The Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica is a wild and rugged corner of the world, home to one of the most biologically intense and diverse ecosystems on the planet. While we absolutely love the simplicity and comfort of hanging out at The Fusion Home and being surrounded by the jungle, if you’re planning on staying here for more than a couple days you might be curious and want to explore a bit.
The Fusion Home and the Finca Bellavista community are located in the heart of Costa Rica's "Southern Zone" and are a great jumping off point to explore the area. There is so much to do in this part of the country, although the region remains relatively unexplored by tourists - which is why it’s so much more appealing to us! Here you can explore world famous National Parks, swim under epic waterfalls, surf, fish, snorkel, and beach-comb to your heart’s content. Although we haven’t done nearly everything on offer, we do have a few favorites as far as day trips go.
Here’s our line-up of our favorite day trips from The Fusion Home, in no particular order...
Beach Day Option #1 - Playa Hermosa, Uvita
Distance: 1.5 hour drive from The Fusion Home
If you’re like me and need your beach time in order to maintain a balanced self, you’ll love the pristine, palm-tree lined shores of Playa Hermosa. You really can’t go wrong with any of the beaches along the Costa Ballena, however we prefer Playa Hermosa because parking is free, they have lifeguards on duty, the beach is never crowded, and it’s an absolutely gorgeous setting.
Playa Hermosa is the beach on the Northern side of the famous “Whale’s Tail” which is a really cool natural quirk where two beaches come together and at low tide the rock and sand from these beaches makes a whale tail (Google it and you’ll see what I’m talking about!). At Playa Hermosa you can park your car in the shade of the almond trees that line the beach, grab a pipa fría and some ceviche from one of the local vendors, and have yourself a day.
Pelicans and scarlet macaws can often be spotted flying overhead, and if you’re lucky and you’re here during whale season you might even get to see some humpback whales from the shore. The waves and the current at Playa Hermosa can get strong, especially at high tide, but the Costa Ballena Lifeguards will be on duty to keep a watchful eye over swimmers, surfers, and boogie boarders.
Tip: Use common sense with your belongings and don’t leave any valuables on the beach or visible in your car (and lock up your car!). We’ve never had such an experience, however we have heard of people getting their phones and wallets stolen while playing in the waves.
Restaurant recommendations: Mosaic Wine Bar & Cafe is our favorite place for sushi and drinks after playing in the waves. They have a great cocktail and wine menu, and in addition to fabulous sushi rolls they also offer delicious paninis,
salads, and cheese boards (YUM!), not to mention the most lovely owners and staff. If you’re more in the mood for pizza, you can’t go wrong making a stop at Pizza Time in Uvita. This authentic Italian pizza is some of the best pizza we’ve had in all of Costa Rica, and the people who work there are wonderful.
Beach Day Option #2 - Playa Cacao and Playa Puntarenitas, Golfito
Distance: 50 minute drive from The Fusion Home + 10 minute water taxi across the bay
Both Playa Cacao and Playa Puntarenitas are perfect for families with young children or anyone who wants to swim and float to their heart’s content without stressing about big waves or rip currents. Both of these Golfito beaches are local favorites and great spots for enjoying the warm waters of the Golfo Dulce, or “Sweet Gulf” in English. They are located across the bay from the waterfront in Golfito, so once you arrive in town you will need to organize a water taxi to bring you to one of the beaches (usually around $5/person).
We recommend stopping in at the Mar y Luna restaurant to organize your water taxi. Playa Cacao has a restaurant that serves local fare including patacones (fried plantains) and cold beer, and Playa Puntarenitas also has a small spot or two to grab a cold beer and some fried fish.
Restaurant recommendations: If you don’t opt for a freshly caught fried fish and patacones while on the beach, the Mary y Luna restaurant is a great option right on the water as you enter the town of Golfito, with a menu featuring lots of seafood options. If you use Mar y Luna as your starting point you can park your car there and they can help you organize a boat taxi to the beaches mentioned above, then swing back for lunch and a cocktail on the way out. We also love Banana Bay, and if you’re interested in sport fishing, they can organize days trips for you.
What to bring/wear: Your swimsuit, of course! Also sandals, a water bottle, sunscreen, towel, cover-up, sunglasses and/or a hat. And, if you prefer to bask in the sun and absorb vitamin D versus lounging in the shade of the palm trees then make sure that you reapply SPF throughout the day!
Epic Waterfalls & Swimming Holes
Sylvan Falls, Rio Claro
Distance: 40-45 minute drive from The Fusion Home
The waterfall at Finca Bellavista is a great spot to hang out, and it’s only a 15 minute hike from The Fusion Home (score!). But, if you want to really take it to the next level and check out an even bigger local waterfall and some amazing natural swimming holes, you must go visit Sylvan Falls!
We cannot speak highly enough of this hidden gem - it’s owned by a friend of ours, biologist and naturalist Fiona Reid, who also owns the beautiful "El Fenix" treehouse here at Finca Bellavista.
Sylvan Falls offers entries to the property twice per day, at 8:30am and 1:00pm. Final exit for day visits is at 5:00pm, and you can also opt to stay overnight in one of their simple cabins. The proceeds help Fiona and her team with their conservation efforts and biological studies. Check out their website for more information, and click here to read about visiting options. Edit: A link to the Sylvan Falls Airbnb experience has been added to the end of this blog!
What to bring/wear: A swimsuit and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet, closed-toed shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, and/or water shoes for hiking to/from the falls. Towel, bug spray, a change of clothes.
Piedras Blancas National Park
Distance: 25 minute drive from The Fusion Home
This is pretty embarrassing, but we have to be honest and admit that even though this is the closest point of interest that we recommend for a day trip, we have yet to go explore Piedras Blancas National Park at the time I am typing this in September 2019 (and I am cringing writing this out of shame!). We felt compelled to keep PBNP on the list even though we have yet to visit because it’s so darn close to The Fusion Home, we’ve heard great things from people who have explored the park (like it’s one of the best places for bird watching in Costa Rica), and the species list is almost identical to that of Corcovado National Park (see below!). We promise that we’re going to visit soon and will be able to dedicate an entire post to visiting and exploring Piedras Blancas National Park.
Corcovado National Park
Distance: 1 hour drive to Sierpe + 1 hour boat transfer (part of the experience!)
Corcovado National Park is the largest national park in Costa Rica, and is a truly wild place. National Geographic has stated that this park is one of the world’s most biologically intense places when it comes to biodiversity, and it has also been named among the top 10 best national parks in the world.
Visiting Corcovado on a day trip takes a bit of extra effort - aka waking up early, driving to a small town called Sierpe located about 1 hour North of the Fusion Home, and taking a boat ride through the mangroves - but the effort is well worth it.
We once had some guests who went on a day trip and got to see a puma in Corcovado - we were so upset we didn’t join them that day! However, the species list that we've seen in Corcovado includes tapirs, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, collared peccaries, three-toed sloths, caimans, white-nosed coati, and so many other species of birds, reptiles, and insects.
We highly recommend a tour company called "La Perla del Sur" in Sierpe. In addition to Corcovado Park tours, we have also done other day trips through La Perla del Sur that have included snorkeling at Caño Island, whale and dolphin watching, tours through the mangroves - and we 100% recommend them all!
What to bring/wear: Quick dry/athletic garments, closed-toed shoes that you don’t mind getting wet/muddy, bug spray, sunglasses and/or a hat for the boat transfer to Corcovado
A note about cameras/electronics: Bring at your own risk! All of these spots are more than photo-worthy and of course you’ll be wanting to snap lots of great content for your Instagram stories, but just keep in mind that you’re coming to a hot, wet, humid, and overall pretty unforgiving climate when it comes to electronics. We bring our phone almost everywhere we go to snap photos, but we’ve also had some close calls. Detachment is key...
Transportation Note: It can be a bit tricky to go out on day trips by relying on public transport or taxis. For this reason if you’re keen to explore the local areas during your stay, we highly recommend coming with a rental car. Remember, it must be 4x4 to access Finca Bellavista!
Interested in experiencing off-grid living in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, or learning more about the Finca Bellavista community in general? You can book a stay at the Fusion Home or any of the other rental homes at Finca Bellavista. If you have at least two weeks and really want to get your hands dirty, check out the Finca Bellavista volunteer program!
Other Relevant Links: