Costa Rica – A Perfect Destination Anytime

I toured 18 properties in 10 days and saw a beautiful ecosystem teaming with life. I enjoyed some wonderful spas and an outdoor massage. And I got to repel through a waterfall. Whatever kind of vacation you want, Costa Rica is ready for you now.
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I chose Costa Rica to be my first choice for several reasons: the country had just opened, the virus numbers were low, Costa Rica has a good healthcare system, and the tropical climate lends itself to more outdoor activities. Costa Rica initially opened its borders requiring a negative test. When that failed to attract travelers, they dropped the test and moved to require insurance. The insurance provides up to $2000 to cover quarantine costs and $20,000 for medical treatment. With the current requirement for a negative test to re-enter the US, Costa Rica has made this process extremely easy for departing travelers.

In preparation for my trip my travel companion, another travel advisor, stayed close home in the 2 weeks before our trip and also took COVID tests. This was not required but something we both did to put each other at ease being in close quarters. In addition we both purchased Medjet policies. Medjet is not travel insurance, but a company that provides transportation to your preferred hospital. In the unlikely event of being hospitalized for COVID they have pods that are used to transport travellers to their home hospital. In addition to the Costa Rican insurance, I also had travel insurance. Good news is that I did not need to use any of the insurance options I had.

Ever wanted to repel through a waterfall?
Me Too!

My flight on United was uneventful and I did get an amazing price to upgrade last minute. Service even in business class is limited and on my flight they did serve alcohol in the business class cabin.  Gone are the days of airlines selling food and alcohol until the pandemic has passed. United also served a tapas box and a cream cheese sandwich. I chose the tapas box and it was pretty good. Other than the short time I ate, I had my KN95 mask on for the entire flight.  

Upon arrival I was met by my driver and travel companion and we were off to the races. Rodrigo, our driver, had us use hand sanitizer before entering the van. We asked him to stop for some beer as we had a 3 hour transfer ahead of us to Arenal. Rodrigo explained we were driving on the Pan American Highway, the highway that runs from Prudhoe Alaska, through the US and Mexico and down to Southern Chile. I joked with my travel companion that I have a history of my travel adventures going awry. She said not this trip. About 20 minutes later we got a flat tire and I got bit by Costa Rican fire ants while we drank our beers on the side of the Pan American Highway.   

Upon arrival at one of my preferred hotels, Tabacon, the bellman sprayed our luggage before it was brought to our room. All hotel employees were wearing masks and vinyl gloves. There was also plexiglass at check in. Guests were required to wear masks in all public areas, but were not required once seated to eat in the pool or hot spring areas. I also had the best massage of my life outside – which was wonderful.  
While in the Arenal area we experienced the hot springs, canyoning and a hanging bridges and canopy tour. We didn’t see many animals besides racoons, but we saw many different varieties of birds and butterflies. The Arenal area is a rain forest so you must be prepared for rain. From Arenal we headed to Manuel Antonio where we saw many different types of animals, from sloths, howler monkeys, white face monkeys, toucans, scarlet macaws and even an ant eater! There are many different beaches to visit in Manuel Antonio and the beaches vary from rocky dark sand to powdery white.
Then it was time to head to the Blue Zone. There are 5 blue zones in the world and one of them is in Costa Rica in the Nicoya Peninsula. People who live in the blue zone tend to have long lives with few health problems. In addition they tend to have less stressful lives. We flew from San Jose to Tambor as our gateway into the Nicoya peninsula, famous for its surf town of Santa Teresa. I have travelled all over the world and it has been a long time since I have found such a charming city. Santa Teresa is a dog’s paradise, everyone seems to own one and they freely run around the town and beaches. Here it’s all about surfing, sunsets and good food. The beach is long and perfect for walking.  

Fast food restaurants are rare outside of the San Jose area and the Soda is a type of local restaurant that is cheap and cheerful – or as the natives say “Bueno bonita and barrata”. 

They usually serve Casadas which are a typical Costa Rican dish with beans, rice, salad or plantains and either beef, fish or chicken. Restaurants had QR codes for menus and cleaning protocols were clearly followed.

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