Our 4th Trip to Costa Rica

Is there a better way to spend our 7th wedding anniversary than with another trip to Costa Rica with close friends to celebrate? I think not. We’ve never had a bad time in Costa Rica and our 4th trip to Costa Rica was no different. Lifetime memories were made and a great time was had by all. If you haven’t taken a trip to Costa Rica yet, what are you waiting for?

Villa Caletas Hotel

This may have been our 4th trip to Costa Rica, but for three of them we’ve stayed at the Villa Caletas Hotel. We had a Costa Rican wedding and got married at the Zephyr Palace which is on the same property. When I say Villa Caletas is one of Costa Rica’s hidden gems, I mean it. We love it here.

The hotel is nestled on top of a mountain over looking the Pacific Ocean with the rainforest below. The property is pristine; always clean and the staff is always inviting and accommodating. My favorite part of staying here is the lemon grass soap they have. It’s life changing.

Aside from the rooms, the views and everything in between, the food is amazing. Everything is pretty much farm to table. And the freshness of it all is the chef’s kiss. You think you eat healthy here in the United States, but going to Costa Rica you realize you’re not even close to eating healthy here in the US. I come back from Costa Rican and eat our processed foods and my stomach is like where is the good stuff.

What I look forward to the most at my stay here is the wildlife. Waking up to the sounds of the toucans and macaws calling out as they fly above the rainforest canopy. The white face capuchin monkeys that jump from tree to tree foraging on fruit is always an amazing sight. Hummingbirds, butterflies, coatis and everything in between you can find here. And there are snakes here as well. Just be careful with those colorful plants and flowers, that is where you can find some of the most poisonous snakes in the world here.

Vista Los SueƱos Adventure Park

What is a trip to Costa Rica if you don’t partake in some of the amazing excursions offered? We went down to have fun and fun we had. We first visited Vista Los Suenos Adventure Park on our first trip here. Needless to say this place has grown and modernized. If you’re staying in the Jaco area this is the place to hit up. They have it all; atv, ziplining, horseback riding and more. The prices couldn’t be beat as well. Clean and the staff speaks English as well for those who lack some of the Spanish vernacular.

ATV Jungle Adventure

Our first adventure was taking atvs through the jungle. From crossing rivers, darting around the forest and hauling ass up a mountain to amazing scenic vista views this was so much fun. You can’t go wrong with an atv.

First half of the trip we visited this swimming hole, basically, and we were able to get in the water and relax. It was so refreshing to just step into the brisk water to cool down. Plenty of opportunities for some great group photos as well as photos of the watering hole.

Afterwards we literally floored it up the mountain to the top to see the amazing views of Jaco and Herradura, Costa Rica. It was so peaceful being so high up, only to realize that there were still mountains that towered above us nearby.

You’ll come out muddy and dirty as all hell, but it’s so worth it. Luckily Vista Los Suenos had showers outside where we retuned the atvs to so we could clean up. And how can I forget the fresh fruit afterwards. Fresh pineapple just hits differently

Horseback Riding & Waterfalls

The second part of our adventure was horseback riding up to waterfalls. What stood out to me and to us, was how fresh the horses were. They weren’t some beat down horses or mules and that does go a long way with the experience.

When we initially did this excursion years ago we could gallop up the mountain straight to the waterfall. Unfortunately, that is no longer an option. There is nothing like going full speed on the horse, bouncing up and down with every stride holding on for dear life. It’s a rush for sure.

After we rode up, we had to dismount and hike a bit further to the waterfalls. I cannot stress enough how relaxing the water is. There were two pools we could swim in and the water was inviting.

On they way back I made it a point to be on my horse first so when it was time to leave I would give my horse a little jolt so we could gallop a bit. It felt amazing to just take off. Granted I had to slow down and wait for others to catch up, but I made sure to stay back here and there so I could pick and choose when we could gallop instead of a slow, methodical trot.

Isla Tortuga Costa Rica aka Tortuga Island

My wife had been wanting to visit Tortuga Island for a while now and we all rented a private boat to charter us out there. We were in Jaco for dinner at my favorite taco spot, Tacobar, and afterwards we walked past a vendor selling tours and excursions. After some price haggling we came to an agreement and we should have known what was shown to us wasn’t what would be getting.

We had a shuttle take us to the marina so we could board the boat, only to discover the boat wasn’t in the marina it was already in the bay waiting for us. We had to take the shuttle to Herradura Beach and basically take a dingy out to the boat. The boat wasn’t the lap of luxury sold to us, but you know it was a private boat just for us.

To get to Tortuga Island was like an hour, hour and a half ride out. The views leaving Herradura Beach were amazing. Lucky for us the water was calm and it was smooth sailing out to Tortuga Island. Along the way we saw sea turtles, seabirds and amazing landscapes of volcanic rocks jetting out from the water.

I sat in the back of the boat hoping to see some dolphins or whales. No luck, but they did have some fishing rods out and we caught a mahi-mahi. I think we had it for lunch if I’m not mistaken.

Once we got to the island we took another dingy in. We had our own private picnic tables where we had lunch and were able to leave our belongings. We could rent beach chairs and buy alcoholic drinks in coconuts.

There basically the beach and that was it. Other boats and tours arrived, but it wasn’t like it was overrun at all. We walked the beach, hung out in the water and just enjoyed life. Felt good to do that.

Now the way back was another story. Storm clouds were forming so we decided to take off, but it was too late. The waters were rough and the once calm waters of the Pacific Ocean were churning, rocking the boat as it maneuvered through the choppy waters. I still sat in the back hoping for a whale or two, but I ended up getting all artsy with taking abstract photos of the waves and sea foam.

Villa Caletas Private Beach

Villa Caletas has a private beach at the bottom of the mountain. You can take one of the jeeps down that the hotel offers to guests and the jeep comes every hour and drives back up every half hour or you can hike down the mountain. We’ve hiked down before and this time we hiked down, but not on the traditional trail. We stuck to the road as the nature trail was closed for maintenance.

Not going to lie, the hike down was more arduous than I remembered. It took about an hour to hike down, but it took longer for my knees to stop telling me they were hurting.

The private beach has a bar and offers food as well as it has cabanas, lounge chairs and a jacuzzi. For me, my favorite part is during low tide we can walk out along the rocks through the tidal pools and just explore.

Again wildlife being abundant, there are tons of shore birds, crabs and fish to be seen.

We went to the private beach twice and on the second day I experienced a nightmare scenario every photographer fears. It was somewhat of a low tide, but the waves were crashing against the the rocky shelf of the beach. I was keeping a safe distance when a rogue wave hit the shelf and shot at least 2o feet into the air and all I remember was seeing a shadow come over me. That shadow being the wave blocking out the sun and drenching me.

Forget drenching me. I tried to protect my camera, but there was no hope. My camera was soaked and if you know anything about salt water and cameras, it’s that it doesn’t mixed.

I raced back to the cabana to dry out the camera. And of course it didn’t turn on. Still hasn’t turned on.

My heart sank the same way when Iron Man died in End Game. It was an unexplainable pain.

I will say this though, I did get the shot. It’s the last photo in the gallery below. Shooters have to shoot right?

I don’t know when I will be back to Costa Rica, but I will be. There is no place I rather be. Pura Vida

For more photos and videos please visit my Instagram page

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