I was fortunate to spend mid-April to mid-May 2015 traveling between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
My trip was a mini-celebration of sort as I was leaving my first job out of university in pursuit of more audacious challenges. Though Costa Rica and Nicaragua are popular backpacking destinations, I had a relaxing experience by traveling during the beginning of low season.
My first couple of weeks were spent in Costa Rica. I landed in San Jose after flying from Montreal, and having a layover in Dallas. I picked a random hostel off the Hostelworld app (something I learned to love after Southeast Asia). When I had arrived, I had no set plans. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to learn to surf and just relax. The guests at my first hostel weren't helpful, but a Google search led me to Santa Teresa.
Santa T was my little piece of paradise. I spent my entire time there at Kokua Hostel. This is definitely the best hostel I've stayed at, but, honestly, it's worth noting that the people I met here had a lot to do with it.
The hostel was cleaned daily, but the fridge was broken for a while while I was there so there wasn't much room to store food. Fortunately, it wasn't a deal breaker.
Every morning I'd wake up early, around 4am, have a quick egg or two and head to the ocean. I'd head there either alone or with some friends, and surf until around 8. Then back to the hostel where I'd have another breakfast, read, and tape frequent naps. Eventually I'd make my way to yoga, either at 9am or 1pm, at Casa Zen. Casa Zen was another hostel / guesthouse. It looked great, much cleaner than Kokua, but a different crowd. Kokua brewed community, and it's tough to put a price on that.
Eventually, I took off to Nicaragua with a friend I had met at Kokua. Our destination was Ometepe, Nicaragua.
Ometepe wasn't Santa Teresa, but it was still special with its own unique offering. Low season here made the island incredibly calm. There were very few travelers, which actually made the area more enjoyable. It let me read more. It let me do nothing more - exactly what I needed.
Over the course of the week I hiked my first volcano, rode my first motorcycle, visited my first coffee plantation, and relaxed in my first natural springs. Oh, I can't forget my first coconut ice-cream. A must while you're traveling throughout central America. So simple, so good.
My next destination was San Juan del Sur, an area that I had mixed feelings about.
Honestly I can't say too much about San Juan. It was okay. I can understand its appeal - an amazing party town - but it's not what I had planned for on this adventure. I spent a few days at a new hostel there. To surf, you'd need to take a shuttle to proper beaches, which wasted a lot of time and made it less cost effective. But, I did have my best surfing here. The waves were perfect for a beginner and it's where I finally started riding.
I met a friend from Santa Teresa here. We met another guy, and the three of us decided to head back to Santa Teresa one night after a couple of bottles of wine. Funny decision, but one I'm happy with. We left at 4am the next day back to paradise. My original plans were rainforests... but you can't surf in a rainforest.
Heading back to Santa Teresa was a good decision. It was nice to end the trip similarly to how it started - surfing, reading, and doing yoga.