by Gene Muchanski,
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
Have you ever been in the mood for something different? Well, after 40 years of diving, I was. It was close to Thanksgiving and Dana and I were looking for another dive trip to go on. Being in the diving business, you can imagine that my office looks something like a mix between a well-stocked library and an old attic, filled with diving catalogs and brochures of every imaginable exotic dive destination on the planet. After many hours of deliberation and a number of phone calls to our dive travel friends, we decided to go some place that was different and exotic, yet convenient; some place that had other things to do besides great diving; some place that we have never been to before; and some place where we knew somebody (so we could celebrate Thanksgiving with friends).
A quick phone call to Cheryl Arscott at Dive Reservation Services, Inc. did the trick. Cheryl said, “Why don’t you go see your good friends Bill & Nadine Beard from Bill Beard’s Costa Rica? After the customary, “Why didn’t I think of that?”, Cheryl turned us over to Betty Tsitrian to book the trip. Betty had just returned from a Travel Agents FAM trip to Costa Rica and got to see everything, go everywhere and met everyone. Betty took care of all of our arrangements and was fantastic on every little detail of the trip. All we had to do was tell her when we wanted to leave and when we wanted to return. Betty took it from there.
Bill Beard’s Costa Rica was the perfect choice. Bill has been running adventure tours in Costa Rica for 38 years, so we knew we were in good hands. Their web site tells the whole story: http://www.billbeardcostarica.com We booked our flight with Continental Airlines out of Houston Bush International. The flight was a 3 hour 35 minute direct, non-stop flight into Liberia, Costa Rica (Central Costa Rica). After a quick 20 minute drive to Playa Hermosa, on the Pacific Northwest side of Costa Rica, we arrived at our Hotel, Villa del Sueno. In playa Hermosa, you have your choice of many different types of hotels, all of them close to the beach. The fresh fish dinner that evening in Villa del Sueno’s restaurant was excellent, and with the favorable exchange rate, a good value for our money, too.
For the next two days we dove with Bill & Nadine Beard off the coast of Playa Hermosa, with Ocotol Beach Resort’s diving operation. Diving on the west coast of Costa Rica reminded me of diving in California, only warmer. The boats we used were all professionally run with a Captain and two Divemasters. Our Divemaster was an experienced Diver and very charismatic. But aren’t all Divemasters? The Divemasters at Ocotol actually get in the water with you and act as underwater guides. They even take your gear back to the dive shop and wash it for you. What a great dive staff!
We wanted to see as much of Costa Rica that we could, so Betty set us up with a driver, Edgar Cuadra Cespedes, to take us to the Arenal Volcano. Thanks to Edgar’s expert knowledge of the area and his great personality, we learned so much about Costa Rica and saw an incredible amount of the country side. Believe me, having a private tour guide is the best way to see Costa Rica. The three hour van ride was filled with a ton of things to see and do. We had an enjoyable ride and saw a number of volcanos and ecidence of their past eruptions. Edgar took us to a zoo, where we got to see some of the local animals up close and personal. After lunch in a great café, we were on our way to Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa. No, there is nothing like having a room with a direct view of an active volcano, just up the hill from your room. You can actually view the volcano from the safety (?) of your in-room spa, enjoying a glass of wine! We decided to end the evening with a dinner and an eight-hot spring pools and hydro-massage experience at the hotel-owned Spa, Titoku.
The next day was action packed from morning till night. Betty and Edgar must have thought we were 20 year olds or something, with the way they packed our schedule. After breakfast we experienced a horse back ride to the tree top canopy area and had the thrill of our lives on the zip-line canopy tour. YaaaHooo! We toured a rain forest national park and hiked for miles at the Arenal Volcano National Park. After dinner were just too tired to go dancing so we opted for a soak in our in-room spa…overlooking an active volcano, of course. Aaahhh.
The last morning at the Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa was reserved for breakfast at Heliconias Restaurant and a spa treatment for Dana at Nedin Spa. Right on time, Edgar picked us up for another exciting tour back to Play Hermosa, filled with frequent stops to see a Toucan, a howling monkey or God knows what else! Edgar was definitely fun and full of surprises.
We ended up leaving Costa Rica with hundreds of photographs and an experience that will have to be repeated soon. Very soon. Like they say, “come for the Beauty, Stay fr the Adventure.” Thank you Bill, Nadine, Edgar, Cheryl and Betty. It was an experience of a lifetime. Purra Vida! (Pure Life).