The Coker's

The Coker's

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Costa Rica- The basics of our trip...

Beautiful, Lush, Adventure
That IS Costa Rica

Thankfully my sweet husband FINALLY let me plan a trip to Costa Rica, and I think he is just as happy about the outcome as I am.  It was AWESOME!

Booking Flights: We set up a fare alert through FareCompare.  The tickets during high season were consistently at $800 and up.  Every time we saw a low fare alert, we would check into it, but we really wanted a GREAT deal.  Finally we saw a low fare come through so we went for it.  Matt moved our dates up a week (the week before Xmas instead of the week of Xmas) and the ticket prices plummeted!  I don't usually disclose prices on here, but I wanted to give everyone hope... $256.00 round trip from DFW to Liberia on Continental (one stop in Houston). SO USE FARECOMPARE for your next trip!

Booking a hotel: We did a lot of searching on VRBO.  Once I had an idea of where I wanted to stay, I checked reviews on TripAdvisor.  That is the best way to get a true picture of how the place really is.  We picked Casa Bambora

Booking a Rental Car: DO IT DO IT DO IT!  Seriously DO IT!  You will want to go explore, possibly split your time between different beach towns, etc.  We booked through Avis and they were great.  There are always tons of discount codes that you can google and apply when booking your rental car.

Towns we visited: Tamarindo (Home Base), Playa Grande, Playa Flamingo, Rincon de la Vieja (several small towns)

We arrived in Liberia a little after Noon.  Unfortunately our bags did not arrive with us, but honestly, I didn't even care!  We gave them the address to Casa Bambora and just prayed that they would eventually get there.  When I have a bonafied reason to shop to ensure survival, I AM ALL IN!

Avis was waiting right outside of customs to take us over to their car lot in an air conditioned, spacious van.  They talked us into the full coverage insurance (which I highly recommend), quickly got the contract done, got the keys, and we were off to start our adventure. 
Liberia Airport (small, not a full building (open walls facing the runway))
Liberia to Tamarindo
It's easy!  From the airport, you take a right and head away from the airport.  There are plenty of signs that point you towards Tamarindo.  It's about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  If you are flying in at night and are making the trip for your first time, just opt for the GPS.  (Just don't leave it laying in sight when you are not using the car)
Casa Bambora
Once we arrived we went through a very easy/quick walk through with the owner, Joey.  The setup is perfect for several couples looking to vacation together on a budget or if you and your companion just want a budget friendly place to stay.  The house is set up on 3 floors with a pool, an OUTDOOR KITCHEN, locked entry gates, a viewing deck on top of the house, and several outdoor sitting/reading areas.  Floor 1: Pool, outdoor kitchen, Joey's room, and 1 rental room.  Floor 2: A larger room and a medium size room. Floor 3: 1 room (that is where we stayed) Floor 4/roof top: viewing deck with a million dollar 360 degree view.  All rooms are set up condo style.  They all have a full bathroom, kitchen, refrigerator, bed, A/C, TV and couch.  They all have hammocks outside of the room which is fabulous for reading. I highly recommend Casa Bambora.  Joey has built a special place (literally he built it) and he is a fabulous concierge!  He made time to give us insider tips, he sat and had a beer with us a time or two, he even made time to get us shrimp from the fish truck one day so we gladly treated him to some home cooked meals! The outdoor kitchen and pool area are more than worth the price!  Joey also provided us with an Iphone doc that doubled as speakers so we could play our music in our room or out by the pool.

Grocery Store Situation
Expensive Option: Auto Mercado- This is on the right hand side as you are first entering the town of Tamarindo.  It's located in a group of shops that are next to the big Asian inspired statues. They have everything you need but its VERY expensive.  A bag of shredded cheese is around $6.00 US.  They have a decent veggie selection, a meat section, dairy, bakery, beer/wine/liquor, etc.  Very much like a Kroger. 
Cheaper Option: Mega Super- This is a much more affordable option.  This is a place that the locals would utilize on a daily basis.  In fact, every time I went into the store, I was the only American.  They will ask you to bring back glass beer bottles or charge you extra for them. So its just easier to get canned beer :)  The store is on the way to Playa Grande on your right hand side coming from Tamarindo.

A good "first night" food option to soak in your surroundings
Nogui's- Get a fish taco and a beer... its around $5.00, AND you are right on the beach.  Go there to watch your first Tamarindo sunset (spectacular), enjoy the local beer (Imperial or Pilsen) and kick off your vacation right!  The shops are typically open until 8 or 9 pm so the evening is a nice time to do some shopping.

Blogs to come:
PuraAventura, Tamarindo Eats, La Anita Rainforrest Ranch, Playa Grande/Playa Flamingo

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