Answering the Call of The Wild
in Costa Rica
What do you do when you want to cross a crocodile-infested river to get to the perfect beach in Costa Rica? You wait.
It’s no secret that I’m outdoorsy. Being “one with nature” isn’t a foreign concept to me, but generally I take my nature with a side order of action, so Costa Rica, which has both, seemed like the perfect place for me. Ironically, it’s the place where I learned to slow down.
I started out in Drake Bay, a remote area in the south. It’s rugged, with volcanic rocks dotting the shoreline and hermit crabs scurrying across the sand. If lounging on a picturesque beach is your thing, hit Manuel Antonio up the coast instead. Drake Bay is for nature lovers and adventure seekers, and it offers loads of group activities to satiate travellers like myself. Snorkelling with sharks near Cano Island? Did it! Hiking with monkeys in Corcovado National Park? Done – twice!
Yet with all that outdoor action at my fingertips (hello ziplining and scuba diving), I found myself wanting to explore the area around my jungle eco-lodge, Pirate Cove, far from the resorts to the south and separated by a river from two kilometres of deserted beach to the north.
Now, you’d be lucky to find a bridge in Drake Bay – crossing rivers is often done at the mercy of Mother Nature. Although the river at Pirate Cove isn’t huge and rushing, it deepens near the ocean, so to get to that deserted beach, I had to forge the river at low tide, wary of caimans lurking in the murky water.
In truth, caimans, or small crocodiles, steer clear of the mouth of the river because it’s too active, so I didn’t really have to worry about meeting one near the beach. But as I said, the river deepens near the ocean, so I’d be crossing hip deep, unable to see my feet, and since I’d already run into a caiman when kayaking the river alone, that irrational fear took on its own reality.
Not wanting to press my luck with the caimans, I’d wait for the tide to recede, chilling in my hammock, savouring fresh pineapples and mangoes. While relaxing, I’d look up and catch a pair of scarlet macaws landing in an almond tree, or see an iguana emerge through the leaves, or notice a toucan sitting in a banana tree. Tough life, I know! But, even though it was an enjoyable way to wait, it was still waiting.
Why I was so drawn to the beach on the other side of the river, you ask? Well, remember how I said Drake Bay is rugged? So too is the water in front of Pirate Cove: low tide would expose volcanic rocks and high tide would hide them, so it’s not the safest swimming spot.
But that au naturel aspect of Pirate Cove is what I found so appealing. It’s why my days were guided by the tides, and slowing down like that piqued my desire to do activities around the grounds. I eagerly awoke at 5 a.m. to go bird watching with my guide, Gustavo, who later took me on a night tour, where I was scared out of my wits by a boa constrictor, and a red-eyed tree frog that jumped at me! I even went horseback riding for the first time, spending an exciting two hours riding through the jungle and back along the beach with resort owner Susanne, our horses forging the very same rivers I’d crossed.
Those rivers embodied what Drake Bay is about. As a solo traveller, I’m used to doing what I want when I want, but in Drake Bay, I had to patiently wait for nature to allow me to explore.