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#tbt // costa rica

Subzero temps in Minnesnowta today have me dreaming of tropical Costa Rican beaches… 

In April 2009, before this blog and before I had an iPhone, I vacationed solo in Costa Rica. This was also the time of the point and shoot Canon camera and the “artistic” angled photo (whyyyyy?).

I can’t remember why I picked the Nicoya peninsula, on the Pacific side of Costa Rica… perhaps an acquaintance talked about surfing there? I thought it sounded cool, so booked a last-minute flight via kayak (including a puddle jumper), found an inexpensive B&B on Trip Advisor, and off I went, just three weeks later.

Playa Carmen (between Malpais and Santa Teresa) wasn’t easy to get to. After my initial flight from MSP to San José via Atlanta, I took a 15-seat puddle jumper from San José to Tambor and then an hour taxi ride to my final destination. It was hot, humid, dusty (dirt roads), well off the beaten path (few tourists!) and absolutely incredible. I’d go back in a second. Also, bangs and super dark hair… who is that girl?!

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The highlights
  • The beach. Beyond gorgeous, pristine and practically deserted. 
  • The sunsets. Over the Pacific… spectacular. 
  • The ocean. Falling asleep to ocean waves? There’s nothing better. 
  • The mangoes. A quarter at the local grocery (where no one spoke English) and so juicy. I had one every day for lunch.
  • The surfing. I was terrible, but that split second when you stand up and then actually surf is exhilarating.

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My first selfie, I think?! 

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What I did

Honestly, not a whole lot. I was a little timid because I’d never traveled alone before, so stuck closer to the B&B and the beach. If I went back today, I’d be much more adventurous. But, there was plenty of beach reading, beach walking – Gisele and Tom were staying a beach over! – zip lining, renting a quad (four-wheeler) and driving to Montezuma, climbing waterfalls, and meeting some really rad people (who I’m still occasionally in touch with – hi, Adele, Chris and Fredi!). 

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I still dream of this watermelon water and these tacos from Café Organico in Montezuma. 

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Where I stayed

Casa Colina bed and breakfast. Delicious gourmet breakfast and coffee every morning, kind hosts, sweet dogs, and a room with a view of the Pacific. It was perfect (and inexpensive). 

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All in all, an amazing eight days, almost completely disconnected from home (I found an internet café a few days into my stay where I checked in via email and facebook and to let my parents know I was ok). Traveling solo at least once is a must… no better way to get out of your comfort zone, grow and learn what you’re capable of! 

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Amy
    02/05/2015 at 8:51 am

    Gorgeous pictures! It must have been an incredible trip.

    • Reply
      erin
      02/06/2015 at 8:54 am

      Thanks, Amy! It was wonderful… Costa Rica is a must-visit!

  • Reply
    hyedi
    02/05/2015 at 8:59 am

    Looks like an incredible trip. And I think your hair was adorable like that!

    • Reply
      erin
      02/06/2015 at 8:56 am

      Thanks, friend! I love the look of bangs and always want them, but as soon as I cut them… just no ;)

  • Reply
    Beth
    02/05/2015 at 9:15 am

    What an awesome trip! I think 2009 was the year I had bangs too and then came the “clips of shame” b/c I hated them after a month or so. (When I got sweaty they turned into bacon strips. LOL). Love that you traveled alone I did that in New York city once and it was perfect!

    • Reply
      erin
      02/06/2015 at 9:54 am

      The bacon strips analogy is hilarious! I remind myself all the time to never, ever cut bangs again, even though I think they’re adorable. NYC would be a blast solo… awesome you did that, too :)

  • Reply
    Kelsey @ Happy Triathlete
    02/05/2015 at 11:05 am

    Costa Rica is just gorgeous! I did a spontaneous trip there in 2010 and would totally go back in a minute! But I still need to have a solo travel adventure.

    • Reply
      erin
      02/06/2015 at 9:55 am

      Ooo… where did you visit in CR?! It’s such an amazing country!

  • Reply
    Kecia
    02/05/2015 at 3:17 pm

    AWESOME trip!! I’m definitely envious, but more because it is so cold outside today ;)

    • Reply
      erin
      02/06/2015 at 9:56 am

      Thanks, Kecia! Fitting day for a warm weather post… I can almost feel the sunshine ;)

  • Reply
    Leslie @ TriathleteTreats
    02/05/2015 at 4:15 pm

    What a trip!! Love that you went alone! Totally off the beaten path!! Maybe the next time I visit CR I will go Playa Carmen/Montezuma. Sounds and looks amazing!!!

    • Reply
      erin
      02/06/2015 at 9:58 am

      Definitely visit there if you haven’t! I need to visit Arenal and Monteverde and see the cloud forest! Love Costa Rica’s biodiversity!

  • Reply
    Danielle @ Eat Primal, Run Hard
    02/06/2015 at 12:07 pm

    I agree about traveling solo: sometimes you need it, but you also learn so much more about yourself. I’ve done it twice as week long trips within a larger backpacking trip. Costa Rice looks amazing! Pat and I would love to do what you did, it all looks ideal :)

    • Reply
      erin
      02/09/2015 at 10:30 am

      So fun you’ve traveled solo, too! I thought you probably had :) Where did you go?!

      • Reply
        Danielle @ Eat Primal, Run Hard
        02/09/2015 at 7:47 pm

        We’re cut from the same cloth! ;) I was in Biarritz, France for 5 days in 2008, and went to New Zealand by myself for a week as a side trip from backpacking in Australia with friends in 2001.

  • Reply
    Kristin (@SweatCourage)
    02/06/2015 at 8:26 pm

    I so enjoyed reading this because it took me back to my vacation in costa rica (2012). I loved how some of the beaches felt deserted… so pristine… oh and those dusty dirt roads! I also surfed in CR, and by surfing I mean, stood up a couple of times;) Currently remembering the fresh fruit juice everyday, the tacos, gallo pinto for breakfast, it was all so good. We stayed in a different part of the country (Arenal ad then drove to Dominical). I would also go back in a second!

    • Reply
      erin
      02/09/2015 at 10:31 am

      Love that you’ve been to CR, too, Kristin! I’d go back in a second, too… maybe we should plan a surfing vacation?! ;) Hope you’re enjoying sunny Florida this week!

  • Reply
    Luv What You Do
    02/06/2015 at 9:15 pm

    Your bangs are adorable! I love that you went on vacation on your own. I haven’t done that but I did backpack through Australia with my brother which was amazing! I should tbt to that…love this post! Great idea!

    • Reply
      erin
      02/09/2015 at 10:33 am

      So cool you backpacked through Australia! Definitely write a post on that… would love to read that! And, what a fun sibling experience :)

  • Reply
    Change of Pace
    02/07/2015 at 2:26 pm

    You just set such a beautiful scene for me on this -13F day…those beach photos! Love that you picked somewhere foreign to go by yourself. Sounds like an amazing vacation! And I quite like the bangs, too! But probably not the best idea during intense tri training!

    • Reply
      erin
      02/09/2015 at 10:37 am

      Brrrrr! Why do we put up with these temps?! ;) Hope you’re staying warm up there and feeling well! Maybe I’ll cut bangs after I’m done IMing :)

    your thoughts…

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