Kath Freer and James Kay are now 10 weeks into their year-long honeymoon. They left their jobs in London in the summer and are travelling the world living the romantic dream on a shoestring budget. This is Kath’s second post from Costa Rica. If you want help with your own honeymoon, please see our complete honeymoon planner.
By Kath Freer
A week into our Costa Rica adventures and we’ve fully embraced the Pura Vida. Literally translated as ‘pure life’, this frequently used phrase is an apt description of the outlook of this unique country. With no standing army, acres of virgin rainforest and more bio-diversity than almost anywhere else on the planet, it’s easy to understand why Costa Ricans are so content with their lot and proud of their homeland.
Aside from the friendly people, wonderful wildlife and awesome scenery, Costa Rica just happens to produce some of the world’s finest coffee. In a bid to sample the very best beans, we headed into the hills to the Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn. Overlooking the spectacular Central Valley, the open-air terrace in their restaurant gets my vote as perhaps the best place in the world to enjoy a cafe con leche.
Coffee guru Leo led us through the finca’s organic plantation and explained how the beans are grown, harvested and processed. The tour culminated in a tasting, where James quickly perfected the art of professional coffee slurping through pursed lips. I, on the other hand, remained far too British to drink my beverage so noisily.
Wildlife abounds on the plantation and in the hotel grounds to the point where it is on your doorstep – literally. The next morning we awoke to find a scorpion sleeping on an umbrella left out to dry on the patio. That’ll teach me to check everything before picking it up…
At breakfast we dined on organic fruit from the hotel’s orchards, followed by a typical Costa Rican dish of “Gallo Pinto” (black beans and rice), with sautéed plantains, corn tortillas and scrambled eggs – all washed down, of course, with more freshly brewed coffee. In the evening we returned to the restaurant to feast on grass-fed Filet Mignon encrusted with bacon, and Trout served on a ragú of saffron sweetcorn.
From the Central Valley we travelled west to the stunning Nicoya Peninsula. It takes some effort to reach the small town of Montezuma on the southern tip of the peninsula, but it’s well worth it. This ramshackle collection of cafes, shops, restaurants and hostels is an intriguing hangout for human driftwood from the 60s and 70s – a home for hippy has-beens and surfing dudes. It was the perfect place to recharge our batteries.
After those lazy beach days we headed back to the mainland to Manuel Antonio – Costa Rica’s most popular ecotourism destination – for some wildlife wonders.
Our hotel, Arenas Del Mar was set in 11 acres of prime rainforest and within a monkey swing of the National Park. With its jaw-dropping spot on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast, the hotel also had direct access to two idyllic beaches.
Like a growing number of Costa Rican hotels, Arenas Del Mar is deeply committed to sustainability and has a strong green tourism policy. In the restaurant there’s a focus on local ingredients and after savouring juicy jumbo shrimps and garlic sea bass fillets, we caught one of the eco-friendly golf buggies back to our suite which had an amazing hot tub on the balcony.
In search of more wildlife, we took a guided tour through the national park, during which we spotted iguanas, Jesus Christ lizards, bats, agoutis, sloths, and even had time for a refreshing swim at Playa Manuel Antonio. White-faced capuchin monkeys parade this beach in search of bags to rifle through and we spotted a couple of cheeky fellows with a bag of Wet Wipes snatched from an unsuspecting tourist’s handbag.
I think I’ve been bitten by the wildlife bug.
* Check out our Costa Rica honeymoon recommendations.