I think we all left Costa Rica last winter wishing we had a couple more weeks to ride around and explore the country - take in the sights, ride some more dirt & live by the ocean, hard to picture anyone wanting to leave. So when one of us mentioned that we could just head back to Costa Rica again for this year’s winter getaway - it didn’t take much convincing to get the gang on board. A quick email to Wild Riders in San Jose, Costa Rica for motorcycle rentals and we were on - 10 bikes, 1 jeep and our 12 person crew headed back to Costa Rica for 11 days. Here is Part 1 / the first four days of this year’s Costa Rica Adventure: Costa Moto Dos. All photos care of everyone on the trip, click the photo to see their Instagram account. Words by Alex Lee.
DAY 1 - San Jose to Arenal, La Fortuna We booked ourselves rooms at Casa Colon this year, a hostel right down the street from Wild Riders. Bright and early everyone had their luggage packed waiting in the lobby ready to walk over & grab our rides. Thorsten and the crew at Wild Riders were awesome, having already lined up all our bikes & paperwork - ready to help swap out seats or adjust bikes if anyone had any height issues. And to note - our group heights ranged from 5’1 to 6’3 - and everyone had something they were happy & comfortable riding. This year’s line up consisted of: Suzuki DR 650s, Honda NX4s, Honda XR250 Tornados and a Freedom 150. After a quick map check and some route recommends from from Thorsten, we were on our way! Everyone already sweating in their gear as we hit the warm streets of San Jose. Getting out of the city was a breeze and it wasn’t until we had to stop for construction just outside of San Ramon that Navin noticed he had a flat. We managed to get the wheel off and for $5 at a nearby gas station had the wheel fixed and the bike back & running in no time. From San Ramon the roads got more fun and we started twisting and winding up the mountain. Just when we got used to that, the winds started kicking in. Somewhere in the back of the pack you could actually see gusts of wind push the crew riding in front across the lane. And then the rain hit, and that combo really kept ya on your toes! We managed to get some rain gear on before getting completely soaked through and continued riding the twisty mountain roads towards the Arenal Volcano National Park where we were staying. Despite the rain, spirits were high and we sogged our way through some gorgeous scenery taking it all in through our blurry rain specked goggles, stoked to be back in this gorgeous place. We stopped only once for gas in La Fortuna. Not wanting to bother to take a break or eat in soaked gear, we gassed up, wrung out our gloves and pressed on looking forward to relaxing at our first night’s accommodation at Essence Arenal. The last of the ride was rad - winds died down, the sun set, and we made our way up a fun little dirt road lined with huge pot holes and a climb to the top of a hill to finally see our hostel. Just the kind of day that makes you feel like you really got to know your rental bike. Day 2 was a rest day which was good because man was our gear soaked! The weather in Arenal didn’t change much over our stay, rainy and about 10 degrees Celsius. We managed to start a fire in the common room fireplace at our hostel which was a life-saver, taking turns drying out all our wet gear.
Day 3 - Arenal to Samara Eager to shake the rain and the damp we loaded our bikes 7am with the promise from everyone we had spoken to at the hostel that as soon as we left the mountain we would see the sun. We couldn’t wait. True to their word as soon as we got around Lake Arenal and started descending towards the coast the air got warmer, the skies got bluer and we could not have been happier to see it. We hit a gas station in Canas, lost the rain gear & extra layers and started putting on the sunscreen. With the sun hot on our faces, drying any last traces of wet gear, we could barely believe we had just been under a rain cloud for the last two days. We managed to ride as a pack for the rest of the day, battling some more fun/wild side winds and stopped for lunch at a little spot off the highway before Nicoya. With the weather on our side and loads of time to make it to Samara it was great to enjoy the scenery and roads. We even ended up taking a wrong turn somewhere along the way which took us through a much more twisty and scenic route to the ocean. Just outside the beach town we were greeted by a kid on a CRF230F doing wheelies up and down the streets while we ate some celebratory Popsicles. We checked in at our hotel, ditched our bags & be-lined for the ocean to catch our first beach side sunset & swim. Couldn’t have ended that day on a better note.
Day 4 - Samara to Playa Grande (opting with the dirt road route instead of the highway) Playa Grande is a short two hour drive from Samara if you stick to the main roads but we figured we'd try to squeeze all the fun we could outta our rides so when we spotted a country road that looked as though it followed the coast we opted to take the less-direct, more 'scenic' route to our next destination. All dirt, all fun, plenty of dust, wicked hill climbs, steep down-hills and water crossings is what we got. Our crew got split up into three smaller groups throughout the day but we were all set to meet at our rental in Playa Grande. We quickly learned that these country roads had fewer markings and landmarks, making it easy to take the wrong turn at a dusty intersection and find yourself at a dead end wondering where you went wrong. Google map & cell reception were not on our side and when you did get a couple bars and managed to pin point your location, all you'd see is floating blue dot with no roads connecting you to anywhere you wanted to go. Paper maps and pre-printed directions we had made back in Toronto ended up being what saved our butts in the end and using those we were able to piece together where we were along the way and get a better idea of what direction to head. All part of the adventure though, right? By mid-afternooon, Andrew, Matt and myself pulled up to the house - stoked to see that Marika, Alex and Navin had just made it in a few minutes before us. When the last group pulled up in the afternoon it was pretty clear we had all taken different routes, gotten lost, had some lolz and some groups maybe done a good few more kms and water crossings than others. But dust-caked and hungry as hell we were all stoked to grab a drink, some snacks and cool off in the ocean. We spent our first night at our new home swapping riding stories and hearing all about Chris, James, Stephen and Thomas' unplanned detour inland in the country mountains roads of Tabacon which took them a good 50kms off course. Ready to relax for a bit, we settled into our new spot on Playa Grande for the next 3 nights. Check back soon for Part II of Costa Moto Dos and our last few days riding around Playa Grande and in the cloud forests of Monteverde!