How I Fell in Love…with Costa Rica

The secret is out- I love Costa Rica. Mostly I love the people: their warmth and happiness. The way everyone is so laid back. Did you know Costa Rica is consistently rated as one of the happiest countries in the world? With a six-day work week! The weather is a close second when it comes to lovability. Oh! And the animals. Sloths!

The beaches too. Also the gorgeous trees and plants and flowers. Wait, did I say the cloud forest? It’s like a fairyland. Okay. Everything about Costa Rica is amazing, and I live in paradise.

I fell in love with Costa Rica six years ago, on a ten-day trip. And here is my matchmaker:



Jose Pablo was our guide and driver. Here’s his website:

Guides in Costa Rica go to school to learn about the flora and fauna, the geography and history. They’re not just making up facts like a double-decker bus driver. Jose Pablo has a lot of itineraries on his site, but here’s the one we followed that made me infatuated, enchanted, and be downright crazy about Costa Rica.

The first day we went to Poas Volcano. There’s an elfin cloud forest there, where. you hike along the misty trail to the top. There, when the clouds part, you spot a blue lagoon in a crater.

Next, on to Arenal volcano, where we stayed at Arenal Observatory Lodge. In its past life, the hotel was a Smithsonian Observatory for the volcano. To say it has great views is an understatement. Alas, the volcano wasn’t (and Isn’t) active, so we didn’t see any lava.

So far, we’d been in Costa Rica for three days and we’d seen the most beautiful things I’d ever seen, and everyone we’d met had been lovely. It’s no secret that Costa Rica’s #1 industry is tourism and eco-tourism. Sure, it behooves people to be nice to their customers, but I’ve traveled all over the US and Europe to tourist destination and never met people so welcoming.

Next, we headed to Tirimbina, to walk the hanging bridges. This is the part where I tell you I’m scared of heights. While we are all walking and taking in the amazing views, birds and even some kind of cool cat, I imagine my kids plummeting to their death. I refuse to let it stop me from having experiences. I wore Maya (11 mos) in an ergo baby carrier, and held Gigi’s hand. At the end of the longest bridge, here’s the conversation:

Me: Gigi, do you have any circulation in your hand?

Gigi: What’s circulation?

Jose Pablo is an expert birder and gets so excited about birds that he made us excited too. We also saw snakes, bugs, koatis, my beloved sloths, monkey families, and so much more.

We spent the last days of our trip at the beach. After all that hiking and sightseeing, it was nice to relax. Lot’s of people think it’s too hard to travel with kids, or that they won’t enjoy it. But I can’t imagine seeing these things without them. I was glad to have a driver who knew exactly where he was going, and a guide to show us what we would have missed. It’s my number one tip for people coming here- hire a guide! You will see 100% more cool things.

At the beach, we slowed down enough to chat with some ex-pats that had come here and opened a restaurant. And so I started dreaming.

The Dream Becomes A Reality

It took us five years for the timing to work. In the meantime I had Jude, Mike worked on his business, and one day, we were ready. We made the move.

My mom had a quote taped to her mirror when I was growing up.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

My whole life I dreamed of traveling the world, I dreamed of being a writer. Now I live in one of the world’s most beautiful places and I’m a travel writer for Fodor’s Travel Guide.

Where do you want to go? What do you dream you can do?

Begin it.