My wife and I were looking for a Costa Rican experience that would give us exposure to both the natural beauty Costa Rica offers and a true picture of the "pura vida" that is part of the lives of the native Costa Ricans. While searching the internet, I found the Bahia Rica web site and its offer for a very reasonably priced vacation that was an intriguing mix of kayaking and learning Spanish. We decided to go with this interesting mix, and we could not have made a better choice.
I had some Spanish in high school and college (40 years ago) and my wife, Eva, was a beginner. So a class with two students at different levels of speaking ability would be a challenge for any teacher. But Vicky (Vigdis) and Marjorie (a native Costa Rican) did an amazing job of making the learning experience substantial and fun for both of us. Our classroom, under the canopy of trees next to the sea, was clearly the most beautiful classroom either of us had ever experienced. How many classrooms are shared with howler monkeys, a raccoon, hummingbirds, and colorful butterflies? We got many chances to practice our Spanish outside the classroom. We spent an afternoon walking around the town of Paquera with Marjorie, practicing Spanish the entire time. We also went on kayaking adventures with our Costa Rican guide, Juan Jose. Although he spoke only minimal English, he was able to communicate quite effectively with us.
My wife and I are no spring chickens, and we had no kayaking experience. But we were able to go on 4-hour kayaking adventures to both a mangrove swamp and to an island with a colony of spider monkeys. Our guide, Juan Jose, was patient, thoughtful, and a lot of fun. Our time with the spider monkeys left us with some unforgettable memories (see the pictures).
This vacation is not for the faint of heart. There are 258 steps between the open porch setting where we had our meals and our lodging up the hill nestled in the jungle canopy. We shared the lodge with a small group of sports fisherman. There was one shared bathroom. So if you are looking for a luxury resort experience, you might want to look further. But the beauty of the setting was incredible, and the facilities were clean and comfortable. And the care for us was beyond our expectations.
We enjoyed our meals on an open porch dining area below, where Vicky prepared excellent meals. She took extra efforts to accommodate our sensitivities to gluten, and every meal was both nutritious and delicious. Perhaps the best part of every meal was the camaraderie we shared. The fisherman would describe their exciting adventures with Thomas. We would look at pictures they took of some of the amazing fish they caught and released. Because we were a small group, we got a chance to interact more with each other. One night, Thomas and the fishermen took us to a restaurant on the other side of the peninsula. We were glad that we were not the ones driving those roads. But the restaurant setting high on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean was memorable.
Vicky and Thomas are both originally from Norway. A marine biologist, Thomas has a deep understanding and respect for the fish he helps catch (and release). Meals on the porch always involved an interesting mix of English, Spanish, Norwegian, and French. (The wife of a Canadian guest often conversed with Eva in French). Vicky was an amazing multitasker, able to organize excursions, prepare meals, and carry on relaxing conversations all at the same time. Both Vicky and Thomas worked very hard (and successfully) to make our experience and the experience of the other guests the "pura vida" that we will remember as long as our minds are still lumping on all 4 cylinders.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.