We planned to arrive in Costa Rica the second week of July. Due to some unfortunateness in Nicaragua, we arrived the third week of June. Our family is visiting us here starting July 12th; thus we have time to kill and chill. We decided to head toward Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.
We made one stop in route: La Fortuna. The second most visited area in the county. And it certainly felt like it. Everything was commoditized. A walk in the jungle? You’ll pay for that. A chocolate tour? $20 per person! — and Everett is now considered a person! Costa Rica, using my best Dennis Green impression, is what we thought it was. A touristy country. Albeit a gorgeous one.
Volcan La Fortuna is what you think of when thinking of volcanoes: a consummate conical mass with a cup-like crater at the top. All enveloped by jungle. The volcano was active a decade ago. Magma bubbled daily. Now, tourism has shifted to the perimeter: jungle tours, waterfall hikes, zip line excursions, river rafting, birding, walking over suspension bridges, ATVing, hot springing, and more.
Terme Los Laureles
We camped in a grassy lot in front of one of the many geothermal hot spring parks abutting the volcano. Save a few employees, no one was around. It’s low season. Rainy season. If you can tolerate the dampness — I’m not convinced anything in our van has been dry since we arrived — you’re rewarded with, presumably relatively, less crowds. Less chaos. Less sun too, however.
Because no one was around, we had the gall, the well-traveled tourist cockiness, to ask for a discount the second of the two nights we stayed. It was 4pm. The park closed at 9pm. And they agreed (though I’m guessing they normally offer discounts after 4pm…).
It. Was. (Pause for drama and to catch my breath.) Awesome. Besides a few teenagers, we had the park — nine pools, six slides, soccer field, restaurant, playground, likely Cheetos dispensaries — to ourselves. The staff even checked out for the night (we didn’t see a single lifeguard). We swam in every pool. We rode every slide until our backs chafed. We didn’t even have time to see if the park actually had Cheetos dispensaries (it probably did, because in our minds, it was just that magical).
Certainly worth a visit if you’re in La Fortuna during low season.