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5 Days in Costa Rica with Here & Now Travel

Let the Pura Vida lifestyle work its magic on you in Costa Rica. I just spent the most refreshing long weekend at the top of a mountain in a rain forest lodge in Costa Rica with Here & Now Travel. The trip left me feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.

My boyfriend and I booked the trip to Costa Rica with the Houston-based travel company, Here & Now Travel, which plans adventurous group travel trips for young professionals to Costa Rica, Tulum and Colombia.

Here & Now Travel filled the Costa Rica itinerary with exciting hikes to waterfalls, zip-lining around volcanoes, learning to cook local dishes and swimming in hot springs. Here’s a recap of the highlights of my 5 days in Costa Rica.

Because we love supporting local businesses (both in Houston & abroad!), you can get $150 OFF your next trip with Here & Now Travel. They have upcoming trips to Costa Rica, Tulum, and Colombia. Use the code “ITSNOTHOU” and book before January 31, 2020 to save!

cascadas pozo azul

Where we stayed: Finca 360

Sometimes I plan trips just because I want to go to a cool airbnb. And let me tell you, Finca 360, where we stayed, is worth a flight to Costa Rica on its own. The property is absolutely incredible!

New to Airbnb? Get $55 off your first trip here.

Located in the small town of Venencia in the San Carlos region, Finca 360 is remote and beautiful. A Costa Rican native and an environmental economics professor at A&M built the 6-bedroom rain forest lodge. As the name suggests, every room has incredible panoramic views of Juan Castro Blanco National Park. I stayed in the Poas room and had spectacular views of the Congo Volcano. Every night, I slept with the shades and windows open so I could wake up to the mountain views. The waving trees and mist blowing over the mountains was the most energizing thing to see first thing in the morning!

finca 360 costa rica

The house was built by a local Costa Rican architect and is full of staircases, open air balconies, reflecting pond, spacious entertaining space and fresh plants. Rosie, the owner and mastermind behind the Finca 360 concept, meticulously decorated the house with lamps and tables made from refurbished rainforest wood and painted pillows and artwork from Venecian artists.

Staying at Finca 360 was like staying at a private five-star resort. Upon arrival, the Finca team greeted us with homemade pina coladas made with fresh local pineapple. Every day we were treated to a buffet of Costa Rican dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even happy hours!

The property itself is situated in the middle of a rain forest and has several trails that we hiked along to see waterfalls and a suspension bridge. In addition to the recent spa addition, Rosie has big goals for the house and is planning to add outdoor space for yoga classes.

What to Do in Costa Rica

I’m particularly obsessed with how Here & Now planned the itinerary, because it’s exactly the way I like to plan travel: avoiding touristy places, staying active, eating authentic food and getting to hang out with locals. I was able to practice my Spanish so much and staying in an off-the-beaten path lodge in the middle of the rainforest was absolutely incredible! Below are some of the highlights from our Costa Rica trip and stay in Venecia.

Waterfall Hikes

From what I can tell, it’s pretty hard to visit Costa Rica without seeing a ton of waterfalls! Everywhere we went we’d see them on the side of the road when driving.

A true highlight was hiking and swimming at Cascadas Pozo Azul in Venecia. The falls were located at what felt like someone’s backyard a few miles away from where we were staying. We hiked down about 50 stories to the foot of the falls and swam in the water. The water was cold, but refreshing when the sun was out. Along the way, I loved seeing the leaf cutter ants and being immersed in the understory of the rain forest. We were some of the only people to hit the trail and afterwards enjoyed a homemade meal of rice and bean casados at the Cascadas Pozo Azul house.

Another afternoon, we did a hike around Finca 360’s property. Our bus driver/guide Lloyd is a biologist and taught us about all the different types of ferns, birds, and plants. We saw toucans, butterflies and hummingbirds. We crossed a suspension bridge and hiked to a waterfall that powers 70% of the property’s electricity.

Ziplining

If you went to Costa Rica and didn’t zipline, did you really go? For real, it’s everywhere! We ziplined at Sky Trek near the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna. We zigzagged across the rainforest on 7 ziplines. Some of the cables dropped over 650 feet and reached over 40mph! I nearly had a heart attack several times while getting strung up, but it was crazy fun nonetheless. We also saw a bunch of wild spider monkeys!

Afterwards we spent an hour exploring the town of La Fortuna. I picked out an embroidered star souvenir to hang on my Christmas tree.

Hot Springs

Sprinkled around Costa Rica are several active volcanoes which means lots of hot springs along the countryside. After ziplining, we pulled over on the side of the road and hiked down to Rio Chollin Hot Springs. It was a gentle river with black volcanic rocks nestled under the jungle trees–and it was warm! People had brought picnics and were snacking along the shores. We soaked up the healing properties of the spa like water and laughed as a bunch of coatimundis pestered locals eating lunch on the shore. This river is the same one that feeds all the expensive resorts a few miles down.

rio chollin hot springs

Another day, we drove to Recreo Verde Hot Springs near Venecia. The hot springs are a natural yellow color caused by the high presence of minerals in the water. The springs boast health benefits such as the treatment of rheumatism, muscle tightness, blood circulation, stress, among others. We bounced between the hot pool and the cold pool and explored the grounds which had plenty of picnic areas, volleyball courts, and patios to relax. On the grounds is the Cave of Death, which is this super insane crevice that leaks pure carbon dioxide. Because of that, any animal that enters the cave dies immediately. We saw a demonstration with an ignited torch whose fire went out as soon as it entered the cave because of the lack of oxygen. Super crazy!

Massages

I’m not kidding when I said staying at Finca 360 was like staying at a resort. After the intense hiking, we all got massages in the spa on the property. It was magical and worth the value!

What to Eat in Costa Rica

My love language is homemade food and Finca 360 served up the best eats. We tried all sorts of amazing dishes. Breakfast was filled with fresh watermelon, papaya, pineapple, homemade banana bread, gallo de pinto, sausage and cheese from the local dairy farms, and–of course–Costa Rican coffee! Happy hours would include homemade olive tapanade, plantain chips, eggplant and chickpea dips with local beer and wine. Dinners were hearty affairs with casados and delightful desserts like passion fruit mouse served in the fruit shell. One night, Rosie taught us how to make homemade tortillas with queso fresco which we enjoyed the whole trip.

The restaurants we visited included:

Here & Now Travel

This trip was my first time traveling with a travel company and it was surprisingly refreshing. Other than packing, I didn’t have to any prep or planning for the trip. I just showed up and everything was well organized for me by the Here & Now team. Everything was planned and well organized. They cap their trips at 14 people to ensure that the group can travel together in a small van. This also ensures that they can avoid tourist trap places and explore more off-the-beaten-track locations. Each couple also got their own room at Finca 360.

Each day had a mix of active adventures, driving in the van, and downtime. We never felt rushed and occasionally modified the schedule when we all woke up tired hungover.

Here & Now Travel does a good job of planning their trips over the weekends to places that don’t require a super long flight or jetlag. Minimal vacation days, maximum impact. The upcoming Costa Rica trip is over Memorial Day weekend.

Because we love supporting local businesses (both in Houston & abroad!), you can get $150 OFF your next trip with Here & Now Travel. They have upcoming trips to Costa Rica, Tulum, and Colombia. Use the code “ITSNOTHOU” and book before January 31, 2020 to save!

here & now travel costa rica

Costa Rica Travel Tips

Because I traveled with the Here & Now group, I found getting around Costa Rica super simple. I took out a small amount of cash at at ATM in the airport and used it on souvenirs in La Fortuna. Everywhere else I went, I was able to use my credit card.

The temperature was fairly moderate–getting hot when the sun came out (90s) but rather cold when the clouds and rain came (70s). I packed a mix of long sleeves and pants for the evenings and shorts for hiking. Carrying an insulated water bottle was clutch for hot days. I used bug spray on the heavier hiking days.

What I Packed

Have you been to Costa Rica? What was your favorite part of the country?

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2 thoughts on “5 Days in Costa Rica with Here & Now Travel

  1. Great post sweetie! Visited Costa Rica and we did fall in love with this incredibly beautiful country. Our favourite part was definitely Arenal. Guanacaste region is also stunning! Need to start planning another Costa Rica’s getaway 🙈.

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