Life’s a beach!

Last week we took a trip to the beach.  The far-away beach.  We went to the Guanacaste Region, Pacific Ocean, along the western coast of Costa Rica:

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IMG_0033The best part was, our transportation there (one-way) cost only $8 (5 ½ hour trip)! We took the Pulmitan Bus, which is a step above the public bus, and only makes a few stops between San Jose and Playas del Coco, Guanacaste. The 5 ½ hour trip was broken up in the middle with a 20 minute rest stop. It was a lovely double decker bus, air conditioned, comfy seats and lots of leg room for Greg. It also had a shelf above us for storage items, plus they loaded up larger items (suitcases) below the bus before we left. We were on the top level, 2nd row, so were up high and had an excellent view.

We had to get up early that first day, as we caught the first bus of the morning (4:55 am) from El Cajon to downtown Grecia, then the 5:45 bus from Grecia to San Jose, grabbed a quick taxi to the Pulmitan Bus Station and was there in plenty of time to enjoy a cup of coffee before the 8:00 bus loaded up (and left promptly at 8 am – no tico time here!).

In Playas del Coco, our friends Andy & Fran picked us up and took us to their home of Playa Hermosa. It was great to see them again! They graciously had offered for us to stay in their casita, and their house was beautiful. You could walk to the beach from their house, but yet it was up a (steep!) hill so had gorgeous views of the ocean from their backyard. We caught up with them and visited the afternoon away while rehydrating ourselves (me = water, Greg = beer).

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Later that night Greg & I decided to walk down to the beach. It was a quick walk, and upon entering the road leading the Playa Hermosa (which means “beautiful beach”) we heard howler monkey’s!! Their “howl” is really deep and guttural, which makes you think they are ape-like in size, but really they are very small. Unfortunately we never saw them this trip – only heard them.

We had visited Playa Hermosa once before, on our due diligence trip (Jan., 2012) and was surprised to see that not much had changed. It’s a very small, cozy beach, with a nice little trail running parallel to the beach. There are a few hotels, hostels, restaurants, but not much – it is not a busy beach, which seems just about perfect to me.

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After some strolling around for a while, both on the trail and the beach, we ended up at a new restaurant called Roberto’s. They had 2 for 1 drinks, after all! How could I not be happy with this piña colada, a breeze in my hair, my love at my side and this ocean right smack dab in front of me?

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The view later that night…

We hung out at the beach until it got dark and started lightly sprinkling.

So….  the next day, guess what we did? We went to the beach again!  First stop – breakfast on the beach:

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Then Andy & Fran joined us at the beach with their two water dogs Upe and Ashka, and some more friends – Anne and Andre – met us there. It was a blast – we just hung out in the shade, or in the ocean – treading water or floating around and talking. It’s amazing how much time can go by while hanging out in the ocean. It was a beautiful day.

That night we had a special dinner for 8, catered at the house – it was several of our friends birthdays around this time, and also a kind of “going away” party as well. Andy & Fran, and another couple Kathy & George (we had previously met and knew, and I had a special connection to her because she is a cake-maker-extraordinaire!) were both returning to the States after being in Costa Rica about 4/5 years.

Rocio’s Kitchen Costa Rican Food was amazing.  Rocio herself came to the house with some helpers, made the dinner, served it to us,  cleaned up afterwards and then quietly slipped out. She was sweet, professional, and her food was awesome.  Plus she liked and bought some of my arm candy, so of course she is super cool!  It was really great, here’s what we had (along with lots of wine!):

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Appetizers: shrimp with mango salsa in pineapple boats and chifrijo (rice, beans, chicharron, pico de gallo).

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Surf & Turf (for everyone but me)

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Chicken Breast with Mango/Peach Salsa (for me only!)

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Later into the night (when the bottled wine was gone, and we got into the boxes)…

And after her dessert (a flan type tres leches cake), our friends brought out the remaining turtles and peanut butter balls I had brought, and we chatted into the night. It was a lovely time with friends. 🙂

The next morning we had coffee with a couple – Steve & Martha, who stopped by at Fran & Andy’s – it was nice to meet them and chat with them. And that brought an end to our visit in Playa Hermosa.

Next stop – Playas del Coco where we were meeting some friends we had made online. Samantha and Yeison – of www.mytanfeet.com – were an adorably cute couple. Full of energy and very entrepreneurial with their blog. It was lovely meeting and spending some time with them – thanks Sam & Yeison (and the Italian gelato was super yummy!):

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Next stop… Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa! This was our R&R time… no bracelet making, no blogging, no social media work or writing. Just hanging out at the beach or pool, reading or resting, swimming, eating and drinking. This place was great, and welcomed us with a small but refreshing fruit smoothie made of passion fruit and mint.

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The rest of the day was exploring the ocean, pool, restaurant and just lounging around. It was cloudy out but not raining, and we had gotten enough sun the day before, so were perfectly happy with this. No sunset, but I can’t really complain – look at these cool cloudy pic’s I got:

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Later we had dinner at the restaurant at the resort.  The food was surprising good.  I had a tomato, pesto & mozzerlla (REAL buffalo mozzarella!) salad, which was outstanding. Pasta with tomato sauce and fresh herbs (with more of that real mozzarella!) for dinner. Greg had steak and shrimp which he said was very good. However – don’t get the tiramisu, I prefer mine 10x over.

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My tomato, pesto & mozzarella salad. And wine! 🙂

When I booked this place, I was super excited for Greg because it had a casino in it! So later that night, after dinner, I retired to our room and Greg went off to try his hand at the casino.

He was back not more than 20 minutes later. Turned out it had only slot machines and a video roulette. And when he went to play the roulette, the told him “So sorry sir, but it is not working right now. It will be fixed mañana!”… Sigh. We know what mañana means… not necessarily tomorrow, but whenever it gets fixed (could be months from now)… Poor Greg. I don’t think he won anything in the slot machines either. Or at least he didn’t tell me about it.

IMG_0333The room was very comfortable, the bed was amazing, and I slept like a rock.   The next morning we went down to the restaurant for breakfast (breakfast was included in our nightly rate). Fresh fruit, granola, yogurt (my fav) and galo pinto [rice mixed with beans, very Costa Rican], pancakes, eggs & sausage (Greg’s fav) = everybody was happy. We sat outside and listened to the waves crashing in.

We got to see our friend Randy, who picked us up and took us down the beach a ways to this fabulous little restaurant on the beach “Coco Loco”. We sat RIGHT on the beach – very good drinks & food. It was a great time seeing Randy and chatting with him. Randy is a super nice guy, who just happens to be in real estate (what an odd combination!) – if you need him for buying or renting or even vacation rentals, click here.  There was a nice breeze which made it very comfortable out, and being right on the ocean with the waves – I mean – you just can’t beat this:

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I got a pedicure (first in over a YEAR!!), and the rest of the afternoon we lounged, read, swam & had a drink at the swim up bar…. Just a beautiful day. I wanted more of this.

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The next day we headed back home.  The drive to the bus station was memorable, because…  we came upon an accident.  It was in the middle of the road – and all traffic was at a standstill (there was only 1 lane in each direction) – a semi truck and a bus had collided.  Our driver hopped out, ran to the scene and we saw him kicking some debris around.  He ran back and hopped in the van, mumbling something in Spanish…  we had no idea what he was saying.  He put the van in gear, and drove up to the accident scene, I thought he was maybe going to turn around (we were in a pretty big passenger van), but he turned into a parking lot right before the accident scene, and there were people everywhere (from the bus I presume), he honked, people moved slowly out of his way and he drove in.  Then turned around – but instead of going back out the way we came – he drove SMACK DAB RIGHT THROUGH the accident scene!!  Right between the semi truck and the bus, over a smashed glass windshield on the ground…  and he kept going – and GOT THROUGH.  Wow – major tip for this guy!!

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Accident – bus and a semi…

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Driving through the middle of the accident!!

We got to the Pulmitan bus station with plenty of time to spare (thanks to our excellent driver!).  Bus departure was delayed slightly by some cows crossing the entrance:

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Luckily the bus was blessed, and we had no adventures on the bus ride home:

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 But Greg was a little cramped for space on the way back (no double decker this time!):

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It was a lovely trip, but we could have used a few more days of R&R (note to self for next time).  Till next time beach…  I miss you already! — Jen

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Jen

I quit my job in my early 40’s, sold everything and retired early to live a simple life in Costa Rica!

Check out my book: "Costa Rica Chica" - the book.

Check out my Arm Candy: Costa Rica Chica Arm Candy.

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27 Responses to Life’s a beach!

  1. i so love following your blog! it keeps me going until I’m ready to take the plunge myself. I’m so impressed with what a fun trip you put together and all the people you met…with no car! beautiful!

    • Thank you so much, Lora! It was a challenge for me to put together, and I was a little nervous about the bus – but it worked out so perfectly, I was telling Greg that we could probably take that bus ANYWHERE in CR! It was so fun. 🙂

  2. Great post – this is exactly why we live at the beach. Going into San Jose is awful but necessary at times. Our latest favorite place is Azul Beach Club to stay and/or hang for the day. Marbella is a top surf location along with our back yard – Playa Negra. Pura Vida.

  3. I saw the big guy was pretty happy in a few of those pictures… no wonder when he got back he felt those hills a tad more on his walk. I might add you that you were quite smilly on that black and white photo must of been enjoying the aged grape juice a bit too!

    Glad you both had a great time.

    • Hahaha…. yes he is feeling those hills this morning (as I type this), he waited till today to get back into it. And yes – I was quite happy. Had nothing to do with the wine. Although you could bring my smile out with your homemade piña wine… just sayin… 🙂

      Now, get back to work on your house – no more breaks for you!
      Jen

  4. I feel like I just took a little beach vacation myself, just by reading your blog! Ahhh…. A lovely 7 minute “getaway” for me! Love your stories!

  5. Really enjoyed your information on your beach trip. Would enjoy even more information about the trip and how you scheduled it. Was wondering if you and your husband plan on getting a vehicle in the future and what the problems of owning a vehicle in CR? I am enjoying the thought of living there, but not as adventurest as you people are. Maybe an extended vacation would be my cup of tea!

    • James – luckily I have a tica girlfriend who knew about this bus (Pulmitan) and how to get tickets, etc. But now we know how to it, of course. Through my friends in Guanacaste, I found out about the beach resort and booked it online. So – other than that, not much to it. Of course it helped we had friends out there on the coast. 🙂 Nope – no car planned, at least in our immediate future… too much money and trouble (as far as I’m concerned). Thanks for reading!

      • I love the buses here and use them instead of my car when ever I can. My dad liked them so much he sold his truck.

  6. Looks like an amazing trip, Jen! That pedicure must have been really nice. I feel like I haven’t had a good haircut in months! Gotta love those Costa Rican bus drivers too, getting you back on schedule no matter the circumstances.

    • The pedi was awesome! Plus I had her paint the Costa Rican flag colors on my big toes! 🙂 I also have not had a good haircut in a year (I’ve trimmed my own twice now – WITH layers if you can believe that! …but definitely need a clean up job).

  7. We’re headed to CR in a year or so…. We love mytanfeet and was happy to see your great picture with them. Thanks for blazing the trail for the rest of us. We’ll have to live vicariously through you till we can get there!

  8. Wow, Jen, what a timely post! My husband and I just booked two weeks in Playas del Coco in January today! How can I find out more about this bus service? Maybe we’ll take a trip heading your way!

  9. I am a native Atlantan retired teacher living in Ocotal since December 2013. My 1996 Toyota RAV 4 was purchased in Grecia by its former owner. Would be glad to meet you two when you are in Coco. Enjoy your blog. Thanks, K.

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