Costa Rica; the nature lovers dream location! I recently explored Costa Rica for 10 days and fell madly in love with the Country. I’m going to share everything we did and my recommendations for your trip. We split our trip into three; Rio Celeste in land, Nosara beach break and ending in Manuel Antonio for the national park. We flew into Costa Rica, via Texas, and stayed in the Holiday Inn near the airport. I can highly recommend doing this if you land late, there’s a shuttle bus from the airport for free and it’s a comfortable stay to wake up early and head to your destination in the morning!
Our first location was Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel and we booked a transfer through the hotel, to collect us from the Holiday Inn and about three hours later, we arrived here. The hotel is beautiful, there’s only a few bungalows so it’s nice and quiet and each room is housed in their own little chalet, with balcony and either a garden or rainforest view.
The whole property is surrounded by lush rainforest, plants, flowers and wildlife.
The hotel has its own restaurant which serves breakfast which is included in the price, lunch and dinner including amazing cocktails.
The main advantage of being at the Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel, is the location. It is walking distance to the national park of the famous turquoise blue waterfall. The walk is short but it is steep, so it’ll take a little longer than normal and you may even want to stop off and take a dip in this river! You can’t swim in the blue waters within the national park so this is a good spot to take advantage.
The national park is a large area, predominantly featured around following the blue river but also an incredible place to spot wildlife. You can book a tour and use the knowledge of the guide to point out animals high up in the tree. We didn’t bother hiring a guide as we had several opportunities over the 10 days to see wildlife, but if you’re only around for a few days then I would recommend to ensure you see them!
The national park takes about 3 hours to wander around and the paths are easy to follow. One of the first spots you’ll reach is the waterfall which is as mesmerising as the photos make it look. The colour of the water is due to the minerals; because of this, if it rains, the water dilutes with the rainwater and becomes brown so best to miss on a rainy day.
After having a brilliant time wandering the national park, we skipped across the road into this cafe. There’s a few near the entrance to stumble into when you’re desperate for a drink! This spot is open, overlooking beautiful gardens and a great place to just sit and relax for an hour or so (they have wifi also!) We tried the Costa Rican national dish of fried rice and beans and it was the perfect carb load after all the walking.
On the way back to the hotel, we wandered down a lane to take in some of the local life and the colours, flowers and landscape are just incredible.
Hot, tired and ready for a sit down after the walk home and we jumped into the hotel pool. The pool is lovely and has three jacuzzis, because of the quiet nature of the hotel, we always found at least one jacuzzi free. There is also a swim up bar here and you can order food from the restaurant to enjoy around the pool.
On the second full day, we decided to take advantage of the excursions which you can book in through the hotel. This excursion was called the ‘Hanging Bridges and Sloth Tour’ and when I say it was amazing, I mean it was AMAZING! We got picked up from the hotel around 8am and headed a short drive to a local rainforest lodge. When we pulled up, there was no one else there so we weren’t sure what we were in for!
There are very well known hanging bridges a little further away from Rio Celeste but this one seemed to offer the same views but without the crowds. We wandered through the rainforest, learning all about the trees and the history before headed down our first hanging bridge.
The wildlife here is so smart, you’d think you can just spot them going about their business but no, you need a professional. We were looking around and couldn’t see anything, then our guide started playing bird calls from his phone and could sense there were toucans near by. We stood quietly and all of a sudden, they appeared!
Toucans are one of my favourite animals so I was so excited to see these in their natural habitat. It can be hard to grab a good photo whilst you’re lightly swinging on a 45 metre high bridge but wow, it was amazing! We also saw wild turkeys, so many birds, butterflies and more.
After we finished our walk, we stopped back at the lodge for a juice and then jumped back in the car. We only drove a few minutes down the road before stopping off at a sloth spotting sight. The rainforest is so old, that it is hard to spot sloths. They’re very well camouflaged and when they’re at the top of the tree, it can be near impossible.
This spot is a new rainforest, where the local farmers are re-introducing rainforests to land which had been cut down for agriculture. The whole country is doing its best to revive these areas and the advantage for us was that these areas are brilliant for sloth and for spotting them in trees which aren’t too tall yet!
I captured these with a zoom lens, so we did keep out distance but these guys were watching us and smiling. It was absolutely incredible, we stopped and watched them slowly move and munch on leaves for a few minutes. If you’re staying at Rio Celeste, I cannot recommend this excursion enough. Within one morning, we had seen toucans and sloths and had an incredible time. We asked the guide to drop us back at the cafe by Rio Celeste, where we stayed and grabbed some lunch before walking back to the hotel for the late afternoon.
Back at the hotel, they have an expanse of rainforest available to wander around. The rainforest is also river fronted so you can enjoy that blue water from the property and this section you can swim in! There’s a few trails guided out for you around the property.
Another amazing thing about Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel is there evening walk. Free of charge, you gather by reception when the sun has gone down and you are guided around the property to spot the wildlife that comes out after dark. We saw many frogs around the pond, snakes, sleeping birds and a few other creepy crawlys.
After a few nights, it was time to check out of Rio Celeste and head to our next destination. I couldn’t recommend this hotel more and Rio Celeste in general is a must visit on any Costa Rica trip!