The Peaceful Paradise of La Fortuna

As part of our family sabbatical in Costa Rica we decided to spend a week in La Fortuna. I loved our Airbnb here so much I wish we had stayed there at least a month.

The Dream House By The Water

Ajay had booked the most perfect Airbnb that backed onto a river. The house itself was basic but had all the essentials. In the backyard it had a sheltered deck with a hammock and rocking chairs. I spent most of my time here writing. From the rocking chair I’d listen to the river and lookout at the jungle across the way. 


Here we’re eating a yummy trifle like dessert that they sell in the supermarkets. It has a sponge base covered in condensed milk with cream on top, but each trifle had a different picture on it – hmmmm… yummm I wish I had some now. I didn’t get to try a home made version but I’m sure it would’ve been way better.

Ajay enjoyed ordering this typical Costa Rican lunch dish which has rice, a curried chicken, beans and salsa.

Arenal Volcan – A Dormant Volcano

The local volcano Arenal used to be active, smoking every few days up until a couple of years ago. It was a major tourist attraction for La Fortuna. Now there are still old lava trails to explore. The volcano is a perfect conical shape but often is hidden by clouds, so we were lucky to catch a photo of it’s top. One afternoon it looked like clouds were smoke coming out of the crater.

I like stopping at cemeteries because it gives a flavour for the local cultural and religious practices. We too these photos of Arenal from a cemetery.


Costa Rica seems to have a big dairy and beef industry which, again, reminded us of New Zealand landscapes.

Rio Chollin – Local Thermal Springs

While Arenal Volcan is not active, it is still a source of thermal activity heating up some local streams and rivers. Many of the hot spots – pun intended – are occupied by resorts but a couple are still free for the public. We took a dip in Rio Chollin and spent hours there. The water was a perfect bathing temperature. It was like finding that sweet spot in Hot Water Beach (NZ) where cool ocean water has warmed up your little pool.

The river itself is rocky so carrying the two little ones across while balancing myself in the knee-deep current was entertaining. We found a nice spot where it was shady so the kids wouldn’t get sunburnt and deep enough for us to sit comfortably or float with the current without banging a rock. There was also a spot where we could massage our head and shoulders under the force of the gushing river.

Bird Watching

After the concrete cities of Cancun (a city in Mexico) and San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica), our Airbnb in La Fortuna felt like a bird watching oasis. We did a lot of bird watching from our beautiful backyard that was right next to a river. On the other side of the river was untouched jungle. Our garden was filled with flowers and the neighbours had big trees that birds loved to visit. It became our ritual early in the morning and late in the afternoon to take photos of the different varieties we saw. That tended to be when there were more of them around our place.

Our host laid bananas on the other side of the fence (next to the cliff) where he knew birds would come and feed on it so we could easily take photos. The wire is the fence that stopped the kids from running to edge of the cliff.

Machetes and Coconuts

Our host showed us places to setup fruit that the birds would want to eat so that we could capture photos of them. He put out bananas and pineapple. On another note, fruit in Costa Rica was so easily accessible. Because the fruits were usually produced in the same region where we bought them, they were juicy too. Imagine fresh mango, watermelon, pineapple, coconut, cas, golden melon, rock melon, melon, strawberries, and more while sitting in a rocking chair listening to a gushing river.

Our host also gave us a machete and coconuts so that we could have fresh coconut water and then open up the coconuts to eat the flesh. I didn’t quite get the technique so I ended up with a lot of coconut fibre in the juicy coconut fruit. Giselle had a few go’s too.

Here’s me relaxing with with my coconut water and this is Ajay’ artwork inspired by the way I tried to smash a coconut with a machete.

Humming Birds

The first two mornings had us waking up at dawn, long before the sun was shining through the jungle on the other side of the river. It was thanks to Lui who likes to wake as soon as light hits the room. I took him outside because it was warm enough to sit on the sheltered deck that had two rocking chairs. We got distracted as we unlocked the back door because there were hummingbirds feeding on the flowers in front of us. They were different colours to the ones we had seen at La Paz. Unfortunately all our photos were blurry.


We were fortunate to spot these toucans in the neighbour’s tree. Can you spot them in these photos? On another note, our neighbour was our Airbnb’s host’s parents. They were so lovely, one day they came and dropped freshly squeezed cass juice to us. The fruit looked like a lemon but it tasted like a guava.


Vultures graciously circle the skies and glide low across the river at this place. Sometimes they would rest on the rocks by the water or the branch of tree. These birds are very common in the La Fortuna area. Unfortunately we didn’t get great photos of them.


Here in Costa Rica we have seen the house lizards but what fascinated us more was this green iguana. It blended with the grass so well we didn’t notice it. Ajay spotted it at our Airbnb in La Fortuna. 

As we all darted towards it, it obviously ran away. A few minutes later Carmelo spotted it on the tree when he was bird watching. It has a big spike on its back that can be mistaken for the leaf of a tree.


Insects in Costa Rica can be much bigger than in New Zealand. One time I was out the back with the light on, talking on the phone and a big beetle dropped right next to me. It freaked me out but I didn’t move. It was on it’s back so I thought I better gather some courage and turn it over. I wasn’t very brave so I decided to put objects next to it so that it could turn itself over. After a few minutes it was walking away. Then suddenly it flew over my head and I realised it was trapped and couldn’t get out of the caged area I was in. It buzzed into my hair and out again. I ran inside! So much for my bravery 🙂

The dragon files are colourful here. We spotted a blue one and one with a red stripe it’s back. There are also creatures that look like weta’s here.

River Exploring

Although the river had private homes beside it, we were allowed to go down and play in it because most of the village was owned by the host’s family members. Our first time walking down there we spotted a Racoon. Although it was called a river during the dry season it was a shallow and fast moving stream. Our first day at the Airbnb, there were diggers moving rocks from the river and building a wall in preparation for the rainy season when the stream turns into an overflowing river. The wall went up at least a metre. This gave us an indication of how swamped Costa Rica becomes during the rainy season.


Our Airbnb was so magical I didn’t want to leave it. Even with it’s sketchy internet our teens, along with Ajay and I, enjoyed creating and expanding in our chosen hobbies. Meanwhile our two under five’s kept up the chasing game that they started in Isla Mujeres. This La Fortuna house by the river definitely created a magical ambience that inspired us to pursue our passions.

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