Costa Rica is well-known for being a great location for adventure travel, so I couldn’t wait to get there and test my thrill-seeking side! Spoiler alert: I’m not as brave as I thought I was. There are so many cool places to visit in Costa Rica, but on this trip there was only time to visit two: Monteverde and Tamarindo. Originally we planned to stay in San Jose for a day or two and explore the city, but instead opted to leave on an early bus to Monteverde.
Monteverde is a cute little town that is also home to a cloud forest, which is a type of rain forest where clouds fill the forest because of their high elevation. There are so many things to do in Monteverde, like ziplining, exploring the cloud forest, and taking tours of coffee farms.
The Climbing Tree
There’s a ficus tree hidden within the forest of Monteverde that’s perfect for climbing. We thought it was a good idea to walk to the tree. It wasn’t. It was a very hilly walk that seemed like it was never going to end. We finally got to the tree, but I decided not to climb it because I didn’t want to die.
The tree naturally creates “steps” that make it easy to climb. The ficus tree wraps itself around a host tree and “strangles” the host tree. The host tree will eventually die and decompose, leaving a hollowed out ficus tree that’s branches are perfect for climbing.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
This park features several well-marked trails that you can navigate on your own, or take a guided tour. I went on a trail that took around 2 hours to complete and it also had a hanging bridge and a waterfall. The trail was smooth sailing for the most part, but there are parts of it where you’re going uphill and it is not fun. You’ll get amazing views of the forest and might get to see some interesting creatures along the way!
Selvatura is basically like the Monteverde Reserve, but at a slightly lower elevation. While there are plenty of activities to do in Selvatura, we only went on the hanging bridge trail and saw the hummingbird garden. The trail consists of eight suspension bridges, like the one pictured above. Did I mention it was storming the whole time we were on this trail?
Coffee/Chocolate/Sugar Cane Tour
Monteverde has several farms where you can learn about the process of how coffee is made. We found one that also shows you how chocolate and sugar cane are made! We went to Don Juan Coffee Farm, and we were the only ones on the tour, so we basically had our own private tour! Our guide, Alex, was so knowledgeable and even kept his eyes open hoping to find a sloth for us to see! We never saw one, but we did get to taste test some chocolate and lemonade at the end of the tour!
Sadly, I don’t have any photos from ziplining because you aren’t allowed to bring a camera unless it’s a GoPro that can attach to your helmet. We went with a company called 100% Aventura and I would highly recommend it if you’re a thrill seeker. You start out with small zip lines, then work your way up to the long ones. The longest one is called the Superman because you lay on your stomach and put your arms out like you’re flying, and it’s over a mile long and is the longest zip line in Latin America! It was incredible but also terrifying.
When you’re finished with the course, you have the option to do the Tarzan swing. From what I understand, it’s similar to bungee jumping but you swing back and forth. I walked right past the trail to go to it and headed toward the exit because that thing looked like a whole lot of nope.
Tamarindo is a popular beach town located on the Pacific coast. It’s not easy to take public transportation from Monteverde to Tamarindo, so we took a private shuttle from our hostel. Relaxing on the beach for a few days was exactly what we needed after a few action packed days in Monteverde, so that’s exactly what we did most of the time: lay on the beach.
We took surf lessons through Point Break Surf, which was conveniently located right next to our hostel. The instructors were fantastic, and although I never was able to stand up, I had a blast attempting to surf! Hopefully I can take lessons again some other time and will be able to surf correctly!
Sadly, we only had eight days in Costa Rica and it was not nearly enough. There is still SO much more to see, so I can’t wait to go back someday and explore more of this beautiful country! Pura vida!