This intriguing interplay between humans and nature — the cohabitation of the beach between vacationing humans, industrious crabs, and the retreating waves — paints a vivid tableau of life on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It's these unexpected encounters and intimate observations that imbue travel with a sense of wonder and discovery.
As I meandered along the shoreline, I found myself captivated by the graceful flight of a pelican. It seemed to lift off the water reluctantly, before circling the beach a few times. It scanned the area below with keen eyes, back and forth, until it finally selected the perfect spot to land. The sight of it immediately starting to peck and gulp down its meal only confirmed that its hunt had been successful.
In stark contrast to the vibrant life of the sea and skies, the land held its unique residents. Back at the hotel, there were frequent sightings of large lizards, akin to iguanas, basking in the warm Costa Rican sun. Despite their somewhat intimidating appearance, these creatures seemed to coexist peacefully with the guests. They showed no particular fear of humans, and it took a fair bit of effort to shoo them away. They seemed to understand that they, too, were part of this extraordinary coastal tapestry.
This peaceful cohabitation further illustrates the beauty of the Costa Rican Pacific coast. Here, a breathtaking interplay of terrestrial, marine, and avian life unfolds, creating a vibrant, living portrait of nature's diversity. From the mesmerizing flight of the pelicans to the lazy sprawl of sunbathing iguanas, the Pacific coast teems with life, adding depth to its allure and making it a truly extraordinary travel destination.
One day, after spending considerable time relaxing on the beach near the hotel, I decided to venture further. The hotel had a shuttle service that could transport guests to nearby beaches, and I thought to take advantage of it. Initially, I wanted to go to Playa Conchal, a beach located between Playa Brasilito and the famous Playa Flamingo. Known for its unique crushed seashell sands and extraordinarily white hue, Playa Conchal seemed an attractive destination. However, getting there turned out to be inconvenient as neither taxis nor Ubers were willing to go that far. The alternative, of making a stop at Playa Flamingo and then figuring out a way back, seemed too cumbersome. So, I decided to change my plan.
Instead, I chose to explore Playa del Coco, another well-known beach that's famed more for its lively atmosphere than its natural beauty. Its myriad shops, street-side stalls, and bustling restaurants weren't exactly the tranquil beach setting I had in mind. Yet, upon reaching Playa del Coco, I was pleasantly surprised. As I moved beyond the busier parts and strolled along the beach, I discovered a quieter zone where there were barely any people. This part of the beach was surprisingly similar to the one near my hotel, except for the numerous yachts that populated the bay. Unlike Playa Conchal, which is dominated by large hotel complexes, Playa del Coco hosted an array of smaller establishments scattered along the shoreline.
The locals, with their deep sun-soaked tans, seemed to meld into the background. I spent the rest of my day exploring Playa del Coco until it was time to head back to the hotel, satisfied with the unexpected peace I found. Even though Playa del Coco had a reputation as a lively destination, I discovered it also had a quieter side - a serene oasis amidst the common hustle and bustle. This excursion served as a reminder of the hidden gems one can stumble upon when venturing slightly off the beaten path.
Nonetheless, I had planned to spend four days and five nights at this location. As someone who dislikes staying in one place for too long, I was keen to explore new territories. Initially, I thought about taking a day trip to Nicaragua, a neighbouring country. Excursions from Costa Rica to Nicaragua can be lengthy and tiring, but they provide a unique opportunity to experience a different culture in a single day. Unfortunately, for the days I was available, there were no popular tours scheduled, and I couldn't find anyone to join me on this adventure.
Instead, I opted for another excursion that also led towards Nicaragua but offered a different kind of experience – a visit to the active volcano. The online images of the volcano, showcasing recent eruptions, piqued my interest. Its persistent activity added a layer of excitement to my plan.
So, I embarked on a day trip to the volcano near Rincón de la Vieja. This journey was to consume about twelve hours, including travel time and various stopovers. Our first significant halt was at a national park that marked the foothills of the volcano. A guided tour took us through this park, which was a fitting introduction to the impressive geological entity we were about to explore.
The forest was filled with the vibrant sounds of cicadas, their persistent chirping competing with the powerful calls of howler monkeys. The monkeys, whose voices echoed like a robust baritone through the forest, weren't the ones I had first encountered on this trip. The new ones were spider monkeys, an entirely different species known for their agility in swinging through the trees, young ones included. Their playful movement offered ample opportunities for intriguing shots through my camera lens, as I tried to discern their high-altitude activities.
Just as I was getting accustomed to the forest's rhythm, a tropical rainstorm commenced. The days here were unpredictable, some were doused with evening showers, others remained pleasantly dry. Even soaked, I found it fascinating to trek through the forest, stumbling upon hot springs exuding sulfuric odours, where mud baths bubbled vigorously. These mud baths offered a variety of consistencies, from watery to clay-like, akin to what one might find in a spa.
The path also led me to acidic lakes with whitish water and rocks. Their shores were reminiscent of a sulfur volcano I'd seen on a previous trip to the Caribbean. Just as a safety measure, evacuation points were dotted around the region in case the slumbering volcano decided to awaken.