Horseback Riding Adventures

Horseback Riding Adventures

Guanacaste, Costa Rica is cowboy country. Everywhere you go, you’ll see cattle, sheep, goats, farmland and wildlife. Taking a horseback ride allows you to view this world from a different perspective. Keep your eyes open for various species of tropical birds, reptiles, and even monkeys that inhabit the region. Ride the hidden back roads and gorgeous beaches that make up the Gold Coast of Guanacaste.

Pause along the way to swim and snorkel, or take pictures of the beautiful flowers and wildlife you encounter on your ride. Horses are matched up to riders’ ages and experience level, and the guides are well trained to ensure you have a wonderful experience while focused one your safety at all times. It’s an adventure the whole family will never forget.

At Borinquen Lodge near Rincon de la Viejo, you can enjoy an exciting journey through the mountains and pastures , with beautiful panoramic views of the volcano, mountain ranges and the Northern Pacific coast. Ride trails through the forest to waterfalls; you can hike go on horseback. There is no other way to experience authentic and rural Costa Rica, you will be immediately immersed in a unique cultural experience. 

Craft Breweries in the Area

Craft Breweries in the Area

For years, Costa Rica was the land of Imperial and Pilsen, but in the past few years, new microbreweries have been popping up all over the country. Craft-beer culture has taken over in Costa Rica. There are dozens of small home and local breweries producing a wide assortment of different beers. Some are even incorporating ingredients such as pineapple, mango, coconut, and cacao, all native to Costa Rica. Trying a traditional Costa Rican beer during your visit is a must, but we highly recommend that you give some of the craft beers a go too!

BOA “Brother’s of Ale” Brewing

BOA Brewery is strategically located between Play Flamingo and Playa Tamarindo. BOA is served at many local restaurants and bars and strives to grow organically and in a way that maintains strict levels of quality control from raw ingredients to that deliciousness in your glass.

For the most authentic experience, we encourage you to stop by and visit the brewery at the Clubhouse near Huacas. Here you can try their complete range of styles of beer while relaxing in the outdoor patio, tasting area, and restaurant! They have an awesome covered patio with misters to keep you cool while having a delicious lunch, sample various beers or cocktails, and play a lively game of corn hole!

Potrero Brewing Company

Potrero is a beach town located just two kilometers north of Casa Las Brisas. It has tons of great restaurants, coffeeshops and bars. It’s also home to Potrero Brewing Co which has a wide diversity of good beer from clean and crisp lagers to dark porters and stouts to big American-style IPAs. Their tap wall usually has 10-12 beers on tap as well as many others in cans. They also offer non-alcohol options for those that don’t drink beer, or wines and cocktails if that is what you are in the mood for.

Volcano Brewing Company

Their story: In 2001 we went on a surfing adventure, driving a bus from San Diego to Costa Rica in search of epic waves and the PURA VIDA life. We found paradise in a sleepy surf town called Tamarindo. Life was almost perfect, but unfortunately Costa Rica did not have any pale ale. We started Volcano Brewing Company so we could share quality craft beer with thirsty surfers and wandering travelers from around the world. Enjoy their vast selection on the beach in the tasting room, El Vaquero and Eat @ Joe’s.

Costa Rica voted “Most Desirable” country in 2022

Costa Rica voted “Most Desirable” country in 2022

Costa Rica was awarded the recognition as the “most desirable” country in 2022 during the twenty-first installment of the Wanderlust Travel Awards. These awards are given by the renowned British magazine Wanderlust in London.

Costa Rica was also recognized for being a pioneer in ecotourism and possessing an “extraordinary tropical forest”. Also for the exuberance of its coasts and for being home to more than 500,000 species that include sloths, toucans, sea turtles and many others.

By obtaining the main prize of the night with the gold category as “best desirable country”, Costa Rica outvoted other finalist destinations. Among them were Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, Peru, South Africa and Jordan.

Wanderlust is the UK’s oldest and most established travel magazine. It is also recognized for being at the forefront of sustainable travel for almost thirty years. 

Massages on the Terrace at Casa Las Brisas

Massages at Casa las Brisas

There are many masseuses that set up along the beach road in Playa Flamingo, but to be truly pampered and relaxed on your vacation, it’s easy to schedule massages at Casa Las Brisas or over at the Casita.

We have used Orfa Massage for over a decade; she and her staff are outstanding. They bring everything and set up wherever you prefer, but the upper terrace or along the promenade is ideal; private and shaded, and you hear the waves crashing on the beach below. 

They are all licensed, professional massage therapists. They can schedule up to three guests per hour. You choose the level of pressure and it will be one of the best, most relaxing massages you’ve ever had.  We provide spa robes for your use during your stay. Her contact info is found in our Resource Book at the house. 

Waterfall Tours in Guanacaste

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

There are numerous gorgeous waterfalls with guided tours in the area around Liberia and Rincon de la Vieja: about 90 minutes from Casa Las Brisas in Playa Flamingo. Some are relatively easy to access and others are more challenging and would take up most of your day.

*The Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, pictured above, is located near the town of Bagaces, just a half hour south of Liberia and its international airport (LIR). It’s a short drive off the Pan American Highway (Route 1) and less than a two-hour trip from Playa Flamingo and other beach towns in Guanacaste. These majestic falls are also a convenient stop for those traveling from Arenal or Monteverde to those beautiful beaches of Guanacaste’s Gold Coast. 

Another draw of the Llanos de Cortez is that it is relatively easy to access. The parking area, which is just an open lot, gets you very close to the waterfall. From there, it is a short 5 minute hike down.

Once you reach the bottom of the trail, you’ll see why Llanos de Cortez is considered to be one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful waterfalls. The falls are wide and wispy, with thin streams of water tumbling along the mossy rocks. Rocky cliffs are visible through the transparent cascade. To add to the grandeur, thick forest surrounds the falls with many birds and sometimes even monkeys bellowing from the trees.

At the base of the falls is a nice pool that is good for swimming or wading, and there is a sandy area to just hang out and relax. 

*Near Rincon de la Vieja, four waterfalls flow, and all of them have pools where you can swim. Getting to the waterfalls is an adventure on its own – either by hiking or horseback riding. The Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Center organizes waterfall tours. Below are two waterfall tours depending on your time and level of adventure. 

Victoria Waterfall

Victoria Waterfall
Victoria Waterfall

The 115-foot (35-meter) Victoria Waterfall on the Rio Negro (Black River) is where the river tubing trips start their adventure downriver. The surrounding canyon has unique vegetation and topography, and you can swim in the pool at the waterfall’s base.

How to get there: A 45-minute each-way horseback ride on a scenic trail, and a short, steep descent to the waterfall; or a one hour each-way scenic hike on the same trail.

Oropéndola Waterfall

Oropéndola Waterfall
Oropéndola Waterfall

Located near the Las Pailas entrance to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, the Oropéndola Waterfall plunges an impressive 82 feet (25 meters) in a beautiful canyon of the Rio Blanco (White River). The sparkling turquoise pool below makes for a refreshing swim.

How to get there: A 45-minute each-way horseback ride on a scenic trail, and short walk to the waterfall; or a 1.5 hour each-way scenic hike; or a 15-minute drive and short walk.

Catarata La Leona Waterfall
Catarata La Leona Waterfall

*If you’re looking for a unique, challenging and adventurous waterfall hike in Costa Rica, then you have to visit Catarata La Leona. La Leona waterfall is a small blue waterfall hidden deep in the canyons and caves of a gorgeous blue river. It requires hiking through a series of canyons and crossing rivers numerous times.

Catarata La Leona is not big but being hidden inside a cave made it all more special, especially considering we had to swim, climb and trek through the forest and rivers to get there! The Catarata La Leona hike takes around 3 hours total.

 Best Time to Go

Peak dry season (January through April). The paths are dry, there isn’t any mud and no real strong river current. If you go during rainy season, you have to be more prepared for mud and a stronger current. Friends went end of January 2021 and the water level never went over their heads and the current wasn’t strong.

One of our friends went beginning of December, right at the end of the rainy season and she said the road was in awful conditions and the current was incredibly strong. They had to wear lifejackets.

Who Can Do The Catarata La Leona Hike?

As you can tell, this hike is not for the faint of heart which means you can’t be claustrophobic or acrophobic, you need to know how to swim and you need to be in decent shape. The actual distance is not long but it isn’t on a straight forward well maintained path. No ankle or knee problems, you must be able to walk on natural paths.

Luckily, there are several trails the guide can take you. There is the straightforward path that still requires the river crossing a couple times but does not take you through the caves or canyons. We saw a couple groups on this trail, mainly those with kids and older guests. Families can definitely do this tour. They will also give lifejackets to anyone who wants one and to kids and when the current is stronger.

Flamingo Marina Update

Flamingo Marina

Progress continues on the Flamingo Marina. It’s really taking shape and getting closer to opening in January 2022; located in the sheltered inlet of Potrero Bay leading into Flamingo. Casa las Brisas is located just up the hill on the prestigious North Ridge peninsula overlooking beautiful Playa Flamingo. A sport fishing paradise🐬

Baby Sea Turtle Nesting

Arribada at Playa Ostional

Evening falls and the horizon becomes dotted with round figures drawing closer to the coast with help from the motion of the waves. In a matter of minutes, greenish flippers and shells appear, slowly touching the wet sand and starting to dig deep holes with their rear flippers. One after another, Olive Ridley turtles come home and that’s how the “arribada” (Spanish for arrival), or “flota” (fleet), of turtles in Playa Ostional begins.

After leaving the water, the female crawls through the sand to choose a place to dig a hole and deposit; it must be a place with no vegetation and distance from the coast to protect the eggs from the high tide. The turtles dig a hole the size of their body; then, with their hind flippers, take the sand to make a deep hole and elongated shape where they drop their eggs.

After about 60 days of incubation, little turtles move from the sand to the top of the nest with their flippers. They come to the surface when the temperature has dropped, usually at night, as a way to evade predators and the hot sun. The baby turtles wait for the rest to join the group to go out to sea.

Why would a small village tucked away in Guanacaste, Costa Rica receive that visit? It’s difficult for science to explain it. What we do know is that Playa Ostional is one of the last hopes for protecting the Olive Ridley turtle, one of the most endangered species in the world. According to managing biologist for the Ostional Development Association (ADIO), the town is working to avoid their extinction, which would be tragic. Because the beach is not part of a National Park, but a Wildlife Refuge, the community itself prepares the beach to make it a safe place where the turtles can arrive. They have an agreement with the Ministry of Environment to manage the turtle habitat and the legal sale of 1% of the eggs they produce. It is also a huge tourist attraction which provides income for the community as well.

More turtles visit Ostional every year. However, factors beyond the community’s control, such as ocean temperatures and coastal drought, can affect the turtles continuing to come to the community. Climate temperature directly affects these species. The sand needs to be a certain temperature for an equal number of male and female turtles to hatch. If it exceeds 30° C (86° F), only females might hatch or the egg might not hatch altogether. When no males are born, the species population begins to decline due to lack of mating.

The community is confident that their conservation and education efforts will be successful so that these sea turtles will continue to return to the beach where they were hatched, year after year. If you are interested in witnessing this natural phenomenon, Ostional is located about an hour’s drive south of our beach house in Playa Flamingo. They nest throughout the year, but on the Pacific coast it is concentrated from July to November.

Baby Olive Ridley
Baby Olive Ridley

Beautiful Hardwood Trees of Costa Rica

Guanacaste Tree

Costa Rica is divided into seven provinces, or states. Casa Las Brisas is located on the NW Pacific coast in the province of Guanacaste, which is named for the national tree of Costa Rica. The Guanacaste, or Elephant Ear tree (pictured above), is majestic and immense, characterized by it’s spherical crown. Cows, goats and sheep will often be seen lying under it’s shade during the hot, sunny afternoons. History says it was chosen in part to symbolize the protection that the people of Costa Rica receive from their government! The wood’s stunning natural color and grain make it ideal for furniture but it is illegal to cut it without permits. We are proud to have designed a custom front door crafted from this beautiful hardwood as a welcoming entrance to our home.

The Pochote tree is distinguishable by a trunk that is covered in sharp spines that project

Pochote Tree
Pochote Tree

an inch or more, keeping hungry predators from climbing up its trunk. This native tree is cultivated for use as lumber as it grows straight and tall. The wood of the pochote is white as opposed to the dark grains of teak (see below). It is used to make furniture, cabinets and veneers.

The very popular Teak tree is not native to Costa Rica but grows very well

Teak Plantation
Teak Plantation

there, so it is frequently grown on commercial plantations. It is in high demand around the world, so it has become a major export for Costa Rica, attracting a lot of investors. One of the first things I fell in love with when we first looked at Casa Las Brisas was the soaring, beamed teak ceilings in the main room and the main floor Master Suite.

Bamboo
Bamboo

Costa Rica is the country with the largest woody bamboo diversity in Central America. Bamboo is known as the plant of thousand uses. It is versatile, flexible and very strong. It is mostly used in construction, gardening, fishing, furniture and utensils. We found it is ideal as a cane ceiling material. It is harvested, cut, soaked to kill insects, and then dried and treated. The outdoor cane ceilings on the upper terrace and around the pool are all bamboo.

Although mainly used for it’s timber, the Cortez Amarillo, or

Cortez Amarillo Tree
Cortez Amarillo Tree

Golden Trumpet tree, is found all around the grounds of the house and is a spectacular flowering tree in the dry season. It drops it’s leaves and the entire tree turns bright yellow until the flowers fall to the ground, creating a bright yellow glow.

A giant in the rainforest and one of the more unique trees is actually distinguished by it’s

Kapok Tree
Kapok Tree

unusual trunk. The Kapok can grow as much as 13 feet per year and tops out around 200 feet. It has multiple buttresses that sometimes extend 10 feet around its base. It’s wood is lightweight and porous; good for making carvings and canoes. Soaps can be made from it’s oils and other parts of it are used as medicines. Common in Costa Rica, we have also seen it in Brazil, and for indigenous tribes this tree was holy.

There are countless other interesting and beautiful trees but these are a few favorites because many of them are a part of Casa Las Brisas and contribute to the unique beauty of the beach house.

Costa Rica Stands Out As The Best Vacation Destination When Travel Resumes

Family Vacation at Casa Las Brisas

Needless to say, the last few months have been a huge struggle for everyone around the world.  Quarantine at home all alone or with extended family each pose challenges that we have never had to deal with in the past. We have all missed many activities we used to take for granted, and will be ready to embrace again once it is safe to do so. Travel is at the top of the list!

Renowned international media such as Lonely Planet,  Condé Nast Traveler, Matador Network, Canadian Traveler, Profession Voyages, Forbes, El Mundo de España, among others, have highlighted Costa Rica as a destination to consider once the crisis passes. Even Good Morning America highlighted the story of a British family who recreated the Costa Rican rain forest at home after canceling their trip to our country.

Costa Rica is the best country for travelers looking for great experiences. “We are the world leader in nature tourism and the second in adventure tourism, according to the World Economic Forum. The tourist who visits us has a variety of options to do throughout the country. Activities such as canopy zip lining, white water rafting, hiking, surfing and scuba diving are just a few, which are also combined with cultural elements and authentic unique experiences,” said Shirley Calvo, executive director of the National Tourism Chamber (Canatur). This was also reflected in a TripAdvisor ranking in which “Worldwide, Costa Rica proved to be the favorite destination for travel, ranking first in the list of countries”.  – CostaRicaNews.com

When You are Ready to Travel, Casa Las Brisas is Ready for You! Renting a private villa with stunning ocean views is the ideal spot for a family vacation. Having privacy and far less contact with other travelers and staff is a tremendous plus. Balance crowded hotel lobbies, elevators, hotel restaurants and community pool versus having your own spacious vacation home with a huge kitchen, private pool and little to no interaction with others required. Casa Las Brisas is the perfect beach house for your family vacation!

Without a doubt, Costa Rica is a small country that offers big experiences to all. Although we do not know when the social confinement will end, we can assure you that once this period passes, this beautiful country will welcome you with open arms and the warmth and kindness of it’s people.

Playa Flamingo Costa Rica Vacation Home Casa Las Brisas ocean side luxury home.