our locations in a different light. I snapped this picture of Benjamin sketching in front of the surf shop I painted.
After picking up our rental car from the Tamarindo airport, we drove for four hours to the Arenal Volcano area. We originally booked a week at an Airbnb with twelve hot springs and tree houses.
As much as we loved the hot springs at this location, they did not have WIFI as advertised. No homework for Benjamin? I don't think so! So we stayed one night with all of the ants in the rainforest, and moved on to a last minute booking at Arenal Springs & Resort. The drive to our new hotel was so beautiful - full of road side fruit stands and weathered bridges like this one.
We transitioned from very rustic to very elegant, and I have to say, Benjamin was in his element when greeted with a cool towel and fruit juice in the lobby.
The view from our casita was absolutely stunning. Here is a picture I snapped of the Arenal Volcano from our lanai. The painting of the volcano I made is just below the photo.
Our resort had beautiful amenities such as pools, hot springs, a spa, and complimentary yoga. Benjamin had a chocolate massage for kids in the spa and we both enjoyed the yoga!
Our first excursion in the rainforest included a 3.5 mile hike with hanging bridges. We walked through group of howler monkeys (that sound more like gorillas) and even saw large black birds the size of turkeys. The trek was so quiet, we enjoyed the amazing views and waterfall all to ourselves!
We decided on a more active journey for our next excursion. Benjamin selected kayaking in Lake Arenal and it was such an experience. Since it was low season, we had two private guides, and they loved the camera! We kayaked for about five miles, and even took a dip in the lake. We also saw a few white heron, they are majestic birds!
Our last outing of this part of our trip was to Proyecto Ayes. This organization rescues animals that have been taken from the rainforest and kept in homes as personal pets. This set of macaw parrots were chained down at a hotel, and they both broke their wings, never to fly again. Luckily, macaws, mate for life, and these two are a couple! Did yo know they live to be 80-100 years old? Although they try to repair the damage, many of these animals will never be released to the wild. We loved holding hands with Jessica, a monkey who loves people!
Costa Rica was a beautiful way to begin our adventure around the world. Memories we will never forget. Pure Vida!