July 12th, 2014 |    mangotree

This is your first trip to Costa Rica and you have rented a villa for 10 days or more. If you want a packed vacation full of exciting options, let me suggest the following. First, find a vacation rental that is centrally located amongst your adventure activities. Try to avoid long drives. Most all adventures in Costa Rica will require a car and a bit of a drive to indulge.

Why the South Coast? This area is the new highly desired Costa Rica destination and possibly most beautiful part of Costa Rica. Near Palmar Norte, the new international airport is scheduled for construction. The Osa Peninsula is said to be the most bio-diverse place on the planet. The coastal strip between Dominical and Cortes is the only place in Costa Rica where the Costeña Mountains seem to slip into the Pacific Ocean, and finally the waters are rich with sea life.

Now that you have found a perfect eco-rental on the South Coast, let’s ´plan an adventure packed itinerary: The order is not necessarily important, but planning ahead to make reservations may be. These activities are getting more and more popular and booked. In some cases if the vacation rental is part of a hotel or villa complex, they can be of great assistance in booking these activities ahead of time.

The beaches on the south coast are pristine, gorgeous and not terribly crowded. Some caution needs to be heeded when going to the beach. Do not leave items of any value in your car or on the beach. The other caution is to be aware of rip-tides and to know what to do should you get caught in one of them. Best advice is to leave your valuables at your vacation rental. The most central beache is Ventanas with its magnificent pirate-like caves at low tide. The most southernly is Tortuga which is found at the entrance to the mouth of the Coronado River. Further north is Bahia with the Whale’s tale coral reef. This beach is a great walking beach. There are a total of nine beaches along the coast beginning with Dominical and it’s surfing beache. Three beaches require an admittance fee.

Now, in comparing the beaches to river/waterfall walks, you will find yourself surrounded by jungle vegetation, cooler water coming from the Costeña range, and animals you may not see elsewhere. Be sure to wear river shoes and don’t take any equipment unless it is waterproof. It is best to go with someone who knows the terrain from your villa rental and guide you through and to the best spots. The rivers and waterfalls are repeatedly one of the most talked about and enjoyed of all activities on your Costa Rica vacation rental adventure. Best part, is it is free.

The Southern Zone has just added a new and possibly the best and most adventurous new Zipline near Cortes. The first leg is ½ a kilometer long, so be prepared to sail out there in the tree-top canopy. This experience includes 3 legs where you will rapel to you next leg and for a total of 15 events. This not for sissy’s but I have witnessed four young girls ages 6-8 return for this adventure two weekends in a row. Also, you need to know, the weight limit is 250 lbs.

For you who love flowers, plants and plant food, a trip to Paradise Botanical Gardens is a local favorite amongst the local Gringos. The owner is a wealth of knowledge about the plants, about natural cures for many issues and about how to use the local fruits to make many delicious dishes. He also sets many plants out on a central table in his cooking/eating area with names and descriptions of the plants and their uses in plant medicine. This trip entails a donation. You may also come home with as many plant species as you desire and are willing to pay a little extra for.

There are a number of horseback ridding outfits and some very local ones not even advertised and thus a big price differential. Some go to falls, some to the beaches and some into the mountains. A must for horsy people.

Ah, this may just be the best fishing anywhere. For various reasons the bay between Dominical and the OSA Peninsula is rich with sea life and is the area of the humpback whale migration and their spawning grounds. Fishing is not just for the guys. I have to say it was one of the best days I have spent in Costa Rica. I caught a 9 ft. sail fish, and a yellow fin tuna. How about fresh filleted yellow fin tuna with a little wasabi? Fifty miles off the coast with dolphins following the boat we dove into the very warm Pacific Ocean, ……nothing could beat this. This is probably your most expensive item but well worth it girls and boys!

If you are into whale-watching, this coast is the place to go. Be aware that there are limits on how close the boats are allowed to get to the whales and that is good. Coast Rica is very much into preserving its legacy. The mother whale has been fasting for 3 months while she lives in these waters and while the baby nurses. If you are lucky you might also see dolphins beside your boat and giant sea turtles as well.

Another great offering her on this South Coast is an ultra-light flight. The service is very reputable and the pilots the best. Taking off from Uvita you can request where you would like to go: to see property you purchased, over the coastline and whales tale reef or just to photograph the area. The cost depends on the time in the air.

A favorite experience of mine is to go to the open market in San Isidro on a Thursday. The booths encompass a football sized area under roof and full of fresh fruit, vegetables and other home made goodies. The gringos seem to have garnered a corner in the last year or so and the organics have another corner of their own. This is by far the best place to acquire fresh items. The only other fresh market is in Palmar Norte.

The most packed trip of all is a trip to Caño Island to go snorkeling or scuba diving. I highly recommend driving to Sierpe, going by boat down thru the mangroves for 25 kilometers, crossing the bar out to the ocean and then speeding out 18 kilometers more to Caño island. On the way you may get very lucky and see dolphins, giant sea turtles and whales, all in the same trip. Once you reach the island, the boat will outfit you with gear and you will swim among the coral reefs surrounding parts of the island. Lunch will be provided on the island beach and then you can return for more snorkeling or come home. Be sure to wear sun screen but not the kind that is damaging the coral reefs (See my article on sun screens on my blog http://www.themangotreespa.com/blog/?p=102

Well, you have just completed a 10-day packed adventure trip to Costa Rica’s South Coast. You might save a day or two in between for relaxing and swimming at your vacation rental.

By Rosemary MacGregor



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