Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Beaches. Beautiful, white sandy beaches with sun peaking through the clouds, reaching my face and creating the best situation for relaxing. I love the sound of the water breaking on the surf, the scent of the sea, the warmth of the sun. Here are my top five beach towns in all of Coast Rica.

5. Puntarenas
Puntarenas is a small community, with multiple bus stops. This makes it ideal for many things. I am here right now, waiting for my next bus, and I am astounded at the lackadaisical beauty here. This beach town has a beautiful shore, and boardwalk, where you can enjoy the view of the water. Additionally, the restaurants are less expensive than the restaurants in Manuel Antonio, so you can sit and enjoy your lunch while you admire the ocean. The weather is absolutely gorgeous, locals are nice, and the palm trees line the beachside. This is a worthwhile stop, and quite enjoyable.

4. Manuel Antonio
I had heard so much about the beaches of Manuel Antonio. However, upon arriving, the beaches were not as amazing as I expected. They were crowded, and seemed small. However, upon paying the entrance fee to the national park, I saw some incredible shorelines, encompassed by beautiful rock formations, loads of animals, and lush green jungles. As I walked the paths to the beaches in the National Park, I glimpsed overhead and saw monkeys leaping from tree to tree. Swimming in the water here renewed and refreshed me. For this reason, I would recommend paying the entrance fee to get into the national park and enjoying the beautiful waters.

3. Puerto Viejo
The beaches around Puerto Viejo are gorgeous. However, their beauty is marred by cloudy days. This is why they are ranked third on the list. While you are at the beaches here, it is easy to find restaurants, bars or clubs to try out. Additionally, you can take an inexpensive surf lesson, and book tours all over Costa Rica. While in Puerto Viejo, you can enjoy the Public Beaches, or you can take a bus to Cahuita National Park, where you are inclined to see more wildlife. I do recommend biking to Manzinillo to see what’s out there, however.

2. Tamarindo
Tamarindo, one of the most popular tourist destinations was beautiful. When I arrived, there didn’t seem to seem to be many crowds, and the beaches were clean. I absolutely loved walking the seashore here, and saw many types of marine life. Additionally, I paid about $1.00 to visit the island across the bay. It was beautiful, and my friend James and I had almost the entire island to ourselves. We were able to just sit and relax by the beach, which is exactly what we needed at the time.

1. My all-time favorite beach town: Santa Teresa
I have no idea how this quaint beach town boasting solely dirt roads got on the map. However, it’s there and it’s absolutely beautiful. If I only had time to visit one beach in Costa Rica, I would visit this one, and I would spend my time surfing and enjoying the waves. The sunsets are absolutely gorgeous, and the shores are long and sparsely populated. Oftentimes, there were bonfires on the beach and it was easy to check this out. I loved every minutes of my time in Santa Teresa, and this is definitely my favorite beach town in all of Costa Rica.


Venturing Through Cahuita Park: A VLOG

So I was able to explore Cahuita National Park. I went without a guide, and took a bus from Puerto Viejo. Instead of writing about all of the amazing animals I saw, i.thought I’d make a quick video.


Totally Tamarindo: Ten Things to Do in Costa Rica’s Most Popular Tourist Destination

¨You don’t start work today.¨My workaway boss informed me when I arrived to Aldea Hostel in San Jose, ¨I don´t want you to waste your time- go somewhere fun, take a trip.¨

A quick google search revealed that there was a direct bus leaving at 230 to a beach town called Tamarindo. 5 hours. I could do that.

I threw my stuff into my backpack, got to the bus station and hopped on. Google images had shown pictures of pristine beaches, perfect for surfing. After my month in New England, all I wanted was a chance to stretch out in the sun. Below are ten activities you can do on a tight budget ($25.00 or less per day) in Tamarindo.

Stay At Sunset Hostel and Hang out On The Roof

I stayed at Sunset Hostel in Tamarindo. This ended up being the perfect choice for me. It was less than five minutes away from the bus stop, and directly above a grocery store. Since I did the majority of my own cooking in Tamarindo, it was perfect. Additionally, the hostel staff had great vibes, and were willing to help you with anything you had questions about. Perhaps the best feature of this hostel was the rooftop. Everyone staying there seemed to be trying to do the same thing: explore Tamarindo on a budget. When I was at the hostel, we would bring all of our food and drinks on the roof, lay out in the hammock, enjoy music, and tell stories. I was only there for four nights, but the ambiance found in this hostel helped me to make friends quickly. And, it gets better. This place was only five minutes away from the beach. Although it was the only hostel I stayed at in Tamarindo, I definitely recommend checking it out.

Learn To Surf

Hostels will help you to book surfing lessons in Tamarindo, and they are usually less than $30.00. If you already know how to surf, than you can skip the lesson, rent a board and spend the entire day enjoying the waves. Surfing is a very common activity and you can either go solo or with a group of your friends. As you travel through Costa Rica, you will not regret this choice. Surfing is incredibly fun, and after you pick it up, you can do it at many of the other beaches in this beautiful country.

Have a Picnic on The Beach

Fruits and vegetables were not expensive in Tamarindo, but meat and cheese were. For this reason, I recommend buying fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, making food at the hostel, grabbing your scarf or towel and heading to the beach. There is nothing like a good beachside picnic. It’s beautiful, cheap and you will basically have the place to yourself.

Take a Boat To The Little Island off The Coast of Tamarindo, and Enjoy Your Own Private Beach

If you walk to the end of the Beach in Tamarindo, you will see one, maybe two small boats. You can take this boat over to the island across from the main bay of Tamarindo. The boat costs only 100 colones round trip. Once there, you will have the entire beach to yourself, a and you can hunt for seashells, hermit crabs or driftwood. You can also just enjoy having the entire beach to yourself.

Dance at Pacifico

Pacifico is a local club in Tamarindo. When I was there, there was no cover. The club has great live music, a fun ambiance, and lots of people. It is within walking distance from all of the restaurants, pubs and bars; and, more importantly, the beach. Happy Hour is from 6-8pm, and it’s a great way to save on drinks.
Buy Costa Rican Juice and Sip It in The Sunshine

After a night of dancing at Pacifico, you’ll wake up needing breakfast. Luckily, Costa Rica has a lot to offer! Not only is the coffee in Central America absolutely amazing, but every restaurant will serve Costa Rican Juice: fresh fruit, of your choice put through a blender with ice, and just a little bit of water. Cool and refreshing, it is a perfect was to start your day. In Tamarindo, I treated myself to one of these every morning, after making myself fruit salad, yogurt and coffee at my hostel. Every juice I sipped was worth the 750 colones (about $1.50 USD).

Read in A Hammock

My hostel not only had excellent wifi, but a hammock outside as well. While there, I frequently enjoyed reading in the hammock to relax. If your hostel doesn’t have one, there are plenty of places to set one up at the beach, and some of the beaches already have them set up for you.
Watch The Beachside Sunset and do some Yoga

Tamarindo is known for it’s incredible beachside sunsets. Almost everyone heads to the beach to watch the sun fall behind the waves and admire the magnificent skyline. One of the best times to do yoga is at the end of the day, and when you are surrounded by the sounds of a peaceful harbour and sights of beautiful pink skies, you can not help but feel at peace.

Go To Happy Hour At Any of The Beautiful Restaurants Abutting the Beach

All the restaurants in Tamarindo offer a happy hour complete with daily drink specials. Nogui’s at the beach is one such place offering incredible happy hours. With chairs facing the beautiful surf, delicious food and beverages and excellent staff, it is impossible to feel stressed in this atmosphere.

Look For Wildlife as You Explore the Beachside

Tamarindo is home to much of the Costa Rican Wildlife. Not only can you find small hermit crabs crawling along the shores; you can also find dolphins, turtles and monkeys. Additionally, you may see enormous grasshoppers, which are startling at first, and then they become interesting. If you are really feeling adventurous, for a small fee you can ride horses up and down the beach.

So, after all of that, here are 10 things for you to do in Tamarindo that won’t blow your budget! Happy travels!

Seven Things I Wish I Knew about Santa Teresa Before Arriving

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. The words may conjure up images of beautiful, pristine beaches. Maybe you think of delectable local fare where you’ll experience bursts of flavors native to the tropical climate. Perhaps you visualize scenes of cascading waterfalls and rocky beaches, adjoining the Pacific Ocean. Santa Teresa has all of these tantalizing features, and more. It’s an incredible small-town, with a great local culture and a bustling tourist industry.

However, there are some things I wish I knew before I had gotten here to make my stay more fun. Listed below are seven things I wish I had known about Santa Teresa before I arrived.

Everyone Accepts Dollars…. But Perhaps not Card

In Santa Teresa, everyone accepts the American dollar. It is totally possible to book tours everywhere without colones. Surprisingly, few places accepted card. This is very different from the rest of Costa Rica, where it seemed like card was accepted everywhere, you get a better exchange rate with colones, and cash was a hit or miss. There are two ATMs downtown that will work and enable you to get money; however,

It’s Expensive

Regardless of the currency you use, expect to pay about twice as much for food as you would spend in San Jose. Accommodation ranges in quality and price. You can purchase a night in a tent with an air mattress at Hostel 7 (Casa de Gingi), a dorm for $15, an airbnb for $30, or a hotel/resort for more money. Overall, I have spent more in Santa Teresa than I spent in either Tamarindo or San Jose.

It’s Small…. Think Really Small

When the bus first dropped me off at the crossroads of a small dirt road, I doubted nd some wifi and googled the location for my hostel, it was there. After walking uo a road fit for ATVs I arrived at a beautiful hostel. One without hot showers, or aircconditioningg, but an enormous kitchen, tent option and great atmosphere. I felt as though I had been thrown back in time.

It is Dusty

The hot, dry, Costa Rican sun dries the dirt roads. As ATVS, motorcycles and dirt bikes fly past you, you’ll inhale dust. Many of the locals actually wrap scarves around their faces to protect themselves. Travelers often adjust to this and end uo covering their faces as they walk as well.

You´ll Want to Rent an ATV (read this post to see what happens when you go by Yaris)

The roads surrounding this sleepy town have numerous holes, narrow bridges, and occasionally small rivers. My friends and I traveled adventurously with our rented Toyota Yaris (dubbed, affectionately, Estaban) but, would have been better served with a 4-wheeler. Poor Estaban got a flat tire afte being forced through a two-foot deep, ten foot wide trench filled with water. Because of these roads, I would highly recommend an ATV rental to see the Montezuma Falls.

The Hike to Montezuma Falls is Intense, but short

There are three waterfalls in Montezuma. The first one is an easy hike, following a river. You can either follow the trail, or rock hop to this waterfall. It takes about 20 minutes. From there, you can choose to climb up a steep trail (and I mean, actually climb) to see the next two falls. The climb involved using numerous roots, branches and ropes for support, but the views from the top were worth it!

Never Park Under a Palm Tree

Palm trees are great, right? Not to park under. While loitering at the Montezuma Falls Parking lot, I witnessed a monkey hopping from tree-to-tree. The monkey eventually began to play in the branches of the palm trees, and mischievously shook the branches. Suddenly, we heard a loud thud. Within ten minutes, 4 coconuts had fallen onto another car, creating large dents in the hood.

There you have it. Seven things about Santa Teresa that I hadn’t found online. Hope it helps! ❤

Surviving Solo Travel: Valentine’s Day Tips

Today is Valentine’s Day. Oh Joy! 

Today is a day to celebrate true love. A day to go out with your significant other, and nurse the relationship. A day where you can expect to be treated like a princess. Or Prince, if you are a guy.

But, what if your significant other is on the other side of the world? Or, maybe, you have no desire to be with someone. Perhaps your life partner just hasn’t made an appearance yet. Whatever the reason, you are not with a significant other on Valentine’s Day and, maybe you miss that.

Here is a list of incredible things to do for the most important love of your life. No, I’m not talking about your dog, although I’m sure your pet is a very close second. I’m talking about your one true love, the person you can count on to see you through all of your struggle and heartache, the person who will be there when you triumphantly book another trip to the other side of the world. That person, the one who’s going to back you up on your decisions and support you no matter what.


Treat Yourself to Your Favorite Meal

Whether you are traveling on a budget, or traveling at a resort, being alone on Valentine’s Day can be tough. But it doesn’t have to be! Think about your favorite meal, and if you can treat yourself to it. If you don’t know how to cook your favorite meal, learn, and do it for yourself while you are traveling! It’s the perfect thing to do for you. Besides, your newfound cooking skills will be with you forever.

Write Your Future Self a Love Note

You’re important! So, draft a note to yourself for the future. Encourage yourself, and write out your most glorious achievements. Date it for next Valentine’s Day, and put it in your backpack until you are ready to open it! When you see it, you will see how much you have grown, and, in the present, your kind words to your future self will help you to be in a positive mindset.

Send Messages to Your Friends Expressing Your Gratitude for Their Support

Whenever you make someone else feel great about themselves, you’ll feel great about yourself, right? So, make someone’s day by sending them a heartfelt text telling them about how amazing they are. For sure, they’ll feel great, and you’ll feel great, knowing that you can make their day!

Indulge in a Spa Day

Spa Days are great for everyone. When you are on a budget, you can still make a mini spa day happen. Give yourself a facial using homemade cosmetics, use lotion on your hands, take a steaming shower with Eucalytus oil. even if your hostel lacks hot water, you can create a Spa atmosphere by boiling some water with Eucalyptus scented essential oils and inhale the steam. If you’re traveling around Costa Rica you could even go to the free hot springs and try that.

Eat Dark Chocolate 

Research shows that dark chocolate actually curbs anxiety and improves brain function. Multiple scientific studies show that chocolate actually increases the production of feel-good hormones, such as seratonin, norepeniphrine and dopamine. These chemicals are the very chemicals released when you are falling in love. Not only does chocolate perform this magic, chocolate also has been found to increase memory retention and stimulates blood flow to your brain. So go ahead, enjoy that special dark chocolate, and savor every minute as the velvety candy melts in your mouth. You deserve those feel-good chemicals.

Plan a Galentine’s Day At The Hostel or Go to The Pub with Your Mates 

Pull a Leslie Knope. If you’re an extrovert, find some friends at the hostel and plan a night out. Or, if you are on a strict budget, plan a pre-gaming party in, and buy a bunch of delicious food, wine and beverages. Turn the music up. Have an epic dance party with all the other fabulous travelers at your hostel and enjoy the traveler’s open-minded and freeing culture.

Take Yourself Out On a Date 

I not-so-secretly love doing this. I write out exactly what my perfect date would be, if I were with my significant other. (Assuming, of course, that my significant other exists.) Then, I look at what I’ve written, grab a journal, and head out. In the past, I’ve discovered incredible places (I still have friends back home that frequent the restaurants I recommend after enjoying a date with myself there, so it’s reasonably successful.) Every time I’ve taken myself out on one of these dates, I’ve left feeling blessed, thankful and knowing more about what I actually want in the future. (It definitely includes chocolate. And red wine.)

Entertain Yourself With an Online Dating App

If you really want someone to hang out with, use an online dating platform. Whether you want to meet someone to chill with for the day, or are looking for something a little more serious, it is definitely something that could open doors for you! One of my friends has met so many people while traveling through Tinder; she swears by it!


Cancel Plans With Everyone Else and Do Whatever you Want

That’s right. Do nothing. Let yourself sleep in. Take a walk. Shut off your phone. Spend the day sans technology. Read a book. Be happy.

So there you have it. Nine things you can do to appreciate the most important love of your life- yourself- while traveling on a budget.



That Time We Went Four-Wheeling in A Yaris

“We just can’t go anywhere.” Rhiannon jokes as she looks at me.

The situation, I had to admit, was not ideal.

In Boston, I would have cried.

I would have fumed, angry and irreconcilable because the tire was flat. I would have been panicking about being late to a meeting. I would have been absolutely freaking out about my tardiness, called triple AAA, missed wherever I was going, and cried some more.

But, I am not in Boston.

Instead, I am in the middle of nowhere. On a dirt road in a jungle. Somewhere between Montezuma and Santa Teresa. Maybe six kilometers from the closest town.

I don’t cry. I giggle. At least the ground isn’t frozen and covered with icy snow.

Luckily, I’m not alone. Also riding in this small Toyota Yaris (dubbed affectionately Estaban) are 4 of my friends: Joey, Angie, Alex and Rhiannon. We have spent the entire day enjoying Pura Vida vibes at the falls. It has been a beautiful day with amazing company. You’d be surprised at how hearty little Yaris’s named Esteban can be.

Plus, we drove through a river. (Filmed above) Because it was the only way to get back.

So instead of calling triple AAA, we look for a carjack. Somehow our car has everything necessary for changing a flat except for this one vital tool. Since we are in the jungle, sans cell service, and have only seen a couple of people drive by, we determine that the only option is to go forward with our flat.

We get back in the car, and gently coax Esteban through the jungle’s wild dirt roads. Slowly, we make it to the top of the first hill. Joey, the hero who rented the car, drove us to the falls, and then attempted to change the tire continues to drive slowly. Finally, we make it down the hill. Only 1 kilometers later, we see a steep hill in front of us.

Esteban, the Yaris, makes it about three quarters of the way up.

“I can push.” I say.

And then four of the five people get out and push Esteban up the final few feet. Magically, Esteban makes it to the top of the hill. We run to catch up and hop back in.

Having only three working tires, Esteban makes down one more hill.

That’s when we see them: Our Salvadores.

A large white truck comes barreling down the road. We stick our hands out the window and he stops. Luckily Joey, in addition to being an avid rock climber, is also able to speak Spanish.

We have located a Carjack.

Joey and the Costa Rican man are able to change the tire.

Finally we make it back to Santa Teresa, and admire what’s left of the incredible sunset.

Why San Jose Should Be Your Home Base in Costa Rica

When I first told other travelers about my plan to stay in San Jose for a month, the first response was, ¨Why?¨

Of course, I had several reasons prepared. I wanted to learn Spanish. I wanted to see the architecture. It is Costa Rica´s capital, for goodness sakes! I had heard that it was less touristy. I wanted to see everything that San Jose had to offer. Of course, my biggest reason is that I found a unique opportunity to try something new via workaway. However, when I first signed up, I had no idea how much I would grow to love not only San Jose, but Aldea and the other volunteers as well. Here are some of the many reasons to stay in San Jose.

One of the many Streets In San Jose

It is not Touristy

While Costa Rica is filled with tourists, San Jose seems to be a place where tourism takes a back seat to Costa Rican life. Sure, the locals still say, ‘Pura Vida,’ and accept the American dollar, but as a whole, this area gives you a real view into an average Urban Costa Rican’s life. Here, less English is spoken (in my experience), avocados are 4/500 colones rather than 1/3145 colones (4/USD or 1/6 USD) and sodas are located everywhere.

It’s Less Expensive

Right now, I volunteer in exchange for free accommodation in San Jose. However, even if I paid full price, my rent for about a week would not exceed $70 in an 8-bed dorm. Compared to most places in Costa Rica this is very cheap. Additionally, food costs are super low when you visit the local markets. Off Paseo Colon, you can find Mercardo Centrale, bustling with local life. This market oozes local life and culture, and I usually find a week’s worth of food for about $20.00 USD, (or about 10,000 colones). Granted I need to haggle in Spanish, but I need practice with that anyway, so it’s not a bad thing.

My friend Stacy and I explored San Jose for a day, and walked to the historic National Theater.

It’s Diverse

Although there are less tourists in this area, the melange of affordable restaurans around is staggering. One of my favorites, The Corner Pizzeria, serves some of the best Italian food I’ve tasted in all of Costa Rica. If you walk Paseo Colon, there are numerous cafes, gelaterias, and bars within a mile. Additionally, many of these restaurants serve local food at local prices, so you can enjoy an authentic Costa Rican dining experience.

There are Direct buses Leaving for all the most Popular Costa Rican Destinations

Most of the bus stations in San Jose are easy to access. Therefore, if you stay in San Jose, you will be able to take buses almost everywhere you want to see. I am approaching my fourth week here in Costa Rica, and I have been to Tamarindo, Puerto Viejo, La Fortuna and am currently writing from Santa Teresa. My most expensive trip included a ferry ride, and cost $15.00 one-way. For a weekend at a beautiful beach, this isn’t a bad price. Because I work and live in San Jose, I am able to leave most of my stuff at my hostel, and take only what I need. Not only is this an effective way to budget; it’s also liberating to carry less obnoxious stuff. No one wants to walk 30 minutes to a hostel with a twenty-five pound bag after a seven hour bus ride!

But if 7 Hours on A Bus Isn’t Your Thing….. Book a Tour, Shuttle or Private Cab

You can book tours to anywhere in Costa Rica from San Jose. This mitigates the need for riding a public bus, and gives you an opportunity to see more of Costa Rica. I’ve seen tours to La Fortuna, Tortegeura, Tamarindo, and Jaco Beach. So far, the tours have been worth the money, because each one has a knowledgeable guide. Additionally, shuttles are also available, and easy to book through your accommodation.


Another beautiful building in San Jose

You Gain Valuable Insight to the Socio-economic Issues in Costa Rica 

Everyone knows Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America. It is filled with retired Americans, tourists, and backpackers. However, there are some real problems in this area. The cost of living is not reflected in the wages. In certain parts of San Jose, you will realize that poverty exists in this beautiful country. And, recognizing that is important too.

It is Filled with Beautiful Architecture and Rich Histories

Home to the Jade Museum, Children’s Museum, and The National Theater, you can easily spend a couple of days exploring this beautiful city. I’ve spent three weeks there, and still have so much more to see! ❤


Venturing Into The Free Hot Springs

We got into the ancient, gray car in front beside us. Clearly, this was not the type of taxi we were advised to take. It didn’t even have the taxi sign on top. And, it definitely was not red, the color of the reputable taxis in the area. Upon opening the door and crawling to the furthest seat, I noticed, with further trepidation that the backseat did not seem to contain seatbelts.

Literally, there are places to park your horses. This is a real Horse Parking Site on the way to the La Fortuna Falls. It should give you a vague idea of how some of the roads may look.

“Pura Vida!” I say to Rhiannon and Esther as we hop into the car. Pura Vida, literally translated, means ‘Pure Life.’ However, depending on the situation, it could also mean, ‘hello,’ ‘good-bye,’ ‘I like you,’ ‘yolo,’ and a host of other things. It is all about the inflection with which one says ‘Pura Vida.’In this case, it meant something like, “hey, we’ve made it to Costa Rica, navigated a couple of crowded public buses, and are now in this taxi-that-is-not-a-real-taxi, mine as well enjoy the next few moments of our lives.”

Pura Vida, indeed.

Alejandro, a friend of a friend of Rhiannon’s starts speaking in rapid Spanish to the driver. From what I can understand, our ride to the legendary free hot springs in La Fortuna will be only one-thousand colones per person. Literally, a quarter of the price our hostel had quoted us.

The View of one of the roads on the way to the Free Hot Springs.

I’m pretty sure this is just Alejandro’s friend. Rhiannon turns to me and Esther.

I decide to try to listen to the conversation. The taxi driver seems friendly. Everything seems to be going smoothly, in spite of the car’s dingy demeanor. That is, until I hear:

“Hay un pequeño problema.” Now, my Spanish isn´t amazing, but even I understand what that phrase means. There is a problem.

Instantly, every single Fox News report I have ever seen about missing persons starts running through my head. Is this man with the cartel? Is Rhiannon´s friend´s friend actually just a clever ruse to kidnap us and hold us hostage?

Alejandro turns around, ¨There has been an accident.¨He informs us in perfect English, ¨And we will take a different way.¨ He then continues to speak with the driver.

Rhiannon, Esther and I glance at one another. Of the three, I know the most Spanish, and I can barely understand what they are saying.

I try to listen more closely.

A view on the way to the Hot Springs on a Cloudy Day…. before we left.

Our small car hurtles through the darkness on the winding dirt roads of La Fortuna. Alejandro and the driver continue to talk. Rhiannon and Esther chat, but I am focused on trying to decipher the conversation up front. Familia? Is he actually talking about his family, or is he talking about the cartel?

I mentally remind myself to stop being so ridiculous. The cartel probably doesn’t even exist in Costa Rica.

After about twenty minutes, we arrive at the free La Fortuna Hot Springs. For once, I am free from my cell phone. I have only the clothes on my back, and a small black change purse in Rhiannon’s bag.

We clamor out of the small vehicle, and make our way towards the hot springs. The spot seemed popular: there were loads of cars lined up in front of the trail head.

Meant to simulate the darkness we navigated until our knowledgeable and trustworthy guide brought his headlamp

Pitch black. The rocky trail in front of us was nearly invisible. Alejandro, our knowledgeable and wonderful guide, put his head lamp on. Ah. Light. So much better. We slowly navigate our way to the springs, crossing a man-made slab of pavement. Warm water rolls over our toes.

We make it to the other side, and saunter into the natural pools of hot water. Our bodies are enveloped in a natural bath. We sit next to the miniature cascades of water, and feel our backs pummeled with the warm water.

I silently pray to God that snapping turtles are nowhere close by. I´m not about that nine-toed life. Something slimy touches my leg.

¨Wahhhh!¨I yell, thinking that it must be either a snapping turtle, or one of the twenty-three types of deadly vipers inhabiting the Costa Rican Rainforest.

Alejandro shines a light toward me, revealing a small, slimy brown leaf.

‘Heh,’ I grin sheepishly, reminding myself to stop being so silly. The odds of a snapping turtle biting my toe are probably lower than being in a car accident. I haven´t even seen a single deadly viper. Do they even like to swim? I make a silent note to google that once I have my phone back.

Finally, I relax into the water and chat with Rhiannon, Esther and Alejandro. The moon shines through the jungles’ canopy and stars glitter above us. Locals come down to the natural springs and light candles close by. Soon, I am relaxed, and enjoying Nature´s original Jacuzzi; tranquilly settling into the belief that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

La Fortuna Falls: Is it Worth the $15?


After walking for about an hour and a half from the hostel to the waterfall site, Rhiannon and I were shocked to hear that seeing a natural waterfall would cost $15.00 US.

After a brief conversation, we determined that it would be best to head back to the hostel and catch a ride to the Free Hot Springs.

The View of the Falls from the Park Entrance.

Fast-forward to about 48 hours later. I am determined to see the waterfalls. I look around my hostel and apparently I’m not the only one. Now, there are four of us taking the hour and a half long trek to the State Park Headquarters where we will pay the $15 to get in. Fortunately, about half-way there, a Costa Rican Local with a pick-up truck offered our group a ride, which we gratefully accepted and piled into his truck bed.

Finally, we made it to the Falls. Upon paying the $15, we were able to grab a bite to eat at a restaurant, and were greeted by signs for the Orchid Trail, and La Fortuna Falls.

“Let’s do the Orchid Trail first, so we can swim at the end.” I suggested, thinking that it would be a long, winding path.

My group agreed, and after about a five minute walk, we were finished with the trail. There was nothing left to do except for the 600 meter descent down to the bottom of the falls. The path is well-made. Stairs are mostly even, making the trail accessible for people of all ages.

Me, admiring the Waterfalls

The La Fortuna Falls are strong and powerful, but the hike in and of itself is easy. If you pay the $15 expecting a difficult climb, you will be disappointed. However, the La Fortuna Falls are powerful, strong and unique enough to impress anyone. Additionally, if you cross the river, there are several more hiking trails that belong to another company.

For me, the $15 to see the La Fortuna Falls was a small price to pay to admire some of the jungle’s natural beauty. If I had to do it again, I would definitely spend some time crossing the river to explore the hiking trails on the other side. Additionally, the $15 goes toward the town of La Fortuna, increasing the amount of services it’s citizens have access too.

The Rainforest

For me, the answer to the question is a resounding “yes.’ La Fortuna Waterfalls are worth the $15 you pay to see them, and you can have peace, knowing that the money you part with goes to help the town and it’s citizens.

Getting Free Accommodation: My Workaway in San Jose, Costa Rica

Workaway.  An easy way to experience the culture, community and language of the place you want to go. Not to mention, a free bed, and near instantaneous travel family. When I found the site, I immediately began to type in the names of cities I wanted to visit and countries I had never been. I paid the $30 registration fee (it’s good for a year!) and started perusing the site see what would pique my interests.

I found one Workaway in Coffs Harbour, Australia, and another one in San Jose, Costa Rica. Each Workaway job and location is different. I knew I wanted to work in hostels, so I searched specifically for postings needing volunteers to help in hostels.

In Coffs Harbour, I volunteered for about two hours a day with 3 or 4 other travelers. We were responsible for cleaning the hostel. After only two hours in the mornings, we were finished with our work and were able to explore the areas around us. This was perfect, as the hostel was close to beaches and hiking trails. We worked everyday, and the hours were somewhat flexible. We shared rooms with the guests, and we were able to blend in.

Here, in San Jose, the Workaway is different. First and foremost, I am at Aldea Hostel in San Jose. This hostel has a restaurant and bar: The Corner Pizzeria. There are four volunteers and we share a dorm together. We have our own bathroom facilities, and our own space. We work about six hours four consecutive days a week. Our first two days, we work the night shift, and therefore we don’t need to be back until 3 or 4 pm.  Our last two days we work the morning shift. Our hostel is attached to a restaurant and we are able to work there at night; whereas, during the day, we clean the hostel and make beds.

I’m a big fan of the schedule I have in San Jose. The three consecutive days off are able to be used to explore new places in Costa Rica. The hostel is only a twenty minute walk to the bus station and San Jose is centrally located. The Workaway at Aldea is different: working is actually a lot of fun, and the staff are friendly.  I’m really enjoying my time here, and it feels like I have a home base here in Costa Rica.

Although I do have to pay for the accommodation I need when I take my weekend trips, (so far, I’ve been to Tamarindo, and La Fortuna– keep an eye out for these upcoming posts!) I can choose to stay in San Jose on my days off and my accommodation is included. I get a thirty percent discount on the food and drinks in the restaurant, and there’s a kitchen I share with the guests. This Workaway has been a great experience so far, and I highly recommend it.


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