Arriving at the San Jose Airport is like arriving at any other travel destination. Well, except for the frequent heavy cloud cover and the sudden onset turbulence, but other than that, normal. Yea right.
As soon as the plane lands in Costa Rica, green surrounds you. Green is to Costa Rica like clear blue waters are to the Caribbean or to Hawaii. Ecotourism is the theme and the way of life that is celebrated all over the country stemming from the blue Caribbean to the Continental divide in the Cloud Forest of Monteverde and down to the surfers riding waves on Playa Hermosa in the Pacific Ocean. Here my journey begins at the top. Buried in mist and tropical plants, hiking through the forest here is a fantastic experience that is overwhelming and refreshing all at once.
Staying at the Hotel Belmar at the edge of the cloud forest I have one of the most beautiful views in all of Costa Rica. From the deck of the lobby, and on a clear day, you can see all the way through the rolling hills and to the Pacific Ocean and the shining blue water. But this is just the beginning.
Traveling down the treacherous road and through more mountains, my next stop is one that should be made with courage, to Volcan Arenal. Staying here for only a night, I lie back in the steaming hot springs and look up to see darkness, a few stars, and lo and behold, lava rocks crashing down from the top of the volcano and rolling down the side of the mountain. Being one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world, this is a must see.
Driving westward, I continue my trip to the Pacific and the setting sun. The beaches in Costa Rica are all different and range from the white sandy beaches in Manuel Antonio to the black sand beaches in Hermosa, they are never alike and always a pleasant surprise. Jaco is my first stop where I immediately rent a surfboard and hop in the water. Jaco is a great beach for beginners but if you like to be challenged it is only a 5 minute drive from Hermosa Beach, the host of the 2009 World Surfing Games. Here there is never a bad break, well, unless you fall of course.
Here in Jaco I unpack my bags for a few days to surf and enjoy the little town that is aplenty with great food and things to do. For a day trip, I drive down to Manuel Antonio National Park and walk through looking up for sloths in the trees and looking out for cheeky monkeys waiting to steal some food. Here the beaches are white and the water is the clear blue color that makes for great snorkeling. And as I lie back and float in the still blue water watching a monkey steal my lipstick, I think to myself, I don’t have to go home, do I?