Stories from Costa Rica. Santa Rosa national park and off-road driving


Monkey in Santa Rosa National park

Monkey in Santa Rosa National park

Our hotel “Villa Baula” is located in one of the locations in Costa Rica where turtles come and hatch their eggs: Playa Grande (It actually is located inside the turtle national par). Unfortunately here the season is over, we are informed. So, it would be the biggest luck to see anything (we tried to go to the beach every night to see something. No results though.)

As this is a place of tranquility and it doesn’t seem that any surf is going on today, after another yet delicious breakfast (made with love) we decide to go to Santa Rosa national park. Ironically, it is more than half way back from Bahia Salinas up in North. During the daylight and knowing the roads takes you to the destination in less time 🙂

View at Playa Naranjo from vista point

View at Playa Naranjo from vista point

Santa Rosa National park

Santa Rosa national park (NP) is first NP in Costa Rica, founded in 1972 to commemorate historic battle fought in March 1856 between the invading forces of American William Walker and a ragtag army of Costa Rican volunteers. It is also the largest national park in the country, protecting a part of the last tropical dry forest in the world, having a various vegetation (e.g. mangroves, oaks, marshlands etc), more than 115 species of mammals, over 10,000 species of insects, 250 species of birds, and around 100 species of amphibians and other reptiles.

It all sounded really exciting and we were really looking forward to the experience. However in the retrospect, we did make a mistake in this trip: we arrived in the park around 11.30. This is the time when heat is picking up and as it was around +36C degrees that day, we did not have any luck with spotting all those various animals….

One of the obstacles on our way was a river

One of the obstacles on our way was a river

Off-road driving

At the entrance park ranger Luis looked at our car and said: “I need to warn you. Road to the beach (11km) is not in a really good shape. Especially in 2 parts it is really tricky to go over. It is your own responsibility to drive there, but I would suggest you to hike.” We felt like having a challenge for our4 wheel drive as at the end of that drive you are supposed to see one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica (I must say I have heard this description of the beach for various beaches over there).

And a challenge it was. The road was almost non existent. It was pure driving on the mud. And dirt. And holes. And piles of sharp rocks. And crossing a river. In total it took us 1.5h to do the 11km. There was a woman that started to hike shortly after we started to drive, I must say that she was not far behind us in the end 🙂


Playa Naranjo

Playa Naranjo

In the end we arrived to the beach. There is a camping there: a place that will make you feel totally cut off from the world, that’s for sure. Everybody was having lunch and hiding under the trees from the heat. We went to the beach. Not the smartest move, must say, as the sand is black on the beach and it was burning hot. Beach itself is gorgeous though. And we had the added benefit that we were the only people there. Totally worth the drive (after getting that adrenaline rush, it was nice to have the beautiful view in the end).

In the end

We decided not to do the 4km hike at the beach (where you should be able to see crocs and other animals) as we had no desire to do the way back in the dark. We returned to the beginning of the park much faster though (when you know that you’ve done the road once, it becomes easier afterwards). Did couple of hikes and saw amazing vegetation as well as group of monkeys playing in the trees. Bare minimum but better than nothing I say 🙂

Photo moments (for more pictures click on the picture)


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