After Laguna Apoyo we headed down to San Juan del Sur for a week. We were hooked and at our final destination… And we couldn’t stay put, the travel itch had set in and there was no cure. We had to try to get to Panama so we could check off driving all of Central America.
We crossed the border and set our sights on a pay campground in the Nicoya Peninsula. We had ruled out staying in Tamarindo and some of the other more popular areas and drove straight to Samara. Shhhhh. Don’t tell anyone about Samara, it is a great off the radar spot. Immediately entering into Costa Rica, its amazingly beautiful. The other countries we have been through are also beautiful but there is something different about Costa Rica. The country is teaming with wildlife, monkeys, entire flocks of scarlet macaws, and sloths. If you haven’t been to Costa before, it really is magical. It is also the reason for so many monkey pictures that follow! Including monkeys hanging from the electrical lines.
Samara is really the sleepy little sea side town that all the old guide books speak of, yet most have grown packed full of backpackers and bars. There is only one hostel in town and it didn’t seem to be on any regular bus route. People were on the beach everyday but never was it close to populated. Seashells were everywhere and the sand was beautiful. When the tide goes out the beach becomes enormous and you can go for a very very long walk to each side of it. There is surf on good days, right of the beach, and again, there were never more than a few people in the water surfing. This place is as close to undiscovered as it gets in Costa Rica.
The restaurants in the area are very good, be on the look out for specials and happy hours. It is definitely true that every thing costs more in Costa, from beer to groceries and most definitely the restaurants.
We camped at El Coco camping. Pretty expensive for camping in my opinion. They have some bathrooms and showers but we couldn’t use them, they were beyond rustic. The toilets were dark and the owners turned of the electricity in the daytime… I used one with the door open one morning and two men walked by, that was the end of that! The showers were just as dark but poorly drained… One night in this area and you don’t have to be told about the mosquitoes and I’m pretty sure we discovered where they breed. We never used the showers because of the definite 100 bites your bum would get if you did. Other than that, the property was very beautiful. I have a lot more photos but I am saving them for later. We cooked a lot of meals here to offset the cost of being in the country, which was adding up quickly. Here we also were able to repair dings in my board for barely nothing and a beer.
We hit the road south after a few days of beaching in Samara for more beaching in Manuel Antonio. We had people to visit in Quepos. The drive was awesome. I loved the huge palm farms with thick lush palms for miles in rows. I wanted to pick a sandy 2-track and drive through them but resisted. Note the beautifully paved road in the picture above, the main highways in Costa are the best of the best.
Manuel Antonio National Park is breathtaking. We picked a hotel to stay in because we both needed to desperately shower and very much missed having a bathroom at our disposal. The hotel we picked had rooms for only $30 a night, which is a huge bargain for this area but man, you get what you pay for. The owner was pretty rude to her local staff and was super stingy on her coffee. It was clear that we weren’t in our favorite cultural places anymore.
The beach here was amazing and incredible sunsets of course. The sunsets have now become the most important part of our days together, if I hadn’t mentioned that before. It always involves a cold beer and a chair to watch the whole thing go down.
Again, Costa Rica is just flooded with wildlife. So much of the country is protected wilderness. I couldn’t help but take as many pictures as I possibly could. The road between Quepos and Manuel Antonio is full of all sorts of restaurants and fuzzy friends!!! Quickly we realized how much money we were throwing away in Costa and we were only halfway through. There was so much we missed by only hugging the coast. The Caribbean side had so much to offer and yet there was so much more along the Pacific we needed to see if we were going to do Costa Rica any justice. It was time to make a very tough decision. We had to pick between making it all the way to Panama and keep spending a Costa Rican budget and to do it again on the way north, or to head back to Nicaragua to rent a place for a month and really get to know one area. We really had a tough time making the call but we had to return back north. Knowing that Costa Rica deserves about 3 months on its own to fully explore, we didn’t feel like we were missing out, checking Panama off the bucket list will have to be saved for another day.