Road Trip! There are a host of things to do in the neighborhood - by which we mean the beautiful central valley of Costa Rica. Some are listed on our web site, and some are depicted in our photos here. We are happy to answer your questions - if you can give us an idea of the kinds of things you like we can give you better ideas of things to do.
We'd be happy to guide you! Excellent, knowledgeable local guides who speak English and have a sense of humor? Spotless vehicle too? Yes yes, that's our guy on the left :-)
You'll find one of his many reviews here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g309224-d301530-r7585862-Pura_Vida_Hotel-Alajuela_Province_of_Alajuela.html
It is a good idea to have a good map when traveling in Costa Rica - we recommend the ITMB and Nat Geo maps as the best. Our signs are few and if there are any at all, not in such good shape.
The slopes of Poas Volcano can be cloudy - so try to visit as early in the day as possible.
Looking down at the central valley from the road to Poas Volcano - for more info try our Poas page: http://puravidahotel.com/poas-volcano.html .
On the road up from the Pura Vida Hotel to Poas and La Paz waterfall gardens.
This is Gustavos coffee shop on the road to Poas volcano - what a delightful little place right on the main road - how can you miss it?
The day Poas reopened after the phreatic eruptions threw rocks through the crater lake.
Poas from the public viewing platform. This is a short walk from the visitors center and parking area, making Poas the most easily accessed active volcano anywhere.
Bring a jacket when visiting the tops of volcanoes in Costa Rica. Here are some more traveling tips: http://puravidahotel.com/orgtours.html .
On a clear day . . .
One agency put out this diagram of a recent phreatic eruption. A phreatic eruption is one where rocks are ejected through the lake usually creating a plume of acid rain. The red dots are where the rocks landed on this eruption (well inside the main crater). Visitors have a great view of the whole 1.5 km crater from the viewing platform.
Acid rain fall out from a phreatic eruption on Poas volcano. These plants are called poor mans umbrellas locally - not that they can any longer function as their namesake! More like fried umbrellas now.
Fumaroles at the side of the crater lake at Poas Volcano.
We took this shot the day after the park opened - usually Poas is a pale milky blue lake with a ph approaching zero - that is pretty much pure acid. Poas is a 45 minute drive from the Pura Vida Hotel, Alajuela.
Botos lake is on the left in this aerial view of Poas Volcano (web photo as we do not have a plane :-)
A great day trip would be Poas and then La Paz waterfall gardens. This is the view from the main road maybe 1 kilometer past tghe waterfall gardens entrance. Yes, you can climb behind the waterfall. Picture taken from the road.
Driving on past La Paz, we sometimes have taken the trip up to Sarapiqui or around the top towards Arenal Volcano. This little church is an hour or so north of Poas.
One of our favorite places - the Ark Herb Farm north of Heredia doesn't just have herbs. There are some pretty exotic species including this "dead meat" vine - a favorite of flies.
Not just a vivero - but the Ark Herb Farm growing basil for market. Ask us about a morning trip to their acres of interesting herbs and medicinal plants and trees colected over the years.
Beautiful local basil - from the Ark herb Farm.
These little bats are the size of matchbooks . . . you'll see them on a day trip or overnighter to Tortuguero along the side of the river. 3 more reasons NOT to fly to Tortuguero.
On a day trip to Tortuguero - home of a lot of nesting turtles in the season. This is a banana farm east of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui on the Caribbean side.
Oropendulas make some pretty fancy hanging nests. You'll see such nests all over the Caribbean side.
On a day trip to Tortuguero - you really will see more creatures than in any other location - other than perhaps the Osa peninsular.
Blue Heron - well I'm not a birder, so correct me if I'm wrong which I was. OK so Al corrected us with this: Or maybe a Blue heron disguised as an anhinga so as to get into the annual anhinga convention where they all hang out.
We saw this lovely creature on the boat trip to Tortuguero.
Crocs abound - though usually they are pretty shy (and often quite BIG).
I don't know about you but . . . we ain't in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. On the boat trip to Tortuguero.
Croc and turtle get along just great in the rivers and canals of Tortuguero.
With age comes great wisdom. (I feel certain he knows).
More creature features in Tortuguero.
Sci-fi writers got some of their inspiration here.
No it is not animatronic! As we ride by on our slow boat to Tortuguero.
Our driver is Jungle Tom - a very creative soul.
Some days you won't see so much on top of Irazu volcano.
Not really a normal day trip . . . but the cattle auctions are a regular event and anyone can attend. These guys are cashing out. If you have interesting ideas for things you'd like to see or do, drop us an email and we'll see if we can figure it out.
There is an indigenous festival most years - contact ACTUAR for more information. ACTUAR is the association for rural tourism. This event is a Borucan "dance" - the real thing occurs in Boruca at the beginning of the year (Jan 1st/2nd/3rd).
An excellent day trip from the Pura Vida Hotel. This is the actual water source that Nacientes Palmichal is named after. This day trip to a rural community is about an hour south west of us.
The dairy farm you can visit above Nacientes Palmichal on your day trip.
At Sabana park - this is 35 minutes from us and is the from the ACTUAR (rural tourism association) meeting each year.
Bidders at the cattle auction maybe 40 minutes from the Pura Vida Hotel.
Not a usual trip in Costa Rica - these brahman cows may be seen all over Costa Rica - these were at a cattle auction about 1 hour west of the Pura Vida Hotel, Alajuela.
At the auction.
Yes we have bull fights at cultural events. This one is i Palmares about 35 minutes west of us. But in the case of Costa Rica bull fights only the people get hurt, never the bulls. The Palmares festival is two weeks every January.
Guests, ring side at the bull fight - you are welcome to allow the bull to chase you.
An almost professional bull fighter.
Many people in the ring in a Costa Rican bull ride.
Bull chasing the boys of Palmares.
Coffee harvesting at the Doka estate - 7km north of the Pura Vida Hotel.
Coffee resting prior to shipment to Starbucks.
Coffee beans sun drying.
Another view of coffee at Doka Estate.
Meeting of the species - INBio in Heredia - a short ride from the hotel.
A rather large one on the wall of our lovely hotel in Uvita, southern Pacific.
This is a nice stop off point - the indigenous pottery at Guaitil in the middle of the Nicoya peninsular - stop off on the way to Tamarindo or Nosara.
This unusual Orchid was found in the gardens at Turubari - on the road near Orotina heading towards the Pacific.
From left . . . Hernan, the director of Nacientes Palmichal and Beatrice, the guide book author of The New Key to Costa Rica on a day trip at Turubari.
A demonstration sugar mill at Turubari.
We are not much into zip lines and such - gringos swinging though the trees etc worrying the animals at our behaviour . . . this is a new one - a flying gringo.
There are numerous places to take really great horse back rides almost everywhere in Costa Rica.
Two vans leaving the side gate of the Pura Vida Hotel, Sterling is second from right.
Cows doing what they do best . . . some parts of the central valley look just like the foothills of the Austrian alps.
These colorful little places are on the road up to Irazu volcano (I think).
OK, so there IS something wrong with this picture of a Caribbean sloth near Cahuita . . . guess? You can't do Cahuita as a day trip! :-)) Though some have tried.
On a bridge in the south near Bribri - this one is in very nice condition.
A favorite not quite day trip - more an overnighter to Casa Turire near Turialba. And not far from the Guyabo National Monument as well as Cachi lake and Irazu volcano.
Our most interesting tree - finally found at the university at CATIE near Turialba - a delightful part of the country about 2 hours from the Pura Vida Hotel.
The flower of the Panama Flame tree at CATIE - we think we now have one in captivity at the Pura Vida but only time will tell.
The end of the sugar harvest at Juan Vinas, towards the Caribbean side after Turialba.
On the road near Juan Vinas.
On the road to the Caribbean cut across to Siquirres.
A slow day at this slow food stand.
Everything has it's price.
A Local sign near the Guayabo national Monument - a rare pre-columbian spot.
A local map of our primary pre-colombian ruin - maybe an hours walk but do take a guide or you'll miss much. Pay the guide what you feel they were worth. A nice day trip about an hour south of San Jose and maybe 2 hours from the Pura Vida Hotel in Alajuela.
The ground aqueduct. About 2500 years old.
At Guayabo . . . still some signs.
It had to eat its way out.
Fix shoes or serve lunch.
One more reason for 4WD - you really do not need 4WD, what you need is height! On a day trip in October.
Things you can't do on a day trip. The border at Penas Blancas.
Not really a day trip - more of a food item. We do Friday Market tours with our special Pura Vida dinners. Book ahead if you want to join us on a fruit & veggie expedition.
Although Arenal gets all the press, by far the prettiest volcano is Irazu. This is the volcano that erupted in 1963 during the visit of President John F. Kennedy. There are 5 craters on top, this one has a pea green lake which on occasion turns orange from metals in the volcano. This beautiful beasty is about 2 hours from the Pura Vida Hotel, Alajuela and is my favorite day trip,
You may find this old "party bus" at the Rio Tarcoles village - they do a nice river trip near here - by Croc Man. Ask us to book this for you before you take off as it is easy to drive right by.
"My Sister Thinks we live in a Mud Hut" . . . we like to keep it that way.
An old map of Costa Rica. When taking day trips we recommend slightly better maps - the best road map is the ITMB waterproof map, next best is the Nat Geo map if you don't mind all the geographic relief.
Some say the delightful metal church at Grecia was delivered by mistake being destined for Greece. This church is about 1/2 an hour from the Pura Vida Hotel, Alajuela. We like to visit in on the way to Sarchi and Zarcero - Grecia and the surrounding area is coffee country and makes a delightfully scenic day trip.
Another local gringo, Sally, took this lovely shot of Arenal taken from the lake side. Some people try to do this as a day trip but we'd advise staying at least two nights in the area and you may get to take such a shot. Thanks Sally!
No worries, our driver/guides will find a way (with apologies to Dan Dare and our favorite villain - the Mekon).
In Sarchi, home of the wood artisans of Costa Rica, the trash cans make for art too. Sarchi is about 1/2 an hours drive from the Pura Vida Hotel, Alajuela.
A family group who stayed with us - at the zip lines.
This is our tour operation - we have two basic ideas - the first is that we turn transfers into tours. Why drive across country in 5 hours in a rush when you can do it in 8 hours and make it a day trip. The journey is the destination.
Our other idea is to take you on the roads less traveled . . . seeing unique and interesting parts of rural Costa Rica gently. Our web site is here: http://insightcostarica.com/
We can show you anything you see on this web site - well anything except the hidden Rhinos in the garden.
A lovely church ruin east of Cartago. Take a tour when driving to the Caribbean or to Irazu volcano - this is one of our favorite areas of Costa Rica.
Mountain strawberries on the road to Poas volcano. We may live in the neo-tropics but we also have 12 climate zones . . . and grow nearly everything from sumptuous mangoes to delicious strawberries.
On a day trip to Tortuguero - one of our guests enjoyed a conversation with a rhino beetle.
A book cover - that seems to best express a unique aspect of the culture. We have no idea what this unique aspect is, but I know the photo makes me smile every time I see it :-)