Costa Rica, Pura Vida - Travel

Posted on 01. Jun, 2008 by in Lifestyle

words and photos by Ananda Zoë Bosch

Am I the last woman standing who hasn’t been to Costa Rica? My mind has been racing with all that I have heard about the country during the past six years or so. Numerous friends, family, and family of friends have all spoken about this great Central American land with such longing to go back there. The natural beauty that Costa Rica posses is envied and desired by other countries who have lost tourism to Costa Rica’s plentiful bounty and

carefree lifestyle. 

I finally decided to make the journey to Costa Rica with a group of close friends and my travels led me to Playa Junquillal off the North Pacific Coast in the Guanacaste region. Suggestion: Don’t make the same mistake I made asking, in my best Spanglish, “How do I get to Junquillal?” I made the mistake of pronouncing it “jun-queel-lal”. From the Payless car rental man to the lady selling frutas on the side of the road, to the bar keep of one of the many Imperial-themed bars, they all looked at me with a floating question mark hovering above their heads. The problem was that they had absolutely no idea where I needed to go. I had to say it is near San Jose, the capital and largest city in Costa Rica. If I had bothered to find out, the correct pronunciation is “unk-eel-al”, then maybe I would have arrived there sooner rather than later. 

I flew in through one of the two International airports, San Jose International. Flying in through the other, Liberia, would have been more convenient, but was about 200 dollars more expensive. If you are planning on going to the North Pacific, or nearby Liberia, I highly recommend flying through Liberia International. That way you really don’t need to rent a car, you can just take a bus to your location. If you want to rent a car, keep in mind that driving through San Jose will take you about five hours or so, allowing time to get lost and dealing with all the rocky roads. The easiest and most flexible way to travel in Costa Rica is to rent a car. Rent a 4-wheel drive. It will provide you with a much more comfortable ride during the rainy season, from May to December, as well as driving over many roads that are unpaved. There is a ton of construction from new condos and resorts coming to life, as well as the paving of the rocky roads. The good thing about flying through San Jose is that you get to drive over their newest bridge, “La Amistad”. The Puente de la Amistad de Costa Rica-Taiwan (Costa Rica-Taiwan Friendship Bridge) spans the Tempisque River in northern Costa Rica. It’s a hybrid bridge composed of a cable-stayed span and a pillar-supported bridge. 

I stayed at the lovely beach Hotel Iguanazul and I rented a room with an awesome ocean view. That’s what I woke up to every morning! They offered poolside views as well. Mind you their beaches in the North Pacific are pretty much filled with more sand than people which can be a welcome site coming from the hustle and bustle of the “big city”. My friend and her family stayed at the Hotel’s House that is for rent, which includes their own pool, stereo, and is chock full of various amenities. Hotel Iguanizul has exceptional food at totally affordable prices. Breakfast is a must, then comes mid-day treats, i.e. the incomparable Bloody Mary, then maybe a dip in the pool. Ahhh, the good life, or rather the “pura vida”, which means the pure life. That’s pretty much what Costa Rica embodies. 

Tuesday our group including my boyfriend Kevin, my best friend Lisa, her husband, Bryan, and their two kids, Noah and Sarah, headed south from Tamarindo (not too far from Playa Junquillal) which contains several undeveloped beaches: a surfer’s paradise! I boogie-boarded the day away and let the waves crash over my head like a ton of bricks, ouch, but oh, so much fun. Beyond Tamarindo and Playa Langosta are Playa Avellanas and Playa Negra. We went to Playa Avellanas and ate at Lola’s, a casual restaurant and bar right on the beach. Lola is actually a giant pet pig that waddles onto the beach and then wades in the ocean. What a sight, pretty much the last animal I expected, but totally appreciated! I was thrilled to find out that they are vegetarian-friendly (no pork on the menu, gratefully) with local fish and chip favorites on the menu for non veggies as well. 

Wednesday came (sadly my last full day in this paradise) and I could not leave Costa Rica without having a crack at zip-lining, which is what I told everyone back home that I was going to do! So, the pressure was on because if I didn’t zip-line, I’d have to go home with my tail between my legs. The extremely welcoming staff at the Adventure Tours of Hacienda Guachipelin gave me memories for a lifetime. First we went horseback riding. The tour was filled with scenic trails and amazing sights of the native flowers and fauna. Unfortunately I had my head up most of the time, with the hope of seeing my fave rave, the elusive sloth. I find them very sweet mind you, but alas, elusive they must be. Our generous and more than capable tour guide took us to the Oropendola Waterfall: A 25 meter high waterfall with emerald-green water. I was extremely hot from the ride and after the short hike, the waterfall was a breathtaking sight. I was grateful to discover that we could take a dip in the cold, cold water. Thankfully our guide supplied towels after this refreshing break. 

Then came the Canyon Canopy Tour where you can also enjoy more than just zip-lining. Rappelling, rock climbing, canopy, tarzan swings, via ferrata, hanging bridges which are all set in the majestic canyon made by the erosion of the Blanco River Valley for the last few millions of years. I only partook in the zip-
lining as well and the Tarzan swings. When I was getting ready to be fit for my harness, I felt like a Nascar driver with a pit crew, but instead of changing my oil and tires, they put on my harness and helmet in 32 seconds flat! I thought I would be super scared, but the confidence and trust I had in all the guides was unsurpassable. Flying through the air, with the greatest of ease, made me feel like I was in one of those flying dreams, but you are awake. My eyes were fully open and I was taking in the vast beauty that surrounded me. I must have been going 35-40 MPH up hundreds of feet in the air. This is something you HAVE to try, especially at the Guachipelin Tours. The staff is wonderful and congenial. Check out their website for the fullo scoop on what they offer. 

Remember to bring plenty of American dollars: One’s, Fives, and some Tens. You can pretty much pay with American currency or use your credit card, and it’s pretty easy to figure out the exchange rate. It takes about 517 Costa Rican colones to one American dollar. If you see a price tag of about 10,000 Colones, it comes out to just above 20 bucks. I just double the “thousand” and there you go. Let employees know that you wish to pay with American dollars and they’ll do the rest for you, but keep in mind the exchange rate. 

That all being said, leave your troubles behind and make the awesome sunsets a daily ritual as you live the “Pura Vida”!

Here are some helpful websites…. 

For lodging, amazing views, and hospitality go to: 

For Adventure Tours and exciting times go to: 

For Car Rental with friendly and informative staff go to: 

Visit or for up to date information about Costa Rica.

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