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Travel Tuesday: Costa Rica

 For this issue of "Travel Tuesday", we escape the winter blahs to become one with nature in the beautiful lush rainforests of Costa Rica. This exotic island destination is the perfect backdrop to lose your inhibitions and scratch a few items off the bucket list.  Whether you decide to dine on tasty termites (they taste like carrots!) or to run naked through the jungle, a skinny dip or dance on the wild side is welcome here. Adventure junkies will love the endless options for zipling, kayaking, hiking and memorable family fun activities. We take you to some of our favorite places to stay and play as you plan your vacation to this ecofriendly oasis.

Where to stay:
Rancho Pacifico (www.ranchopacifico.com) offers an intimate and unforgettable experience at their exclusive adults’ only nature retreat.   This unique boutique hotel features ten suites and the one-of- it’s kind Treehaus Hideaway Villas. The villas are literally suspended amid the treetops 20 feet above the ground and offer a secluded hideaway perfect for guests looking for a complete digital detox or an escape from it all. There are no televisions, phones or Wi-Fi in any suite however they are available in the clubhouse area or by request.  Each suite offers a wraparound deck with wide views of the ocean below and rainforest covered mountains as well as a Jacuzzi and hammocks. This is not the best choice if you require modern amenities since you are literally in a tree house in the jungle. However if you goal is relaxation and meditation, you will have no problem finding your Zen here. Book early as this place is becoming popular with the celebrity set including Sheryl Crow and Anderson Cooper.
​Oxygen jungle villa (www.oxygenjunglevillas.com) is a hidden gem in the Utica region of Costa Rica. The couples only, boutique resort offers a secluded, sexy respite for lovers amid a tropical backdrop. Expect amazing views of the Pacific Ocean from the pool, club house and villas. There are no televisions or phones here but Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.  All villas are made of glass offering 360 degree views of wildlife in surround sound. Managers Luis and the multilingual Lena are always on hand to help you customize your stay. If you go, be sure to try one of their signature smoothies -- Little Hercules, it's heavenly.
Arenal Nayara Hotel & Gardens (www.arenalnayara.com) is a five star luxury boutique hotel located in the outskirts of the amazing Arenal Volcano. They offer 50 spacious casitas (bungalows) which feature a secluded garden with an outdoor shower and a beautiful terrace overlooking the volcano with a private, intimate Jacuzzi for two.
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge (www.nicuesalodge.com) is nestled within the blue-green waters of the Golfo Dulce/Pacific Coast, in the lush rainforest of the 14,000 hectare Piedras Blancas National Park.  Proprietors Michael and Donna Butler describe the property as solar powered, jungle chic .They offer kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, rain forest hiking, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and yoga practice right out their doorstep.
Starwood’s very first all- inclusive hotel, The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal (www.westinplayaconchal.com) sits on Costa Rica's magnificent North-Pacific Riviera, nestled between lush forests and the sparkling azure waters of the Pacific Ocean. A great choice for family fun with a lagoon-style pool, gardens, tennis courts, a championship golf course, the Westin Kids Club®, fine dining, personal concierge service for guests in the Royal Beach Club, WestinWORKOUT® facilities, THE SPA and more.  Expect familiar amenities, like television, Wi-Fi and standard western style hotel accommodations to make this a hassle free vacation stay.
Where to play:
Costa Rica's strikingly diverse terrain, weather you choice to explore the Pacific side or Caribbean coast you will consistently find  lush forests, wildlife reserves, and tropical beaches that offer something special for every traveler. Beach-lovers staying along the Pacific Coast should head to Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula's palm-fringed coastline for sun and surf. Nature-seekers staying in the Northern Plains or along the Caribbean coast should pay a visit to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca before venturing inland to zip-line above Monteverde's Cloud Rainforest and hike Arenal Volcano. Whether it's sun, adventure, or nature you seek, there's much to discover in this forest-and-beach laden paradise. You can stare into the eyes of a Jaguar at the Jaguar Rescue Center in the Caribbean coastal town of Puerto Viejo (on Playa Chiquita) is the best place in Costa Rica to see one. The center takes in young jaguars that have lost their mothers, been injured or experienced other traumas. The center cares for other injured animals too, including monkeys, sloths, anteaters and owls. Guided tours are available twice a day, six days a week.
Ever wanted to rappel down a waterfall? You can cross that off the bucket list with the hottest new adventure sport in Costa Rica. Just visit the waterfalls in La Fortuna for the chance to strap yourself into a harness and descend down a crystal-clear waterfall. Desafio Adventure Company (www.desafiocostarica.com) includes six waterfall rappels on its eight-day Costa Rica Pure Adrenaline tour. Pure Trek Canyoning offers half-day excursions that include three waterfalls and one canyon rappel.
Spend a day at the park:
Tourists friendly Manual Antonio Park (www.manuelantoniopark.com)   located on the Pacific Coast. Offers white sand beaches, dolphin and whale watching, hiking and more. Live out every adventure fantasy with Superman Zipling, Waterfall rappelling, whitewater rafting, or if the options are too overwhelming just simply fall to the ground and enjoy the beautiful beaches. While there be sure to check out Barba Roja .You must experience their absolutely breathtaking sunsets. On the menu, the fresh tuna and the mahi mahi are both fan favorites. The service is great but the surrounding scenery is divine. Be sure to hold hands and sneak a smooch or two as the sun sinks into the horizon.
Get all spiritual and stuff:
Pacha Mama (www.PachaMama.com) is a low key spirituality and healthy living focused eco-village on the Pacific side. Think Eat.Pray.Love during the pray part. Come to detox, master yoga, and sit in silent reflection….alot. It is a wonderful respite if you want to retreat from the rest of the world for a bit. Also for those seriously contemplating running away from home, the retreat offers multiple work stay options to decrease and in some cases cover the costs of your stay!
Visit a volcano:
The Arenal volcano is one of Costa Ricas most famous landmarks (www.arenal.net)  at 5,437 feet, it stands high above the rest of the countryside as one of the areas most visible and ominous sights. Visitors can enjoy daily tours or soak in one of the many hot springs for a day of detoxing and delight. Be sure to visit the Baldi Hot Springs and resorts ( http://baldicostarica.com)  featuring 32-room, deluxe resort features,  25 Natural Mineral Pure Water Pools , with 12 different temperatures, exuberant waterfalls and tropical gardens.
Before you go you should know:
Rain will come…sometimes often. Those seeking bright, sunny days should plan to visit December through April.  May, June, July, August and November are thought of as Indian summer with clear mornings and late afternoon showers.  August, September and October is considered rainy season.

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