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A Traveler's Tales from Costa Rica

Audley travelers Matt and Stacy recently returned from a relaxing trip to Costa Rica. Re-live their journey through their beautiful photographs and stories.

Story by Audley Travel April 4th, 2016

We chose Costa Rica because we have close family who have been there and know of our prior adventures, and they thought we’d love it. This qualified as our ‘big’ vacation for the year. There was a phrase the locals said to us while we were traveling that really captured the essence of our trip; Pura Vida!

We worked with Claire M. to plan our trip. She quickly assessed the type of property we would be interested in, and pushed us to reconsider the dates of our trip ever so slightly to make sure that when we were in the Arenal area that we were able to stay at Nayara. And boy am I glad she did! That was definitely our favorite location and accommodation on the trip, and Claire’s advice all around proved to be sound.

Hanging bridges in Monteverde
Zip-lining in Monteverde

a new friend at arenal volcano

One highlight from our trip was visiting the Arenal Volcano and the surrounding Cloudforest area. During our volcano hike, we really enjoyed our guide, Andres. He mixed in a lot of facts, science and some humor. He described the somewhat tragic story of the man who created Lake Arenal as, “kind of funny…but also weird.” He spotted an eyelash pit viper in a tree by the parking lot right after we got to the park, so we knew it was going to be a fun walk. He was a great personality that will certainly be brought up in our stories.

Panorama of the Arenal Volcano area
View of Arenal Volcano from the lake
Arenal lake

punta islita

Our stay at Punta Islita in Costa Rica was a vacation from our vacation, and it was extremely relaxing.

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Punta Islita infiinity pool
Poolside bar at Punta Islita
View from the plane of Punta Islita
Poolside at Punta Islita

birds & other wildlife at caño negro

One of our standout days was our Caño Negro trip. Our guide Walter had exceptional English language skills and was able to converse with us about various aspect of Costa Rican agriculture and history on the long drive up north. I love when the guides get excited about things they see, and it turns out Walter was a bird-lover. He spotted this tiny bird in a bush along the bank from 25 yards away and got very excited. The bird was probably only two inches long and I still don’t know how he spotted it. It was a American Pygmy-kingfisher, and after making sure my we got a great picture, he took out his phone and snapped a bunch of photos for himself. He told us he hadn’t seen one in over two years and it was quite the find.

We saw many animals that day with Walter, but my favorite moment was on the way back. Just as we were entering the hotel drive, we saw a mother and baby three toed sloth in a tree. Walter pulled over and we got some great pics and got to see something very quintessentially Costa Rica.

Green Iguana
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Bird in flight
Blue heron
Alligator
Blue bird
Blue billed bird

the best meal of the trip

The food on this trip was incredible, and the best dinner we had was at Nayara Springs the first night. We took the waiters suggestion and went for the seafood stew — and it was amazing! I am traditionally not an adventurous eater, so when I saw an octopus tentacle staring back at me (and not the nice, little, white calamari squid kind, a chunky black octopus one) I was hesitant, but one bite and I was hooked. I couldn’t imagine how they got it so tender and flavorful. It was a big portion, but I could not be deterred. At the end, even my neck felt full in my effort to finish, and it was well worth it.

View from the Alta Hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica
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Flowers in Costa Rica

start planning your trip to costa rica

Read our ideas for a trip to Costa Rica.

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