November 20, 2014

A trip to Costa Rica!

I recently took a trip to Costa Rica as a little adventure to explore a new place and step outside my comfort zone. The experiences from the trip were amazing and I will never forget the new friends I made and the fun activities I got to do. I want to thank my good friend Jackie Laulainen of The Budget Minded Traveler and Matt Wilson of Under30CEO/Under30Experiences for inspiring me to buy a ticket and go to a new country! Thanks to Andy Ung and everyone who took photos for the trip. Many of them are used in this post.

under-30-experiences-trip-to-costa-rica-think-entrepreneurshipI spent the first five days with a really cool bunch of motivated young travelers from the organization After the group part of the trip I continued on for another 3 days to check out even more of Costa Rica. Below is a map of Costa Rica showing the areas I traveled.

map of costa ricaFriday November 7 – Flight

Packing for holidays can sometimes be stressful for many. But it can be made easier when you prepare in advance. There wasn't much for me to worry about for this trip, as I had already thought about what I was going to take. All I needed was a topcase and a small suitcase, as I was planning on buying a few things while I was out in Costa Rica. You don't want to pack too much and have to unpack and get rid of your items while you're at the airport! Here's how the trip began.

The trip started on November 7th at about 1:30 in Bozeman, Montana. From Bozeman I flew to Minneapolis via Delta Airlines and had a couple hour layover. While at the airport I picked up a couple books on Costa Rica to learn more about the country and trip recommendations. I also picked up a pocket handbook with Spanish phrases to help brush up on my Spanish speaking skills.

Backpack for Costa RicaFrom Minneapolis I departed to Atlanta, Georgia. The flight got in about 11:00pm and the last leg of the trip wasn't until 9:45 the next morning. Instead of going through the hassle of going to a hotel and then having to come through security early in the morning I opted to stay at the airport. The Atlanta Airport has a company named Minute Suites that provides sleeping rooms for up to 7 hours. The rooms were about 10 feet by 10 feet and had air conditioning, internet access, a tv/computer, and a daybed. They are a bit expensive at $130 for 7 hours, but the cost was well worth it for me to have a quiet place to get some rest before the big adventure. They're certainly not as spacious and comfortable as the Holiday Inn Express Atlanta Downtown hotel but it was ok for the 7 hours.

Atlanta Airport Minute SuitesSaturday November 8 – Flight and Arrival

I departed from Atlanta at 9:45am. The trip to craigslist san jose, Costa Rica was only about 4 hours and I flew on Delta Airlines. I always fly Delta because I do my rewards program using the Delta American Express Gold Credit Card. With the card I get a free checked bag for every flight and earn miles. I always bump up to their economy comfort seating because it isn't that much more expensive then normal economy and you get more legroom. You also get free booze on international trips! Here is a photo of the water we flew over on the way to Costa Rica. It was beautiful!
flight-to-costa-ricaI got to San Jose, went through customs, and then got some cash (Colones) for spending money. Once outside, I was greeted by the Under 30 Experiences crew and 16 new friends that I would be getting to spend the next 5 days with.

passport-and-colonesWe had a private shuttle pick our whole crew up so we could begin our journey to Manuel Antonio. We all got to know each other a bit in the bus and learn about where everyone was from.

San Jose Shuttle Under 30 ExperiencesAlong the way to Manuel Antonio we stopped at a vendor beside the road and right next to the Rio Tarcoles River. We had fresh coconuts filled with coconut water and rum. Yum!!!

Drinking Rum out of coconutsWhile drinking the rum we wandered over to the Rio Tarcoles River and looked at the crocodiles.

Rio Tarcoles CrocodilesOur next stop along the way to Manuel Antonio was the Backyard Bar Playa Hermosa. We got there just in time to have dinner and enjoy our first Costa Rican sunset.

backyard-bar-play-hermosaThey even had a surf competition going on while we were there.

surfing at backyard barSunday November 9 – Morning Run, Jungle Hike, and Beach

I got up early and went for a run down to the beach. Running is part of my morning ritual because it gives me time to brainstorm and relieve any stress that's built up. Click here to read an article I wrote on about the benefits or running.

Below is a photo of the view from the hotel room at Villas Mymosa.

Villas MymosaVillas Mymosa was a nice hotel with good sized rooms, a pool, and restaurant. This is where we stayed for the 5 days and 4 nights of the Under30Experiences portion of the trip.

villas-mymosaThe day began with a hike in the Manuel Antonio jungle.

Hiking in Manuel AntonioWe saw lots of monkeys and even a sloth. The hike was more of an easy walk.

Monkeys in Costa RicaToward the end of the walk we got to the Manuel Antonio beach which can only be accessed through the park.

Manuel Antonio BeachAfter the jungle hike we walked over to Playa Espadilla to relax on the beach. This was my first time hanging out on a warm beach and jumping in the ocean waves. I'd have to say it was a blast. You could also surf, ride horses, or parasail behind a boat at this beach.

beach-in-manuel-antonioHere is the Under30Experiences group hanging out on the beach!

under-30-experiences-costa-ricaLunch across the street from the beach.

Eating in Manuel AntonioMonday November 10 – Zipline!

We went to a neat zipline course in the jungle with 14 platforms. The longest zipline was over 100 yards and you get moving quite fast. I'd zipline again in a heartbeat.

zipline in costa ricaHanging out with the Zipline staff after the course!

zip line in costa ricaOn the drive we saw 2 very colorful birds which were Scarlet Macaw.

Scarlet MacawAfter returning from the zipline adventure we went to the bus stop and then headed over to grab drinks at the Airplane Bar ( El Avion ).

Bus in Costa RicaEl Avion is a really neat restaurant and bar to check out in the Manuel Antonio area.

Airplane barWe continued the night by checking out another local bar in the area.

Night out in Costa RicaTuesday November 11 – Catamaran, Snorkeling, Beach

The catamaran tour starting from Quepos was a great way to spend the last full day with the Under30Experiences crew. The catarmaran had big nets we could lay on to relax and get some sun.

catamaran in costa ricaDuring the tour we stopped to do some snorkeling and swim.

catamaran in costa ricaWednesday November 12 – Under30Experience departure and Jaco

We got up early for breakfast and then the Under30Experiences crew took a shuttle to the airport. Myself and one other traveler I met decided to stay a few days longer. So, we took a bus from Quepos to Jaco and stayed an evening at the Villa Culletas hotel which I booked last minute through Expedia and got a great deal. Little did we know, this hotel is said to be the nicest hotel in the entire country of Costa Rica.

Where to go in costa ricaThe hotel had a private beach that was only accessible by a 4×4 jeep. The beach is about a thousand feet down from the actual hotel which sits on top of a mountain.

villa-culletas-jaco-beachChecking out the sunset from the deck.

Villa CulletasThe infinity pool was awesome and the view looks over the Pacific Ocean.

villa-culletas-infinity-poolThursday November 13th – Speedboat to Montezuma and Santa Teresa

We had a relaxing morning and then took a taxi to Herradura beach which is just north of Jaco. From Herradura we took a 70 minute long speed boat ride over to Montezuma which is on Nicoya Peninsula. The company that provided the shuttle service is Zuma Tours and they were professional, on time, and super helpful. The boat ride is $40 and they have a van shuttle that can take you from Montezuma to other parts of the island. The other option to get to the peninsula is to take a ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. The ferry is only a few dollars but you will have about 5 hours of additional travel time because of the busses you'll need to take to and from the ferry.

Zuma ToursWe arrived in Montezuma. It is a small village with a few bars and hostels. Backpackers seem to love this place.

hanging-out-in-montezuma-costa-rica Lunch on the Montezuma beach.

lunch-at-montezumaMan chopping coconuts with a machete on a tree stump.

chopping-coconuts-in-costa-ricaOur shuttle from Montezuma to Santa Teresa. There was one road and it was pretty sketchy!

road-from-santa-teresa-to-montezumaWe arrived at our hotel named Otro Lado Lodge. (I'd recommend booking through Expedia) The owner (Nicco) greeted us and gave us recommendations on things to do in the village.

otra-lado-hotel-santa-teresaWe arrived just in time for the sunset on Playa Santa Teresa which is across the street from the hotel.

santa-teresa-costa-rica-sunsetAfter the sunset we had dinner at Amici's Pizza. I'd highly recommend their brick oven pizza.

Friday November 14 – Relax, Surf

I got up early and relaxed by the pool. We then had breakfast at the hotel. Here is our villa which was 2 floors.

otro-lado-santa-teresa-best-hotelThe walk to the beach. Many people drive motorcycles and four wheelers to get around.

santa-teresa-villageSurfing lessons were a lot of fun and I somehow got up my first time. However, it took a lot of practice to get the right form and to get up on the waves consistently. I was beat after learning for an hour and a half.

surfing-in-santa-teresa-costa-ricaSunset on the beach. Lot's of surfers…

santa-teresa-surfingWe had dinner at a sushi restaurant and then a couple Pina Colada's and beers at the Banana Beach Bar right on the beach.

banana-beach-santa-teresaSaturday November 15 – Travel to San Jose

Saturday was a travel day for me. Zuma Tours shuttled me by van from Santa Teresa to Montezuma. From Montezuma we took the speedboat back to Jaco and then another van from Jaco to San Jose. The entire shuttling service was $85 with Zuma Tours. They dropped me off at the Hampton Inn Suites right by the airport. (I'd recommend booking the hotel on Expedia.) For the rest of the afternoon I relaxed, did a little work, exercised, and prepared for my morning departure.

zuma-tours-best-shuttle-service-in-costa-ricaSunday November 16 – Flight Home

My flight home departed at 8:24 and so I arrived at the airport about 6:00. This gave me more than plenty of time. The flight home was an all day excursion. I had time to debrief and reflect on time spent in Costa Rica. I enjoyed traveling with the Under30Experiences crew and on my own. Both were unique experiences that I would do again in a heart beat. So… if you are looking to get started traveling I'd highly recommend checking out trips Under30Experiences offers and then booking a flight! And if you need some more inspiration and advice about getting into traveling check out blog and podcast.

planning-a-trip-with-under30experiencesThanks for checking out this post! I hope it inspires you to book a trip and to start traveling. You'll find that travel has many benefits.

Cheers and Pura Vida!! – Pete

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  1. Hey Pete, really awesome visual itinerary. Really glad you had a good time in Costa Rica. I’ve been wanting to take that $40 boat to Montezuma. This will be the winter for sure. Thanks again for writing this up amigo and pura vida!!

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