Xuan Liu

Idealistic Poker Heroine

Family Vacation to Costa Rica

After WSOP my mom, stepdad, sister and I decided to go on family vacation. I personally just wanted to stay put for a few weeks having just been in Vegas for almost two months and Monaco and Seoul before that, but it was true that our family didn’t spend a lot of “quality” time together and it ended up being one of the best trips we’ve ever had. I’m going to be honest and say that I chose Costa Rica for my own selfish reasons. My lease had just expired in Toronto and my boyfriend and I were considering trying out somewhere warmer for the winter, and Costa Rica was up there on the shortlist.

I had just as much fun researching on where to stay and which beaches to visit as I did while I was actually out for the week. I decided on Guanacaste, the Northwestern area of the country that’s also the sparsest and known for its world-class beaches. I always feel a little weird about going to a small country as a tourist, not knowing the language and reaping the benefits of their land and culture. The people did seem happy and generally unfazed by the foreigners, but I think I would have certainly hesitated before I shared my personal paradise with the world.

We stayed at a beautiful villa steps from the beach and within a half hour drive to about a dozen other gorgeous beaches. We went on hikes through rainforests and visited two different volcanoes, one being the Rincon de la Vieja, literally translated as “The Old Woman’s Corner,” named after an allegory about a girl who became a recluse living on the mountain when her lover was thrown into the crater by her father. What a brilliant way to scare your daughters into obedience! We saw a boy and his dog herding their cattle on the beach and enjoyed tropical treats from the local fruit stand named “Tourist Trap” every day. Other highlights included horseback riding, waterfalls, scenic drives, natural mud masks, being ambushed by butterflies, watching locals teach expats how to surf during low-tide, and frolicking beneath some of the best sunsets possible.

Pura Vida!

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5 comments on “Family Vacation to Costa Rica

  1. worklesslivemoretoday
    September 25, 2013

    I want to go there one day! It’s so beautiful.

  2. Will
    September 25, 2013

    Nice pics Xuan. Spent a cupple weeks in that area (Guanacaste) a year ago, at Villas Playa Samara. Nice little huts right against the beach. Love that country, and they live long lives in that area. Great internet too. Cheap and fast. Took a great day tour up into Nicaragua, and a boat tour of Las Isletas (spl?) on Lake Nicaragua. I could live there – easy =]

    • Xuan
      September 27, 2013

      Thanks Will! I did consider Playa Samara after reading about its hippie-chic vibe, but opted to stay somewhere quieter but still easily accessible. Unfortunately our internet wasn’t impressive, but probably an isolated case since I have mostly gotten positive feedback from others. I would certainly do it again for vacation, but still undecided as to if I’d actually move there. Next time I will be sure to visit Lake Nicaragua as I’ve also heard great things!

      • Will
        September 29, 2013

        Hi Xuan. Actually Playa Samara was fairly quiet – its a few kms from the town of Samara, so it actually feels isolated unless you have a car to get around. Samara is colourful – has a bit of a bazaar feeling on the weekends, but a bit pricy, including the groceries. The oddest thing in Samara is the Pali store which has a guard tower and barbed wire fences lol. As for the net, the wifi at the villa was nonexistent, but I had an ICE (govt run ISP) SIM for my phone, and it worked well all over CR, and into Nicaragua. Not sure if Id ever go back – there is just too much world to see =] A winter would be nice, but another option for you might be Belize (I’m sure you’ve thought of it). English is the mother tongue, and they appear to be friendly to expats =]

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