When we decided to go to Costa Rica, we didn’t want to be at a resort. We wanted to eat at local restaurants and venture around on our own. We booked a hotel room at Toro Blanco in Playas del Coco. We felt very safe and happy there as the hotel was gated and the hotel staff was great at knowing all the vacationers who were staying.
The room had a kitchenette which allowed us to prepare our own breakfast and lunches (we did eat out many times to enjoy the local food). The room also included a great private dining table on our “porch” of our room. Additionally, the lovely quiet pool was steps away! To my surprise, there were no kids at the hotel, and many of the hotel guests were happy to visit and share stories of where they were from and where they were going! After settling into the hotel we ventured out for some food and beers! In true Sam fashion, as we were strolling up the main street, he spotted someone he once worked with! After a few beverages and a meal, we had a new friend who was Canadian and lives in Costa Rica for the winters, Kenny Kookamunga! Kenny was gracious and took us for a tour the next day on his golf cart. We went all around town, were told where to shop, and great places to eat!
Later that week we met up with Kenny again and he took us over to Ocotal Beach, on the golf cart again! There we enjoyed some nachos and beverages at Father Roosters! The beach was quiet and the breeze was so nice. We hung out under the palms and lazed away the afternoon. It was nice to have the shade as the black volcanic beaches are HOT in the sun!
Playa Hermosa was a nice beach. We took a water taxi to it. There were several restaurant options and some small shops. We walked the long beach and enjoyed the waves. Sam and I didn’t have our snorkel gear with us, but I wish we did. We did have a conversation with a local who was catching shrimps washing up with the waves! By conversation, it was more of charades as he didn’t speak English and our Spanish is really limited to asking for the bathroom and ordering beers (both very important things to know!).
While we were there the rodeo was in town. This was truly an unexpected find and would have never gone if we hadn’t been told to attend by Kenny Kookamunga! We walked down some long dirt roads (thank goodness Sam packed headlights) that we NEVER would have travelled down on our own. We could see the glow in the distance, and begin to hear the noise! There was a beer garden, pizza truck and a Chinese food truck (we did NOT eat from the Chinese food truck!!)! We joined the locals in the stands and begun to watch the rodeo begin! I believe it was “amateur” night or that is what it seemed like. Young men with a helmet and chest pads a top a bull! As the evening progressed and the young men (who were permitted to sit on the ring rails) downed a few more brave juices, began to jump into the ring once the rider fell off to “assist” collecting the bull back to their pen. I say “assist” because to me what I saw was these young men jumping in and taunting the bull so that they were chased! Yes, there were many ambulances on-site, just in case! The rodeo was definitely something that we would not have “booked” into see, but I am glad we went!
The Canadian dollar took a huge dive just before our trip. Which made us re-think a few of the splurges we were going to make. We decided against the overnight trip to the volcano, and the mud baths, but we did keep the Catamaran ride plan! Catamarans are always fun in my books. Beverages, food, swimming with snorkelling, dancing and of course the sunset! The snorkelling wasn’t ideal. Maybe it was the overcast, but likely the location, we only were able to see a couple of small yellow fishies! I thought this was odd, as there is great snorkelling off the beaches We had a great time on the boat, and I was able to try paddleboarding for the first time as well.