Spotlight on Costa Rica

Stepping onto a direct flight from London means that Costa Rica is now easier to reach for Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man residents. Officially dubbed the happiest place to live on Earth according to a recent Happy Planet Index study, Costa Rica is growing into a must-see destination for island residents who want to satisfy their Wanderlust. From 5* luxury hotels with natural hot spring spas, to lush tropical rainforest, amazing wildlife and volcanic landscapes, Costa Rica is a unique destination for travellers. 

Trena Lewis, Branch Manager for Bellingham Travel and Escape the Rock in St Brelade, Jersey recently visited this Central American country with luxury tour operator Cox & Kings.  Bellingham Travel holds a prestigious Ambassador award from Cox & Kings for exceptional customer service and product knowledge, joining an elite 1% of travel agencies across the UK.  Here are some highlights of Trena’s tour….

San Jose

Flying into San José from London we found ourselves surrounded by mountains and volcanoes which can be glimpsed from almost anywhere in the city. Founded in 1737 the city’s buildings are a pleasant mix of Spanish colonial and modern style, with a number of interesting museums, art galleries, restaurants and shops to explore.

Coffee Plantation Tour

The rich fertile slopes of Arenal and Poás volcanoes in the Central Valley have made them a perfect place for coffee plantations.  We a took a tour of the Doka Estate which gave a fascinating insight into harvesting, processing and roasting coffee beans using the oldest hydro-powered mill in Costa Rica.

Arenal Volcano

Until recently, Arenal was one of the world’s most active volcanoes.  It is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, located in 2900 hectares of protected rainforest which is home to over 840 species of birds and a rich variety of wildlife including the native scarlet macaw and howler monkey.  We stayed at the 5* Tabacón Thermal Resort and Spa, which is surrounded by tropical gardens and hot springs. 

Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge

On the third day of our tour we visited Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, internationally recognised as one of the most important regions in Central America as it protects a number of endangered migratory species. We explored the wetlands by boat starting at the tiny town of Los Chiles and travelled down the Rio Frio. Sloths, monkeys, river turtles, caimans and a wide range of birds could be spotted along the way.

Nicoya Peninsula

Surrounded by the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Nicoya Peninsula is known for its beautiful beaches, dramatic coastal scenery and national parks.  We visited the Northern peninsula on day four of our tour and perched on top of the Guanacaste mountain outpost overlooking the pacific ocean is Punta Islita where we stayed for 2 nights. This perfect retreat is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, boasting a beautiful private beach, delicious seafood and international cuisine.

Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos

We visited Manuel Antonio National Park on day six and seven, one of the finest national parks in Costa Rica, fringed with expansive white sandy beaches and dramatic rocky headlands which offer superb ocean views.  The park features 109 different species of mammals including curious capuchins and endangered squirrel monkeys, as well as 184 species of birds. The park includes 12 little isles just off the coast; these are often visited by dolphins and migrating whales.  The trail that winds around Punta Catedral also affords some spectacular views. As well as a guided tour of the coastline, we enjoyed special activities including catamaran sailing and snorkelling at Beizans beach.  We stayed at the 5* Parador Hotel and Spa; an eco-hotel that offers responsible luxury, set in 12 acres of tropical rainforest with superb panoramic views. The hotel has a selection of restaurants offering seafood, Mediterranean and international cuisine, a wine cellar, infinity pool and health spa which is perfect for unwinding after a busy day exploring.

To find out more about excursions to Costa Rica and the Americas with luxury tour operator Cox & Kings, pop into your nearest Cox & Kings award winning travel specialists: Bellingham Travel (St Helier & St Brelade, Jersey) , Wayfarers Travel (St. Sampson’s, Guernsey), Richmond Travel (Douglas Isle of Man), Mann Link Travel (Ramsey, Isle of Man)