Looking for Sloths: Our Travels in Costa Rica

Matt and I got married in August 2018, and a common question we got was “where will you honeymoon?” Many people thought that world-travelers such as us had already seen so much, it would be hard to choose a special place for our honeymoon. Well, they weren’t totally wrong; we did have trouble finding the right location, but they did underestimate how little of the world we’d actually seen. So, in the spirit of going somewhere completely new and different, we decided to go to Costa Rica! Some adventure, some beach, some hiking and some nice hotels – what more could we ask for?

Seeing as there are so many great things to do in Costa Rica, we decided to fly to Liberia, rent a car and make our way slowly to San Jose where we would fly home. We landed in Liberia late at night, grabbed the car and headed straight for Playa del Coco. After a decent night’s sleep, we started the next morning with a walk downtown to find a boat tour. The town reminded us a bit of Thailand; the town was aiming to be a cute and beachy, but definitely had a side of grunge. After struggling to find cash, as the ATM’s around town were all empty, we finally found a boat tour we liked and booked tickets for later that afternoon. We walked to the beach, had a cocktail and got ready for our boat tour. The tour, which we had booked with the idea that we would go around the area, snorkel and swim a bit, was much more than we bargained for! Yes snorkeling, swimming and boating were included, but so was an open full bar, free dinner and a beautiful sunset! It was a lovely day on the water, and we had some great island cocktails while we made friends on the boat. While we didn’t expect it, it was a great first day of our honeymoon!

The next day, we headed toward Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna. Our drive was a bit bumpier than we planned for. We had read a lot about driving in Costa Rica that the roads were absolute crap and they didn’t recommend tourist even attempt to drive without an off-road type vehicle; advice we didn’t think to heed until we were flying over boulders in the middle of the roads with our little, uninsured, Sudan. The twisting roads and bumpy streets made for a long trek out to the volcano, but at least there were some great views and a couple Coati sightings along the way. We settled into our hotel that night with rose petals on the bed and a private jacuzzi in the backyard!

We were very excited to see some more wildlife, so the next day we went on a hike through the Arenal hanging bridge park. We spent a lot of time in the jungle, crossing 6 giant hanging bridges over the tops of the canopy. It was a little scary at first, and I’m not sure I loved the swinging of the bridge, but we really enjoyed our walk. The only problem…no animals sightings. Not even an interesting insect! Animal sightings fail #1. That night, we took a trip to the nearby Tabacon Hot Springs. While Tabacon does have a hotel attached to the hot springs, we definitely couldn’t afford it. So instead, we opted for a night pass to swim, relax and enjoy the steamy waters. Tabacon is a large resort, but we found that at night, the crowds seemed much calmer. There were tons of little nooks and crannies to explore, and we could easily find a place to ourselves. We soaked, had a few outrageously priced cocktails and enjoyed the romantic vibes.

Another long day of driving on windy, crap-tastic roads to Monteverde. It was seriously one of the craziest drives we’ve had, and Matt was white-knuckled the whole time trying not to let a rock take out the underside of the car. We drove up mountains, through windmill farms and got stopped by a few cows in the roads. And boy did we see some small, authentic villages in Costa Rica! We reached our AMAZING accommodations for the night – a private yurt in the middle of the cloud forest, complete with a kitchen (and free booze), glass encased bathroom and a personal hot tub overlooking the sunset. Pure bliss! Even though we were tired of the driving, we were so excited to spend a few days here!

The next day, we set out for our next animal sighting adventure in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. To get into the park was a bit tricky, as they only allow a certain number of people at a time, and there’s no reservations. It’s first come, first serve…and we were stuck behind a long line of people. We hunkered down at the café nearby and waited a few hours until we were able to enter the park. It was a pretty walk through the forest, engulfed by the mist at times, and then turning a corner, we could see over the entire canopy! But again – no animals sightings! Fail #2…

One of the must-do’s in Costa Rica was ziplining and we heard the Monteverde was the place to do it. We set out the next day for our ziplining adventure, and I’ll admit I was a little scared. We rolled up to Selvaturda Adventure park and got our gear. The guides who helped clip us into the routes were amazing zip-liners and hilarious guides! Zip lining was actually a lot of fun once I got over the fear of it, and I loved gliding through the trees. One line was a double, so Matt and I were able to go together. I was so glad because this line was 1 km long and you went FAST! The last line was another long one, and Matt opted to go Superman style on his stomach! It was totally exhilarating to view the forest below from a flying perspective! We met some really cool people on our tour, and enjoyed a fun filled day of zipping! That night, we made a nice steak and wine dinner, and watched the sunset from our private hot tub.

Our last stop of this road trip was to a town called Quepos to see the famous Manuel Antonio Nature Park. Matt had decided that, as our last stop, we deserved the full-out honeymoon resort, and he totally delivered! We stayed at the gorgeous Parador Hotel, which was definitely the nicest hotel we’d ever stayed in together! After a day of driving, we were happy to stay and explore the resort, complete with 4 pools, multiple bars, and beautiful gardens. But the best part was driving up to our room where we saw their resident sloth hanging in a tree! Matt and I were both so excited, we jumped out of the moving golf cart to get a closer look. Finally, animal sighting success! We spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the 2×1 drinks at happy hour. For dinner, we didn’t feel like leaving, so we grabbed food at the hotel restaurant. Usually, this wouldn’t be our thing, but the food was reasonably priced and absolutely delicious! We got a red snapper dinner and a tuna dinner that were both so delicious.

The next day, we headed off to the Manuel Antonio Park where we were dead set on seeing some animals. Up until now, we’ve only seen some coatis our first day, and a couple interesting birds…but no wild toucans, sloths, nada! We figured that setting off on our own to find animals just wasn’t cutting it so we finally broke down and booked a guided tour with an animal spotter. We arrived at the park entrance with our bags packed for a day of beach and hiking fun! We met up with our guide and off we went to find some animals. We were really hoping that, similar to our experience in Malaysia, that this guide would know exactly where to look for the animals. But shortly after starting the tour, we already were getting some vibes that he was a little full of crap. Like when we saw a large group of tourists looking at something in a tree up ahead of us, and our guide started sniffing the air and said “there might be some sloths nearby…” No shit, I doubt that huge group of people are looking at leaves. While our guide was funny and able to spot some animals that we would have never seen, the high-quality binoculars were honestly worth the tour price. We were able to set the binoculars up on a tripod, where our guide would position it perfectly, and we could just enjoy the view of the animals. With his help we FINALLY got to see a toucan, multiple sloths including moms and babies, monkeys, iguanas and an anteater! After our tour ended, we spend some time lounging on the beach before we headed back to our hotel.

The last day in Quepos we went to a local beach for some relaxation and sunshine. We rented chairs and an umbrella, grabbed some cocktails and enjoyed no being home and back to work! That night, we were hoping for one last great fish dinner, so we set off to a local restaurant called Agua Azul. It is here that we were introduced to Guaro, a liquor made from fermented cane sugar that is a Costa Rican specialty. OMG was it delicious! I may have had one too many Guaro sours, but it was totally worth it! We had a lovely fish dinner and watched our last gorgeous sunset over the palm trees. Our honeymoon in Costa Rica was definitely an amazing time! We hope that we can come back and visit someday soon, and see more wonderful countries in Central America!

Matthew & Stephanie

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