So far during my time in Costa Rica, I’ve been on two excursions. Both of them weekends at the beach – Puerto Viejo and Tamarindo. Puerto Viejo is on the southeastern, Caribbean side of the country, and Tamarindo is on the northwest. I was told to make it to the beaches while I’m here, but I still didn’t have high expectations, since I live so close to the water back home. But both trips were incredible, and it was cool to see both sides of the country back to back.
Puerto Viejo had such a fun atmosphere. I felt like I was in Jamaica. Reggae music blared from the bars, and vendors on the sides of dirt roads sold bracelets and Bob Marley T-shirts. We went on hikes through the jungle, where a guide pointed out types of plants and wild animals, including three sloths and a group of monkeys! The hotel had hammocks, there was fresh, tropical fruit everywhere, and I don’t think I’ve seen so many yoga places. It was the definition of “Pura Vida.”
Some of my favorite moments from the weekends were swimming in the warm Atlantic or Caribbean water, looking out to shore and seeing nothing but the vibrant green jungle. The water was clear, the sand was soft, the sun was out, and everything was beautiful.
Tamarindo seemed to resemble home a little more. It was drier, so the environment didn’t have that jungle feel. It seemed more touristy, although Puerto Viejo was touristy in its own way. Here, the roads were paved, the view from the water included buildings and hotels, and you could get by speaking English in most places. Our schedule was really flexible; we spent a lot of time laying on the beach or browsing local shops. Since we were on our own, I got to know some of the other study abroad students better. The same people, more or less, have gone on all the weekend trips, and it’s been cool to get to know them more each week. I know everyone says to hang out with locals instead of Americans, and that’s definitely a good idea when you can, but I’ve enjoyed spending time with these people from all over the US, who I never would have met otherwise.
One of my favorite moments from last weekend was by the hotel pool, as the sun was setting over the trees. This group of birds fluttered around the trees on both sides of the pool, interrupting each other with their shrieks and chirps. A Jack Johnson album played in the background, and it was just one of those perfect, summery moments. “I’m in Costa Rica right now.”
Written by Miranda Brown, Social Media Journalist