It happened. It took me 41 days, but I finally made it to the the region regarded by many to be home to the most beautiful beaches in the country. That’s right, I’m talking about Guanacaste. During the 6 and a half hours en route from San Jose through Liberia and on to the Pacific Coast I came to appreciate the contrast between the extreme heat and dry terrain that occasionally combined well enough to even provoke small fires and the overwhelmingly refreshing environment offered by the ocean and coastline just minutes down the same road. My friend, Julian, and I
began our adventure in the wee hours of Saturday morning and arrived in Playa Brasilito and high spirits at about
mid-day. We were ready for some beach action. After a delicious lunch of casado and checking into our adequate (but air-conditioned!) hotel, we were on our way to the highly esteemed Playa Flamingo 6 km down the road. We were gonna take the bus, then after we considered its unknown schedule and ruled out a taxi we decided to walk it, which made us realize we instead wanted to rent some bikes, which allowed us to conveniently catch the bus on our way to the bike place… and we finally made it! The waves were incredible, the view astounding, water refreshing, nature invigorating, and sunset unforgettable. It’s tough to exceed the expectations we had, but it just might have happened. Again not wanting to take a chance on a bus, we unintelligently decided to hike the 6km back in our sandals under the stars. It gave us some good quality time, but at the price of some unpleasant irritation in unmentionable places.
The next morning we woke up bright and early at 5:30 am to catch a glimpse of the sunrise. Of course, it’s not quite the same from the Pacific Ocean side, but it was still definitely worth the interruption of REM. The beach of choice that morning was none other than Playa Conchal, where the sand is replaced by seashells and frowns are replaced with smiles. Seriously though, there were seashells instead of sand – millions of them! This unique trait, along with the crystal clear water and lack of excessive tourism, leaves me no choice but to regard Conchal as the coolest beach I have ever visited. Our empty stomachs pried us away from the clutches of the beach’s coolness, but after a quick breakfast and a bus ticket purchase, we were right back on it until check out at noon. Julian had to leave that Sunday for classes on Monday, but I was smart enough to avoid scheduling classes on Mondays, so I got to stay another day!
This time I was gonna head less than 20 km south where cheaper lodging and access to new beaches awaited me in Tamarindo (or as locals call it due to a recent increase in the presence of caucasian tourists, “Tamagringo”). Not long after my arrival to my hostel, “La Oveja Negra”, I was off to Playa Negra. Unfortunately, there are no buses that travel to PN and a taxi ride is $30 each way, so I was forced into renting a bike for the rest of the day to make the 18 km trip. But this wasn’t just any trip. We’re talking about 16/18 of this road being unpaved; to the extent that this “road” has been deemed the 7th worst road in all of Costa Rica by my traveler’s guide book, “Lonely Planet.” Unfortunately I didn’t read that part until after the fact, so I found out the hard way first. Enduring some unfortunate component problems with the bike seat and handlebars of my beach cruiser, I finally made it to the refreshing surf of PN a solid hour and a half later. Being made aware that another notable beach, Playa Avellanas, was 3 km down the road on the way back to Tamarindo, I left PN after 30 min to take in another postcard-worthy sunset at PA. Knowing a rough trip was ahead of me, I bolted out of there as soon as the sun was no longer in view to take advantage of what little natural light I had left. I knew I had more shoes on my feet than street lights I would encounter on the all-but-deserted dirt road I had to ride back. I was provoked to such desperation that I began half-heartedly waving down the cars passing me by, and not to no avail! The couple who stopped were unfortunately driving a full car headed for their home a mere 2 km down the road I still had about 10 left on, so I reluctantly thanked them for their efforts and decided I was making it back on my own, or not at all. Thankfully it was the former, and I had never been so happy to jump into a community shower back at the hostel.
To avoid losing your interest in what has almost turned into a novel, suffice it to say that the following day consisted of 2 non-awesome events: 1) I woke up to find my 2 of my 4 small loaves of bread, 6 of my 12 slices of ham and a half bag of chips (36 of 72? I dont know…) were missing from the taken-too-literally “community” kitchen, and 2) I lost my really cool “Pura Vida” towel on… (enter the 4 reasons why this day was ultimately AWESOME): 1)Playa Grande! waves, beach, surfers, 2) I bargained the price of the bike rental down from 10.000 colones to about $9 (less than half!) due to the problems I had with it and the fact I didn’t sign a sheet saying I would be responsible for any damages, 3) the bus to San Jose arrived on time at 2 pm, 4) I had a humongous dinner that was even more humongously delicious waiting for me in my house upon my return. This will not be the last of my trips to Guanacaste, but it was a heck of a first!