Hola famila y amigos. We have not been able to access internet easily since we left Monteverde, so this will be a long blog to catch you all up on our travels. We also finished uploading our Monteverde pictures, so check them out too!
From Monteverde to La Fortuna
To get to La Fortuna we took a “jeep-boat-jeep.” People say this is the best way to travel to La Fortuna from Monteverde, it’s much quicker than driving around the lake. It was $20 per person and well worth the trip. It was a beautiful drive to Lake Arenal, passing through rolling green hills and gorgeous rivers. Of course the road was not that great. There certainly was a lot of wobbling around in the shuttle. The boat trip was by far the best part. The lush jungles of Volcano Arenal start at the tops of giant mountains and travel all the way to the edges of the lake. You also get a great view of the volcano from the boat. Once we docked, La Fortuna was 15 miles inland. The whole trip took around 3 1/2 hours. Every part was beautiful.
As we drove to Arenal, beautiful private hotels and cabinas lined the roads, hidden by all the lush foliage along the road. If you have a rental car, it would be nice to stay out in the outer layer of La Fortuna. The town itself was pretty cool though. We didn’t have a reservation when we showed up, but went price shopping and found a really nice room at Paraiso Tropical for $35 a night. The next evening we found another hotel (harvi??) right across the street for $20 a night, so we moved into there. We decided to skip any guided hikes to the volcano because it was cloudy and rainy, we figured you couldn’t see much anyway. So for $18 per person we had a paradise experience all day at the Baldi Hot Springs. We loved the Hot Springs! The Baldi Hot Springs have a collection of 28 pools all ranging from different temperatures. The hot springs also have waterfalls and two working waterslides. We got there around 12:30pm and the place was pretty empty. All the tours end at Baldi Hot Springs, so people start flooding in around 4pm, but anytime before then is pretty mellow, however if we did it again we would get there right when it opens, at 10am, and leave around 2pm. You can also bring in your own food and drinks, but don’t make it obvious because you’re not supposed to bring items into the hot springs. Food and drinks are expensive if you eat at the Hot Springs. 5 hours of relaxation at the Baldi Hot Springs is well worth coming to La Fortuna, or so we thought. The next morning we grabbed a shuttle to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. We highly recommend Interbus Shuttle, it is a bit more professional than Costa Rica Shuttle.
It took about 5 hours to get Puerto Viejo from La Fortuna. The ride was beautiful again, however Limon is a very dirty town. It really has no tourist appeal. After we passed through Limon, the roads started to get a bit bumpier, as more potholes appeared on the paved road. The Caribbean coast had mushy swell all the way down to Puerto Viejo, it did not look appealing from the shuttle. When we got to Puerto Viejo we were dropped off at Rocking J’s. Cool place but way overpriced for private rooms, or should I say prison cells. We walked down the road towards town and found a great room for $25 per night at Coconut Grove, (the same price Rocking J’s was charging for a dirty closet). The Hotel manager was very friendly and the room in good condition. Once we got situated we wanted to find the nearest beach to swim in, but as we walked through town, most of the coast line was not swimable. Playa Negra was the only close beach that looked somewhat appealing to swim in. However this beach got destroyed in the last storm. There was debris everywhere on the beach, including in the water. The water was warm but the waves and debris made it less appealing. We were pretty much over Puerto Viejo within the first 4 hours of being there. We were spoiled when we were swimming and relaxing in the sun in Playa Grande almost everyday. We missed the pacific coast already. We wanted a nice beach to relax on, so we decided to leave for Bocas the next day instead of staying for 3 days liked we planned. So we booked a shuttle for the next day through Rocking J’s (they have great help with that. Shuttle cost $34 p/p). We had a nice evening in Puerto Viejo. We took advantage of the 2 for 1 mojitos and had a great dinner at Loco Natural. Justin mistakenly ordered a veggie burger…ha, it was his first and last, although he did say it was not that bad.
To Bocas del Toro from Puerto Viejo
Our shuttle picked us up at our hotel but of course was 15 minutes late. The shuttle also picked up a young couple from Saskatchewan, Canada. They were good company for the ride. As we were driving to the Panama border, you could see all the neighborhoods slowly recovering from that last major storm that flooded the entire region. Looking at the damage, you could tell it was a rough storm. The border crossing was easy and mellow. The shuttle service (Caribe Shuttle) met us on the other side of the bridge with all of our luggage. Panama had a nice paved road to the Marina, where a boat took us over to Isla Colon. The boat ride over to Bocas took about 15 minutes. When we got to the island we walked down to Hotel las brisas, where we supposedly had a reservation. When we checked in, all the hotel had available was a room with single beds. The room was not that great, so we decided to go price shopping again. We found a decent room for $35/night at Casa Max, across the street from Mondo Tai Tu. As we were walking around the town, we didn’t know if we wanted to stay here for very long either. I guess we decided we were looking for places with direct access to nice beaches. Here you have to take a water taxi to all the beautiful beaches, most are on other islands. The town itself is pretty cool. As we were walking around, we ran into our shuttle buddies from Canada. We all decided to go catch a happy hour at Mondo Tai Tu..the recommended party spot. The hostel Mondo had great drink specials and a fun atmosphere. Before we knew it, we were playing quarters with another couple from Minnesota and two locals. This really was our first night staying out past 9 and being social, it was a blast. After talking with our new friends, we found out they were traveling over to the pacific side of Panama to a mountain town called Boquete. Justin and I immediately spotted our next route. Instead of going back through Puerto Viejo, we all talked about traveling together to David and Boquete for a few days, which sounded cool to us, however one of the couples might want to leave sooner than we do, so we’ll see. But if we travel west, we can get back to Costa Rica through the Pacific/South side. From there we can travel up to San Jose to catch our flight to Belize. Southern Costa Rica is supposed to beautiful and undeveloped…just what we are looking for. We are pretty sure this is the itinerary for the remainder of the trip in Costa Rica.
We were planning to go hang out on a beautiful beach all day today with our new Canadian friends, but we woke up to clouds and pouring rain. This has put us back another day here and has left us lounging in our room all afternoon. Justin and I are anxious to explore the other islands and get to a beach. We’ll let you know how that goes tomorrow. We’ll upload some new pictures today. Ttyl soon!