In Photos: Costa Rica Highlights

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I didn't formally announce or promote my recent trip to Costa Rica. It wasn't because I wasn't looking forward to it, or because I didn't plan to blog about it (in fact, I knew I would blog about it, considering Costa Rica was high up on my travel wishlist for 2013). To be honest, I just needed a bit of a break.

Many people, upon hearing that I'm a travel blogger, assume that my frequent travels mean I am constantly on vacation. But just ask ANYbody else who blogs or runs an online business, and they will tell you that this is not the case at all. Usually when I'm traveling (and especially if the travel includes any sponsored activities), I'm still working everyday. I'm editing photos, updating social media, drafting blog posts… it's often not very relaxing at all, and I come home exhausted.

I hardly ever get to enjoy a place like this.

I wanted my trip to Costa Rica to be different. I didn't set up one sponsored activity or hotel stay. I invited a good friend of mine along so we could spend hours sitting around and talking about school, life, boys, etc. I left our itinerary blissfully open and planned very little. I did take my computer along, but limited myself to only using it to check e-mails and respond to the occasional comments. The only social media updates I made were on Instagram and Facebook, and were done from my phone.

It was a much-needed relaxing break for me. While I wasn't able to force myself to completely disconnect, I escaped from my online life enough to feel like I was actually on vacation.

But, now that I'm back, it's time to tell you all about Costa Rica — and make you envious with photos.

Here were the highlights of my chilled-out week in Costa Rica:

 

The Beaches

My Costa Rican adventure took me to both coasts of the country — I spent two days in/around Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific Coast, and another two days in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side. I definitely preferred the beaches on the Pacific side, but that was partly because we had the best weather there.

A beach within Manuel Antonio National Park.

The public beach at Manuel Antonio – on a “crowded” day during Holy Week.

A local beach not far from San Jose.

A blissfully empty beach within Manuel Antonio NP.

A beach in Puerto Viejo.

The Mountains

In between the coasts, Costa Rica is actually quite mountainous and full of volcanoes. I don't have many photos of the mountains (mostly because I was usually the one driving through them, and it was rainy/foggy a lot of the time), but I do have plenty of pictures from La Fortuna, with Arenal Volcano looking pretty spectacular around sunset.

The Wildlife

Monkeys, macaws, crocs, sloths… we saw them all. I didn't get photos of all of them (birds and monkeys are incredibly hard to catch on camera!), but we saw a lot of wildlife as we traveled across the country.

A young sloth at the Jaguar Rescue Center.

Massive crocs under a bridge.

Can you spot the big iguana?

A two-fingered sloth at the Sloth Sanctuary.

The green frog that is kind of the “mascot” of Costa Rica.

The Varying Landscapes

I'll admit that I had no clue just how diverse Costa Rica was before visiting. You've got jungle and rainforest; tropical beaches; rolling farmland; and even twisted forests. Would you believe that the photos below all came from the same country?

A jungle hotel.

Manuel Antonio

The forest in Puerto Viejo – looks enchanted, doesn't it?

Hilly farmland.

More jungly bits.

The Activities

Because of weather and a general sense of laziness, I actually didn't DO a whole lot in Costa Rica. I didn't do any ziplining or horseback riding or extreme water sports. Instead, I stuck to more laid-back activities like sailing, chilling out at hot springs, and snorkeling. All were still awesome, though.

Sailing on the Pacific.

Sunset from a sailboat.

Relaxing at Paradise Hot Springs, in the shadow of Arenal Volcano.

Snorkeling in the Pacific.

 

There you have it — my week of “vacation” in a nutshell. Stay tuned fore more Costa Rica content soon!

 

Which part would YOU most look forward to?

 

 

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