Costa Rica

My recent travels to Central America led me south to the lush green coastline of Costa Rica, a stretch of paradise with the most breathtakingly beautiful golden sandy beaches, where my boyfriend and I travelled the coast for just over four weeks, not only surfing lots of different breaks, but making memories to last a lifetime, meeting wonderful people and amazing (sometimes scary) creatures, animals and insects along the way. Although people had warned me of the steeper prices, in comparison to the surrounding Central America countries, I was still surprised with the difference in cost of living, which was especially noticeable having come from El Salvadore. It is nothing like Indonesia on that front, but in saying that, I was, however, more than pleasantly surprised at how little Costa Rica was built up, particularly in the less busy regions, where it really felt like we were in our own bubble of paradise, with nothing and no-one to bother us except the howler monkeys, sneaky racoons and having to choose where to surf next or what fruit to get in the next smoothie. For me, it was a perfect mix of laid back atmosphere, great surf and secluded paradise with different types of accommodation and tourist attraction options not too far, not too close to your doorstep..and lets not forget the spectacular views, whether you are sitting on a beach surrounded my palm trees, or driving through mountains and valleys that would take your breath away. It was a small price to pay.


We began our travels in one of the more popular and busier towns of Costa Rica, Tamarindo. Here the beach was amazing and the surf was small but fun.

We took a few days to relax after travelling, catch some waves and check out the beach and some of the local surf shops before planning our trip down the coast of Costa Rica. It was a perfect beach for beginners. At the time I was mesmerised by the amazing beach and scenery, but looking back it doesn't even make my top three favourite regions.

While staying here we also ventured south to Playa Negra, which is a really good solid wave breaking over a reef of sharp rock which I had a nice meeting with on one of the bigger days, the same surf that got cut short by a massive thunder storm which brought strong winds and hours of rain. Still, I reckon it is one of the best spots, if not the best, around that area.

Our next stop was a place called Nosara, which was a three mile stretch of beach, dotted with lots of shifting peaks and fun sections. It was difficult to read at times but got used to it and sort of reminded me of my local beach break at home but on a bigger scale.

However, don't underestimate the power of the waves as there was many boards broken throughout the days we spent there!

 The first place we stayed we had a serious ant infestation in our room that became lively at night. It got so bad we had to move to a nearby room. I've never seen ants so big in my life. The same night the electricity went (a regular occurrence that is expected) and we were introduced to our first experience of Howler monkeys howling outside our room. Not having heard them before, we honestly thought there was a gorilla or bear outside our door, but they are actually just super loud and can be heard form six miles away, so having one outside the room, not knowing what it was, felt twice as scary in the middle of the night with no electricity. Not my finest nights sleep, but we had to laugh when we discovered they were monkeys and saw how cute and non-threatening they actually are! Other than surfing and chilling out, we enjoyed the unique shops and markets the town had to offer, not to mention the few sets we played on the local tennis courts we came across for the craic.
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Local Families collecting Hermit crabs and shells

Playa Santa Teresa

Playa Santa Teresa was my favourite destination of the trip. Mainly because of the astounding ten mile long golden sandy beach at the edge of the jungle, surrounded by all sorts of animals and palm trees, sunrises and sunsets to add to the picturesque scenery.

 I also had some of my most fun and heavier surfs at the shore breaks out front, where the waves are powerful and fast, hollow and board-breaking at times. It was nice thought because it never got too big. This I where I surfed the most in Costa Rica, mornings and evenings being the best.

Surf Check

Playa Santa Teresa
Howler Monkey
Evening Surf
Iguana's everywhere on the beach

 We loved it there so much here at Santa Teresa that we stuck around here the longest. We never wanted to leave. We stayed in a lovely accommodation despite fighting away cockroaches most nights (Soapy water works well). I enjoyed surfing with some local girls too. There are some cool funky bars along the beach that do different promotions such as $40 all you can drink or beach party themes. There is also lovely restaurants dotted along the main road going through Santa Teresa and plenty of surf shops to poke around in and buy more zinc or sunscreen. That's what's so great about this place, there really was something for everyone. I would recommend renting a qaud if you can. It's worth it to check out the natural low tide swimming pools in nearby Playa Hermosa! From here, we also went on a great trip to Tortuga Island which I would highly recommend. It was possibly the nicest beach I have ever seen, where you can snorkel, stand up paddle board, rent a jet ski, meet the local parrots, chill out and have a beer. We were lucky to see an Eagle Ray and a Puffer Fish too. Check out the puffer fish!

Tortuga Island

 Puffer Fish

 Tortuga Island

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Our next stop was a boat journey from the Nicoya Peninsula to the mainland Jaco. This is the main party town in Costa Rica, but the waves, although I heard can be good, are better in the nearby Hermosa, where the waves break on the shore, a bit like Hossegor in France. It doesn't stop tonnes of surfers flocking here to party and surf the Jaco beach, which was only about 1-2 foot when we were there but a local told me it gets good when everywhere else is big. It was really fun to enjoy the small waves for a day or two. 

 Sunset at Jaco
Sunset Surf

We also went on a crocodile tour from here to the nearby Tarcoles River, which was scary as a month before a man went for a swim, while drunk and you should use google to see what happened next, but it was enjoyable and felt safe..enough!(The crocodiles were huge but the boat wasn't so high out of the water!). 

Crazy baot man feeding the croc!

We were also around Jaco area for one of the Costa Rica World Cup games. The entire town went mental when they won, which was fun to experience. We didn't hang around long, as the less busy areas are more attractive.

Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio was a long taxi ride to get to, but was totally worth it. Here, I met up with my brother after two years and we all spent days chilling out and enjoying the surrounding National Park and even did a parasail. 

We also went on a Catamaran Tour which was so much fun. We went out around the National Park Islands and went snorkelling, saw dolphins, jumped off the top of the boat, had a craic on the slides at the back of the boat and of course had an open bar throughout all of this! This was a brilliant day.

 The National Park had a beautiful trail, where we spent the day walking through the jungle (without a tour guide) seeing all sorts of jungle life and amazing beaches. You have to watch out for the racoons if you go for a swim though,as they are quick to rummage at your bags and rip them apart to steal food! 

This was one of my favourite places. The surf here was really good at the end of the beach at a spot called Playitas. I was a bit nervous at first because there are warnings of a crocodile that sometimes ventures out, but there was enough people surfing for me to think 'safety in numbers'. The surf was really small but fun, fast and punchy right handers and a few lefts too. I had so much fun surfing this spot, especially as I knew it was my last surf of the trip because we were leaving to go to back up north to the mountains to Monte Verde for a few days before going home.

Monte Verde
Getting to Monte Verde from Manuel Antonio was one long five hour journey on a bumpy, narrow mountain road, but we were keen to climb a nearby volcano and do the zip-lining at the nearby cloud forest. The volcano didn't happen as there was no trek up it, however, the zip lining was brilliant! It was really nerve wrecking at the beginning but then you get used to a few of the smaller lines, and you get to enjoy the larger superman style zip lines. We did the longest superman zip line in Latin America through the forest and the clouds. The views and the feeling was incredible. However, the Tarzan Swing was the scariest thing ever! They fail to tell you that it is a complete free fall for a few seconds before the slack of the rope kicks in. To say I screamed from the bottom of my lungs is an understatement to say the least. I think my heart may have momentarily stopped. It was totally worth it looking back over the GoPro footage and laughing about it. Definitely recommended, but not for the light hearted! 

After we recovered from this we did some less exhilarating, but interesting tours of snakes, frogs, scorpions, turtles, spiders, butterflies etc. It was a really enjoyable two days.

 The cockroach we had in our room was even bigger than this one! Eughh!
 Weird looking insect

Our adventure finally came to an end. Looking back at when I started in El Salvadore, I know that the experiences I have gained and the memories I have will last a lifetime. I would highly recommend Central America for any keen travellers out there, especially surfers. Nicuragua, which lies between Costa Rica and El Salvadore would also be a great place to travel through as the surf looks amazing there and the cost of living is a lot cheaper. My bro is there at the moment getting lots of barrells! I may venture back to there some day, but for now,back in Ireland....until my next trip! Pura Vida! Thanks for reading :)