Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Costa Rica Day 3: Nauyaca Falls & Dominical

I'm days behind in my blogging. Our schedule each day has been perfectly full: big activities in the mornings, with lazy afternoons discovering new local restaurants and even lazier evenings spent by the pool. The internet is super slow, I started a new book series I downloaded before leaving Texas, and the sun sets so early (and rises so early) that going to bed at 8:10 p.m. the last two nights has seemed entirely reasonable. In short, it's been perfect and we are all so in love with this beautiful place.

But writing about our vacations is one of my joys of taking vacation and we really must discuss our first full day on the beautiful central Pacific coast of the country. We woke up at 7:30 a.m. to monkeys chattering outside and the sun already high in the sky. Our plan was to drive to Nauyaca Falls about 15 minutes away from Dominicalito where we are staying and, per TripAdvisor review recommendations, pay for a truck to drive us the 4 km and back to the falls. It was thought the truck left on the hour, so I hoped to be there by 8, but we got caught in the beauty of the rental house property in the morning light and rolled in closer to 9 instead.

master shower!

And... discovered that the truck wasn't running. You could walk though- 4 km each way, very steep inclines, hot and humid jungle conditions, with TripAdvisor telling us it was a terrible idea. We looked at the kids, looked at each other, and decided we've been training them their whole lives for just this moment. A beautiful destination requiring a tough hike to get there -- let's do this.

The woman at the desk was skeptical, but we paid our $8/person entry fee and set out. I had a small camelpak backpack we'd decided at the last minute to bring, James had the larger backpack with two water bottles, snacks we'd brought from home (granola bars, peanut butter crackers), microfiber towels that fold up very small (possibly my best purchase for this trip, we've used them daily), and bug spray and sunscreen. Plus our ever-present mini first aid kit. We were all wearing our water-hiking shoes I'd bought on clearance for $6 at Target right before we left (well the girls were Target clearance; Landon's were $9 clearance at Academy; James's were an REI garage sale purchase; and mine had been bought from DSW on super clearance for $15 2 years ago and had been waiting patiently to be used ever since). In the end, this was the perfect packing list.

And so we hiked. It wasn't difficult hiking- there was a well-worn path to follow, but the jungle humidity plus the steep inclines and declines definitely made it seem longer than the 4 km. There was a sign every 1 km to give you hope and also make you realize you hadn't gone nearly as far as you thought! But it was beautiful and the kids were troopers and I'm so glad we were forced to save the $140 on the truck ride we didn't need. Halfway there is a stop with water and drinks to purchase and a small sanctuary with a parrot, peacocks, and a bunch of monkeys running around in the trees overhead. Then you go down a narrow path to see the long falls first.

By now we were DRIPPING in sweat. Or "SO MUCH SWEATY" as Cora kept telling us.

But the falls were spectacular and beautiful and totally worth the sweat dripping down my nose.

Then we pressed on to the lower falls. We walked down a narrow set of natural stairs (tree roots), turned the corner, and BAM. Gorgeousness.

It's important as you see these pictures that when I showed them to James later that night, the first thing he said was, "aw man, you can't tell how amazing they are at all." And it's true. Pictures do not even come close. This was the most beautiful place I've ever seen in real life.

The water was freezing and bright blue. The falls were ROARING. The current was strong.

We jumped in immediately.

Brave little Cora jumped off the ledge near the falls with James. Then the big kids went with him.

James climbed closer to the falls and said the water was "intense." I tried to take a picture,

but you can barely see him through the spray. We were both yelling to each other from a few feet away and neither of us could hear a word the other said.

Much more jumping and swimming later and James towed the big kids over to the other side.

More jumping ensued.

Cora took a snack break while I did some swimming.

I just couldn't get over how spectacular it all was... how is this real?

We did some more hiking and climbing down river a bit before drying off and putting our hiking clothes back over our suits to begin the long hike back.

A monkey came out to encourage Cora at a low point. ("Daddy I am just all done walking." 2 km to go.)

We made it to the end, and headed back towards the house, with plans to get lunch in Dominical and see the beach.

We ate at a little cafe just before the beach. The kids had homemade bagels with avocado spread, I had a chicken roll that was a flaky delicious pastry filled with seasoned chicken and potato, and James had about 4 different things, all devoured. They gave us a slice of their famous banana bread to go (amazing) and we headed down towards the water.

Landon was VERY excited about all the little tables of souvenirs set up by local craftsman but as we were browsing a local told us someone had spied dolphins off the beach. Everyone (including all the locals selling their wares) ran over to the water and we were treated to the sight of a big pod of dolphins jumping and surfacing along the water. It was magic.

We walked back to the tables with the locals (I adore the idea that everyone just stops what they're doing to watch dolphins whenever they pop up during the day), the girls played in the surf a bit more, and then we headed home, stopping in our little market to pick up some more groceries for dinner. We went with pasta and jarred sauce- too tired and too full from lunch to think any harder about it. But with the bright yellow local butter on toast and the unnamed local cheese to put on top, it still had some Costa Rican flavor.

The kids swam. I wrote the blog post about our travels. James napped. We ate.

And everyone was in bed at 7:30 p.m., wiped out from the day but ready for the next day's canopy zip line tour adventures! But Nauyaca Falls, we'll never forget you.


  1. Long time reader from California, currently sitting in a rental house in Quepos!! So close to you, yet still so far away!! Loving Costa Rica! Hoping Landon sees lots of sloths, surely you are headed to Manuel Antonio? (OMG, so crowded, but we did see 4 sloths, including a baby!!). Pura Vida!!

  2. What a great family photo there at the end. Looks like an amazing trip--very well suited to your fam's adventurous spirit!