Reconnecting and Recharging: A Solo Trip to Costa Rica
One by one, the hotel guests began to gather, eyes fixed on a large tree in the middle of the courtyard. Through a maze of branches, we caught glimpses of a bright red macaw cracking nuts with its beak, unaware of the audience assembling below. Being from rural East Texas, I was stunned to see such an exotic animal. The wild bird eventually flew away into the mountains of Jacó, Costa Rica, but we all lingered, gawking as the sky was momentarily streaked with color.
The day before, I landed in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. I was traveling alone, scouting locations for my sister’s bachelorette party and a retirement trip for my mom.
I booked a total of four nights at Selina, a boutique hotel chain. It had everything I needed including a bar and restaurant, loungey common spaces, and social activities like painting classes and henna tattoo nights. Offering both dorm-style and private rooms, the hotel felt like a hip, grownup hostel for young professionals. The art and interior design were sophisticated, fun, and well curated.
With just under 24 hours in the capital, I started my day with a traditional breakfast at the hotel before joining a yoga class on the rooftop patio. I opted for the local staple, “gallo pinto,” a typical mix of beans and rice, served with eggs and tortillas or toast.
On my self-guided tour around town, I visited the small Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. When my GPS failed me, I asked a nearby security guard for directions. Thankfully, my almost-fluent Spanish helped, but I knew even a beginner could get by with the basics. Later, I ran into the same guard and was surprised when he greeted me as if we were friends, laughing and asking about the art hunting. His kindness made San José feel even warmer than the fair 70 degrees it is year-round.
For lunch, I found a trendy spot called Café Otoya. The long list of fresh tropical juices and a full case of pastries caught my eye. Inside, I found lush plants from floor to ceiling. The outside seating was perfect for enjoying the temperate climate in this charming part of town which houses embassies and government buildings.
That afternoon, the hotel arranged for a private bus to shuttle me to another one of its locations for the rest of my trip. Just two and a half hours from San José on the country’s Pacific side was Selina Jacó, known for its Volcom surf school. Jacó offers the whole tropical package for first timers – mountains, beach, and jungle.
Upon arrival, I booked an ATV tour for the following day and downed a complimentary welcome drink at the bar. That night, the hotel was hosting a sound bath meditation, and I listened from a distance while admiring the magical pink sunset against a silhouette of a palm-dotted coastline.
Here, Selina Jacó’s kitchen had classic bites like fried plantains, also known as “patacones,” and with drink service on the beach side of the bar, you can order refills with your feet in the sand or lounging by the pool. This Selina boasts upcycled concrete cylinders stacked on top of each other as micro-suites.
I missed the bus to where I would take the ATV tour, so the tour company sent a car to get me. The five-star service continued when my guide took me on a private tour. I had only paid for a short group tour but was given the deluxe treatment. The tour took us through banana farms and across shallow, shaded rivers. Along the way, we stopped to look for toucans and iguanas, per my request. After jumping from the top of two waterfalls, we wrapped up with a bowl of fresh fruit before I was shuttled back to the hotel.
The following two days were filled with morning yoga classes and afternoon surf lessons. At night, I explored the main strip of bars and clubs playing everything from electronic music (or EDM) to reggaeton. There are a few things I know I missed in Costa Rica. I would love to have gone horseback riding on the beach, tour a coffee plantation, and take advantage of Selina’s spa accommodations.
The journey home went by quickly and soon I was back in Texas. Reconnecting with nature and recharging on the beach was a great way to spend alone time, but I couldn’t help thinking how perfect Costa Rica would be with loved ones.