Under the Sea and Above the Clouds in Costa Rica

Jordan Dobrowski is a student at Augustana College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jordan is currently studying abroad with ISA and participating in service-learning with ISA Service-Learning in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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Volcán Arenal

Welcome, adventurous souls, to paradise. Whether you are a surfer, a hiker, a photographer or just an adrenaline junkie, I guarantee you can get your fix in Costa Rica. In the past month I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel from the Caribbean to the mountains and across the country to the Pacific. I have been able to fly through Costa Rica’s bio-diverse forests and crash into its waters. Therefore, today I thought I’d take a moment to share what you have waiting for you here in my beautiful host country.

If there’s one thing that Costa Rica has, it’s water–and no, I’m not just talking about the rain. Though not actually an island, the nation is all but surrounded by the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. In addition to these masses, hundreds of rivers run down into waterfalls and become serene pools in which tourists can get up close and personal with nature’s magnificence.

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Waterfall Jumping near Manuel Antonio

At the coast, almost every tourism company offers snorkeling trips, and when you’re studying abroad it would actually be pretty difficult to avoid it. It seems most programs–including ISA–offer snorkeling trips. On our recent excursion to Tamarindo we were offered an opportunity to take a sunset catamaran tour over the Pacific Ocean. We sailed around until we came to this little cove where they released us with snorkeling gear, kayaks and more. Our guide even found us a sea cucumber to meet.

 “Snorkeling in Tamarindo”

In addition to gorgeous  beaches and magical sunsets, Tamarindo is known for its surfing. Now lessons can cost anywhere from $10 to $45 depending on how much equipment you want to rent and whom you ask. That said, I spent $5 to rent a board and rashguard, asked some friends and managed to get some free lessons from them and others along the beach. While I am certainly no pro yet, I am content with the progress I have made, and it was a great experience communicating with locals!

Finally, it would be a sin not to mention all the awesome hiking opportunities we have. Costa Rica, after all, is a mountainous country with several active volcanoes. Just today we took an $8 bus ride from our homes in San José to a nearby volcano and spent the day hiking. There are also numerous well-maintained national parks around Costa Rica, and if you’d like there are usually guides that can point out animals you may not see on your own. Perhaps one of the neatest places we hiked was in Monteverde where you are actually in or above the cloud level.

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Climbing Trees in Monteverde Cloud Forest

At the end of the day it seems there are always trails to be walked, waves to be surfed and sea cucumbers to be held. So come one, come all, and experience la Pura Vida!

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