A Travellerspoint blog

Bocas del Toro

We finally headed South to Panama to a group of islands off the coast called Bocas del Toro. However, before we made it there we had to cross the border between Panama and Costa Rica which proved to be an adventure.

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The border crossing we took is known to be one of the most relaxed crossings in Central America. What they didn't tell us is that this meant that it would take us three hours to do a ten minute crossing as the border guards moved at the speed of glaciers.

An honorable mention of this border crossing was the bridge used to go between the two countries. It was so decrepit that we were afraid to cross it but there were huge semi's using the bridge (albeit one at a time) that barely fit onto it. We were waiting for the big collapse...

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Finally into Panama and loving it. This country is all water and jungle and the area that we headed to has the lingering vibe of the Caribbean.

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The main island in Bocas is Isla Colon which is a two street town consisting of hotels, bars and tour operators.

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This island serves as a jumping off point to local reefs for diving and snorkeling as well as heading to another more mellow island called Isla Bastimentos.

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Bastimentos is gorgeous with brown sugar beaches, torquoise ocean and a very calm vibe. We visited a beach called Red Frog beach known for its namesake.

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There is a huge uproar with the local islanders as a property developer has recently bought a huge amount of property bordering this beach and is building the first of what will be many condo developments on this so far undiscovered gem. There is a lot of concern about the impact on the local nature and culture and the future of this great place is definitely foggy.

What a wicked spot to pass some time.

Posted by ReneeJared 16:24 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Puerto Viejo

A five hour bus ride takes you to the little town of Puerto Viejo on the far East coast of Costa Rica (near the border of Panama). What a different place it was from the rest of the country!

It is a lovely laid back town with beautiful beaches (and some gnarly reef breaks), great music and a rasta vibe. It was interesting to see the difference in people and culture. The biggest concern of the day are what breaks to surf, where to get some good eats and where to find the best deal on Cuba Libres.

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We rented bikes and rode out to the neighbouring villages along the coast. There are a ton of great spots to snorkel and just laze around to soak up some sun.

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We spent a few happy last days in Costa Rica chilling out in this great place before deciding the time had come for us to move on to our last country in Central America. Bring on Panama!

Posted by ReneeJared 15:02 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (1)

San Jose

After a few more days with our lovely steed, the time had come to return our vehicle on the way to the East coast. We headed to San Jose to spend a few days checking out the capital.

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Compared to other Central American capital cities that we've visited, San Jose was less modern than we expected but still had a very happening vibe to it. There were tons of museums, parks and bars and the city was very easy to get around.

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San Jose is also surrounded by mountains that you can see from anywhere in city. It was lovely and we'd definitely visit again if given the chance.

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Finally, onward to the Caribbean!

Posted by ReneeJared 14:29 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Monteverde

We headed East into the mountainous interior of Costa Rica to the town of Monteverde. This place is one of the epicentres of ecotourism in Costa Rica. We decided that we would take the high mountain pass in our little 4x4 vehicle and it turned out to be a far bigger adventure than anticipated. At some points we were driving on a narrow dirt road atop a ridge with huge sweeping views of the surrounding valleys on either side.

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There is so much to do there that we ended up spending several days checking it all out. We went to a few nature exhibits and got to enjoy some local wildlife.

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We took a night walk to see some creepy crawlies but the creepiest of all were the trantulas!

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We also spent a day hiking through the jungle which was very cool.

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And of course, no visit to Costa Rica is complete without doing a zip line tour. Next to Volcan Pacaya, this had to be one of the best things that we've done on our trip so far. There was a series of 16 lines, a Tarzan swing, a 15m rappel and a kilometre long 'Superman' zipline that sent you across a big valley. It was absolutely amazing to be cruising through the trees and across the valleys. Wish we could have done this tour twice!!

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We'll be heading to the Caribbean coast to soak up some mellow vibes and raggae music in the next few days. It should be quite the change from our adventures on the Pacific.

Posted by ReneeJared 16:07 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Nicoya Peninsula Roadtrip

We started our Costa Rican journeys in Playa Tamarindo. It was refreshing to be in country that works to keep its countryside and coasts clean. Tamarindo itself is a full on party town. The entire town is hotels, bars and surf shops and everywhere you look are muchacho’s with no shirts and muchacha’s in tiny bikinis. While it was definitely lacking in any sort of real culture, the beach itself made up for it. Big and beautiful (if you didn’t look at all the condo developments), there was time well spent there beach combing and soaking up some sun.

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Another bonus that we got from Tamarindo was meeting another couple at our hostel who agreed to split on a car rental with us. This is fabulous because 90% of the Nicoya Peninsula is only accessible if you have your own transportation and it would be terrible to have missed out on seeing such amazing coastline. Our group decided that we would take the backroads down the coast that are only accessible with a 4x4 vehicle so it was quite the adventure. We visited several beaches and saw tons of animals and wicked scenery.

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We were lucky enough to find a beach all to ourselves to camp out on. It was paradise! Beautiful beach, crashing waves, starry sky and to top it off, a couple of gals who were releasing baby olive ridley turtles offered to let us join them. It doesn't really get much better than that...

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On our way back North now after making it all the way to Montezuma at the tip of the peninsula. It will be cool to head into the mountainous interior of this wicked country.

Posted by ReneeJared 16:27 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

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