We were up at 3 am to catch our 6 am flight, but when you’re headed on a big trip it’s not like you sleep much the night before anyways! We had a quick layover in Fort Lauderdale, I finished an entire book on the plane (haven’t done that since before kids!), and were on the road in our rental 4×4 in Costa Rica by 1 pm.
It was a 3 hour ride to Osa where we were staying and a super easy drive. I found the hotel on Groupon but ironically enough it proved to be the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at! As soon as we pulled into the jaw dropping Mediterranean boutique hotel, Kailor (we got to know all the amazing staff at the hotel) came to greet us and take us to the pool to relax with a complimentary cocktail while he parked our car and took our bags to our room.
The Garden Room that we had booked also had an ocean view and an insanely comfy king bed.
After freshening up we headed to hotel bar to enjoy the live music they had that night and that’s when we met Matt and Jill- another young couple staying at the hotel who just happened to be the hotel owners daughter and son in law. They gave us the down low on the hotel and then we were taken to our table where we had one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever tasted- duck with cheese and mushroom risotto. I can’t even describe the explosion of flavor. Juan Pablo the hotel’s chef is super passionate about what he does and makes up all his own recipes using only local, fresh, organic ingredients. My only regret is that we didn’t eat here more during our visit.
Besides the amazing pictures and rave reviews, one of the main reasons I booked this hotel was because it offered a private excursion to Garza Island. Michael came to pick us up at 10 after eating a delicious Guatemalan breakfast. He drove us down to the boat that took us across the river to the island and then we began the short walk though the palm trees. He chopped down a few coconuts for us to drink and set us up with some hammocks before going off to start cooking lunch.
We explored the beach and found a ton of sand dollars and beautiful shells, swam in the insanely warm ocean water, and read in the hammocks while drinking cocktails and snacking on veggies. Later we ate the lunch that Michael made us and then watched him do his art in the sand before taking us back across the river. It’s hard to explain how neat of an experience this was. I’ve always had this dream of being on a private island relaxing with my man and I can now mark it off my bucket list! We felt like the Swiss Family Robinson’s- Clark edition haha.
When we got back to the hotel we found Matt and Jill at the pool and they invited us to dinner with them at the Bamboo Room. We enjoyed the live music and the food but more than that we enjoyed the company and conversation. They were an answer to prayer as we had asked that we make some friends on this trip. We just wish our travel dates had been more aligned!
We didn’t have any concrete plans for the day so we asked Gerard where he recommended and he sent us to a beach with a sea cave. It was a cool place but when we got there it was high tide and because of the strong waves crashing through the cave we couldn’t go in. Our next stop was to this little water fall on the river he had told us about, but it was a bit of a let down. We ended up just wading through the river trying to make the most of our morning.
For lunch we went to this little French bakery and enjoyed a few eclairs. We then headed to Elan which was a private beach we had access to through El Castillo (our hotel). We had the beach all to ourselves and spent the afternoon boogie boarding. It was so much fun! We caught quite a few waves and I was actually not terrible at it! Haha
At Matt and Jill’s recommendation we headed to a nearby hotel called 360 for dinner that they said had the most amazing view they’d ever seen. Did it ever! I wish the pictures could do it justice.
We sadly said goodbye to El Castillo and all the wonderful staff and headed into Uvita to check out the local market. We even ran into our friend Michael who does the sand art and bought a few of his photographs.
Next we headed to the Whale Tale which is this big sand bar that extends out into the shape of a whale tale but sadly after a really long walk to get there we found it covered in water from the high tide.
Since we were starting to get hungry we stopped at a cute restaurant along the main road and grabbed some lunch to go- a quesadilla for Adam and a gluten free margarita pizza for me. Oh and a watermelon and pineapple smoothie, yum! We chowed down on our way up to Nauyaca falls.
Since we didn’t plan ahead we arrived after the final truck ride to the falls and our only option was to make the 4 mile uphill hike on foot. Let me just say I’ve never sweated so much in my life!! It was an insanely long hard hike but look at this waterfall that greeted us at the end…
The water was gloriously cool and we spent about an hour swimming around and just soaking in the majesty of God’s creation. Thankfully the walk back was mostly down hill and seemed to go by much quicker and we even got to see some spider monkeys which were absolutely adorable.
Next on the docket was heading to Quepos to check into our new hotel, Villas Nicolas. It was a little less than an hour drive to our bungalow in the jungle with a fabulous view.
After taking much needed showers we went to dinner at the marina at Z Bar Gastropub. It was a really neat modern place and I had the most delicious ceviche.
After eating a quick breakfast at the hotel we were picked up by ADR adventures. It was time to go zip lining! Turned out we were the only ones that had booked the tour so it was just us and the guides- The Indian, Water Buffalo, and Papparzo (as they affectionately called each other).
This pretty sweet SUV took us way up a mountain to their base camp which was an old school bus (how on earth did they get that up there?) and a bamboo hut. No sooner had we gotten decked out in our harnesses and helmets did it start pouring rain. But did that change things? Of course not, it’s Costa Rica, pura vida! So on we went to the first zip line… which was the tallest and longest one right off the bat, go figure. (I am super afraid of heights but I had decided I would suck it up because of the rave reviews I had read about this tour.) Once the guides literally pushed me off the mountain I was able to enjoy the amazing view as I soared over the canyon. This tour was called the 10 in 1 because there were lots of different activities in one tour. There were quite a few zip lines, a couple rappels, a zip rappel, and a Tarzan swing. Most of them were terrifying but the waterfalls that we were swinging back and forth over were pretty amazing, and being in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle while it rains and you watch the fog move in over the mountains was magical.
After we finished and made the long trek back up the mountain we were rewarded with amazing burritos and sweet tea (these guys know how Texans like their tea).
Back at our hotel it was still raining so we decided to have a chill evening with a couple glasses of wine, some chocolate, and a few good books out on our porch overlooking Manuel Antonio National Park. Later we went to dinner at a cool place called the Falafel Bar… and per usual, passed out early haha.
Usually I am a “travel itinerary” kind of girl but Adam asked to not have every day booked with activities so we didn’t have anything specific planned for our last day. We attempted to do a little shopping (mostly to get a present for Landon because it was all he asked about when we called to talk to him lol) but there really wasn’t much to choose from. Then we attempted to go to the National Park but it was closed on Mondays. We ended up having a guy talk us into doing a mangrove boat tour because he promised we would be able to play with wild monkeys. Before heading out we grabbed lunch at a French cafe called Emilio’s. This was our view.
Once we got on the little boat and had motored around for a while I was about to accept that we had gotten gypped when the guide pulled the boat over next to some mangroves and started making all these crazy sounds. Before we knew it there were monkeys coming out to greet us! He gave us some banana to give them and one in particular was especially brave and even jumped on our heads. The highlight of the tour though was when the monkey climbed on to one of the other passengers shoulders and then peed down his back. The guide tried to play it off like he had just dropped water on the guy so he didn’t freak out… but when he gets home and smells that shirt, he’ll know the truth haha.
Other than the monkeys the day had been kind of a bust so what better way to salvage it than with a couple massages to end the trip off right? (Plus we had some seriously sore muscles after all the hiking) We went to a place called the Raindrop Spa and got a couples massage with a chocolate scrub while listening to the sounds of nature. It was heavenly! (I finally found a masseuse who was on par with my mom’s awesome skills)
Nice and relaxed we made the two and a half hour drive back toward San Jose for our last nights stay near the airport. I had booked us in at a boutique hotel at the last minute and we weren’t sure what to expect, but it was lovely! We spent the evening eating take out, enjoying the hot tub, and playing boggle.
We enjoyed some yummy breakfast tacos on the porch and then headed for the airport.
Traveling home took all day but it was so worth it! We absolutely loved Costa Rica and can’t wait to go back and explore even more. Friendly people, delicious food, amazing views, fun activities, great culture… what more can you ask for?
In our case, two adorable boys to come home to ❤️