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Published: February 19th 2017
Our first stop in Costa Rica was Playa del Coco. We chose it as Liberia, the first town across the border, looked uneventful, and as the beach is only a 30min bus away we'd much rather be there!
We've teamed up with Andy to travel Costa Rica, and Colin and Kristina decided to join us for the beach too, so it's great to have more friends with us.
I didn't realise how touristy Playa del Coco was going to be! As soon as we arrived it reminded me of Playa del Carmen with American sports bars and tourist shops everywhere. I knew Costa Rica would be more touristy, but I wasn't expecting such a drastic change after almost 3 months of not overly touristy destinations.
Another thing that shocked me about Coco was how cold the water was! So far on this trip the Pacific has always been warmer than the Caribbean, but there's definitely a cold current here (at least as cold as the North Sea). Due to the cold current all of the small fish have come in to the bay by the beach, bringing in the predators, leaving the small fish nowhere to go. Walking along the beach
there were hundreds of small fish washed up by the waves, and you could see hundreds more frequently jumping to try to escape being eaten. Apparently this happens every year, but it's not something I've ever seen before. It also made for interesting swimming as I had fish flying at me whilst being hunted from below, and as I got out of the water I scared about 25 fish up the beach, then felt guilty and tried to return them all back to the ocean!
On our second day we walked 45mins around to Ocotal beach, which is a prettier beach. Even at 9am this was a very hot walk, so I was glad to be able to jump in to the ocean for a swim when we got there! We did try to hitchhike but it seems that it's not a done thing in Costa Rica, unlike many other Central American countries.
The next day we headed back inland to La Fortuna, at the base of Arenal Volcano. Colin and Kristina headed there the day before, so they managed to give us all the bus timings and find us the cheapest hostel to stay in which was good! Our
hostel even ran a free shuttle in the evening to the 'hot springs' on the edge of the town - which are more like a nice warm river with pools to sit and relax in. There are a lot of hotels along here charging $30-100 for enjoying the same river!
In another river just out of town there is a beautiful spot to swim with a rope swing. Free activities are few and far between in Costa Rica, so we have to make the most of them when we see them! When we got to the river we were the only people there which was lovely, but as the day went on more people started turning up. On the wall home we took a detour to do a little bird watching in a papaya plantation, and saw quite a few birds. No toucans yet though.
The next day we hired a car and headed out to Rio Celeste.
Rio Celeste is a national park around 1.5hrs from la fortuna, and it is beautiful! There is a well laid path which leads to a waterfall, viewpoint and along the river, which is famous as at one point you see two rivers
merging, with the volcanic chemicals leading to it turning bright blue. Unfortunately you are not allowed to swim in the river, but this means no body gets in the way of your photos!
After Rio Celeste we headed back to the hot springs for a couple of hours.
In the evening there was a local festival in town, which I had heard had a rodeo in it, so I definitely wanted to go! For only $2 we headed to the festival, and surely enough there was a ring with a variety of rodeo events in it. It was very entertaining to watch, and a good glimpse in to local life here. A perfect ending to our stay in la fortuna, before heading to Monteverde cloud forest in the morning. At this point we say goodbye to Colin and Kristina, and it's back to the three of us again.
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