Playa Jaco and our first Costa Rican surf

The next morning we woke early at sunrise to check the surf.
Unfortunately the tide was too low and the waves were dumping on the shore so we decided to wait until the tide came in a bit. As we walked along the shore we spotted a group of pelicans gliding close to the waters surface. They all flew in a line, keeping a close eye on the water below looking out for a potential fishy breakfast. The view of the pelicans soaring at sunrise was unforgettable so of course I had to whip my camera out as soon as possible hoping to catch this moment.

Jaco is quite a tacky town filled with bars, shops and clubs for the copious amounts of tourists that stay here.(Fortunately, this was just a place to stay for a day or two in order for us to get over our jet lag and ease ourselves into the temperatures and surf).

In the early morning with just a few walkers and runners for company on the beach, the towns seediness is quickly forgotten when you see the mass of jungle in the backdrop. 

We strolled back to our hostel as the day began to heat up and the town started to wake. After a fresh breakfast smoothie we slapped on some factor 50 and grabbed a couple of boards for our first Costa Rican surf in Playa Jaco. We were both ecstatic to find our toes weren’t painfully frostbitten after dipping them in the sea. Instead, we were welcomed into luxuriously warm (although a little brown) tropical water! As we passed the breaking waves outback, we turned to look towards the shore, feasting our eyes on the beauty of the rich, luscious backdrop of the jungle that was so close to the beach. This jungle backdrop overpowered the atmosphere of the sleazy town. Soon enough we were joined by pelicans flying closely overhead, dive bombing into the sea just a few feet away guzzling endless amounts of fish with their expandable beaks. Shoals of fish jumped out of the water curiously circling our boards. We were also lucky enough to see some dolphins playfully leaping out of the water on the distant horizon. This abundance of exotic wildlife mixed together with fun, clean surf in warm water, no wetsuit and no brain freeze, made the perfect, idyllic first day at our first Tico beach! Mmmm paradise!

Can't Handle the Big, Bad City

After weeks of numbing November and December surfs in the freezing Cornish waters I seriously couldn’t wait to get into tropical Costa Rican waters where it wasn’t essential to wear a wetsuit, boots and gloves! Just your bikini and sun cream… Perfect!
That’s why it was pretty frustrating for the both of us to be stranded in San Jose longer than planned. We managed to miss the first bus to Playa Jaco as I ended up having the wrong currency, meaning I couldn’t buy the bus tickets, resulting in a 2 hour wait in the bus station. We ended up wandering aimlessly around San Jose’s busy streets in search of something to occupy ourselves. The hectic chaos of San Jose stressed us out even more so we ended up sitting in a park in an attempt to escape the incessant noise and heat of the day. We stayed for a short while, but the sun moved round to beat down on us. Unable to cope with the direct sunlight for much longer we left the park and began to walk in a daze in the midst of San Jose’s hustle and bustle. We grabbed a smoothie from a small stall and headed back for the bus stop when it was time.
We finally managed to hop on the bus around 3pm and set off for Playa Jaco. The journey was crammed full of people from San Jose making their way down to Jaco for the weekend.
Travelling by bus allows you to see more of a country; we left the hot, polluted air of San Jose behind and drove through lush, green mountains where the temperature dropped to a more comfortable degree. We passed through tiny local villages where families relaxed in hammocks on their front porches, inviting neighbours to join. There is a big sense of community here; doors are left open for neighbours to pop by, have a coffee, bring their dog round and chat.
After 2 and a half hours on the bus we finally arrived in Jaco just in time for the sunset, unfortunately we missed out on a surf so had to wait for first light the next morning. Instead we found a cheap hostel close to the beach where we tried to deal with the new soaring temperatures and jet lag.

First fresh Costa Rican morning

Matty and I woke to the sound of Alajuela’s busy street life bustling outside our room. Looking out the window we saw the lifeless City suburb had woken. The park was now full of old Tican men sitting on stone benches hazily watching younger Tican men and women making their way to work. Children making their way to school in those iconic yellow American school buses you never see in England. The street was full of people, cars, buses and dogs. We soon realised that there are a ridiculous amount of dogs in Costa Rica, unfortunately not all have owners.
That morning we had our first taste of a real Costa Rican breakfast; Gallo Pinto (literally meaning spotted/painted rooster). A mix of rice and black beans, with fried onions and coriander. Gallo pinto accompanied by a cup of strong, black Costa Rican coffee made a perfect way to start the day.
As we set off from the hostel into the street, the heat hit us smack in the face as our backpacks drooped heavily behind us, weighing us down, and slowing the pace as we trudged around the corner. Looking like the true, pale, English tourists we were, we set off in search of Alajuela bus station just two blocks round the corner in order to catch the bus to central San Jose, the Coca Cola terminal. We eventually found it after winding around streets of colourful fruit stalls filled with fruits I had never even seen before. Newspaper stands and cracked concrete paths lead the way. The city was live and bustling with the smell of rice and beans boiling on hobs, plantains frying and casados being served up in every soda on the block. We managed to find our bus with some help from a few smiling locals.

Pura Vida Costa Rica

2013 began as all new years should… stepping onto a plane about to be taken somewhere I have never been before; somewhere hot, exotic, and filled with copious new surf spots, animals, people, and places. I flew to Costa Rica in January 2013 with Matty to escape the freezing cold winter that was inevitably going to envelop England for a few months.
Having wanted to visit Central and South America for years I was pretty excited to finally have the chance. Whilst over there I decided to keep an online diary in order to keep in touch with family and friends; simultaneously reminding myself of my travels months later as I read it all back.

We finally arrived in San Jose; Costa Rica's capital, the day after we set off from London Heathrow. As soon as we escaped the terminal we were greeted by a cool refreshing breeze blowing through San Jose's nighttime air, instead of the hot, sticky, humid heat I had been expecting to hit me as soon as i stepped off the plane. On the way to the hostel in Alajuela, a district of the capital, we were introduced to something different to what I had been expecting. The streets were quiet, with only a couple of cars driving past the other way. It felt like a bit of a ghost town, until we turned a corner and saw some people hanging outside a bar, the dark doorways oozing smoke and a few women leaning up against blacked out cars pulled over on the side. Our hostel was opposite a park where a few nighttime characters were hanging out. Unloading the taxi we hauled our backpacks out of the boot and waited for the hostel to unlock its doors to let us in as the taxi drove off. After arriving later than planned at 12am after a few days worth of traveling, we were knackered and the only thing troubling us was how much sleep we could get in the next few hours before we started our journey around Costa Rica. We headed straight for bed, intrigued to see what tomorrow was going to bring.