Enchanting Costa Rica — Part Two

Volcano with cloud of steam at top
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

This is the second of two blogs on the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Look at the previous blog for our experience in the rainforest.

In the center of Costa Rica, volcanoes rise up as part of the “ring of fire” on the earth. Our next stop was the Arenal Volcano, one of seven historically active volcanoes in this country. It is located in the center of the Arenal National Park alongside the Arenal Lake Reservoir and a large hydroelectric power station. We stayed at the Magic Mountain Inn, from which we had a great view of the volcano. Our guides told us that the best time for a photo was at 5:45 am when the sun bathed it but before clouds obscured it. Sure enough, we took an excellent picture at that time, and that picture is heading this blog. We did two activities here. Zip line and hot springs. The zip line runs in sections for miles through the forest at canopy height. The view is outstanding and well worth the trip. The hot springs were a welcome respite after several days of sightseeing and activities. We visited Baldi hot springs, one of several establishments in Arenal. Water is heated by the volcano and they have 25 pools of varying temperatures from cool to “ouch.” They even had swim up bars in two of the pools. There is a hotel and spa located here as well. After a relaxing time, we got dressed and had a great supper at Baldi. You can get a day pass, with or without lunch or dinner. There are several other hotel/hot springs/spa complexes in the area. The most famous, Tabacon, is a five star property with 12 pools of varying temperatures, a Grand spa and restaurant.

We left the Arenal area a day earlier than recommended so we missed out on hiking on the slope of the volcano. We had a date with the Pacific Ocean and the Costa Rican beaches. Our ride to the Guanacaste area took about 4 hours through lush countryside up to 240 feet above land. We stayed at the Casa Conde Resort. This is a smaller resort with just 26 units. Our accommodations included a porch, and a view of the swimming pool and the Pacific. Visitors to Costa Rica might be surprised at the beaches They are not raked every day as some are in the US and Caribbean. Rather they are left au natural. This means you will find sandy beaches with driftwood and leaves, etc on the beach. While it may look messier than you usually see at the beach, it is all nature’s debris. You will not see litter, just natural items, as you might find on any isolated beach around the world.
Then to Guanacanaste for two days at casa Conde resort. 26 units. Here you can have a relaxing massage overlooking the pool and beach. We took a catamaran cruise in the pacific and saw an amazing school of dolphins, as well as other species of fish. The end of the day, sunset over the Pacific while on the Catamaran, was just magical.

The best option for an international flight out of Costa Rica when on this itinerary is to fly out of the smaller international airport of Liberia. This is close to the Guanacaste region. Our plane flights required us to drive back to San Jose, which meant almost an all day travel back. The main roads are single lane each way, and if there is an accident, as we encountered on our way back, we had a forty minute delay while that was sorted out. While on the subject of roads, I want to caution you about renting a car in Costa Rica. There are the usual car rental companies (Hertz, Avis, National), but according to Costa Rican law, if you are in an accident, regardless of fault, you cannot leave the country until the accident is legally resolved. Imagine a situation where someone is in the hospital because of an accident where you were driving, and you could not leave until they recovered! This has happened and some unfortunate souls have spent unplanned months in Costa Rica! So arrange all your ground transport to others!

Getting there: The main international airport is San Jose, and the secondary airport is Liberia. Your itinerary will dictate the best airport for you to use. Delta has non stops MSP to Costa Rica at high season. Connecting flights from MSP are offered by Delta, United, Aeromexico, Sun Country, and American.

If you want a unique experience in Costa Rica, call us at 612-332-1100. We’ll put together a vacation you will remember for a lifetime.