Riding Costa Rica, Day 3: Arenal and beyond

Big tarantula in bathroom

The next morning we got breakfast at Tilajari, as there as with most places in CR, a breakfast was included in the room rate.

The ‘standard’ free breakfast varied a bit from place to place, but generally included fruit, juice, and some form of eggs. The pineapple was always welcome by me, and we consistently had the best cantaloupe I’ve ever had anywhere.

We noted another ‘animal attraction’ that some places in CR seemed to do similar to- mango rinds were left on a tree for the birds to come and eat from, right next to the open breakfast area. It might all be a ploy to lure more tourists, but I’d like to think it’s simply an act of kindness towards animals...

Our goal for the day was to make it around Lake Arenal for the day, maybe further, depending on how much time we made, and then heading towards the coast after staying overnight.

Riding around Arenal was very scenic- at one point, we had to stop in the road to allow a monkey and it’s baby to cross the road. We came entirely too close to hitting them.. :-(

As the area is named after it’s active volcano, there are some hot springs and pools around the area. A section around Arenal is fairly touristy, or at least more built up than a lot of other locations in CR, and we stopped in to see about using their hot springs here..at ‘Baldi Hot Springs Resort.’  Unfortunately, they were quite ‘touristy priced,’ somewhere around $25 per person to gain access to the hot springs, which you couldn’t even see from outside their gates, so we passed on that, after some debate.

A bit further down the road was evidently the ‘locals hot springs,’ for a much more reasonable $6 each. I’m pretty sure we were the only gringos there, and it was still a bit more ‘touristy’ than I expected. I guess I expected more along the lines of some shallow natural springs, but we got a mini swimming pool instead. It was pretty warm, though :-) We relaxed for a bit in the pool, although de-gearing and gearing back up took us a while each time..

Baldi Hot Springs Resort
Locals hot spring area

After some RnR in the springs, we headed back out. Once you left the town of Arenal, it was back to mostly countryside. The roads in places were amusing, going from potholes to suddenly stretches of dirt, some of which we saw a few cars thinking about turning back through...they really didn’t go on for long, but it’s difficult to tell what’s around the next bend with some of the roads in CR...

Evidently a ferry shuttles people across Lake Arenal- we stopped off for some drinks, and saw a good number of locals partying it up for their New Years Day, and the pair of ferries.

The further we got from the town of Arenal, it seemed we passed through mostly a mixture of local and vacation housing, with an occasional Hotel or place to go horseback riding thrown in. The road around Arenal is fairly twisty, with some fairly big potholes in places, which makes for a fun slaloming sort of ride doing pothole avoidance at speed. 

Amazing Scenic Gardens

A few scenic pulloffs are scattered about, most of which we passed on stopping for, but then saw what looked to be a very nice garden with a sign saying, ‘Scenic Vistas.’ No company name, no stand or people we could see...it looked like someone had a nice piece of property and simply wanted people to enjoy it.

The pictures don't really do it justice..it was like a little piece of Paradise, in the middle of nowhere, with no gates, no locks, and nothing to sell, just a nice place to stop and enjoy.  If there were a donation box, I would have gladly donated

Wind picking up...

After the scenic stop, a bit further down the road and it became quite windy. Lake Arenal is a favorite spot for windsurfers, and we had little reason to doubt that as we were constantly leaning from side to side fighting the wind and potholes. It started to get later in the day, and we weren’t sure exactly how far we had to go to reach our destination for the night, then the clouds started to get darker, and it was obviously going to be raining soon.

We took that as a sign, as we really had no desire to ride without streetlights through the potholes around Arenal at night, and decided to ride a bit longer, to see if we saw a sign that looked like we were anywhere close to where we’d planned on stopping for the night, otherwise we’d keep an eye open for somewhere to spend the night.

The wind picked up, which can get tiring when near storm levels, and a leisurely ride started to turn into serious work.  Of course - it started raining as well.

As luck would have it, we came across a place that looked like it might be decent, and as we really had no idea how far we were from Tilaran, we stopped to check on vacancy. The name of the place was ‘Tilawa Lodge’ and while seemingly in the middle of nowhere, was quite nice and unexpected.  

They had their own brewery on-site, and seemed a pretty good place to hold up for the day.  We’d actually made it most of the way around Arenal - not where we’d planned on stopping, but it seemed the best course.

Restaurante las Iguanas
Locals with iguana
Big iguana on wall
Another iguana walking around

We’d made it towards where we thought we would, but probaly at least 60 miles or more away from where we thought we would have stopped for the day due to the winds, but sometimes you’ve just got to adjust those plans on the fly...

Tomorrow - off-road most of the day!