Published: January 12th 2009January 1st 2009
First stop in Costa Rica, Playa del Coco in Guanacaste for a 3 days diving & fiesta adventure Costa Rican style!
Actually the fun started when I took my first Sansa flight (local 10 passengers’ plane) from San Jose to Liberia! The bird view of the inland with his volcanoes, rain forest and mountains was absolutely breathtaking, and so were the frequent “drop” as our tiny plane encounters colder air…a nice yoyo exercise to start this trip & add some adrenaline to it!
Was greeted on arrival by Leigh the owner of the bed and breakfast I was staying at in Coco, with who I would have lovely conversations during my entire stay. She made me feel at home the moment we headed to Coco, telling me more about the area and Coco and sharing with me everyday life anecdotes.
Feels like New Year Eve!
Indeed, was truly enthusiastic and the moment I had dropped my bags and booked my diving for the next day, I was heading to town… We were on December 29th and it already felt like New Year Eve!
SUV/ Pick up trucks were lined up along the main street, loaded with
School of fish, fascinating!
Punta Argentina, Playa del Coco
Imperial, the costa Rican flagship beer & with a full sound system on the back. Local would then seat on the back, drink, dance, chat with friends standing on the SUV next door, & most importantly showcase their own music selection from Salsa & Meringue to Electro House music. The first night, I really felt like an immense tuning competition was taking place in Coco!
Add to this a few podiums that had been built for the occasion along the street on which dancers would perform and more music and you got a feel of Playa del Coco around that time of the year!
Costa Rican (ticos) are extremely friendly & within the hour while I was enjoying my first ceviche (yami!) I had already met a few people with who I would be having fun the following nights & on New Year Eve.
Diving, bubble time!!
Playa del Coco is the most renowned place for diving in Guanacaste
& indeed it offers both local dives and dives to the renowned Catalina island.
Hard to resist…so indeed, didn’t see much of the beach during the day time, keeping that part for the sunset only!
Here are the two main dive areas I explored during my stay in Coco Argentina Point
One of the most visited local dive spots and an interesting one to start.
The entire area is covered with volcanic rock formations
& most of the dives take place around a main pinnacle or along a drop off.
Guess that the rays are to punta argentina what the turtles were to Borneo, literally everywhere!
From southern sting ray to eagle ray, I stopped counting after the 15th I saw during the first dive!
Moray eels are as well disseminated around the area and it is sometime hard to know whether to look up or down…Great first encounter as well with Jewel Moray Eel & Snowflake Moray Eel! Catalina Island
Went for those two dives with Rich Coast Diving
(and wish I had done the one on the previous day with them too…). Martin & Brenda, fellow travelbloggers, got a great dive shop & spirits were high for this day trip to Catalina! A 30mn speed boat (we got lucky…) or an hour and half normal boat from Playa del Coco, Catalina Island is a rocky outcrop in the middle of the
While having a coffee break...
On the way to La Fortuna from Playa del Coco
And well…can only recommend it! Those two dives were absolutely stunning! Within a few minutes, we were to see a beautiful turtle resting at the bottom, and then swimming along us for a good 15 mn, We were then surrounded by school of fish, playing with the current, sea stars were absolutely everywhere you looked & so were green moray eels, camouflage eels & more jewel eel. The abundance of schooling tropical fish made the first dive incredible
& the tiny goby at the end as we were doing our safety stop added the icing on the cake!
The second dive was as stunning as the first one with a lot of ray including sting ray, camouflage ray and eagle ray
. We were at some stage surrounded by a school of more than 20 at a time swimming around, simply magical!
No manta ray unfortunately, but no one seem to really care as both dives had been amazing!
The ride back on the speed boat is one to remember, this is the Pacific Ocean and renowned area for surfing…Bumpy ride!
New Year Eve: lots of laughs and fun! And a really short night…
Third night of celebration indeed although the first two I took it easy as I would wake up really early every morning to go diving, so when the actual 31st came around with no diving the next day, I was truly ready to enjoy it 400%!
The New Year Eve started with an early evening walk on the beach
where a lot of ticos had set up camp fire and were already celebrating with their family and friends.
Lots of locals would have bought as well their own fireworks and somehow I felt like a “softer” version of the Chinese New Year was starting to take place.
The first part of the celebration took place at Brenda and Martin home along the beach
. Shortly, their terrace was filled with friends, divers and staff of their dive center. It was truly a great melting pot & conversations were fun and interesting. At midnight as the fireworks were launched from the beach, it is with the sound of champagne that we all started this New Year! Cheers!
The second part of the New Year Eve was spent in town with the thousands of people dancing and celebrating.
joined a few ticos friends I had met on my first day and kept celebrating! Was really fun & I guess that by 2 am I was absolutely fluent in Spanish!
The town in itself was entirely packed with people (think Basque county celebrations in August…quite similar) & the experience simply unforgettable! Pura Vida!
Short stopover in La Fortuna Arenal
Headed to Arenal La Fortuna the next morning by the 8:40AM bus, a pleasant drive throughout the country side, its rain forest and up to the volcanoes area, perfect to recover from the previous night! La Fortuna town in itself didn’t make the best impression
. Might have been the rain or the fact that the town has literally been taken over by the tourists (basically you got a travel agent/ internet café/ local fast food/ souvenir store every 15 meters..), but I was glad after having negotiated my way to get my bus ticket for the next morning although everything was full (…) to escape it all and head to a nice and quiet eco lodge located at 45mn on foot from the waterfalls.
Dropt the bags, and immediately left for the 3 hours trek to admire the falls
& hope for a glimpse of the volcano. Great timing indeed, as by then, most tourists were on their way out and by the time I reach the protected area…well, we were 3 persons on the entire site! Couldn’t have been better!
Early night & departure the next morning at 4am for Turrialba, an action packed stay and one of the part of the trip I was truly looking forward to!
More to come in the next blog :-) Wish you all a fantastic year 2009! Xin Nian Kuai Le & Pura Vida! Life is great indeed!
There are more photos below