Costa Rica is the perfect destination for a short trip, long trip, leisurely trip, adventure trips… It just offers endless possibilities. But if you only have three days, follow my recent itinerary. I was in Costa Rica this summer visiting family, and took a long weekend to rediscover the central pacific coast. It was just enough time to catch some sun, dip my skin in the warm ocean water and even see beautiful exotic wildlife.
Why Costa Rica?
I have so many reasons why Costa Rica is the perfect destination for a short trip. First and foremost Costa Rica‘s economy is based on Eco tourism. This means you can continue your sustainable lifestyle even while on vacation! And you will be supporting a country that protects over 50% of its land as national parks, uses renewable energy, and well, applies the Pura Vida mantra everywhere and in every way!
Visiting a small country has its advantages. If you base yourself at a well located hotel you can easily make half day or full day trips to maximize what you see in a short amount of time. The central pacific coast, in particular, is perfect for a three day visit in Costa Rica. It’s only about a 1 1/2 hour drive from San Jose, the capital.
Where to stay
The key to the three day trip is to make a beautiful, luxurious hotel your homebase. From there you can go off on various adventures but always return to rest and relax. One of my favorite hotels in Costa Rica is Villa Caletas. In fact, it’s where my husband and I got married. I cherish this place because of all the beautiful memories we’ve created there. I return to Villa Caletas every chance we get.
Villa Caletas is a boutique, luxury hotel high on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The hotel itself is surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation that is home to an abundance of wildlife. It’s a usual occurrence to wake up to the sound of a toucan just outside your balcony, or see a flock of beautiful macaws while you're having breakfast at the restaurant. It’s this immersion in nature and serenity that always grounds and recharges me.
A typical day at Villa Caletas for me might look a little like this:
- Morning yoga at their open air studio with panoramic views of the ocean.
- Breakfast at their balcony restaurant while enjoying expansive views (I recommend the Caletas breakfast for a taste of our traditional gallo pinto).
- Swimming in their infinity pool (yes, more unbelievable views here).
- Afternoon visit to their private beach after lunch.
- Cocktail while enjoying the sunset back at restaurant.
Where to surf
If you’re like me or my husband, surfing sessions are definitely on our itinerary. And the beauty of visiting Costa Rica’s Central Pacific, is that there are so many options! Personally I'm a bit rusty because I find it’s too cold to surf regularly in San Francisco, where I’ve been living for nearly 18 years (I’m definitely a warm water girl at heart). But while in Costa Rica I surf at beaches that are good for beginner or intermediate surfers, like Jaco. Plus, Jaco has so many surf shops, gift shops, cafes and restaurants.
For the more experienced surfers, Playa Hermosa, just south of Jaco, offers a fast, powerful, consistent wave. The currents are very strong here and it’s not a beach for wading or swimming. Though I don’t surf at Playa Hermosa, this beach has a special place in my heart. It’s a black sand beach, which I find beautiful and exotic. In fact, the black sand beaches of Costa Rica inspired the packaging design for Tap Tap Organics! (Learn more about the origins of Tap Tap Organics here).
Other beaches to explore and surf nearby include Esterillos and Dominicalito, further to the south. These are also for intermediate or advanced surfers.
Wildlife & Nature
Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity and many national parks and conservation areas, and the Central Pacific is not an exception. A favorite is Manuel Antonio National Park, which is quite touristy but for a good reason. It’s a must see. Another smaller local park is Carara, and it’s a short drive from Villa Caletas. If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to see marine life, catching a boat tour out of Los Sueños Marina.
This region is so special for its beauty, its people and… its coconuts! Tap Tap Organics sources wild-harvested coconut oil from the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, near Esterillos. If you see Ecoco coconut oil in local supermarkets and gifts shops, I highly recommend buying a jar of this high quality coconut oil.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post as much as I enjoyed writing it! As someone who visited these beaches since childhood, I wanted to give you authentic recommendations of places I cherish so deeply. And I hope it also provides a glimpse into why my homeland inspired Tap Tap Organics!