When planning our honeymoon I had no idea where to begin. We thought about being traditional and heading to Jamaica or Aruba, but that idea was quickly pushed aside by my husband’s thirst for adventure. I’d love to tell you that I did tons of research to decide on the place we went, but it was actually by chance. One of my bridesmaids sent me the link to the Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica and it was love at first click. We were going THERE. Because we wanted to experience both the jungle and the beaches of Costa Rica we decided to do three days there and four on the beach on a resort near Jaco.
The week of the wedding my husband told me the news that would make any fashion blogger die inside…”Honey, you can only bring 25 pounds of luggage.” EXCUSE ME?! It was true. Since the only way to get to the resort was to white water raft, I had to be conservative in the packing department.
We flew into Costa Rica and stayed our first night at the Marriot in San Jose. It was gorgeous and we learned there that colónes (their currency) were not like American dollars with an extra “0” after the decimal. Our Pacuare Lodge guide picked us up first thing the next morning and we were off on a 2-hour journey to the river! His name was Pepe and he was extremely knowledgeable. He helped us learn new phrases in Spanish and taught us about their culture. As we were driving, he told us we would soon be approaching Costa Rica’s most famous Catholic Cathedral, the Catargo and asked us if we wanted to stop. We are not Catholic so I initially said no but once we got closer I quickly changed my mind. It was breathtaking!
If you go to Costa Rica, you must see this cathedral. The ceilings were astonishing and the stories about it are even cooler.
Back in the van, we learned safety rules for the rafting adventure we would soon encounter after we stopped for the most important meal of the day…Desayuno (aka breakfast)! We enjoyed the freshest fruit and a traditional Costa Rican breakfast of rice and beans with eggs and tortillas while overlooking the beautiful countryside.
After another hour in the van, we finally made it to the river. Just as they said, they put my 25 pounds of luggage in an airtight bag and strapped it down. We got our helmets and life vests and it was time to go!
Rafting was way more awesome than I expected and the scenery was amazing. After about an hour, we made it to the lodge. They greeted us with pineapple and passion fruit smoothies and told us the rules of the lodge. There was only electricity in the main house where we could use the WiFi as often as we wanted.
They explained how we were to bring our flashlights to dinner every night since the candlelight wouldn’t reach from building to building. Woah.
Then it was time to head to our room. Or maybe I should call it a hut. Nevertheless, it was an epic place to stay. It was all open air with just screened in walls. It had a luxurious bed, hammock, and outdoor shower. Cool tidbit, even the furniture had to be rafted there!
While we were there, time seemed to have slowed down in the best way. We would wake up early and well-rested every day and go to bed at a reasonable hour every night. If you like to party all the time, this probably isn’t the place for you but if you like adventure then it is perfect. My favorite was zip lining! First you have to hike up an enormously long and steep trail but it was all worth it when we got there. The guides were funny yet knowledgeable. We felt completely safe. We even zip lined in the dark to dinner one night! That was a little scary but super cool.
Speaking of dinner. The food at the lodge is to DIE FOR! All the food was awesome, fresh and healthy. For lunch we dined on a daily soup and fresh salad followed by the most delicious French press coffee. For dinner, we had New York Strip cooked to perfection, delicious yellow curry with shrimp and even raw tuna one night. I am picky when it comes to tuna since I grew up spending my summers in the Outer Banks, but this was tremendous tuna. They were also ridiculously organized when it came to planning our meals. I appreciate organization.
Another day we went on a hike through the jungle. We swam in waterfalls and enjoyed the wildlife. And what’s a honeymoon without a couples massage? These ladies had hands of magic and the sound of the river rushing in the background was heavenly.
The 25 pounds of luggage was a shock but in retrospect it didn’t affect me as much as I thought. We were adventuring most of the time so the wedges and fancy dresses were not needed. If I could go back though, I would have stayed one less day and gotten the room upgrade. I think we still could have gotten all the adventures in that we wanted to in 2 days and coming home to a little private pool would have been nice in the humid jungle.
When it was time to raft out, I was more than scared. The rapids on the way in were supposedly much calmer than on the way out. I didn’t want to fall out and break my leg on my honeymoon! Once the two-hour journey began I was calmer because it was so compelling! We stopped halfway through for a delicious lunch and a swim. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
After we got back to San Jose, we picked up a rental car and headed to Jaco. This was about an hour-long trek and I am so glad we got a mobile WiFi hotspot so we could use the navigation on our phones. Being lost in a foreign country is a fear of mine…
For the second half of our trip, we stayed at the Villa Caletas. The Pacuare Lodge was a tough act to follow but we still enjoyed ourselves at the Villas. We stayed in a gorgeous room with its own hot tub and secluded pool. The wildlife there was one of the best parts. We would wake up to Toucans and Macaws every day. No monkeys though…womp womp. The Villa’s did have the best breakfast with a view up in what they called the coliseum though.
We choose Jaco so that my Husband could surf there and Hermosa. We rented a surfboard and hit the beach our first morning there. The sand was black so we could only go there till around noon or my butt would burn. Seriously, so hot. It was nice to finally get some sun in, though.
While we were there, we ate at Visit Hermosa Restaurant…the smoothies were so good and I loved the sesame chicken. We also tried the Taco Bar for lunch one day and it was awesome! I love tacos to begin with but when you add a toppings bar and swings as chairs?! Sold.
We ate our dinners at the Villa Caletas’ restaurant and hung out with cool people from all over the world. We also did horseback riding while there. This was fun but much more commercialized than our previous adventures.
All in all, it was an epic trip. I want to experience the world in authentic environments, with a balance of relaxation and adventure and I feel like that is what we did. I would go back to the Pacuare Lodge for a weekend trip in a heartbeat; it would be worth it even for a short stay. The Villa’s were great, but I would like to explore the Caribbean side of Costa if I did it again.
If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, my suggestions would be:
- Plan to be adventurous, a GoPro is also awesome for this reason
- Local food is the way to go
- Get a mobile WiFi hotspot
- Budget for things to cost a little more than they do in the states
- Beware the black sand…it is the devil after 1 p.m.
About the Author
At first glance I may seem like your basic fashion blogger…and occasionally I am. But I am also always down for a new adventure and I am sarcastic and energetic. Weird combo? Maybe, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Check out my blog at tilleysthreads.com and say hello!