One week after our wedding, on Saturday, November 19th, we woke up at the early hour of 1 a.m. and left for our honeymoon. We were heading to Dulles Airport for our 4 a.m. flight to COSTA RICA! We were lucky that Kevin’s sister Kara and her fiance Brandon offered to drive us to the airport at such a strange time. When we got there the airport was pretty much empty, except for the people on our flight. We checked our bags (for free – thanks TACA airlines) and went to our gate to wait. We were so excited!
We knew from the start of our wedding planning that we wanted to go to Costa Rica for our honeymoon. I have a lot of friends and family who had traveled there and had nothing but great things to say about the country and the people that live there. We loved how Costa Rica offers many different outdoor activities and had beautiful rain forests, beaches, and wildlife. We had also heard that it was much less touristy than other common honeymoon destinations, like the Bahamas or Cancun. We liked that aspect as well.
One day I was checking my email and I saw one from Living Social Escapes that was featuring a 7-day, 6-night trip to Costa Rica for an unbelievable price. It was for 2 people and included traveling to three different locations in Costa Rica. It started in San Jose, went to the Arenal Volcano for 2 nights, then to Tamarindo Beach for 4 nights, and finally back to San Jose to fly back home. The deal also included breakfast each day and 3 excursions: zip-lining through the jungle, sea kayaking, and a volcano hike. It sounded PERFECT! We booked it immediately for the week of November 19 – 26 (over my Thanksgiving break from school). We also added an extra white-water rafting excursion in the beginning of our trip, which extended it by one more night.
On the plane ready to get out of DC!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a trip I bought through Living Social, but it exceeded all of our expectations. The company we went through was Latin Explore, and their travel agent Eduardo helped us with anything we needed as we prepared for our trip and booked our flights. He also provided us with free transportation to all of our excursions and hotels in very nice shuttle vans and made sure everything was organized for us.
Switching planes in El Salvador
When we arrived in San Jose, our driver took us to our hotel for the night and told us all about his country on the way. He kept apologizing for his English, when it was actually really good. This seemed to be the case with a lot of people in Costa Rica. They knew English much better than we knew Spanish, which was pretty embarrassing since we were in their country. When we arrived at our hotel, he gave us a packet with all of our information and vouchers for hotels, transportation, and excursions and then we were left on our own to explore!
The view of San Jose from our window
The following week was amazing and so much fun. Here are the highlights of our trip – the condensed version (which is actually pretty long… oops!)
Early the next morning we were off to the Pacuare River to go whitewater rafting.
This was my third time whitewater rafting (I went in Australia and New Zealand) and Kevin’s first. We were in a boat with 4 other people that were on the same Living Social trip that we were – another couple who were celebrating their 25th anniversary, and also two girls who were friends since college. And we were all from Northern Virginia! What a coincidence. Our trip was 4 hours long and we went 20 miles total. We went through some seriously scary rapids- I don’t know how I didn’t fall off the boat!
At halfway we stopped for a delicious lunch of fresh fruit and everything we needed to make tortilla wraps. It was all made by our amazing raft guides.
When we got back to the base we enjoyed some Imperial beer, changed out of our wet clothes, and hung out with “Team Virginia” as we called ourselves. Eventually we had to get back on the bus to head to our next destination: the Arenal Volcano.
Unfortunately, the best view we got of the volcano was while we were driving towards it. It was really foggy the entire two days that we were there, so we never got a great view.
We arrived at our hotel, Magic Mountain, later that night. We ate dinner, had some drinks, then went to bed because we had to be up early for our volcano hike!
We were picked up and taken to a park at the base of the volcano. As we walked the trail our guide told us about the history of the volcano and pointed out wildlife.
We arrived at our destination, a field of lava rocks, and it immediately started to POUR! But we were in the rainforest so that’s to be expected 🙂 So we hiked up to the lava in the rain.
Our guide cut our walk short because it was raining pretty hard. We made our way back down and out of the park. On the ride back to the hotel he told us he was going to make a special unscheduled stop. He took us to his local (FREE) hot springs and told us to jump in.
We jumped right in and it was seriously AMAZING! This spontaneous stop was one of my favorite parts of our trip. I couldn’t get over how it was like a completely natural hot-tub. Nature is awesome! I didn’t want to leave!
Eventually we had to get out and head back to the hotel to get ready for our second excursion of the day: Zip-lining!
Our Living Social package included an amazing zip-lining tour. We were able to zip-line from 13 different platforms! One of them was 800 meters (a half mile) long! It was scary at first but the scenery and the feeling of flying through the rainforest was amazing.
Our zip-lining fun ended with a Tarzan swing, where the guides basically pushed you off a ledge and you swung back and forth. They also spun you around when you came back towards the platform. I was feeling a little nauseous by this point (I get motion sickness pretty badly) so I was hoping I wouldn’t get sick!
I felt better once we were back on solid ground, and we went back to the hotel for dinner and sleep. We woke up early the next morning to catch our shuttle to our third destination: Tamarindo Beach!
Can you see how foggy it is?
The roads in Costa Rica are not the best, so after a long and bumpy ride we finally arrived. We were soooo excited to be at the beach! Our resort was called Tamarindo Diria, and it was beautiful. They knew it was our honeymoon, and we walked into a cute surprise on our bed.
We went out to explore the town and the beach and we were in awe of how beautiful everything was. It was truly paradise! We had nothing else to do that day so we got some lunch at a beachfront cafe and relaxed.
Our hotel's bar... where we spent a lot of time 🙂
Later that night we caught the sunset while having drinks at the bar, and it was GORGEOUS!
Notice Kevin's fruity frozen drink and my beer... LOL 🙂
The next morning we had our last excursion: sea kayaking! Our guides met us at our hotel and took us down the beach to the kayaks. They told us that we would be kayaking to an island where we would do some exploring.
You can see the island that we were kayaking to in the distance
We were together in a double kayak with me in the front and Kevin in the back. I have kayaked before, but I was still afraid of tipping over because it felt so unstable, especially in the waves. Once we got past them it was smooth sailing to the island.
The view of the mainland from the island
The island was very rocky and full of huge bleached shells. It was tricky walking around on the slippery rocks and the sharp shells, but we found some awesome things!
The last thing we did while on the island was some snorkeling! We were able to see all kinds of fish and some other creatures, including giant jellyfish. One got me on my arm, but it was all good 🙂
Since kayaking was our last excursion, we were excited that the next 2 and a half days were free for us to do whatever we wanted. We did a lot of eating, drinking, and relaxing. We also were able to run a few times on the beach. One morning I woke up early and couldn’t sleep, so I ran right before sunrise. I almost had a heart attack when I heard the loudest, scariest noise I had ever heard. It sounded like a monster from a horror movie. I quickly realized that it was a howler monkey! I kept running, but every time I heard the noise it surprised me and scared me to death.
Here are a few highlights of our last few days in Costa Rica.
I don't know how these little howler monkeys make such a loud, scary noise!
We don't want to go home!
I wanted to dedicate the last little part of this post to the amazing food we had in Costa Rica. Everything was fresh and DELICIOUS. I basically ate rice, beans, fresh fruit, and avocado at every meal… and I loved it so much. It was extremely easy to eat as a vegetarian too. Our favorite places to eat were the little casitas, which mean small houses in Spanish. They were the places that the locals like to eat where they have authentic typical Costa Rican food. My usual order was Casado Vegetariano (rice, beans, plaintains, salad, and vegetables). So good!
Our favorite place to eat was Passion Fruit in Tamarindo
Typical breakfast - gallo pinto (rice & beans) with fresh fruit juice
Another breakfast - loved the fresh fruit and plaintains!
Sandwich with egg, avocado, and beans
Chips fresh from the frier, guacamole, and yucca fries (my new favorite thing)
Casado Vegetariano for Thanksgiving dinner ... who needs turkey?
Another Casado Vegetariano
Our honeymoon was everything we wanted and more. We loved everything about Costa Rica – the beautiful scenery, the people, the food, the weather, the wildlife, and the endless opportunities we had to explore and be active. It was the perfect honeymoon and I would love to go back some day. We’re already keeping an eye on new Living Social Escapes deals since we had such success. I can’t wait to go on more trips like this one with my husband. He’s the best traveling buddy a girl could ask for 🙂