Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Costa Rica Love Hostel: Big adventure on a small budget

April 24, 2015

Rule of thumb of budget travel: If you spend half the money, you can travel twice as far for twice as long. Even millionaires know this trick – for $500, you can spend five nights at a hotel that costs $100 a night, or for $50 a night, you can spend 10 nights.

So when you get into the $6-a-night range, you’re talking 83 nights!

Enter Costa Rica Love Hostel, the budget traveler’s dream deal. Located in Santo Domingo de Heredia, reachable by bus from downtown San José in 20 minutes for pocket change, this low-dollar lodging with the funny name is a bargain in more ways than one.

And in case you’re wondering, it’s just a name – the hostel does not offer free love (or, to answer a question one inquisitive European woman asked, gigolos).

The shared co-ed dorm containing four bunk beds (with a sign on the door that says “Love Doorm”) costs just $6, and prices for private rooms, some with private bathrooms, run a bit higher. A pancake breakfast and all-day coffee are included, plus cable TV, movies, computers, Wi-Fi and the helpful attentions of proprietors Manfred Cordero and his significant otra, Meylinge.

Best of all are the eminently affordable day trips you can take from this spot in Manfred’s Hyundai adventure-mobile, which seats a half-dozen people comfortably, or up to 11 in a pinch.

 

Manfred Cordero leads a group stalking hummingbirds in the Los Angeles cloud forest.

Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

 

We took the Arenal tour ($39 each for four people) — a 12-hour trip that ended up stretching to 16 hours. Departing at 6 a.m., we drove to the famous Arenal Volcano via the little-known Los Angeles Cloud Forest, stopping along the way to stalk hummingbirds.

 

Tour guide Manfred Cordero lets a red poison-dart frog sit on the back of his hand.

Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

 

After a $5 breakfast at a roadside soda, we hung around to watch dozens of oropendolas, the fabulous birds so named because their tails resemble golden pendulums. Just across the road, Manfred caught a red poison-dart frog in his baseball cap, and we all photographed this beautiful but toxic little fellow up close (but not too close).

 

The bridge over the R’ío Pe–ñas Blancas.

Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

 

We stopped at the impressive suspended bridge over the Río Peñas Blancas, where we spotted a three-toed sloth lazing in the trees. We stopped again when we saw a giant, golden male iguana lounging in a tree with a brown female and a baby. And we stopped once more when we saw two sloths in a tree they were sharing with a rainbow-billed toucan.

 

Waterfall and swimming hole just below the Rí’o La Fortuna Bridge.

Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

 

At Río La Fortuna, we had a spectacular swimming hole all to ourselves, with a waterfall, cliff dive and rope swing. The jump from the top of the waterfall is easy — but beware the current that sweeps you toward the rocks, then pulls you under and is reluctant to let go.

“People have died here,” Manfred says. “Drunk people come when it’s raining hard and the current is strong, and there’s a little cave down there.” He points below the waterline of the rocks in the path of the current. “The current can push you in there and hold you there, and you can drown.”

Now he tells us.

 

Visitors soak in the hot Río Chollín near Arenal Volcano.

Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

 

We’ve saved the best for last. After driving past the cloud-shrouded Arenal Volcano and the dammed lake of the same name, we park outside the five-star Tabacón resort and take a short walk to the same attraction that some people are paying big bucks for: the termales, hot springs heated by the magma churning under the big cone up the hill. Only this spring is much bigger, and this one is free.

Pura decadence.

 

IF YOU GO

Getting there: The Costa Rica Love Hostel is located 100 meters east of the Polideportivo sports complex, in a house with a black gate, in Santo Domingo de Heredia. You can get there by bus or taxi from San José.
Phone: (506) 2244-1678
Email: costaricalovehostel@gmail.com
Tours: Arenal (4 people $39 each); Punta Leona Beach, Mantas Beach, Herradura Beach, Jacó Beach, Playa Hermosa (4 people, $32 each); Poás Volcano, La Paz waterfall (4 people, $29 each); Manuel Antonio National Park (4 people, $42 each); 2-day tour of the Caribbean at Cahuita and Puerto Viejo (4 people, $70 each plus food and lodging); 2-day tour of Guanacaste, Tamarindo, Conchal, Flamingo, Baulas National Park (4 people, $75 each, plus food and lodging).

 

Contact Karl Kahler at kkahler@ticotimes.net.

You may be interested

Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Wednesday, October 28
Costa Rica
5952 views
Costa Rica
5952 views

Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Wednesday, October 28

Alejandro Zúñiga - October 28, 2020

Costa Rica announced 11 new coronavirus-related deaths over the last day for a total of 1,340, according to official data…

Nicaragua to impose jail time for spreading what government deems ‘false news’
Costa Rica
913 views
Costa Rica
913 views

Nicaragua to impose jail time for spreading what government deems ‘false news’

Blanca MOREL / AFP - October 28, 2020

The Nicaraguan congress approved on Tuesday a cybercrime law, baptized by the opposition as a "gag" law, which imposes jail…

Death toll rises to 30 due to liquor adulterated with methanol
Costa Rica
2783 views
Costa Rica
2783 views

Death toll rises to 30 due to liquor adulterated with methanol

AFP - October 28, 2020

At least 30 people have died in recent weeks in Costa Rica from the consumption of alcoholic beverages adulterated with…