La Cruz – Tamarindo – Ostional – Nicoya – Paquera – Santa Teresa – Quepos – Ojochal – Uvita – Rio Claro
Maybe 7 hours into Costa Rica and we’d already seen a crocodile, some sloths (including a rescued, bottle-fed baby one), bats, some massive critter/insect things *shudder* and howler monkeys. Costa Rica was off to a strong start in the wildlife stakes – The next night’s snake that was chilling out under the mat in a cabin in the woods was slightly less welcome…
We were in Costa Rica and so we headed for the beach 😊. The roads so far were great, fast and deserted but we knew as we were going onto the Nicoya Peninsula it would get more variable with some paved, some dirt and some ‘4×4’ roads… whatever that means. Tamarindo’s also known as Tamagringo locally so although we knew it would probably be a great beach, we weren’t holding out much hope – anticipating too many Aussie/American/European accents, overpriced food, busy streets/beach/bars for us. Well, we were right about the overpriced food but we booked into a cheap, clean hostel for one night and liked it so much we stayed for three! We surfed, swam, met some cool people (Hello Mike!), drank beer, enjoyed sunsets and generally chilled for a couple of days.
Whilst we were there I’d started doing some research on Costa Rica. Better late than never right? I seem to have gotten into the habit of arriving in a country and THEN finding all the cool stuff to see and do – much to Edwards’ annoyance after he’s just planned a perfectly good route… So anyway, there we were enjoying the sun, sea and sand and WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT, just 60km down the coast is a beach (Ostional) where thousands of turtles lay their eggs en masse a couple of times a year and it’s happening like RIGHT NOW! Quick Edwards, let’s go! So we did. You can’t miss that right?! Whilst we were waiting for the sun to set and the turtles to arrive we went for food and ended up chatting to a Texan couple in CR celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. 30 minutes, a couple of random racist comments and some hamburgers later, they told us they’d just paid for our meal and then gave us $20. Sublime to the ridiculous and back again.
Whilst we‘d been having incredible experiences, we’d also been starting to bicker recently and get a strop on about small, unnecessary things. We know that many factors contribute: heat, tiredness, constant decision-making, living in each other’s pockets 24/7, imperfect diet, and lack of exercise (other than cycling!) to make us unhappy-bunnies. Because of this we decided to take a few days for ourselves and do EXACTLY what we wanted to do individually, no compromises! We headed for Santa Teresa to drop me off at a yoga hostel 🙏. 4 days later, saw me feeling more zen and flexible and Matt; happier and soggier after some camping. We’ve realised that it’s hard being within a couple of metres of someone else ALL the time so are going to make sure that we do more of this as the trip goes on!
Leaving Santa Teresa and the Nicoya Peninsula on a boat we headed onto the mainland leaving the dirt roads behind us – for now at least anyway – speeding towards Ojochal where we celebrated Matt’s birthday with the most expensive meal we’ve had since January. It was also the only place within reasonable walking distance so we were lucky we were celebrating… And they gave him a free dessert for being born 😉. We backtracked 15km the next day to take us to Uvita, check this out. Yep, a beach shaped like a whale tail, which is also one of the best places in the world to spot humpback whales and their babies. So whalespotting we went, and ooohed and ahhed and took thousands of photos, one or two of which actually have a whale in them.
Costa Rica’s been a surprise for us. We’d known about the abundance of wildlife* and biodiversity and about it as a great place for surfing and well, holiday-ing. But we hadn’t expected it to leave us speechless. It is more than all those things and I think unbelieveable until you see it with your own eyes. And we’d fully recommend it on bikes too. We’d heard horror stories about the roads but the majority were absolutely fine, smooth and fast with great scenery. Yes, some of the drivers do get a bit close which is scary when there’s no hard shoulder to flee onto but we’re hoping that they’re just SUCH good drivers they know exactly how wide their car is. Even when they’re on the phone. We had some ‘fun’ on muddy, dirt roads but they were not as bad as Baja/Guatemala/Nicaragua and we could actually ride most of them!
*We’ve also seen a few Scarlet Macaws but are yet to see a Toucan 🙄 COYT.