Our group is back safely from Costa Rica and we simply had a blast. We felt safe the entire trip in our own private bubble and I really had no concerns until I entered immigration back at Charlotte Airport where there were a little too many lined up in close proximity for my liking.
Costa Rica is open and is fairly empty right now providing a perfect opportunity for those comfortable enough to travel. Our wonderful Virtuoso supplier Costa Rican Trails is also working feverishly on new protocols in order to meet the January 26th requirement of a Covid test 72 hours prior to return to USA for all travelers.
I hope you enjoy Part 2 and will at some point experience Pura Vida.
Top 5 - Pura Vida
1. Hotel Grano de Oro
In Costa Rica, the term "Grano de Oro" is used to refer to the coffee bean, their "Grain of Gold". The Canadian couple and founders of this boutique hotel fell in love with the idea that such a small fruit could be so valuable. They found that San José was lacking an upscale boutique-style hotel, offering a unique, personalized service – in other words a "Grain of Gold". It's a beautiful converted Victorian mansion, and the feeling you get from this boutique hotel is that of warmth and comfort much like a private home yet with all the amenities of a luxury hotel. It's also the perfect starting or ending point of a Costa Rican adventure if using San Jose (SJO) as your airport. The gorgeous courtyard where breakfast is served and one of the best desserts ever Tres Leches (top photo) - 3 Milk Cake, a typical Costa Rican dessert, made my stay complete.
2. Amor Arenal (above and below)
One of our hotel visits on this trip was to Amor Arenal a boutique property geared to couples and with an extremely romantic vibe and setting. I was lucky enough to sit down next to Erick, the young General Manager, for lunch, and he poured out how much he loved this property, and how hard it had been to let staff go during the pandemic. He was so proud of the quality of his staff and that's what had made his decisions so difficult. The resort is stunning, all-suite and I have been left indelibly marked by the scale and view of the shower rooms.
3. Mangrove Boat Tour
On our way southwest from the Arenal area down to Manuel Antonio we stopped near Quepos for what was billed as a relaxing boat tour to view the very wide range of bird life. Someone forgot to tell me that the American Crocodile flourishes here, and we happened to come across the largest female in the whole area (above). This species can live up to 70 years and thrives in the warm brackish waters. Yes, we got quite close.
4. Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort
Beach and rainforest...what a combination! While the accommodation down in this area near Manual Antonio National Park does not reach the peaks of further north in terms of luxury, it was more than made up for by some of my favorite beach experiences ever. Photos here are of the hotel's private Playitas Beach at sunrise when I was alone with the sound of the ocean and a few hundred thousand hermit crabs heading to the water.
5. Playa Espadilla
And here are a few of my photos of Espadilla Beach. At 2 1/2 miles long it was great morning exercise to walk the whole length and back. It has public access and in my head it absolutely felt like the most perfect beach on earth. Very few beach goers, a little cluster of restaurants and shops at one end, including a surf shack and the most laid back vibe you can possibly imagine.
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