Thursday, January 6, 2011

Costa Rica Day 5

We decided on a lazy morning since we were just going to do a lot of driving to the west side of Costa Rica today.  Of course with Costa Rica right near the equator (therefore the sun gets up really early), a lazy morning means getting up at 6am instead of 5am.

We had our last breakfast at the Volcano Lodge restaurant and packed up our things.  Both Mike and Kathie liked the Volcano Lodge since the rooms were very quiet, the area was filled with beautiful plants and the lodges are not crowded together.  The wifi never did end up working in our room but we would just sit in the main office and do our surfing on their computers there.

We decided to stop into town to get gas before the long drive; however on the way into town we got stuck in the middle of a bicycle race of some kind — the were lots of police cars and motorcycles escorting cyclists, and closing off parts of the road. The local Ticas turned out in droves to watch and take photos. Once we got into town, getting to the only gas station turned out to be a challenge since the main road was completely closed. We had to wait for the bulk of the cyclists (probably 40-50) to go by before we could pass some police barriers and fill up. After that, we headed west towards Playa Flamingo.


View of Arenal volcano from our drive


Once we got a little ways out of Arenal, the road conditions deteriorated a bit, but were still quite manageable. The weather was great, and it was pretty much the first time we'd seen more than a glimpse of sun during our trip. The drive around Lake Arenal was very winding and hilly, and at one point there was a river flowing across the road. Once we got out of the mountains, the road leveled and straightened quite a bit, letting us pick up some speed (80kph instead of the 40-60 typical of most of our trip). The drivers in Costa Rica are a bit aggressive, and the double-yellow line is essentially meaningless—we ended up following suit and passing frequently where it's not allowed.  As soon as Kathie mentioned how nice the weather had been, we ran into a torrential downpour—fortunately it only lasted a few minutes, and then it was sunny again!


The west coast of Costa Rica is well known for it's beautiful beaches.  The most popular is Tamarindo, especially for the surfers.  We decided against the popular and went for a much smaller beach area with a reputation for pristine beaches and clear water.  We made it to Playa Flamingo in about four hours and checked in a the Flamingo Beach Resort.  This hotel was much more of a typical resort with a huge swimming pool, swim-up bars, spa area, casino, and parked right by the beach.

Flamingo Beach Resort view from the lobby
We ate a late lunch in lieu of dinner, checked out the beach for a bit, then relaxed at the hotel and set our alarms for the next morning's surfing lessons!