Manuel Antonio, island view in Costa Rica
Just a quick visual overview of my recent trip through Costa Rica. More blog posts, destination guides, and lots of photos yet to come…
Manuel Antonio, island view in Costa Rica
Stopped at this beach to sit in the shade for a little while on my birthday – Manuel Antonio National Park

Since apparently, it’s going to take me just a tad longer to sort through photos and publish comprehensive photo blog posts (for this website) and write full articles about specific places and experiences in Costa Rica (for Happier Place), for now I’d like to just share with you a blog post, I originally published on Patreon about 3 weeks ago. Here it goes…

gate through a tree in Costa Rica cloud forest

Scott and I went to Costa Rica for my 50th birthday (Earth Day) and spent a week road-tripping from San Jose to the Pacific Coast into the rain forest to the beach on the Nicoya Peninsula (also on the Pacific) and then up into the cloud forest back down into the central valley and back up in to the rain forest… and we saw so many incredible vistas, plants, birds, monkeys, sloths and all kinds of other critters, including a surprise tarantula in-between us on the hiking trail deep in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve.

view from Crocodile Bridge, Costa Rica, Pacific Coast
View from the Crocodile Bridge

After spending our first night in the city of San Jose, on our first full day in Costa Rica we drove down to the Pacific Coast, over Crocodile Bridge and to Carara National Park.

In Parque Nacional Carara we hardly saw any people, but lots of birds, and our first monkeys: Capuchin Monkeys

smiling sloth hanging from tree, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
The next day (my birthday), we explored Manuel Antonio National Park and saw *all the animals* in the wild, including sloths. In case anyone is wondering: but is it worth going to the most popular National Park, won’t it be too crowded? I’ll give the longer answer in an upcoming destination guide on Happier.Place – but the short answer is: absolutely worth it, yes, go…!
swamp lilies
Swamp lilies, which we also have in Florida, which reminded me how glad I am I get to return to a home from this trip that offers a few of the same nature perks

With tired bodies from all the hiking, we took the opportunity to rest our legs while driving to Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula to visit our friends Lisa and Squally. The road ended up being so bumpy that Waze gave us the heads-up that the last 14 miles would take 50 minutes – as we had to slowly maneuver around the pot–, no SINKholes. But the journey was SO worth the result of being with friends and seeing Nosara!

Nosara Beach, natural water fountain, blow hole, sunset, Costa Rica
The “blow hole” on Playa Pelada (Nosara)
sunset, beach, Nosara, Costa Rica
Sunset on Guiones Beach (Nosara)
sunrise, clouds, mountains, valley, Costa Rica, Nicoya Peninsula
We were up around sunrise every day, waking up between 5 and 6 often from the sounds of the jungle. this was the view from the deck above our room in the hills of Nosara where we visited Colorado friends Lisa and Squally for an overnight.
thunbergia grandiflora vines
thunbergia grandiflora vines at the Irish Pub & guest rooms in the Nosara hills

The next day, we got back in the car and drove another 4 hours back onto the mainland and from sea level all the way up into the clouds around Monte Verde and Santa Elena.

Driving up towards the cloud forest
driving in the clouds, Costa Rica, Monte Verde
Driving in the clouds.

Once we arrived in the clouds and it got dark, we went on a night hike. Photo to come…

cloud forest trail
Cloud forest trail

Our longest hiking day had us cover 18 km of cloud forest trails and 2 opportunities to watch and photograph the resplendent quetzal – both the male and the female who we patiently awaited at their nest in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

male resplendant quetzal in Monteverde Cloud Forest
Male resplendent quetzal in Monteverde Cloud Forest.
cloud forest clearing
Walking for hours through the misty morning forest felt like the epitome of “forest bathing” and good for body, mind, and soul.
howler monkey, howling in the rain, cloud forest, Monte Verde, Costa Rica
Finally, on our second to last day, we got to see a howler monkey – howling in the rain. It was magnificent!

On our last full day in Costa Rica, we went to see the La Paz waterfalls and the 4th kind of Costa Rican monkey and that beautiful, iconic, blue mono butterfly. Photos to come…

Our longest drive was 4 1/4 hours – and started at the Pacific Coast and ended up after some very bumpy, skinny, winding, mountain roads in the clouds at a charming hotel in the woods that came with its own hummingbird and other cool birds. 

blue purple humming bird on branch, Costa Rica, cloud forest
Hummingbird in the Monte Verde Cloud Forest
view of cuba from plane
Flying over Cuba on the way home, I cherished all the wonderful places I’ve been able to see and record and how many more photos I still need to get sorted “out there” and shared with you and the world. so much more to come…

I couldn’t have spent my birthday in a better way. And I’m really grateful Scott and I could make this happen. Looking forward to all that comes from this journey. 

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