I cannot believe it’s been over a month since I’ve been back from Costa Rica. It felt like yesterday that I was just sitting in a beautiful swim up bar overlooking the lush forest staring straight at Arenal Volcano. These moments felt like a piece of paradise. Tom and I decided to take a trip someplace we had not been together, and since he knew I fell in love with adventure activities while solo travelling back in Thailand in 2010, he suggested Costa Rica. We booked a flight into San José and stayed for almost 2 weeks, so I thought I’d share a basic guide to Costa Rica for anyone planning to visit.On our first morning in San José we went to Tom’s favourite coffee beanery and took a drive straight through Cloud Forest – one of Costa Rica’s rainforests. You really are basically driving through clouds because it’s incredibly foggy. You see animals left and right and lose all reception on your cell phone. The drive is beautifully scenic and you immediately feel like you’re away from the madness of the metropolitan city. Nestled between Monteverde Cloud Forest and Arenal Volcano is beautiful, La Fortuna. The plan for this trip was to take advantage of the hot springs. I loved making regular trips to natural hot springs in Japan, so we were so thrilled to be experiencing all that relaxation for days.
The Volcano Lodge and Springs is very laid back. During our stay here we went on a few adventure tours: one was a horseback riding tour to the waterfall and the other was the fastest zipline in Costa Rica, also one of the highest. The views from the zipline were spectacular, and it was definitely the fastest I’d been on. I was breathless each and every time I left the platform flying through the air. Hundreds of feet above the trees with views of the beautiful blue water and volcano are truly unforgettable. Tom had been here years ago and wanted to dine together here, so we took in the view over a nice meal after our adventures.
We spent some days at The Springs Resort which was seen on Bachelor and The Kardashians. The resort is enormous, has various hot springs with varying temperatures and a few swim up bars. The Springs Resort has private villas, its own animal sanctuary with sloths, and the views from the main building were beautiful. I really enjoyed the drinks and food at the swim up bar so much and shared the view and experience over instastories.
During our time in Costa Rica, there were a few things I wish I had known prior to arriving. While you plan for your own trip to this gorgeous South American country, I thought I’d share a few basics that I wish other websites had noted!
Things to Know Before Visiting La Fortuna & Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica
1) If you do not plan on staying at the hotel or resort, rent your own vehicle. It’s not expensive to get to Costa Rica, but it’s not a cheap destination. Cabs get really expensive and Uber doesn’t really exist outside of the large cities.
2) There are some amazing restaurants, but when you look for top restaurants online, they often leave out the hotels and consider them an entirely different category. A great source for amazing food is here, and if you don’t mind having a quiet and delicious dinner, book a dinner at Volcano Lodge and Springs. The food was better here than the top restaurants we found on Tripadvisor in La Fortuna.
3) If you’re on a tighter budget, you will find you can pay for day passes at hot springs. Some are more expensive than others, so if you have a specific hot spring you want to visit, check the cost of a day pass first. On days that we did tours, didn’t think it was worth it as much to splurge on the most luxurious hotel in the area, but on days we spent the entire day at the springs, the splurge made more sense. I have no regrets whatsoever though. The natural springs are so beautiful, especially at both Volcano Lodge and Springs and The Springs Resort.
4) If you go to La Fortuna, one of the most popular areas for adventure tours and volcano springs, the beach will be over 6 hours away. Plan accordingly.
5) Hanging bridges all cost money, and some areas charge per vehicle. Better to go with a group if you travel with friends.
6) You can rent a Go-Pro for your ziplining tours. The one I went on charges $40, but you can also bring your own.
7) Save time to dine at the restaurant where you’ll find the fastest zipline at Sky Adventures. You don’t have to go ziplining to dine here, but both the views at the restaurant, the tram ride up, the views throughout the zipline are all absolutely breathtaking.
8) It will rain on and off all the time in Costa Rica because you are afterall near rainforests. It’s basically humid and rainy season all the time but the rainfall is often short and in spurts.
9) Having stayed in dozens of hostels back in 2009 to 2012, I always find the best tour prices there. You can compare prices around all the tour operators, but we found best prices at a hostel in La Fortuna. There is room for negotiation to most tour operators, especially if you book more than one tour.
If you are looking to book AirBNB for your first time, use the link I have to get $40 off your first booking. And, if you’re planning to uber around for a bit, get a discount on your first ride using this here.
If you have visited or plan to visit this beautiful destination, let me know below. If you have your own tips I’d love to hear! I will eventually go back, and I’m sure the readers here would love them as well. If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment below! I hope you all have some amazing trips planned!