Bioluminescent Kayaking – Adventures in Costa Rica’s Glowing Waters

There are a few moments in everyone’s life where they can’t believe what they’re experiencing. Our first-time bioluminescent kayaking was one of those moments. Words simply can’t express the feeling of floating on the ocean watching the water and sky literally light up around you.

Bioluminescent kayaking is like paddling through an endless wave of stars. Blue and white swirls dance in the waters below, and the Milky Way shines down from above. It’s a once in a lifetime experience you can’t truly comprehend until you try.

Our biggest regret is not being able to share exactly what we saw during our trip. While the bioluminescence is bright, the light it produces is fleeting. Try as we might, we were unable to catch it on camera. It’s one of those things you just have to see to believe and we know the perfect place: Bahia Rica.

While in Costa Rica, we had the opportunity to work with Bahia Rica and try out their bioluminescent kayaking tour. This was a sponsored outing, but the sponsorship in no way affects our opinions or subsequent review of the tour.

Hey there! Don’t forget to pin our review of the Bahia Rica for later 🙂

What Causes Bioluminescence?

Strangely enough bioluminescent waters exist around the globe almost year-round. However, few places have the perfect mix of temperature, water depth, and concentration to visibly display the trait. Bahia Rica, located on the Gulf of Nicoya, happens to be one of those magical spots where everything comes together perfectly and the waters visibly glow.

Tiny plankton line the waters surrounding Bahia Rica. The microorganisms are excited by touch and movement, meaning every stroke of the paddle, crashing wave, and hand trailing in the water, lights up the plankton. The intensity of this light can vary but during our tour it was comparable to that of a glow stick.

While the bio water is present year-round, cloudy and moonless nights make for the best bioluminescent kayaking. Bahia Rica clearly organizes their reservations into two groups: Full Moon Kayaking and Bioluminescent Kayaking tours. These tours are dependent on the lunar cycle and how bright the bioluminescence will be.

Bioluminescent Water in Costa Rica

Some of the world’s most famous bioluminescent bays exist in Puerto Rico. Laguna Grande, Mosquito Bay, and La Parguera all call Puerto Rico home. These famed bio bays have created a “must see” attraction. Tourists flock to the bays and prices for a bioluminescent kayaking tour are consistently increasing.

Luckily, in the Gulf of Nicoya these bio bays remain unspoiled. The trip to Paquera, the epicenter of the bioluminescent waters in Costa Rica, is not for everyone. Coming from San José requiress a few hours of highway driving and a 70-minute ferry ride across the Gulf. The journey itself manages to scare off many of the would-be visitors.  As such, tour prices are lower, group sizes smaller, and the bioluminescence remains undisturbed longer.

Bioluminescent Kayaking at Bahia Rica

We were lucky enough to arrive at Bahia Rica a few hours before our bioluminescent kayaking tour started. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Thomas and Vicky, the owners, and a few rambunctious monkeys. They line the trees on the property and seem to be just as intrigued by our presence as us of theirs.

While we waited for the tour to begin, we sprawled out on the hammocks and watched the sun set over the mountains across the bay. Somehow with the fading light, Bahia Rica became even more magical, and we hadn’t even seen the bioluminescence yet!

Finally, after the sun had set and it was well and dark, we got into our kayaks and paddled out. We quickly rounded a bend along the coast and could begin to see faint sparks lighting up the water.

As we drifted from cove to cove the intensity of the bioluminescence would ebb and flow. From light blue sparks there and gone in an instant, to full blue tidal waves shimmering off into the depths. As the night continued, we reached more and more impressive blooms of bioluminescence. At some points it was so spectacularly bright we could physically hold the glowing water in our hands.

After about an hour we pointed our kayaks towards home. Little blue trails whispered behind us as we left Costa Rica’s bioluminescent waters behind. We were tired but thrilled!

Final Thoughts on Bahia Rica

Ultimately, we can’t express how incredible the bioluminescent kayaking was. It’s something we highly encourage everyone try at least once. If you’re in Costa Rica you’d be hard pressed to find a better experience than the time we spent with Bahia Rica.

They limit group sizes so you can have a personal experience, are incredibly affordable, and offer a true taste of Costa Rica. Bahia Rica also offers chartered fishing trips, paddleboard rentals, snorkeling tours, cabin rentals, and much more. No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for in Costa Rica, Bahia Rica needs to be on your bucket list.

So please let us know in the comments below… Where are your favorite places to visit in Costa Rica? Have you ever tried bioluminescent kayaking? Still have questions or comments, let us know! Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!

Almost forgot? Remember to pin our Review of Bahia Rica for later!

Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls— Fast Facts Guide to Waterfalls in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to dozens and dozens of waterfalls– some internationally famous, others known only to the locals, all equally as beautiful. So if you decide to chase the very real, very breathtaking waterfalls in Costa Rica, deciding which ones to add to your list can be difficult! (Can’t you just add all of them?!) That’s why we put together our travel guide to Costa Rica’s best waterfalls!

 

Nothing worth having is ever easy to get, so why should waterfalls worth seeing be easy to get to either? (Hint: They’re not!) Some of Costa Rica’s best waterfalls are easier to get to than others, but hiking is half of the fun! Plus, waterfalls in Costa Rica look better without man-made structures built up all around them, so the hike is worth the unimpeded view 🙂

To start off, Costa Rica’s best waterfalls will be listed from the MOST accessible to the LEAST accessible. We’ll even throw in the entrance fee (as of September, 2018) for you penny-pincher travelers (like Jacob and I). If you’re feeling extra amazing, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…

Pin our top 5 picks for Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls!

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Magia Blanca Waterfall— One of the Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Located an hour-and-a-half north of San José, in Alajuela Providence, Magia Blanca is just one of five waterfalls at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. A tranquil 0.8 mile walk on a paved trail will take you through the Costa Rican jungle to see all of the waterfalls. There are stairs, but you only have to go down. A shuttle will pick you up at the bottom and bring you back up to the top!

Dropping 120 feet, Magia Blanca (White Magic), is the tallest of the five waterfalls. Although all are beautiful, Magia Blanca is so beautiful it almost looks unreal! The unequivocal beauty alone makes this one of Costa Rica’s best waterfalls. The trail is set up so you can take pictures with the jungle in the background, and there are never any tourists in your photo– how great!!

La Paz Waterfall Gardens also offers several different attractions, including: restaurants, lodging, butterfly observatory, Trout Lake (swim, fish, or catch dinner!), historical “Casita” farmhouse, an animal sanctuary, and a pool. There truly is something for everyone here, regardless of age or mobility level.

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Río Celeste Waterfall— Second on our List of Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Arguably the bluest of waterfalls in Costa Rica, Río Celeste (Celeste River) is about four hours northwest of San José. The waterfall is located in Tenorio National Park, at the base of the Tenorio Volcano. Although there are many different things to see in the 31,794-acre park, the waterfall is just one mile from the parking lot on a paved path. Unfortunately, you can’t swim here, even though the blue water looks so inviting!

Due to the popularity of the park, only 1,200 visitors are allowed in per day, and only 400 on the trail at one time. So to secure your spot and ensure you get to see this gorgeous location, arrive early!

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

La Fortuna Waterfall— Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls are Worth the Hike

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Located three hours northwest of San José, at the base of the dormant Chato Volcano and near Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna— The Fortune– is one of the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica. A 20 minute hike down steps through the jungle will allow you views of the 246-foot waterfall from many angles. And the best part? You can swim at the base of the waterfall when you make it down, it’s just chilly!

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Los Chorros Waterfall— One of the Most Hidden Waterfalls in Costa Rica

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

The locals hide some of Costa Rica’s best waterfalls for themselves (I mean, who can blame them!) Los Chorros (The Jets), located an hour northwest of San José, is tucked away into the Costa Rican countryside. To get there from San José, we had to take two separate buses in order to get to the city of Grecia, and then walk 1.5 miles (uphill!) to get to the entrance of the park. Of course, many stopped and offered us a ride– but for a price– so we sucked it up and walked. And my, oh my, was the difficulty of finding this place worth it!

We were the only foreigners there, you could swim in the water (although it was freezing) and climb the waterfall (at your own risk!).

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Fundación Dúrika— One of the Coolest Waterfalls in Costa Rica

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Good luck finding this waterfall, because It. Was. Hidden. Fundación Dúrika is an ecovillage located almost 5 hours southeast of San José in the Puntarenas Providence. Hidden way up in the Talamanca Mountains, Dúrika is a self-sustaining community that is accessible only by an hour drive in a 4WD vehicle from the city of Buenos Aires.

Once in Dúrika, we were taken on a hike to this waterfall (which either doesn’t have a name or we don’t remember it… it’s THAT secluded). From the bottom, it just looks like any old waterfall, but upon hiking up to the top of it, there’s an entire “infinity pool” you can hang out in! The pool isn’t extremely deep, nor is the water running extremely fast, but it is nice and cold if you want to take a relaxing dip!

It is usually more than a one-day trip, so lodging and a restaurant are located on site.

Hint: this waterfall is Walk 3, located here.

There are hundreds of waterfalls in Costa Rica so finding Costa Rica's best waterfalls may seem impossible. That's why we made this amazing Costa Rica travel guide- Costa Rica's Best Waterfalls- so they aren't hard to find anymore! If you're looking for things to do in Costa Rica, planning a trip to Costa Rica, or just love looking at Costa Rica travel guides you'll love our post. Be sure to let us know which of the waterfalls in Costa Rica you like the most!

Of course, there are hundreds of spectacular waterfalls in Costa Rica. When each and every one makes you stop and say “wow” it’s nearly impossible to choose your favorite. These were just our picks for Costa Rica’s best waterfalls. Let us know which waterfall was your favorite! Have you ever been to Costa Rica? Would you visit any of these waterfalls if you go?

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Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan – How to Stay Like a Local in Japan

We have yet to visit Japan but we still find ourselves constantly wondering, “What to do in Japan?” or “Where to stay in Japan?”. Our good friend Sarah recently had the opportunity to stay at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan and she wrote an amazing review for us to share with you. Hope you enjoy, and as always, remember to comment and share. God Bless!

Sarah is the person behind the travel and lifestyle blog “Fernwehsarah – a guide to travel the world“.  She calls herself a “Travel-a-holic” and aims to inspire others to travel more often. On her blog and her Instagram account she shares travel inspirations as well as destination guides and travel hacks in both German and English. The young, Berlin City Girl, loves traveling to unspoiled beaches, eating regional food and connecting with the locals. So far Sarah has been to over 50 countries and does not plan to stop soon. You can follow her journeys and the search for the experience of a lifetime on various social media channels!

Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan – How to Stay Like a Local in Japan.

When I was in Japan this time I decided that it was finally time to stay at a real Japanese Ryokan!

So, after some research, I decided in favor of the Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku Ryokan. Takaragawa Onsen is part of the Minakami Onsen region in Gunma preference – and it’s often rated as being one of the best Onsen in whole Japan! And the Osenkaku Ryokan is the only Ryokan at Takaragawa Onsen!

Since I wanted you to be able to share the experience, I wrote this review and took a vlog about my stay there! If you are not keen on videos – just move on!

So what’s a Japanese Ryokan?

Essentially, a Ryokan is a traditional guesthouse with Japanese rooms (I’ll explain what that means later) that usually serves dinner and breakfast as well. The rate you pay is usually per person, not per room, as the food is included.

So even if a Ryokan might looks expensive in the beginning, it can actually be a very fair price. Think of how much a really good Japanese dinner can cost!

Some Ryokans come with an Onsen, a naturally heated spa pool. If it’s an outdoor Onsen, it is also called Rotemburo. Usually nowadays, Onsen are gender-separated – but some are also mixed gender (konjaku), essentially making them more attractive to western visitors. 😉

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What makes Takaragawa Onsen and the Ryokan Osenkaku special?

I did a fair amount of research before deciding on which Ryokan to stay in because it can be complicated for foreigners sometimes.

Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku is used to western visitors though and has an English website as well as English speaking staff members. They are listed on Booking.com and Agoda and they have an Onsen.

Wait, not any Onsen. Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku actually has four Rotemburos and two inside Onsen. And one of their outside Onsen is the biggest rotemburo  in whole Japan!

Aaaand they are mixed-gender  – so I didn’t have to leave Markus behind! Triple win! If you are a shy female, there is also one female-only onsen, don’t worry!

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Getting to Takaragawa Onsen and the Ryokan Osenkaku

and checking in!

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Another thing that I loved about Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku was that they offer free shuttle busses from both the closest local train station in Minakami as well as the Shinkansen station (Jomo Kogen). That essentially savies you around 10€ per person per way in bus fares. Plus, it is super convient!

So when we arrived at the Shinkansen Jomo-Kogen station, it was super easy to find them near the east exit and we boarded the bus quickly. After around 50min we arrived at the Osenkaku Ryokan and were immediately greeted with Japanese hospitality.

We could even choose our Yukata for rent from many designs! Afterwards, the staff quickly showed us to our beautiful corner room in the older main building of Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku (super beautiful! Opt for this one!)

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The room at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku!

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If you have never stayed at a Japanese room, there is one thing that might surprise you in the beginning: there is no bed!

The whole room is covered with Tatami mats (in fact, room size is not measured in square meter but in the number of Tatami mats!) and you usually sit on the floor with a cushion! That’s also why every table looks like a coffee table in height!

And when it’s bedtime, there are futon mattresses somewhere in a big wall closet – those mattresses are put on the Tatami mats and make your bed! It might be unusual if you sleep on them the first time – but to me it was surprisingly comfortable!

If you worry about misbehaving (or worried because you have a tattoo – I’ve got you covered!

We chose to book the slightly more expensive corner room of Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku and I can definitely recommend doing that! Not only is your room really big (15 Tatami mats instead of 6 or 8) – it also has a splendid view on the river!

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The Food at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku.

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As mentioned, your room rate normally includes both dinner and breakfast and this is also true for the Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku!

Our dinner actually consisted of seven courses and was super tasty! If you never had a Japanese dinner before, you will be surprised by the variety! And if you have, you know what I am talking about! Even a small bottle of wine or sake was included!

The breakfast at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku is buffet style and includes both Western as well as traditional Asian breakfast elements. Compared to the dinner, it was less fancy but still very tasty!

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The Takaragawa Onsen itself.

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What can I say? It was amazing! The Takaragawa Onsen in Minakami region are among the most beautiful spa pools I have ever seen! And I have seen a few of them already!

They are surrounded by lush green vegetation (or pink, if you come early enough for cherry blossom!) and separated by a river flowing along the whole area.

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Everything is designed with meticulous love to details and the whole experience is soooo relaxing! Watch my vlog on “Ryokanikette” to avoid common mistakes (think about the tattoo issue in Japan) – both at the Ryokan as well as the Onsen.

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How did you like this article? Did you miss any information or feel like it was not accurate or recent? Please let me know in the comments so that I can improve! And be sure to follow me on InstagramYouTube or Pinterest. You can also join my tribe (aka sign up to my newsletter) to always know about new posts first!

xoxo, Sarah