Join me on a vivid journey along Costa Rica's Pacific Coast. Experience the vibrant life, serene beaches, and captivating natural beauty through our detailed travelogue and stunning photographs. From the bustling hotels to the tranquil, secluded beaches, discover the diverse tapestry of experiences that make this destination truly extraordinary.

Along the shimmering Pacific coast of Costa Rica where I arrived, the picturesque stretch of coastline is dominated by two prominent Rui hotels, echoing the rhythm of waves breaking on the shore with a symphony of vibrant life.
However, the lively scene, unfortunately, presents a melange of what I find less appealing about such establishments. They pulse with the vibrant energy of an overwhelming number of people in trendy lounges, busy bars and restaurants, creating a din of chatter and laughter. The expanse of pools is filled with frolicking patrons, their laughter reverberating as they sip on their simple cocktails. This noisy tableau is not my preferred style of vacation, but in this instance, it serves as a base for exploring the mesmerizing surroundings.
To me, the wise choice along this coastline was this locale, amidst the options I had. The adjacent beach was surprisingly serene, warmed by the equatorial sun, with the ocean displaying a balmy temperature, probably around 28 to 29 degrees Celsius. It felt almost peculiar dipping into the tepid waters, but it was an immensely delightful experience, especially for someone like me who relishes the comforting embrace of warm sea waters.
While some might thrive in the chilly thrill of cold water swimming, I am not one of them. Here, you can spend hours luxuriating in the warm water, watching pelicans gracefully skim the nearby shores. And just as some National Parks have 'visitor centres' that draw in crowds, there are certain attractions here that work like magnets for tourists.
Much like sponges soaking up dirty dishwater, the bustling pools and accessible eateries offering uncomplicated cocktails seemed to absorb the majority of the crowd that I'd rather avoid. This left the ocean relatively tranquil, and the beach was not overrun by these merry vacationers, a fact I was undoubtedly grateful for.
In the aftermath of a lengthy journey to this captivating region, I decided to spend the first few days strolling the local areas rather than embarking on excursions. The Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, after all, is more than just a tourist destination. It is a symphony of sand, sea, and sun, interspersed with notes of local culture, and I wanted to savour every bit of it.
One sunny day, I embarked on an exploration down the beach. Living on one edge of the beach, which was cradled by rocky cliffs protruding into the sea, the path to the right was a non-starter. However, to the left, an incredibly secluded beach unfolded, intermittently veiled by lush tropical foliage. I suppose I could have ambled along this hidden paradise for a good hour and a half before reaching its other end.
Strolling along this beach was a gratifying experience. Its sand was not the usual golden hue you might expect but a rather unique shade with a hint of grey. Despite this, the sand was remarkably soft, devoid of intrusive stones. The sea was relatively calm, the coastline's rugged bays forming natural barriers to harsh waves. Depending on the wind's direction, which favoured me that day, the waves gently lapped the shore.
Scattered here and there along the beach were picturesque driftwood pieces, perfect foreground elements for any beach photograph. As I ventured further, large vulture-like birds perched on trees caught my eye, warily scanning the nearby shores, possibly hunting for their next meal.
At certain spots, trails led inland, where the occasional rustic restaurant could be encountered. One might even spot monkeys swinging from tree to tree in these parts. However, the ocean's magnetic allure kept me from straying far from the shore. The Pacific coast of Costa Rica's mesmerizing charm lay not only in its radiant sunsets and verdant landscape but also in its subtle details — the driftwood on the beach, the curious birds, and the winding trails. All of these elements converged into a rich tapestry of experiences that etched this place permanently into my memory.
As I ventured further along the shore, I encountered a vibrant assortment of other visitors — not human, but crustacean. The beach's inhabitants were predominantly crabs of various hues — intense red, bluish-grey, and even some with a touch of purple. These fascinating creatures virtually owned the beach at both ends, their powerful burrows punctuating the sandy expanse.
As I approached, they would reluctantly and slowly scuttle away, their hefty claws held aloft in a display of cautious bravado. The closer I got, the more they readied themselves, almost defensively. Judging by the size of their burrows, this was indeed their kingdom, adding another dash of colour and life to the Costa Rican Pacific coast.
At the far end of the beach, a river flowed languidly, seemingly drying up in the absence of rain, leaving just puddles of water behind. This area was a veritable playground for the crabs, who combed the territory like soldiers on parade, systematically searching for what delicious morsels the rain could have washed in. To them, any plump, fresh-smelling item carried by the water seemed appetizing.
Upon my arrival, this army of crabs retreated — a slow, collective backward step. They yielded their positions reluctantly, but with a creature armed with a camera approaching, they didn't have much choice. My camera was poised, ready to capture this intriguing spectacle of nature, leaving them with no option but to recede before the onslaught of my photographic invasion.

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.
The journey continued towards a waterfall, much more accessible than the one near the Arenal Volcano, requiring only about 25 minutes of walking. Though it might not have been as grand, the sight of the waterfall was pleasing, easily reachable through a series of forest bridges, which added an element of amusement for me, someone unafraid of heights.
Swimming near the waterfall wasn't ideal due to the inconvenience. Nevertheless, some people dared to swim right under the waterfall, braving the cascading water pouring down from the cliff above. As the spectacle unfolded, I tried to capture it using long-exposure shots to achieve a smooth water effect.
My experience was further enriched by visiting hot springs. Unlike the ones near Arenal, which were more like hot pools in a hotel and felt commercialized, these springs were embedded naturally in the forest. Reaching them required a trek through the woods, and they were situated by a mountain stream. It almost felt like someone was attempting to create a soup out of me in the wild, instead of in a city restaurant, considering the water temperature hovered around 40 degrees Celsius.
Some pools even indicated a daunting 45 degrees, which I dared not approach. The temperature difference was stark, with a pool at 37 degrees feeling pleasantly warm compared to a 40-degree one that was almost unbearable. There were several pools with varying temperatures from 40 down to 37 degrees, but the perceived difference was much more significant.
Preferring the warmth over boiling heat, I chose a couple of pools that offered a more comfortable soak. I'm no fan of being boiled, and I don't plan on becoming a soup anytime soon. With the day coming to an end, I made my hour-long journey back to my hotel.
The next day, I was preparing for my long journey back to San Jose, where I'd stay overnight before setting off on my return trip.

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