Paradise Pic of the Week

Enjoy the first ever Dominical Property “Paradise Pic of the Week”.  This was taken at Playa Ventanas about 30 minutes south of Dominical. The beach is famous for its 2 caves that at low tide you can walk into and at high tide spit mist.

Plus a bonus picture for our Blog readers of one of the Ventanas, which means “windows”.

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Bucket List for Costa Rica

Costa Rica is visited by approximately 2 million tourists per year and each comes here for various reasons, but all enjoy the country’s natural beauty no matter what area they visit.  With so many micro-climates, activities, and sights; this country truly offers something for everyone.  The following is a list of must see’s and do’s.

Zip-Line Tour – These tours are in every part of Costa Rica and some are more adventurous than others.  However, it is always a thrill zipping through the jungle canopy; so look for a reputable tour close to where you are staying.

Arenal Volcano – This is one of the most famous attractions in Costa Rica and if you are lucky you can see this active volcano spewing lava at night from one of the many area hotels.  There is also an amazing hot springs with Jacuzzi temperature waterfalls, cascades, and swimming holes.

La Paz Waterfall Park – This wonderful park has a mini zoo with some of the common and not-so-common wildlife for visitors to see.  Plus they have three large waterfalls with walking trails along side that get you up close and personal with these natural wonders.

Manuel Antonio – The most visited National Park in Costa Rica located right next to Quepos.  The park has some picture perfect post card white sand beaches, tons of wildlife, and more monkeys than people they say.  Also plenty of boutique resorts, fine dining, and shopping.

Sport Fishing – The Pacific coast of Costa Rica has some of the best sport fishing in the World. Feel the rush of catching a Marlin or Sailfish, or catch dinner with a fresh Tuna or Mahi-Mahi.  Sport fishing charters are available many places; but Quepos, Los Suenos, and Tamarindo offer the most options.

Horseback Tour – If you enjoy horseback riding, then you can almost always find a tour on the beach or to a waterfall in various areas of the country.  In the Dominical area Don Lulu’s Horseback Tour to Nauyaca Falls is the most popular.

Rafting – White water rafting is another adventure activity you can enjoy during your stay.  There are many for the whole family up to Class IV and V rapids for experienced rafters.

Surfing – Costa Rica is famous for its World Class waves and many surfers come from all over the globe.  Up North there are “Witch’s Rock” and “Ollie’s Point” which are boat access breaks and down in the Southern most point is Pavones, which is one of the longest waves on the planet.  The Caribbean side has “Salsa Brava” aka the “Costa Rican Pipeline”.  Tons of other more mellow breaks and almost every coastal town has a surf school for beginners to learn.

Bird Watching – Even if you are not an avid birdwatcher you will see all kinds of tropical species daily from Toucans and Parrots to tons of Humming Birds and more.  However, if you want to see the elusive Quetzal you will have to go to the high elevation cloud forests and spend some time there.

Sunset – No matter where you go on the Pacific coast you will surely experience the daily sunset ritual where everyone stops what they are doing and enjoys this moment of tranquility.  Many beach-side bars and restaurants offer a sunset happy hour special.

Turtle Release – From September to November there are various Turtle conservation programs that you can participate in releasing baby turtles.  This is a rewarding and memorable experience for the whole family.

Whale Watching – During months of migration along the coast Whales can be spotted with telescopes or you can take a guided boat tour for a closer encounter.

ATV Tour – Riding four wheelers through the mountain side and to local waterfall or beaches is a fun adventure and available in many tourism destinations throughout the country.

If you cannot do it all in one trip, then you will just have to come back soon!  Pura Vida!!!

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The La Paz Waterfall Gardens is one of the most visited parks in Costa Rica and located less than one hour from San Jose.  This is a great day trip from any hotel in San Jose with a beautiful drive through coffee farms and rolling pastures of grazing dairy cows.  You can also go on nearby coffee tours or visit Poas Volcano, but in order to do everything it would be best to stay at the Peace Lodge Hotel or another Bed & Breakfast in the surrounding countryside.  My mom was recently in town and we went to the park with our family for the day before she left.

Enjoy this video of the La Paz Waterfall gardens.

You first enter the park through the main lodge, restaurant, and gift shop and pay the entrance fee of $20 for local/residents and $35 for visitors.  Then down to the park with animals such as birds, monkeys, cats, and more.

You can enter a dome full of exotic birds and literally be inches from toucans and parrots.

The monkeys and butterflies were our daughter’s favorites.  They do get to see monkeys in the wild at our house all the time, but not the Spider Monkeys and still love seeing all kinds none the less.

The butterfly attraction is a stroll through a flowering garden with butterflies everywhere.  They also have all the different cocoons in their various stages for visitors to see the metamorphosis in person.

A close up encounter with a jaguar (only separated by a thick piece of glass) was a memorable experience and personally my favorite part of the park.  Absolutely amazing to see such a powerful creature so close, that most likely you will never see in the wild.

The reptiles and amphibians are part of the park, but the kids did enjoy the snakes more than I thought they would.  There was the largest Terciopelo (Fer-de-Lance) I have ever seen, and I am definitely scared of seeing of one of those in the wild.  We also got to see some of the exotic frog species first hand.

Throughout the well landscaped park there are flowers and gardens everywhere.  Even a small section of beautiful orchids and another area planted especially to attract humming birds.

The main feature is of course the waterfalls and you walk down a concrete trail and stairway through the jungle.  Do not worry; you do not have to walk back up because there is a bus that takes you back up to the front of the park.  The waterfalls are magnificent and you can get so close that mist sprays on your face.  Truly an unforgettable experience and some of the most scenic waterfalls in Costa Rica.  So forget buying post cards of waterfalls and animals; just take some pictures here to share with your friends and family.  For more information and directions go to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens website: http://www.waterfallgardens.com/

Fishing in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is World famous for its offshore Sport Fishing and the opportunity to catch Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi-Mahi, Tuna, and more.  There are tourists that come here just to fish these rich Pacific waters from Tamarindo in the North, Los Suenos in Herradura and Quepos for the Central Pacific, and Puerto Jimenez in the Southern Pacific Zone.  Although the offshore fishing is the most popular attraction; there is great inshore and mangrove fishing, as well as, the many rivers and shoreline throughout the country.

Offshore Fishing – Sailfish

Deep sea fishing offers the most thrill because it is amazing to reel in a huge sailfish or marlin to experience the exhilarating fight and see them up close.  These fish are ‘catch and release’ only for good reason, as the fishing charters want to protect their resources and give future generations the opportunity to catch them as well.    If you catch a Tuna, then you can often keep only what you can eat and you will have fresh sushi or Tuna steaks for dinner that night.  You can take a professional Sport Fishing charter out of Quepos with Luna Tours (http://www.lunatours.net/).

Sierpe River and Mangrove Fishing

Mangrove fishing is a fun experience as well and lesser known than the offshore fishing.  For those of you that do not want to go over an hour out to sea or get sea sick, then this is a great alternative.  You can catch Red Snapper, Grouper, Rooster Fish, Sea Bass, and Snook in the mangroves.  On the Northern Caribbean side there is a place famous for large Snook.  Around our area in the Southern Pacific Zone, the Sierpe mangroves are the best place to go.  Mangrove fishing is less expensive than offshore because they use less fuel and typically stay in their general area.  You can book a Sierpe fishing tour from Perla del Sur (http://www.perladelsur.net/fishing%20on%20the%20river.html).

River Fishing – “Machaca”

If you do not want to take a tour or get on a boat then bring your rod and reel or even a hand line like many locals and fish the rivers, river mouths, and rocky points any where you want.  This is the most affordable of all because you just need some bait and patience.  You can get bait from some of the local fishers on the beach or find your own little river shrimp.  There is even a river fish called a “Machaca” that eats a certain seed during the month of March and April, so you can fish with just this seed.  No tours that I know of for this type of fishing, but you can give me a call and I will set you up with my brother-in-law who loves to fish and he can point you in the right direction.

El Pavon Tilapia Restaurant

If you are not the fishing type and you want the guarantee of catching a fish, there is El Pavon Tilapia Restaurant near Ojochal.  This is one of our family’s favorite local spots and you go fish for your own lunch.

Whole Fried Tilapia Lunch

I am not the best fisherman and sometimes even need help catching them here, but the staff will take care of you if you are fishing challenged like me.  But no matter your fishing skills you will end up with an amazing lunch like the one pictured above.

Waterfall/Cascade near Tilapia Restaurant

There is even a beautiful waterfall/cascade with a boulder stuck in it a short walk from the restaurant and you can swim and cool off.  Always a fun day for the family at El Pavon Tilapia Restaurant.

And if all else fails, just stop by the local “Pescaria” or little fish market in Dominicalito where they sell all kinds of fish already filleted or whole and even shrimp too!

Life is an Adventure – Dominical Video

This awesome video filmed recently in the Dominical area of Costa Rica is a perfect example of what an adventure packed vacation to Costa Ballena includes.  Or better yet this could be your daily life in paradise!!!

I hope you enjoyed this taste of life in the Southern Zone!  Come on down and see for yourself why this is a truly special place to live or visit. Please check us out at: www.DominicalProperty.com

Playa Matapalo, Costa Rica

Playa Matapalo is a beautiful pristine beach located in between Dominical and Quepos/Manuel Antonio.  Offering miles of secluded sandy coastline to explore and fun waves to surf and play make this one of the area’s best beaches.  Many tourists and buyers alike overlook Playa Matapalo and want to be in Manuel Antonio or Dominical, but it really is an ideal location between the two.  You can be at the Quepos Regional Airport or shopping in Quepos in 20 minutes or at fine restaurants, tropical beaches or national park at Manuel Antonio in 25 minutes.  Playa Dominical and its World famous surfing, multitude of outdoor adventure activities, plus casual beach side restaurants are only 15 minutes away.

Playa Matapalo is small town, but does have some restaurants, a small super market for supplies, even a hardware store, high school, and police stationReal Estate in Matapalo consists of mostly residential lots with acreage and numerous homes scattered throughout the mountainous jungle terrain.  So whether traveling to the area for the first time or looking to buy, do not pass through Matapalo without taking a look around, you could miss a real opportunity to discover something special!

Costa Rica is Once Again the Happiest Place on Earth

Once again Costa Rica has been determined the Happiest Planet on Earth in the annual Happy Planet Index (H.P.I.) by the New Economic Foundation.  The study ranks countries in terms of life expectancy, the amount of well being experienced by the local population, and environmental impact.  Costa Rica has been in the top 3 since the formation of the first H.P.I. in 2006 and has been #1 for the past 2 years.  No wonder so many people come from all over the world to experience the “Pura Vida” or “Pure Life” and immerse themselves in nature and stunningly beautiful scenery.   The top 10 results for 2012 are as follows:

2012 Happy Planet Index

Country

H.P.I.

Experienced Well-being

Life Expectancy

Ecological Footprint

Costa Rica

64

7.3

79.3

2.5

Vietnam

60.4

5.8

75.2

1.4

Colombia

59.8

6.4

73.7

1.8

Belize

59.3

6.5

76.1

2.1

El Salvador

58.9

6.7

72.2

2.0

Jamaica

58.5

6.2

73.1

1.7

Panama

57.8

7.3

76.1

3.0

Nicaragua

57.1

5.7

74.0

1.6

Venezuela

56.9

7.5

74.4

3.0

Guatemala

56.9

6.3

71.2

1.8

*New Economics Foundation’s annual Happy Planet Index (HPI) 2012

Costa Rica constantly scores high in the H.P.I. rankings for many reasons including high life expectancy, forward thinking in terms of environmental protection, genuinely happy local people, and it is a peaceful country with no military.  Life expectancy in Costa Rica is among some of the longest in the World and it was determined to be a “Blue Zone” country by Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN.  The country also actively protects its environment with 25% of its land mass dedicated to reserves or National Parks.  Plus Costa Rica has a goal to be the World’s first carbon neutral country by 2025.  The local people are very happy and you can see this walking down the street when they smile or nod at you for no particular reason.  Try smiling at someone as you walk down the streets of New York City and see if they respond so kindly.  Another contributing factor is that Costa Rica abolished its military in 1949 and remains neutral in global conflicts, thus its nickname the Switzerland of Central America.

So come see why Costa Rica is the Happiest Place on Earth and enjoy the “Pura Vida” in paradise!  If you are interested in purchasing a property, home, or just renting long term to try out the retirement lifestyle in Costa Rica, contact me at Dominical Property for more information.