Pura Vida Costa Rica, we’re back!
After spending one week in Nicaragua and attending the local celebration in the City of Liberia, we decided to rent a car and discover the pacific coast of Costa Rica – the region Guanacaste. What we had ahead of us? Sun every day and beautiful chilled, surfing beaches and so it was 😉
As our first stop, we chose the small, relaxed village Playa Hermosa and dropped our still heavy luggages at „Iguana Inn cabines“ (really nice place for a good price). Only the owner’s dog called ‚Tornado‘ was a pretty strange creature, you never knew if he wants to be your friend or bite a bit of your leg for dinner. 😉
Playa Hermosa itself is really small, only crossed by the main village street, having a really calm and cool beach with some private spots, some restaurants and hotels. We chilled a lot, I (Jakub) did my every morning running and snorkeling session while Ellen was still dreaming or reading her book. Snorkeling on the Playa Hermosa is great during the high tide on the very right corner of the beach (facing the ocean) and there it happened: snorcheling around the reef, observing tropical fish, when all of a sudden something caught my attention – big shade on my left side – DAMN…all crazy scenarios were running through my head (white shark attack, sting ray?!) when I eventually realized that it is a sea turtle! First, I got scared of her, she got scared of me….after a couple of seconds we luckily both calmed down and exchanged some warm eye contact. 😉 After a while she decided to leave and headed into deeper waters where I couldn‘t see her anymore….byeee my first sea turtle, what a great encounter! 😉
North from playa Hermosa is Playa Panama, with it’s „no wave“ sea and beautiful view and emptyness highly recommended also for chilling and families 😉
The opposit of playa Panama, a few km south of Hermosa you can visit Playa del Coco, seems to be pretty vivid beach and village with nice surf beach and some cool bars/restaurant, most oft hem appeared very American.
Playa Tamarindo – second stop
As soon as we arrived at our next hostel which we booked through Airbnb we were welcomed by our new neighboors, howler monkeys! One just climbed on the electricity cables to steal some mangos from the tree on the opposit side of the street, while a big ass lizzard crossed the side street and took some sun on the heated concrete – that‘s Costa Rica. The second morning at 6am, we realized that there was a whole monkey family living on the tree 3m next to our balcony and had the chance to observe them in their morning disscussion 😉 Oh, and btw: did you know that these kind of monkeys are known for their loud howling, especially in the morning…? Well…. J
The center oft he town is a vivid place with great surfing spots and couple of secret beaches around. Tamarindo also offers lot of activities from Zipplining, Squads renting, Snorcheling, fishing and of course surf courses. Top secret recommendations for this Area is Playa Mina (great for snorcheling and chilling alone, we have spoted big sting ray and sea snake which we were pretty scared of!) and Playa Bahia de los Pirates which both are just North of Tamarindo. To reach these beaches it is recommended to drive with a 4WD, especially during the rainy season. Luckily, we made it safe to the beach with our rented Toyota Yaris 😉
After Tamarindo, we decided to use a coastal road to get to the next towns, after checking google maps we were almost sure that the road Nr. 160 will be a normal concrete road which, suitable also for our not 4WD Toyota.
Don’t always trust google maps – yellow main road doesn‘t always mean that the road is good, there are concrete roads which are not even visible on the maps at first glance 😀
Guess what? The opposit happened, when after a couple of kilometers the concrete road ended and we were again on a bumpy, stony road driving 30km/h avarage 😉 Nevertheless, the coast line reminded us on the beauty of this part of Costa Rica and showed us abandoned beaches such as Playa Pitahaya, Local beach actually with two beaches in one – San Juanillo and many, many others…Continuing on the bumpy road, we finally got to the last 5km of our way to Sámara, already a little bit exhausted from the road and looking forrward to arrive. And the „unexpected“ happened: we arrived at the point where no further driving was possible for us – a river crossed the road due to the rainy season, there was no bridge, the water 1m high and our Toyota Yaris faced a huge challenge 😀 😀 Luckily, in the very moment when Ellen almost started crying, a huge 4WD truck passed the river from the other side, stopped next to us, the driver let down his window looking down on us and saying „Guys…nope…no crossing with your Toyota.“ J As exhausted as we were, we had to turn and drive back a couple of kilometers to ask locals for another way, which did exist! Our lesson learned: always always always ask locals for the best road as they know best what is possible and maybe impossible. J
Finally in Playa Samara, we found a beautiful place to stay, since we hadn’t booked anything in advance. Marlene from Phoenix, Arizona owns a wonderful B&B called La Mansion, right on the second street from the beach. Together with her husband they run the hotel – we guess she must be around 78 years old, but she was welcoming us so sweetly that we felt at home. We really enjoyed our stay here, especially Marlene‘s hospitality, relaxing atmosphere and her awesome breakfest, which gave us enough power to discovered the surrounding and Playa Samara for a couple of days.
Playa Ostional – Olive ridley sea turtle ‚Arribada‘
At the end of our stay in Sámara, we decided to book a tour for early morning to playa Ostional. Our goal was to watch the ‚Arribada‘, the mass arriving of turtles at the beach to lie their eggs. Excited we got up at 03:30am, ready for our pickup at 04:00am.
As we arrived at Playa Ostional at around 05:30am, we realized that we we were a little bit naiv thinking we’d be only a few people on the beach in these morning hours…absolutely not! It wasn’t a secret spot, only our group and turtles on the beach, it was a mass tourist event with many buses and cars in the small village road and people everywhere. The beach was already colored with day light and we realized that the beach is full of tourists. We could only enter the beach with local guides, so we expected a good educational explanation….no explanations, no education. Actually, we ran on the beach and felt like we disturb the turtles by lying their eggs, along with at least 120 other people there. WHAT? Too many people around these turtles, taking picture at close distance, sometimes even disturbing them from finding their way back to the water…WHERE ARE THE GUIDES TO SAY SOMETHING? Oh sure, they took pictures by themselves…
But the worst part happened right after the turtles lay their eggs. We were wondering what all these other people do on the beach, who sat there digging out the eggs the turtle just lay and putting them in big white bags. First thought? Oh, so nice of them, they put the eggs in a hatchery and take care of them. SO wrong. The local village citizens are allowed to collect the first eggs from the turtles and sell them for consumption. Yes, they sell the eggs and eat them. We were shocked. As we asked our driver (who served as a guide), he explained that the first eggs layed by turtles would be destroyed by the next turtles, because they dig new holes. So they have a legal license to dig them out and sell or eat the eggs! To us, that was something we just couldn’t get over with. We’re no biologist or experts on turtle nesting, but there is really no other way to safe those eggs (hatcheries)? How do they even control how many eggs are being collected and when?? And yes, it is also a cultural thing – these people have been eaten these eggs probably ever since, which one has to respect. But for our European way of thinking it was terrible. We learn at school and everywhere that these vulnerable animals need to be protected and are threatened by extinction.
To us, there was no respect in treatment of these wonderful animals doing their most important thing in life, and we watched this from distance, not able to express what we felt in that moment…
Definitely time to move! 😉 next stop Monteverde