Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 3

Other posts in series:

Costa Rica Trip Review: Hotel & Flight Planning
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 1
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 2 Part 1- The Rental Car Drama Continues
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 2 Part 2
 Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 4 – Part 1 – Getting to Manuel AntonioCosta Rica Trip Review: Day 4 Part 2 – Manuel Antonio National Park and Beaches
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 5 Volcan Poas and La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Costa Rica Trip Review: Day 6 Arenal Volcano, Arenal Hanging Bridges, and The Arenal Lodge


Friday morning we woke up at 6 am feeling pretty optimistic about our day. This was the first day on our itinerary where we would be getting out of San Jose and up into the mountains to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of Costa Rica.


We started off the day right with a big breakfast of bacon, omelets, sausage, fruit, and coffee. The breakfast was always great at The Residence Inn. It was mostly typical American food with the exception of some of the fruits and Gallo Pinto, which is a traditional side in Costa Rica made up of rice and beans.

One thing that really takes some getting used to in Costa Rica is the length of time it takes to go a short distance. For example, our first destination of the day was to Poas Volcano National Park which is only about 29 miles from our hotel. The infrastructure in Costa Rica leaves a lot to be desired and as a result travel times are longer than they should be. In addition to the infrastructure issues is the fact that a lot of it is a mountainous region with a lot of slow winding roads snaking back and forth up the mountains. Due to these factors, the 29 mile drive actually takes an hour and a half. But the scenery is gorgeous making the drive enjoyable.


The Narrow Road up the Mountain

Driving the Narrow Road up the Mountain


As we started our ascent, the sky was clear and the air fresh. It was a beautiful morning. After 45 minutes or so of driving, the sky ahead of us suddenly began to get a little grey as clouds started forming on top of the mountains. We had been advised to go early as the mountain is usually covered in clouds in the afternoon. It was just our luck that the mountain was already clouding up at 7:30 in the morning!


Little waterfall trickling down beside the road to Poas National Park

Little waterfall trickling down beside the road to Poas National Park


A little further up the mountain we came around a bend and saw a spectacular sight. The rain clouds had quickly passed through the valley next to us and left a rainbow behind. Being so high up we were able to look straight across at the apex of the rainbow!


On top of the rainbow

Above the Rainbow



From there on the clouds only got thicker until we were driving in a heavy fog and mist. By the time we reached the volcano it was pure cloud cover. We pulled in any way and spoke with the park personal at the gate who informed us that we would not be able to see the volcano as the clouds were supposed to hang around all day. Talk about disappointing. It turns out that clouds had been covering the peak for the better part of two weeks and nobody had been able to see the volcano during that time. This was very unusual whether for this time of year in Costa Rica.


We decided that there was no point in heading to our next destination which was the La Paz Waterfall gardens since it was just 10 miles around on the other side of the mountain. We decided to head back toward San Jose and figure our plans out on the fly. Half way back we saw a sign for another volcano that we hadn’t heard of and decided we had nothing better to do than to see if we would have better luck there. After driving for almost an hour we came to the end of the roads known to our GPS. According to the signs we weren’t more than a couple of miles from the volcano and the sky was clear here, so we kept going.


Suddenly about a quarter-mile from the entrance to the park the paved road disappeared into a washed out mess of rock and dirt. The road was so bad and covered in giant potholes, some almost 2 feet deep! I love off-roading but I wasn’t even willing to attempt to continue and so we decided to call the adventure over. It was time to head back to the hotel and make a new plan for the rest of the afternoon.


We should have made it back to the hotel by just after noon, but unfortunately we got stuck in traffic due to a car accident that left us stuck for over an hour. By the time we got back to the hotel we didn’t want to do much at all.


We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around and exploring the stores in the plaza around the hotel.


Sculpture in the Plaza San Jose Costa Rica

Sculpture in the Plaza Next to The Residence Inn


Day 4 went a lot smoother as we headed to Manuel Antonio National Park and Beach which I will cover in the next post.

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