Another border to attack and with a border helper acquired the process of exiting Nicaragua and entering Costa Rica begun. After one hour waiting in line to pay the $3.00 Nicaragua exit fee we moved on to Costa Rica immigration. After spending two hours more completing the entry papers and dropping $25.00 on mandatory moto insurance we were officially allowed into Costa Rica…. Three hours running around chasing little pieces of paper…
We made the short drive down to rendezvous with Regan and Sarah in playa Coco.
We arrived in Coco parked Blanco inside his jail cell for the week and got busy relaxing.
Regan climbed the palm tree in the backyard on the hunt for fresh coconuts and the pickings were good.
With the nine bottles of rum Regan and Sarah legally muled across the border from Nicaragua and the abundance of fresh coconuts growing in the backyard it was only a matter of time before we went coco loco in Costa Rica.
Fresh coconut water, rum, mint and lime made up a very refreshing bevy.
As we sipped coconuts with of our new friends in their new temporary beach home we began to feel settled and for the first time in six months we had space to roam a place to unpack a washer and dryer to properly clean our clothes and a full kitchen to cook in.
We took full advantage of the kitchen and lucky we did because the cost of food at the restaurants here is easily as high as back home in Canada. At the grocery store food prices were also very high and for things like cheese, bread, eggs, milk, meats, etc.. we paid more here then we would have payed back home. Fortunately we were able to keep the budget inline staying with Sarah and Regan and we all took turns cooking for each other.
During the week in Coco we spent most of the days swinging in hammocks and walking the beach. The beach in Coco was scenic and the waters warm, it was easy to just bob around by the ocean and wait for the sunsets.
A few mornings we lifted our heads off the pillows at sunrise and headed to the beach with fishing rods in hopes of catching a elusive C.A. pescado.
The first morning only three casts in I had a nice strike and after a short but spirited fight I beached a nice sized ladyfish. Things seemed promising for shore fishing here in Coco but alas it wasn’t to be and after two more early morning attempts and one sunset attempt one lonely ladyfish was all we could muster from the beach.
We visited the nearby beach of playa Ocotal for a few hours and watched other local fisherman try there luck. I seen two guys out of about ten pull in two nice pompano but other then that most of the guys went without fish.
Ocotal was a small and quiet so we only hung out a little while before heading back to Coco.
Our last night in Coco Regan and Sarah had their friends Dan and Claire come to stay with them so we all took in a beautiful sunset before shoving off the following day.
Next stop along the Nicoya peninsula was introduced to us by an old high school friend. My friend emailed us advising that she had an uncle living down coast from Coco in Tamarindo.
We hadn’t made plans to visit Tamarindo but Jenn told us that her uncle was also fish crazy so, being so close to Tamarindo we decided to head on over and say hello to uncle Steve.
We rolled into Tamarindo and it was a bouncing busy beach town. Busy, busy with tourists and Ticos enjoying the beach, restaurants, shops, bars and the abundance of hotels.
Fortunately uncle Steve had set us up with a quiet hotel just on the outskirts of town. We unpacked and walked over to find Steves condo where we met him and his wife Lisa. We have met many great people while travelling and Steve and Lisa are another example of the great peoples you meet abroad. Lisa and Steve welcomed us into there beautiful condo overlooking the ocean forced beer down our throats and tortured us by making us eat too much bbq pork ribs, bbq chicken, baked spuds and fixings.. torture!
Steve loaded us into his SUV and took us up to his recently purchased property where he has plans to build on. The view from here was very impressive and together we enjoyed a beer some laughs and the sunset.
The big surprise came when Steve told us that on Tuesday he had hired a boat and that him and Lisa wanted to treat us to a day on the water. We couldn’t believe the generosity Steve and Lisa had already shown us and now they hire a boat and we’re all going fishing?!…..My new favourite uncle, uncle Steve!!!
I mentioned how fish loco Steve was before and will now mention that he runs a charter booking service here in Tamarindo found online here @ www.GoFishCR.com. Steve has many charter fishing boats working with him so that he can best assists his guests by placing them in the perfect boat to match their days fishing wants and needs. All we asked for and required was calm seas and a cool breeze of which Steve delivered and gave us both.
The following morning Steve and Lisa picked us up and we made way to the beach to catch the boat. We headed out with our new friends and set lines looking for a big bill fish. As we trolled around in search of fish we swapped fish stories and in great company we really didn’t care if a fish was caught or not….well almost.
We met up with the father and son team that captained the days vessel and before long we had the lines set up and were on the hunt.
The coolers onboard the boat were full, chips, snacks and sandwhiches a plentyfull, seas calm and the breeze cool. We were off to a great start! However to best describe the rest of the days fishing it would sadly go like this….. I openly recognized and admittedly confessed to Steve that Jenn and I are clearly cursed with bad fishing luck thus causing Steve to rub his buddha belly for good luck and conjure a plan of sorts to cut off just one of Jenns ponytails and chuck it overboard in hopes of tempting a rise from pescado grande.
Unfortunately Jenn would not cooperate and in return the fish gods offered up only two small Bonito for Jenn and Lisa to play with all morning.
As the afternoon wore on we decided to change gears and try some bottom fishing. After I maned the rod for the first half hour it was uncle Steves turn to show us how it’s done.
In fine form and right on cue he pulled up this feisty fat Amber Jack after a lot of hard pulling and tugging by both warriors.
With this 35+ pound beauty onboard we headed to shore and dropped the fish at a beachfront restaurant so it could be prepared for dinner.
We went our separate ways to get cleaned up and then met backup later in the evening to enjoy the catch. The fish was deliciously prepared blackened, cajan, fried and grilled and somehow even tasted a little better when the mariachis stopped by too play a few songs.
The following day we again met up with Lisa and Steve as they wanted to show us one of their favourite beaches just north of Tamarindo called playa Conchal. After a short twenty minute drive we arrived at possibly the most unique and prettiest beach we’ve visited thus far. Conchal beach is made up mostly of seashells. The beach is surprisingly smooth underfoot as the ocean has polished the shells.
After a good soak Steve took us on one last adventure down the Nicoya peninsula backroads looking for a perfect spot to end the day and watch the sunset. We found just the place at this empty beach where we had both beach and sunset all to ourselves. We said our thank yous and our goodbyes to our new friends Lisa and Steve because tomorrow we head south along the coast to Samara.
The plan is to continue down the Nicoya coastline around the bottom at Montezuma to catch the ferry over to Punterenas. This requires taking the coastal rode #160 that is only a sure thing during the dry season. 160 is being called very difficult to impassible with five rivers to cross that swell up with high waters during the rains. So far it has been a very dry “rainy” and if it doesn’t rain to much I’d like to try the loop south. If rain comes the road is out of question and we will make our way inland after Samara.
Leaving Tamarindo the first part of the ride was on pavement with lush green scenery all around.
The main roads in Costa Rica are paved and the riding smooth but the real scenery begins when you leave hard pack for the softer roads.
The coast road #160 follows up, down, in and around the coastline and beach towns all the way along are a plenty. Bridges crossed over river spill ways waiting for the rains to hammer down and fill them up very quickly I’d assume.
Other places there were no bridges and water pooled up as left overs from what little rains have fallen.
The larger river crossing was a tad deeper then just a puddle and required some planning and concentration.
I took the easy way and rode the bike through leaving Jenn to do the walk of shame in full gear through muddy waters possibly holding a croc or two.. yep crocs! Fortunately they must have ran away when the caught sniff of her riding boots & gear…. and so she survived!
The route showed its pretty blue eyes more then a few times today as we travelled along the broken gravel road through tiny tico villages before arriving in Samara.
Arriving in Samara we checked three hotels all in the $40/night range. We chose the one with the pool unloaded the mule and headed down to the beach.
First thoughts on Samara… I’m glad we stopped here!!
The tiny town of Samara had a small collection of hotels, restaurants and uncrowded streets…we liked it! We spent the three days in Samara visiting the pool, beach and restaurants.
A small soccer tournament took place on Sunday and that was the only action all weekend.
Without saying more about Samara in hopes to keep the place quiet and just the way it is I wont say another word except WE LOVED THE PLACE! We’ll see you one day again Samara!
The only downside to our otherwise fairytale love story with Samara was that it rained hard every night and I mean HARD! With all the rains the loop road heading south down the peninsula was absolutely a no go.
We would have stayed in Samara forever but we need to keep moving south towards Panama to catch our boat to Colombia early august. The rains would have most certainly swelled the rivers to capacity and with hwy #160 out of question we decided to work inland and head towards Jaco to find a nice quiet beach town nearby.
The ride started off heading inland from the coast on smooth fresh hardtop through what has become the typical Costa Rican vista of dense lush tropical forest.
It was a couple hour ride over to and down the Pan-American hwy heading south towards Jaco and we made a few scenic stops along the way.
We wanted to have a quick look at Jaco as we heard it is a developed beach town but we don’t plan on stopping there. Instead we are going to check out playa Hermosa only ten minutes south of Jaco which we think will be a much quieter place to chill. We breezed on through Jaco and it was exactly how we had envisioned it a big busy strip loaded with summertime tourists, restaurants, bars and shops… not what we wanted on this stop.
We rolled on and ten minutes down the road we arrived in Hermossa. However this quiet little one horse beach town was anything but quiet, it was a zoo! We had arrived straight in the middle of a huge surf competition and the party was on! We followed the usual routine poking our heads into a few hotels and somehow found a sweet deal on a loft room with ocean views and a/c for $40.00.
We quickly unloaded and moved on out to see our first surf competition of the trip. The beach was packed the surf was large and the competition was good to watch.
After the competition ended the beach cleared out and the overcrowded playa Hermosa returned back to its quiet sleepy tranquil self.
We spent the next three days walking the beach enjoying sunsets and generally just relaxing around the clock.
After three days in Hermosa we pushed on further south to visit the national park of Manual Antonio which is known for its abundance of wildlife and beautiful beaches.
We loaded up and made the short drive to the town of Manual Antonio where we checked into the very lively backpackers hostel.
Later that afternoon we met up with an american couple and in conversation they mentioned that instead of paying the $16.00usd per person to enter the park they had discovered a trail they had been using to sneak in and offered to show us the way the following day. We decided in hopes of saving almost $40.00cdn we would follow them to their secret trail the following day. We met up with our new friends in the morning and discovered they had also invited two more German girls to tag along. The six of us approached the start of the trail and right there was a park rangers station we would have to tippy toe around if we were to make it in undetected. Well needless to say six people attempting to sneak in through thick jungle underbrush cracking and snapping on fallen branches did not go so well and in only a matter of seconds we had a park ranger blowing a whistle and yelling at us to get out we had been caught and that we must leave immediately! Our two companions that had been leading the way decided to dart for it and took off running through the jungle with the park ranger hot in pursuit. For us and the two German girls this was our chance to turn tail and dart back through the way we’d come back to safety and towards the real parks entrance to drop $36.00usd and enter this time legally.
We spent the day with our new German friends Anna and the other girl that we named “U” because her real name I couldn’t pronounce properly but I do recall began with a U. In the park we spent almost six hours exploring the trails, checking out the many beaches and wildlife.
I especially enjoyed watching the crafty racoons as they patiently waited for guests to leave their bags unattended.
The park was a little expensive we thought for what it offered but we did manage to see many monkeys, sloths, iguanas, racoons, birds and other wildlife so it wasn’t all a waste of cash.
The following day we booked a canopy zipline tour and headed off through the palm farms where they cultivate palm trees for there nuts to produce palm oils. There were hundreds of acres of palm trees and it was clearly big business here in this part of Costa Rica.
At the zipline we geared up with harnesses, gloves and helmets although I doubt any of it would do much good if lines broke and we fell like bricks from the tree tops.
The ziplines whizzed from treetop to treetop and although we had fun flying over the trees I felt that for the money spent ($65.00usd p/p) the total time we were hooked up and flying was quiet short at probably around two minutes total flying time the tour was not quiet worth the money in my opinion.
We did however enjoy the town and national park area of Manual Antonio. This area is a very beautiful part of Costa Rica and in general Costa Rica has been a country full of amazing scenery and beautiful landscapes.
We must continue to move south and heard of another quiet beach town called Dominical which we will head to tomorrow. I seems Costa Rica has been our country of beach stops but as the saying goes don’t mess with a good thing! The Costa Rica beaches really do sum up the national saying locals use to greet each other with “pura vida” and we couldn’t agree more!!
The scenery over to Dominical consisted of more palm tree farms lush and green.
Playa Dominical was another perfect beach layover. The quiet vibe of this surf town was just to our liking however unfortunately the beach was not too safe for swimming and the waves were large so we spent time relaxing in the hostel pool admiring the many iguanas that frequented the property.
We took a short bike ride up to the Nauyaca waterfalls paid the $8.00pp entry fee and begun the three kilometre hike down to the falls.
We arrived and found a very beautiful fall to swim and relax by.
On the way back from the falls we spotted a cool looking airplane parked next to a restaurant and decided to pull in for a snack.
The days came and went during the rest of our stay in Dominical without much excitement.
We met a fellow angler at the hostel named Tom and with a few other people we headed out to throw some baits from the beach. It was already raining when we set off and within ten minutes of our first cast the lightning started to flash. Because we value our lives a little too much to be standing knee deep in the ocean holding graphite fishing rods we packed it in before we really even got started.
After a relaxing four days in Dominical it was time to leave beautiful Costa Rica and make tracks for Panama a few hundred kilometres down the road. Because we hadn’t ventured very far from the beaches of Costa Rica over the past four weeks we decided to take the highroad and make our way up through the mountains toward the border crossing of Rio Sereno.
The ride took us up into the mountains on smooth roads winding through green scenery higher and higher until we reached the very small border control station of Rio Sereno.
This one horse town had both Costa Rica customs and Panama customs all within two hundred meters of each other and without a single border helper insight I was on my own to run the border gauntlet. I managed to fumble my way through the exit/entry paperwork without too much of a headache and after shelling out $7.00pp to exit Costa Rica, $1.00 to get the bike fumigated and the mandatory $25.00 moto insurance we rode on into Panama after a fairly painless two hour paperwork processing good time!