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Travelzoo Experience: Sloths & Surf Lessons in Costa Rica

One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.

For my Travelzoo Experience, I took advantage of the fantastic airfare to Costa Rica, a place that's long been on my list to visit. I never thought I could get there for about the cost of flying from Chicago to New York City. I spent the majority of my time on the Pacific Coast in a surfer town called Nosara. We stayed at an "eco-chic" resort that had been recommended to us as a place to "get away from it all" and relax. Everything about this trip was easy. We had to fly in and out of San Jose so that meant a little sightseeing around the Central Valley as well. Here are my highlights:

  • Poas Volcano: The volcano is just outside San Jose. You have to get there in the morning and hope the weather cooperates or there’s a very strong possibility of not seeing anything because of heavy fog. When we got there, the clouds literally parted so we could see the giant crater. Then we hiked up a bit farther to see a crater lake.
  • Olive ridley sea turtles at Ostional Beach: We were picked up in a truck and driven through dirt roads and across three rivers to get to this well known beach where the ridley sea turtles nest. It was the beginning of the arribadas (or high season), and we ventured out onto the beach in the dark of night to try and find a turtle come ashore to lay its eggs in the sand. Later in the season there can be literally thousands on the beach; we were lucky enough to find one and get to watch the whole amazing process. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • La Paz Waterfall and Butterfly and Hummingbird sanctuary/garden: Who knew there were so many sizes and colors of these beautiful animals? It was a gorgeous and unique experience.
  • Sloth on a telephone wire outside San Jose: As an animal lover, I was hoping to see a sloth. This was a hilarious thing to spot alongside a busy road. These animals are so ugly they become cute.
  • Surfing at Nosara beach: Costa Rica had the highest swells in five years when we were there. This was definitely not a beach for beginners, though fun to take a lesson.
  • Howler monkeys: My first sightings occurred during a hike through an ecological reserve; later they showed up in a big group at our resort. The howl they make is so loud, it sounds more like a whale -- really unexpected and so fun.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Chicago
Friday, June 8, 2012
See more Tips from
Karyn Strauss