Costa Rica ~ March 2023

To say I fell in love with Costa Rica, would be a giant understatement!  This country is exquisitely beautiful with such bio diversity that you could stay for a year and not run out of things to do and see.  If you are just going there to relax, you won’t be disappointed by the beautiful beaches, amazing scenery and warm hospitality.  My husband and I took our daughter Izzy for her spring break.  We decided on the southern Pacific side, near the Uvita / Ojochal area.  We picked this area because it is far less commercial, with pristine waterfalls, beaches and jungle but still has modern services and some of the most unique restaurants in all of Costa Rica.


Getting to the Providence of Puntarenas/Uvita was a beautiful drive from San Juan.  We took a direct flight on American from Dallas to San Juan, arriving late at night.  It was a quick shuttle ride to the Hampton Inn and then the next morning, a short walk to the rental car office.  Many reviews I read prior to our trip recommended a 4-wheel drive vehicle but we did not need one, even though it rained while we were there.  On our drive to Uvita, we stopped at the crocodile bridge and walked to the middle for a good view of these incredible creatures!



After the crocodile bridge, the clouds were building and my daughter was anxious to get to a beach so we stopped at Jaco Beach for lunch and a little beach time.  Jaco beach is a traditional beach town like you would find in Mexico or even the US.  There are many restaurants and areas along the beach to rent lounge chairs and umbrellas, you can even take a horseback ride on the beach.  While this was very nice, I much prefer the serene, almost vacant beaches of the south Pacific region of Costa Rica.


From the very start of this trip, we could not get enough of the delicious fresh variety of seafood.  The ceviche is the absolute best I have ever had.  These partculiar photos were taken at Claritas, right on the beach.


On family trips, we typically rent a house to accommodate everyone and enjoy some meals at the property, as well as, our down time together.  We found a house that had a gorgeous veiw of the Pacific and the Ballena Preserve Marine Islands.  VRBO listing:4437731  This house was perfectly situated high enough to have a great view of the Pacific but not too far off the main highway.  This house has a pool, great patio for dining, hammocks and even a yoga platform.  We especially loved sleeping with the windows open and waking to all the birds singing and even howler monkeys!  Most of the houses have AC in the bedrooms but we found we really didn’t need it.


One of the attractions very close to the house, was the Cascada Pavon Waterfall.  It wasn’t too far off of the highway and from where you parked, only about 25 yards to the waterfall.  While it is not one of the largest waterfalls in Costa Rica, it certainly is one of the most unique with the giant boulder in the center.  Everywhere we went the locals were super friendly and extremely helpful.  There were two local guys helping visitors climb up on the right side of the waterfall and jump off.  They offered to take a picture for my daughter and me and inquired where we were from and how our trip was going.  In all my travels, I’ve never experienced such a warm welcome by the locals.  From the rental car counter, to restaurants and every single tour we took -Costa Ricans are very good at tourism!



In the Uvita/ Ojochal, where we were staying, the beaches are beautiful but you do have to check the tide schedule each day.  At high tide, the ocean meets the jungle and then there’s little to no beach.  Arco Beach was the beach closest to the house, so we checked it out first.  It was a little hard to get to but well worth the hike.  You can enter through the north or south end, but we choose to go the northern route. This was the closest to the house and meant we parked at La Casinga Lodge, which was great beause it was lunch time.  We ate before we went to the beach and I would highly recommend eating after…


The walk down to the beach was about 20 minutes and a little steep at the end.  It is a beautiful walk with the trees creating a canopy of shade.


Here is the view from the top.

The jungle and beach combination is so beautiful, it almost didn’t look real, like something out of a movie…


The next day it was time for Nauyaca Waterfalls, this was truly an amazing day.  Nauyaca tours is a very well run family business that has operated for generations, my daughter and I were thoroughly entertained by our hosts.  The family owns the land around the falls and operates the various options for getting up to the falls.  My daughter and I chose to ride horseback up to the falls and my husband opted for the open air bus ride up.  There is an option to hike by foot the entire way.  If you choose the horseback option, you will get an authentic Costa Rican meal served up on the way back.  The ride was roughly an hour each way and then we all enjoyed the waterfalls for an hour and a half or so.  There were bathrooms and a place to change and shower.  This was one of my favorite days on the trip, pure bliss is a good way to describe the experience. 





Here is the authentic and delicious meal prepared for the horseback riders.

As we were eating, a Coati decided to join us.

There are many different tours you can take to see the jungle and wildlife of Costa Rica, but I highly recommend the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured, sick, and orphaned Costa Rican wildlife. Thier primary goal is the recovery and release of native animals back to their rainforest homes. We run a 24/7 veterinary clinic and provide medical treatment for all injured wildlife.

Unfortunately, the day we went the tours were sold out, so make sure to book your tour well in advance.  Luckily, the restaurant and hotel connected to the Sanctuary provided us with a spectacular view and a delicious lunch.







For our final big excursion during our stay, we opted for a Cano Island tour.  

Caño Island is one of the top places to snorkel and dive in Costa Rica and is home to fantastic underwater adventures and diverse marine life. This protected area is one of the best nature reserves in Costa Rica!  We saw dolphins, turtles, sharks, incredible coral and more unique species of fish that I have ever seen while snorkeling.  If you go, wear a lot of sun block.  It takes about an hour to get our to the island by boat.  Then you get to snorkel with a guide that makes sure you see as much as possible.  We got to hang out on the island for another hour, followed up by more snorkeling and then on the way back we stopped at beach for a picnic lunch.  Similar to the horseback tour, they served an authentic Costa Rica spread with rice, beans, chicken, green salad and a lot of fresh fruit.  This was an incredible day!





I have to mention the amazing restaurants of Ojochal.  We loved Citrus, an Indonesian, Exotica, which is Asian-European, and Azul, which is Mediterranean.


We loved Costa Rica so much, we will be going back later this year with the rest of our family!




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