SEP 28,2009 - OCT 17,2009 (20 DAYS)
My Dear wife and I planned this honeymoon for months...
We wanted to combine raw nature, beautiful Caribbean beaches and a few days in NYC.
A good friend came back from his honeymoon in the Dominican Republic and had so many good words to say about this place (and photos to show..) we decided we must be there.
But what about raw nature? and we meant raw..
National Geographic chose Lapa Rios, a private rain forest reserve in Costa Rica to be one of the best eco-lodges worldwide.. That was exactly what we were looking for.
The initial idea was to fly to Lapa Rios then chill at the Dominican Republic, fly to NYC and back home. But although we planned this trip 6 months up front, Lapa Rios was already booked!! We had to change the order of things and start with the Dominican Republic.
An astonishing gap between the luxurious all-inclusive resorts and the poor local people homes is the first thing you see in the Dominican Republic. We almost never left the resorts area.
Punta Cana is one of the most famous places for Caribbean beaches in the Dominican Republic. We also heard good stuff about Bavaro which is a around 30 minutes away by taxi.
Due to the overwhelming amount of all-inclusive 5 stars resorts we decided to book one only for the first 4 days. Then, walk around to see something we like and book the rest of our time in this absolute paradise.
A small tip : when you land in Punta Cana, an army of local drivers will run towards you yelling buzz-words to grab you attention : "Travelocity! Expedia!". Immediately you think that the company sent them - but, they didn't. They charge extra money for transportation.
It is best to avoid those and find yourself a decent taxi.
Bavaro beach is the real thing. Imagine white sandy Caribbean beaches, with coconut trees, Pina Coladas and that fantastic blue color of the sea - you got it.
We booked the hotel through Travelocity. It was fairly priced and the hotel was very good.
Our time there was spent mainly on the beach. Reading books.. enjoying the tranquility. In the afternoon we took walks on the beach, that way we could also see other resorts.
The food there was OK but not great. Some beaches had an enormous amount of Algae but nothing you cannot escape.
Oh... My... God...
Seriously... absolute heaven...
We didn't think it could get any better than Punta Cana Princess in Bavaro.. Even after several days in this place, we were shocked each morning.
The beach is so much more beautiful.. quiet.. not crowded. amazing. Food was one of the main highlights here - first class. Everynight, except the "usual" food they had food from a different cuisine.
Sports classes are also included.. volleyball.. Petanque even Trapezoid.
Rooms are ok, but who wants to stay in the room in such a place anyway?!
Small tip though - this resort is huge. Make sure you get a room near the center of the village or you'll have to walk some 10 min to go to the beach.
Take a massage at the waterfront.. hear nothing but the waves.. Its a bit expensive but totally worth it. Tranquility at its best.
We had no choice but to to stay in San Jose for one night. Its a very unpleasant city.
Some people get robbed in their car in the following way: When you stop in a red light some kid crawls to your wheel and puncture it. You drive a little and stop the car when you find out. Next thing, a group of people comes to rob you when you're out of the car. My advice - try not to stop the car. If you see a red light ahead, drive slowly till you reach it hoping it will be green by the time you get there. If anything happened - dont get out of the car, call the car agency or police or something and ask for assistance.
Other people are being stopped by the police for "speeding" when they didnt. The way out of it is to pay off the cops...
We didn't encounter any of these stuff.
But we suggest taking a car and drive away when possible.
We stayed at Berney's place - Pura Vida in Tuetal, Alajuela. Its like an oasis inside this digusting city.
This is the most perfect place to stay once arrived and before leaving Costa Rica.
Don't save a few bucks and have a not-very-nice welcome...
Berni, Max and everyone were so nice, and extremely helpful (they even contacted our car rental company so they would come to pick the car from the hotel!!!)
We decided to spend 2 days seeing the Costa Rica most people see.. So we drove from San Jose to La Fortuna.
Driving is very simple. We had 2 possible routes and decided to take the one through the cloud-forest which was very nice.
We stayed at Las Colinas which was very nice.
Our room was absolutely awesome! just in front of the Arenal volcano.
We used the hotel's booking agent for all attractions around, the service was very kind.
They even saved a good parking spot just for us :)
The view from our room:
Rainforest canopy zip line is one of the most famous attractions in Costa Rica. Its an experience you definitely won't forget. Such a view... And a first chance to see some of Costa Rica's wonderful wildlife. Highly recommended.
Tabacon... ahh... Spa resort like you've never seen.
A nearby river passes by the volcano which makes its water warm. The whole place is using these water for small pools in different temperatures.
Don't miss this one. Come at the afternoon, you'll get a good price and will have a change to see this amazing place both in daylight and at night.
Horseback riding is always fun. Its a great way to see alot of scenery in a short time without (almost) any physical effort.
We took a guided tour in the rainforest near the Arenal volcano and it was very fun.
Undoubtedly the highlight of our trip. Actually, its one of the highlights of any of our trips and both my wife and I traveled quite a bit.
In the middle of the rain forest, far away from anywhere lies a luxurious unique resort. No wonder Lapa Rios was chosen by National Geographic to be one of the best 50 eco-lodges worldwide.
Nature is everywhere here. The cabins have no walls. Anything can come in.
During our stay :
While very expensive, the honeymoon deal was very good. We took at least 1 guided hike a day. Guides knows every single tree in this area and have vast knowledge on the wildlife.
All of this is accompanied by splendid food, wonderful cabins and its all green.
If its nature at its best you're interested in - its definitely for you. One of the most amazing places I've ever been to.
It was my wife's first visit in NYC so we went to all the obvious attractions.
I'm a strong believer in seeing cities by foot so we spent most of the day hiking the city.
Priceline is the way to go in NYC IMHO.
We got an amazing price for a 4 stars hotel (Crown Plaza) right in times square.. and as you probably know - its all location, location, location.
A jazz show in the Blue Note is an evening you'll probably enjoy, if you're a jazz fan. Especially ifs its Dizzy Gillespie's birthday and a bunch of geniuses gather together to perform a special concert.
Food is pretty good there, I'd recommend getting here early to have a dinner before the show starts.
Below - Roy Hargrove at the Blue Note.