Exploring Costa Rica’s Caribbean Side

by | Feb 8, 2024 | travel

Rafting on the Pacuare River in Costa Rica

Last month, I mused on which side of Costa Rica offers a better experience – the Caribbean or the Pacific. The verdict? Both are exceptional but cater to different travel preferences! I had the pleasure of exploring the Caribbean side on a trip with fellow Travel Advisors, and I’m eager to share the highlights.

Journey by River Raft to an Eco-Lodge Sanctuary

Our adventure began with a river rafting journey on the Pacuare River, leading us to the breathtaking Pacuare Lodge. Nestled amidst verdant rainforests and home to diverse wildlife, Pacuare stands out as one of the world’s top river trips, as celebrated by National Geographic. The two-hour rafting trip includes navigating through exhilarating rapids, culminating at the lodge’s riverside location. Greeted with refreshing hibiscus popsicles, it became clear why Pacuare Lodge is acclaimed as a premier eco-lodge in Central America. The journey to the lodge featured manageable class II and III rapids, while the departure offered the thrill of class IV and V rapids, guided by our skilled guide.

Navigating Pacuare River’s Rapids

With 52 rapids along its course, the Pacuare River provided an accessible yet thrilling experience for a novice rafter like myself.

Pacuare Lodge, a secluded paradise, offers luxurious private suites with personal plunge pools.

The lodge comprises 20 individual villas, blending seamlessly with the surrounding rainforest. This setting is perfect for zip-lining, canyoneering, hiking, and nature tours. A significant highlight was hiking to a nearby Cabécar settlement, where we learned about the customs and lifestyle of Costa Rica’s largest indigenous group, striving to preserve their traditions in the modern age.

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The accommodations at Pacuare Lodge are beautiful and private.

The Wonders of Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park, renowned for being a crucial nesting site for green turtles, spans nearly 77,000 hectares, dedicated to conserving its natural treasures. Our arrival at Tortuga Lodge was met with warm smiles, reminiscent of a scene from White Lotus but with genuine friendliness. The lodge’s private reserve offered us an intimate glimpse into the habitat’s hidden creatures, guided by experts in spotting wildlife. Our adventures included kayaking, exploring the canopy, and sharing a traditional breakfast with a local family, with views of the Caribbean Sea. Supporting local initiatives, the lodge promotes the school music program, allowing us to enjoy a reggae performance by talented young musicians.

Discovering the Caribbean’s Relaxed Surf Culture

Our journey concluded at Hotel Aguas Claras near Puerto Viejo, an area celebrated for its stunning beaches, rich Afro-Caribbean heritage, coral reefs, surfing spots, abundant wildlife, and exquisite cuisine. The hotel, once a banana plantation, now thrives with art, gardens, an outdoor yoga studio, and a pool area, keeping the spirit of its history alive. Just a short walk from the beach, where a beach club offers its services, I savored some of the finest ceviche.

Navigating Costa Rica: From Sky to Sea

Reaching Costa Rica’s international gateways (Liberia and San Jose) is straightforward, with various direct or connecting flights from the U.S. However, the country’s winding roads and potholed secondary routes make travel challenging. Opting for small plane transfers can significantly ease access to remote locations.

The small flight was comfortable and the views over the ocean and jungle were stunning.

In Tortuguero National Park, transportation is primarily by boat, with bikes commonly used within the communities. From Tortuga Lodge, we took convenient Cessna flights to Hotel Aguas Claras and back to San Jose, enhancing our travel efficiency.

Experience Costa Rica with Our Expertise

Leveraging my knowledge, experience, and personal connections, I can seamlessly arrange your transportation and curate tours and activities tailored to your interests. I will match you with ideal destinations and resorts, ensuring a memorable travel experience with added perks and upgrades. Reach out today to craft your next remarkable journey!