I recently visited Costa Rica for the second time; our first trip was so amazing that three years later, we made the not-too-far journey back to “the rich coast.”
A grotto in Manuel Antonio National Park
What do I love about Costa Rica? Oh not too much, just the biodiversity of plants and animals; the abundance of wildlife and the towering rainforest jungles; the misty volcano peaks, the warm and ferocious seas, the fresh fruit begging to be plucked and savored from any number of trees...
Scenes from the Uvita farmers market
It’s a wonderful place, full of happy citizens and an appreciation and reverence of nature we simply don’t see in the States. It’s the closest thing that I’ve seen, in real life, to the world of The Lorax (which btw, was where I wanted to live when I grew up).
A vibrant residence in the mountainous highlands
It was to my great delight that I learned, from a welcome pamphlet in the airport Hampton Inn, that Costa Rica abolished their military in 1948. I’m into peace, and I believe peace is a choice, and that’s the choice Costa Rica made after a grueling & vicious civil war that took many lives.
With the need for military spending evaporated, Costa Rica invested in medicine & education; the life expectancy for Costa Rica residents increased and the country has a literacy rate of 96%. Furthermore, they’ve relegated funds to protecting the biodiversity of their country; maintaining national parks & biological reserves, developing hydro and wind power infrastructure and enacting laws making it illegal to develop on old growth rainforest.
La Catarata Fortuna (Fortuna Waterfall)
As an outsider (tourist), all I see are the beautiful things - the landscapes teeming with wildlife, the tiny buildings nestled in lush tropical forests, a coastline so pure & uninhabited you’d think you’re on another planet. I may be looking through rose colored lenses, but for weary eyes, I'm fine with it.
I’m very excited by, and proud of, the environmental work we do at cinder + salt. I LOVE hosting beach and street clean-ups because connecting with volunteers who also want a cleaner, greener community makes my heart explode.
I love collecting un-recyclable clean waste and turning into art, and seeing all the neighborhood kids come in a gaze at our world map in amazement.
I love having a zero-waste print shop and finding ways to turn our “waste” into educational and inspirational displays in the store; it’s a constant, yet rewarding, challenge.
I'm obsessed with ginormous leaves
I feel really good about what we do, but it can often feel like a huge drain. Why is there so much trash everywhere; why do we have to live like this?
Scenes from downtown Uvita
I feel so grateful to visit countries like Costa Rica, whose government is on the green-track, and who really seems to be putting their very best foot forward. I asked the same question to every local we met, “Do you like living in Costa Rica?” And every single person responded with “I LOVE Costa Rica!” They would all trail on about the beautiful land, whether they preferred the uninterrupted beaches or the misty rainforests of the highlands. They loved picking fruit from the trees and looking for sloths. They loved their families and their homes. They all noted that they had truly happy lives. #puravida
Suspended bridges at Mistico Park (my favorite excursion!)
If you need an escape from the industrialized, single-use society Americans call home, I highly recommend Costa Rica for a trip back in time and a re-centering with the natural world. At first you might be alarmed by the dirt roads, the lack of tall buildings and not being able to flush toilet paper (which definitely took some getting used to for me). But eventually you’ll come to realize that the country does have solid infrastructure; cell service is widely available, everyone enjoys (hydro and wind powered) electricity, the main thoroughfares are paved and most places have decent enough plumbing.
I like to call them "jungle ropes"
Plus, it’s basically impossible to go hungry because it’s legal (nay, encouraged) to just eat any of the fruit growing on the trees! On a stroll down a village road with one of our tour guides, he plucked us some mangoes for a snack, after showing us starfruit, cashew and almond trees. I asked who’s trees they were and he said, “Everyone’s. You can just eat the fruits; anyone can eat them.”
Kayak views of the Puntarenas coastline & fishing villages
Some of our other travel tips for Costa Rica :
- Bring bug spray! There were almost no bugs during the entirety of both of our trips but on the day we went kayaking in mangroves we were swarmed with gnats. They were in my nose, ears, mouth and eyes; we had to bail, it was unbearable. If you’re exploring mangroves, you need bugspray. Also closed toed shoes for hiking - the ants will eat you and it will suck.
- Renting a car (must get 4 wheel drive) allows you freedom to explore, which we recommend, but plan for an extra $800+ insurance deposit with your rental car. On top of the normal insurance you have, Costa Rica requires a deposit in the event that someone else trashes your vehicle; on our first trip, that deposit depleted our spending money budget. #learningexperience
- Fly in & out on weekdays, or at least limit major travel to M-F. In CR they will change the direction of the highways so that more people can get to the beaches faster, meaning, if you’re trying to get from San Jose to any coastline after 2pm (when everyone else is driving home from the beach), you need to take mountain roads… which take twice as long.
- EXPLORE! Costa Rica has so much to offer that you’re doing yourself a huge disservice by staying in one place for too long. Spend 2-3 nights each in different towns and then move on. Some of our best memories were on the road, seeing things we could never have imagined.
- If you're not already eating a fiber rich diet - heaps of fruits & veggies, whole grains & beans - maybe get into the pattern of doing so a few weeks before your trip. You want to be able to savor all the deliciously organic flavors of the local produce without having belly issues later on, and trust me, rice, beans and plantains are staples in every meal.
Bananas, ripening at a residence
I remember thinking at one point while I was there that I hadn’t had a craving for anything. We spent all our time in the sun; hiking, surfing, exploring… and I never felt hungry or bored or in need of anything else. At home I’m always like, “I need coffee” “I need a piece of candy” “I need a drink!” - I “need” something every hour of every day. I would look around, standing on a small dirt road with toucan songs overhead and the distant sound of waves crashing, and think, the only thing I need is to be present.
Sunset views from our villa at Vista Celestial