Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Welcome to Guanacaste

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the past week in the Guanacaste region of Western Costa Rica with my family and wow, can I say – we really experienced it to the fullest. Thanks to careful planning and research by my mom and aunts, we were able to explore all over inside out, from the beaches to the rainforests. Flying out from LAX on Sunday afternoon, we landed in Liberia that night after around a 5 ½ hour journey. Our shuttle drivers took us down through Guanacaste to our Lagos de Palma Real villa right near the beach in Hacienda Panilla. After dropping off our luggage at our lakeside home for the week, we drove to my aunts’ beach view villa and invited the drivers in for a home cooked Italian dinner with our family. Worn out from the flight and long drive from the airport, we headed back to our place and had an early night so we would be able to get in some sleep.


The next day, we checked out our beach club/pool bar & grill, then went into the nearby touristy town of Tamarindo that night. Tuesday, we had a day-long excursion of adventures from zip-lining and rock climbing to horseback riding and whitewater tubing to swimming in a waterfall and having a mud bath in volcanic hot springs. The next day, we took a more relaxed approach, starting with the Monkey Park animal sanctuary and a lunch of fresh fish on the beach, then off-roading to a secret little beach to snorkel and watch the sunset before ending the day at the poolside Italian restaurant. On Thursday, we took our last full day to hike through the Vulcan Tenorio National Park and the incredible turquoise waters of the Rio Celeste waterfall and its blue lagoon and bubbling geysers. Friday morning we said goodbye to our little paradise and flew back to LAX (with a layover in Houston), exhausted but content with such a great trip to such a gorgeous place.


Here’s a small recap of my first day before I go into more detail about the rest of the trip: That first morning, ambitious and unaware of the intensity of the humidity, I went on a short run before deciding to finish my workout in the air conditioning of our living room. Afterward, I went over to my aunts’ for coffee and breakfast while my family was still asleep. Once everyone was finally up and functioning, we drove the rental cars over to check out the JW Marriott Azul Pool Bar Beach Club and get our first feel of the Costa Rican waters. Then we headed to the Hacienda Panilla Beach Club for some surfing, exploring the beach, and lunch at the pool beach grill. I had the Puerto Viejo ceviche with plantains and the most delicious coconut coffee blended drink. After relaxing by the pool with a view of the beach for a while, we went back and changed, then headed to check out the town. Its streets filled with people, Tamarindo is a very popular tourist spot and was beautifully illuminated in the dusk by lights strung from one structure to another. After some souvenir shopping and gelato, we sat down to a dinner of chicken, rice, salad, and plantain chips at Gallo Fino. It was delicious and with our stomachs full, we drove back soon after to rest up for our 5:30 AM wake up the next morning.

That was only the first day and we couldn’t wait to see what this week in paradise would bring.


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