If you haven't yet had the chance to read about the first part of our Costa Rica adventure (Day 1-4) - click here to check it out!
Day 5 - 7 Playa Grande
After spending so much time in the rainy mountains, the warm dry sun was a welcoming change for the crew. Playa Grande offers enough amenities that you can let someone else cook your dinner, yet is quiet enough to offer a sparsely populated beach. Days were spent waking up for sunrise, napping in hammocks, exploring the local dirt roads until we got hungry for tacos on the beach. Evenings meant sunset swims with the crew, family dinner, and star gazing until we fell asleep. The balance of hard riding days and relaxing vacation moments are what we are always trying to find on these trips. Giving yourself time to watch a sun rise over the mountains that you navigated days earlier can be pretty inspirational. Getting to see turtles lay eggs in there natural habitat or finding phosphorescence in the sand when you weren't expecting it, can turn even the harshest men into eight year old versions of themselves. It is fun to watch your friends truly happy. All photos care of everyone on the trip, click the photo to see their Instagram account. Words by Marika Thoms.
Day 8 Playa Grande - Playa Hermosa Our departure from the house was bittersweet as it meant we were losing almost half of our crew to the demands of real world work and life commitments back home. I felt a particular loss riding away as you do when you know you have experienced something that you can't make happen the same way twice. Luckily riding a motorcycle into new un-chartered territory is distracting and so it didn't take long before everyone's navigation skills were tested taking the beach roads to our next stop farther north in Playa Hermosa by way of Protero. Easy dirt turned into steep terrain that brought vast views of the coast, roads leading in and out of various stages of resort developments, our route bridged the good and bad of what a country like Costa Rica offers. Feeling a little spoiled after spending a few great days in Playa Grande in comparison Playa Hermosa felt somewhat touristy and we were looking forward to making our way towards Monteverde and seeing more of Costa Rica that we didn't have the time to check out last year.
Day 9 Playa Hermosa - Monteverde We left early the next morning excited to get back on the road and into yet another geographic landscape. So far we had covered so many ecosystems, it was hard to believe there was more to discover. Our route meant we would cross back inland and head south to the cloud forrest of Monteverde. Crossing the distance between the beach towards Monteverde felt fast and the real fun started when we turned off onto the 606 towards our destination. Less than 50Km, the road twists and winds its way up the mountain until you are almost on top of it glancing down at the valleys below. It is hard to ride out of 2nd gear trying to take it all in while also taking in the next gravel switchback. At this point we all went at our own pace, taking photos to remember what it felt like to stand on top of it all, wishing the crew that left early were in our rearview. These 50Kms took hours and I wish it took longer. We rolled into the small town of Santa Elena and found the Swiss Hotel Miramontes that was a nice distance outside of the tourist chaos. The wood mountain cabins didn't feel so out of place as the climate was cooler than where we had been only 30 mins ago. It reminded us of Ontario summers with the crisp breeze, and even the trees looked similar to what you would find in Ontario cottage country. With a day off to explore, we went into the main reason people come to Monteverde: the cloud forest reserve. Even though the $20US admission fee can seem steep, the hikes are vast, there are points which put you higher than the clouds and it really is a unique place. Luckily the hike was mellow enough that we still wanted to get back on the bikes afterwards. We headed away from the town and found our favorite unexpected route of the trip. Sticking with dirt, the road twisted its way up and down, looping around farmers fields and local homes. At certain points you could see all the way back to Playa Grande. You could see the rain clouds forming behind you above the forest, casting a light mist and yet the sun was out, keeping us warm, pushing us to keep seeking what was after each corner. By nightfall we were all pretty spent, mourning our last full adventure day. In the morning we would hit the highway heading back to San Jose, the only rewarding fact being that we would get to ride the awe inspiring white gravel of the 606 back down the mountain.
Day 11 Monteverde - San Jose The best part about having a city like Toronto as your home base, is how easy every other chaotic city you and crew end up riding in becomes. Absent minded drivers, trucks filled with flying garbage, dogs, this is our natural riding environment! Although many points of the majority highway ride back to San Jose was felt like a wind tunnel, the simple reality that you are sweating while Toronto is shivering is enough to snap you back into appreciating even the longest leapfrog of transport trucks. The whole crew made it back safe & sound and spent one last day exploring San Jose together before an early morning flight back out of another awesome winter getaway. A huge thank you to Wild Riders for, yet again, making bike rentals the easiest part of our vacation planning. If you and your crew are interested in getting away, Costa Rica remains one of our favorite countries to ride in. If you have any questions about doing a trip in CR or elsewhere feel free to drop by the shop or hit us up via our contact page.