Costa Rica day 1: white water rafting + almost homeless

And just like that, our wonderful adventure is over! Michelle and I spent the past 8 days travelling all around the beautiful country of Costa Rica. It was everything I thought it would be, and more. Beyond gorgeous scenery, adrenaline-packed activities, and the happiest & friendliest people we’ll ever meet.

Day 1: white water rafting in the Pacuare river 

Our flight landed the evening before, and we headed straight to our hotel in San Jose. I must say, San Jose wasn’t our favorite. There was not much to see or do, the driving is absolutely CRAZY (I’m surprised we made it through alive…), and we only spent one night there with the intention on being able to pivot to our next location easily the next day.

After a good night sleep, a bus picked us up bright and early at 6:15am to bring us all the way to the Carribean side of the country for some white water rafting. We signed up for a tour with a wonderful group of people. The bus ride was approximately 2 hours, but it was lovely to see the scenery and chat with our tour group (this was the only part of the trip on Carribean side – the remainder was on the Pacific side).

The tour then provided a delicious, authentic Costa Rican breakfast. We got changed and were off to another car that brought us to the river. The day was in the low 70’s and raining on and off (it’s rainy season in Costa Rica), but getting wet was part of the experience so we didn’t mind ;).


Then, we got our gear on, loaded into the raft, and were off!


The rafting itself was 4 hours. We covered 12 miles along the river. A lot of it was spent relaxing as the current did most of the work for us. Our tour guide had us cover all different commands to get our adrenaline pumping and make it through some tough rapids.


Absolutely beautiful. We passed by waterfalls, canyons, wildlife, villages of indigenous Costa Ricans. I’m so happy we ventured out to the Carribean side as it felt so untouched and not filled with tourists.

Our group was sure a fun one 🙂


One of my favorite parts of the tour was having a picnic-style lunch parked right on the river. We ate the freshest papaya/pineapple I’ve ever tasted in my life. It felt so special and exactly what this trip was about.

After lunch, we had approximately 1 more hour of paddling before arriving at our original spot. A nice cold beer to celebrate and take the edge off another 2 hours on the bus 🙂


After being dropped off at our hotel, we took a quick dinner break, bought some snacks for the road, and got in our rental car for another 3-hour drive to Quepos, our next destination in the southern/Pacific side. However, with the crazy San Jose traffic and my sub-par navigating skills, the drive took closer to 4+ hours. Definitely one of our longer days on the road!

After a looooong long drive to Quepos, Michelle and I wanted nothing more than to crash in our hostel, however, we arrived around 10:30pm, and reception check-in closed promptly at 10pm…coming from NYC, we definitely took for granted the fact that things are open 24/7! Luckily, we befriended a nice guest from the hostel who came out for a smoke, and she became our guardian angle. She walked around town with us, helping us translate with the locals and find another place to stay. We ended up finding a cheap cabina nearby, and the owner was nice enough to give us a room last minute so late in the night.

Nights like these are always so stressful, but Michelle and I have been through every bump in the travel spectrum together, and so I was confident we could tackle this. I’m so proud of how we handled this, and extra thankful for our new friend for helping us. Even being confronted with the option of sleeping in our car, we would have been good sports 🙂 (flashback to our 2-month backpacking trip in Europe when we were ACTUALLY homeless for a night and slept on a park bench).

How’s that for a first day in Costa Rica? 😉

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