One of our clients wrote this blog about her recent trip to Playa Samara, Costa Rica with Desafio. She explains how this family vacation turned into a much-needed adventure enabling her to look at the world through different-colored lenses. How many of us can relate to that?
"Always look on the bright side of life" may be a trite and simple phrase, but it became my much-needed motivation during my recent attempts to plan the perfect vacation for my family in September. I was so stressed about the "Who, Where, What and How"Â of my Costa Rica vacation, that I lost sight of how fortunate I was to be going to a vacation in the first place.
Luckily, Christine from Desafio Adventure Company offered to plan our entire trip. I let her choose everything- from our hotel to activities. She recommended that we go to Samara, a small beach town in Guanacaste, and since I had not traveled too much in Costa Rica I thought, "why not?"Â Little did I know that I was about to find one of Costa Rica's hidden treasures.
The first morning of our vacation, we got picked up in a Desafio van ready to embark on their Adventure Connection- a drive to Samara beach with a break halfway to experience the Safari FloatÂ, a relaxing rafting trip down the Tenorio River. The Adventure ConnectionÂ allowed us to hit two birds with one stone because we were not only transported to Samara, we got to have an adventure at the same time! This was a great idea since we only had 5 days to travel!
The Safari Float was really beautiful. Different from rafting in that there was no adrenaline rush, it gave me an opportunity to spend some quality time with both my family and the lush Costa Rican rainforest. We saw howler monkeys, all kinds of tropical birds, and even crocodiles.
When we arrived in Samara we were pleasantly surprised by the Belvedere hotel. It was a quaint hotel owned by a kind German family. Even at first sight I could tell it was beautifully cared for with it's colorful gardens, eclectic decorations, refreshing swimming pool and delicious breakfasts every morning.
Early the next morning, we went on Samara Adventure Company's Kayak and Snorkel adventure to Chora Island, which is just off the main beach. On the way to the Island, we anchored our kayaks to a coral reef and began to snorkel. We were mesmorized by the underwater creatures we saw - octopus, star fish, sea snakes, and fish of all colors- purple, electric blue, yellow, orange and red. It was gorgeous.
That night we were recommended to go to Talambuco restaurant for dinner. We sat at a table with our feet in the sand, watched the sunset, and had the best ceviche ever. Que Rico!
Another favorite activity of mine was Stand Up Paddle Boarding because I got to challenge myself and soak up the natural beauty. It was SO much harder than it looked, especially on the ocean, where I was fighting to keep my balance and the waves were forcing me to do the opposite! Luckily, my guide Fabrizio from Samara Adventure Company, was very patient and supportive. I eventually got into the groove and we paddled to a calm inlet. There, I was overflowing with gratitude as I realized how lucky we were to be quietly floating on the crystal clear ocean under a bright blue sky with no one in sight. I thought to myself "this has to be one of the most gorgeous places on Earth!"
Samara beach is indeed stunningly beautiful and it's not only the nature that makes it so. It's the friendly people, the mix of cultures, and the variety of activities that makes this place special. The Intercultura Spanish Language school together with tourism have clearly captivated people's attention from all over the world, bringing them and their cultures to Samara for short and long term stays. This fusion of cultures has influenced an interesting and unique assortment of restaurants, art and craft galleries, music, and activities while still maintaining a positive undertone of original Costa Rica culture and lifestyle.
While there are plenty of new activities that tourism has brought to Samara like Yoga and Stand Up Paddle Boarding from a North American and European influence, there will always be an undying want for the traditional Costa Rican activities like surfing, river kayaking and horseback riding on the beach.
There are also many dining options from all over the globe- Mexican, Vegetarian, Italian or a good ol' hamburger and fries. And, there is still a high demand for a traditional Costa Rican casado. At night, you can check out a variety of parties and music, from reggae, to top 40 English music, to Latin night where you can learn from the locals how to dance Salsa, Merengue and Cumbia.
On our last night during sunset, I took a solo walk down the beach to appreciate the days we just had in Paradise. I stumbled upon an old grungy piece of wood that was about to be burned in a campfire. It was covered in chipped orange and black paint with sand encrusted on to it, but to me it was beautiful and it inspired me. I took it to my hotel, sat on the balcony and began to paint on it. It was then the quote "always look on the bright side of life"Â popped into my head and made me remember how stressed I was about planning this vacation. I realized how much my attitude shifted while being here: I went from stressed to inspired. There I was creating artwork on an old grungy piece of wood because I saw treasure in someone else's trash!
I'm so thankful that I had this experience in Samara because to me it was more than a fun vacation; it was a catalyst for a renewed sense of happiness. So thank you Samara for helping me see the bright side of life once again.
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