Transfer from Guanacaste to La Fortuna
After our three night stay in Guanacaste came to an end, we embarked on the second leg of our two-part honeymoon and headed east. The drive from Playa Conchal to La Fortuna lasted about three hours, but we stopped in a small town along the way to grab some Cheetos and hang out with the scarlet macaws. There was also a quick pit-stop at Lake Arenal, which interestingly enough is man-made and supplies about 20% of the country’s electricity. We only had to share the shuttle bus with one other person so we got the opportunity to talk with our bus driver the entire way, and he confirmed to us something that we obviously already knew: Tom Brady and Gisele are the kindest, most humble people on God’s green earth. Knowing that Tom and Gisele spend quite a bit of time at their Costa Rica home wasn’t the only reason we chose Costa Rica for our honeymoon, but it was certainly up there. Our driver said that he knows tons of people that have met Tom and Gisele and they all confirmed that they were basically one notch below sainthood. Now, everyone with a brain already knows this to be true; however, there are still a few doubters out there, so we can officially put this argument to rest for good. Also, the people of Costa Rica are without a doubt, the friendliest, most genuine people we have encountered on our journeys, so they have serious credibility when it comes to judging peoples’ character.
Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens
For our three nights in La Fortuna, we stayed at the Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens. Despite not being an all-inclusive, this was the ideal place to stay for a honeymoon. We had a hot tub on our balcony surrounded by jungle plants, the main pool had views of the Arenal Volcano, the food was amazing, and we were a stone’s throw from all of the outdoor activities. We spent one morning zip-lining at Sky-Trek located in the rain forest nearby. Of the seven lines, the longest was almost a half mile long and you really flew. They advertised it as the longest zip-line in the country but we’ve heard about a half-dozen other people say they went to the longest zip-line in Costa Rica elsewhere, so who knows. Regardless, it was a blast and we would highly recommend it.
Of all the activities that you can do in the La Fortuna area, the one that most intrigued us was the opportunity to swim in the crater of a dormant volcano: Cerro Chato. Now, we’ve said before that organized activities tend to be for suckers and we stand by that claim wholeheartedly. The group hike up Cerro Chato is $106/per person and includes a tour guide. The best advice we can give anyone who wants to hike Cerro Chato is to take a $20 cab from the resort to the trail head,pay the $10 entrance fee, hike it sans guide, and take a $20 cab back to the resort. We met a couple at the resort from DC who were also looking to hike Chato without a guide so we joined forces with them and took a cab to the trail.
The volcano itself is 3,740 feet tall and they say the hike is 4 miles round trip. Despite being a relatively short hike in terms of total distance, it was a steep and strenuous hike through the dense rain forest. The entire hike looks like a scene out of Jurassic Park. It was pretty wild. Also, the funny thing about rain forests is that it rains a ton. There was plenty of tree cover but we were still soaked after about five minutes. It was well worth it.
Once you get to the top of the mountain you have to hike about 10-15 minutes into the crater of the volcano before reaching the water. Of all of the people that we ran into on the trail, none of them climbed all the way down to the crater, citing the steep muddy trail as an excuse. There was absolutely no chance that we were going to climb to the top of a volcano and not swim in the crater. So we, along with our new friends, braved the muddy slope and took the plunge. It was an eerie sight to say the least. It was so foggy that we couldn’t even see across to the other side of the crater. A question that we have been asked multiple times after recounting the story is whether or not the water was hot. The answer is no, given that he volcano has been dormant for 3,500 years. We wouldn’t go take a dip in a volcanic crater if there was liquid hot magma bubbling below the surface.
We took the opportunity to get away from the resort and spend an afternoon in the nearby town of La Fortuna. It was a nice little Latin American town with lots of shops and hostels. We got lunch at a roadside restaurant called Garra-Pata. While we usually frown upon posting pictures of food, we’ll make an exception for this place. If you like meat, this is the place for you.
…And that’s the end of our two-part honeymoon extravaganza. Anyone planning a honeymoon should book through Unforgettable Honeymoons. We can’t emphasize enough how pleasant the planning experience was and how much money we saved by booking with them. It really was an unforgettable honeymoon. It’s been seven months and we still haven’t forgotten it.