Traveling Like a Tico Through Costa Rica

It’s one thing to discover the “hotspots” of a country from Pinterest destinations, online reviews and photos, but it’s a much more unique experience to explore a country by traveling like a local. My friends and I recently journeyed to La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano, featured on The Bachelor for all of the Peter lovers out there.

They say “don’t go chasing waterfalls” but that’s not the case here in Costa Rica!

While here, we were able to uncover the life of the locals simply by engaging in conversation with them. Our transportation driver was quite the talkative fellow, so we asked him about the best places to visit and he did not disappoint. Our activities for the night changed when he shared with us that downtown La Fortuna was having a Tope festival that night. A Tope is a massive horse parade with live music and dancing in the streets, and that’s not something you find while scrolling through Pinterest!

Our next driver, who drove us back to our Airbnb, was another winner for marvelous advice. We were talking about a hot spring we wanted to visit that we’d found online, and he was kind enough to share that there was a free hot springs river that was closer to us that we needed to visit instead. Rio Chollin is the same natural hot spring that flows through the Tabacon resort in Arenal, but instead of paying money for the experience, ours was free! The river was secluded, and we got to fully immerse ourselves in the lush green nature of the forest while soaking in steaming fresh water.

Our personal hot springs, the Free Natural Hot Springs River, in La Fortuna.

Don’t get me wrong, searching online is a great place to start looking for amazing things to do, but engaging with locals provides a unique perspective. Interacting with unfamiliar faces can be daunting, but by doing so you just might discover your own original Pinterest destination and save some money in the process!

Emma Pettay is a student at Kansas State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying with ISA in San José, Costa Rica.

Author: emmapettay

Hello everyone! My name is Emma Pettay and I come from a small town in good ole' Midwest Kansas! Studying abroad in Costa Rica will be my first time outside the country and I am so excited to be immersed in a new environment living the Pura Vida. I'm a double major in Anthropology and Environmental Science, and while abroad will be taking courses focused on sustainable development and climate change initiatives. I hope to return to the states with new ideas on environmental issues and basic fluency in Spanish so wish me luck and ¡Pura vida!

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