Five Days of Pura Vida in Costa Rica

posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2015 at 10:21:05 AM

Experience pura vida or "pure life" during your five-day in Costa Rican vacation. Tour rainforests, go ziplining and experience exotic beauty.

Day One: You arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose early in the afternoon, make your way through customs and are soon headed to the beautiful Costa Rica Marriott San Jose, named one of Central America’s top hotels by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine. The hotel is actually a colonial hacienda set within a 30-acre coffee plantation, and features plenty of space, world-renowned service and a very relaxing ambiance. You settle into your room, spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the pool area, and admire the stunning views. Then it’s off to dinner at La Isabela, which specializes in Peruvian cuisine. You work your way through a feast that includes mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp and more, and later drift off to sleep with a smile on your face. You’re on vacation.

Day Two: This morning you’re excited to try something completely new: river rafting on the Balsa River. You’re picked up at the hotel, travel through the Costa Rican countryside and eventually arrive at the river, where you change clothes, receive a briefing from your guide, and paddle down more than six miles (10 kilometers) of exhilarating river rapids, complete with names like "Congo Loco" and "Rock around the Croc." As you descend down the river, you admire the region’s lush greenery, vines, and different insects, birds and animals, including Costa Rica’s famous monkeys and sloths. At the halfway mark, you take a break and enjoy fresh tropical fruit while you relax a bit. And after lunch at a local restaurant, it’s back to the hotel for yet another nice evening.

Day Three: Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano National Park is definitely one of the country’s most popular places to visit, so you’re taking a full day to explore the park and its surrounding area. You make a short stop in the artisan town of Sarchi for a little shopping, then reach the park and experience the volcano from a safe viewing area. Since a major eruption in 1968, this stratovolcano has been one of the most active in Costa Rica, with mild and nearly continuous activity from the conical crater. After lunch at La Perla Restaurant, you spend your afternoon soaking in the region's rejuvenating thermal baths and mineral pools at Baldi Hot Springs, and later enjoy a gourmet dinner under the stars at the hot spring. As the locals say, Pura Vida (Pure Life)!

Day Four: You’ve decided your visit to Costa Rica will not be truly complete without a trip out to the country’s Central Pacific Coast. So this morning you head to Puntarenas, then board a boat bound for Tortuga Island, located on the Gulf of Nicoya. The island boasts pristine beaches and warm waters, making it a perfect place to swim and snorkel. You explore one of the island’s hiking trails, and even do a little kayaking, then feast on a lunch of salad, grilled chicken, rice, sautéed vegetables and fresh fruits, with musicians supplying some tropical background music. Later in the day, you kick back for a little while before returning to San Jose in the evening. Once back at the hotel you post some pics to Instagram; your friends are bound to be a bit jealous.

Day Five: It’s no big surprise that you wake up a bit sore after three busy days, so you make a quick call and reserve some time this morning at the hotel’s Kuo Spa. After a light breakfast, you walk to the spa and are soon enjoying an extensive massage treatment, starting with a brief stimulation of the Chakras (energy centers of the body), and followed by a variety of different massage techniques, including Swedish, therapeutic and lymphatic drainage that improve circulation and rejuvenate tired muscles. You take a dip in the pool and relax in a lounge chair, and later it’s off to the airport for your flight home. You reflect a bit on the sights you’ve seen and the friendly people you’ve met, and understand why Costa Rica has become the most popular vacation destination in Central America.

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