Testing Waterproof Phones in Costa Rica

Blue Lake Dock in Costa Rica

There are a ton of really great tours that you can take in Costa Rica, but one of the most recommended is a waterfall tour. Before I arrived in Costa Rica, I found a fairly inexpensive tour from Playas del Coco. I didn’t do much research. Costa Rica doesn’t really have or use addresses (which is an adventure in and of itself) and to add to the confusion, pickup sites and directions can be for places that no longer exist.

My pickup site was “in front of the old Hard Rock Cafe”. The reason it is “old” is because it closed down and no longer has any signs for that particular cafe. Luckily the old location is still listed on some maps! Always an adventure.

What Hard Rock Cafe?

I fretted over the pickup site for a bit because the van was picking me (and a friend) up at 5am and we would have to walk there in the dark… to a spot in front of a cafe that is no longer there. To make matters worse, the old location has been taken over and turned into a new restaurant.

About a week before the tour date, our guide texted to let me know that the tour was canceled but we could go with him in his private vehicle to the waterfall a day early. We would meet up with a different tour group when we got there. That’s weird. A private vehicle on a different day? He didn’t speak much English so I worked with Google Translate to make sure the cost was the same. It was and as a bonus, he would pick us up at my apartment at 6am. Nice!

View of volcano in Costa Rica
This is the view from the ranch where the hike started. Is that volcano in Nicaragua?

I texted the guide several times to inquire about what I should bring and wear and if I would be able to eat the provided breakfast and lunch as I can’t eat gluten without getting the poops. I don’t want the poops! The guide mentioned that I should bring food for me, wear closed toed shoes, and we might get wet so bring a change of clothes, just in case. It sounded like we could swim at the base of the falls if we wanted. Fun! 

I was getting a bit nervous the day before because I didn’t know anything about this guy and I was just going to get into his car and he was going to take me somewhere. What could go wrong!?! It’s Costa Rica and people are so nice and trusting and wonderful here, but I still worried. I do watch a lot of horror movies. I gave Mr. ItchyFeet’s mum access to track my cell phone in case I got stolen and held for ransom. You never know!

The guide picked us up a bit late due to traffic (there is only one road to get into Coco) and we headed to Liberia for breakfast. I had already eaten so I just had some really good coffee (I love the coffee here!) and waited for the other tour group to arrive. A big bus arrived and loads of people got off and started eating. I assumed we would be placed on the bus and get to practice some Spanish, but I ended up back in the private vehicle with a new English-speaking guide who took over driving responsibilities.

Tall tree in Costa Rica
This tree is ridiculously old and ridiculously tall!!! There were cool little leaf cutter ants all around as well.

Am I being taken to Nicaragua!?!

We started driving further and further north and the road went from paved and populated to dirt and very rural to 4-wheel-drive and completely isolated. The private vehicle was just a tiny car and it was getting really beat up on this adventure. We were getting closer and closer to Nicaragua, which concerned me to no end. There wasn’t any cell service so I just had to trust that we were not going to be murdered somewhere. I really think I’ve seen this movie before! We finally arrived at our destination (a ranch of some sort). Soon after, the other tour bus arrived as well. Pura Vida!

Our original guide went with the Spanish speaking group and we went with the English speaking guide as well as someone from the ranch. I was a bit suspicious because the ranch guide had on these really big boots. Are we going through some mud or water or something? We started hiking through the ranch past cows and chickens and turkeys and such until we got into this gorgeous forest with these giant 500+ year old trees. It was so beautiful!

Is your phone waterproof?

We soon made it to an iron-rich blue-white river with red-stained rocks and I see this rope going across. Um…what!?! It was waist high, very fast moving water! I’m a short, light person! I wash away very easily! The ranch guide held my hand and helped me across, running-shoes, socks, and regular shorts and all. After crossing, I looked back to see my friend mostly across with his phone and wallet still in his pockets. Good thing his phone is waterproof (not that he wanted to test it!) and Costa Rica’s money is plastic! We had no idea what we were getting into! He tossed his wet phone and wallet into my bag and we kept going.

Me hiking up the trail
I made it out alive! I forgot to get pictures of the waterfall. I failed you! I really think that is Nicaragua over that hill.

There were at least eight more crossings like this! Some were really scary and my legs were shaking. My running group would consider this some seriously deep shiggy! I almost called it a few times as I knew we would have to trek back through the same crossings. It was crazy!!! It was also really hot. Luckily we brought our own water or I think we would have gotten heat-stroke. We finally made it to the waterfall and it was gorgeous. Like Moab, Utah gorgeous! 

There was another group in front of us so we waited for them to finish jumping in the little lake in front of the falls, getting all kinds of pictures. My legs were so shot. I really didn’t know how I was going to make it back. I was going to have to pay the guide to carry me! I was too tired to swim. I just sat and cooled off for awhile and people watched. So many photos going on The Insta from all the young adults! It was very entertaining. I forgot to get photos even for this blog. Sorry!

Getting back was a lot easier as the rushing water pushed us along. Neither one of us fell completely in and we were practically dry by the time we made the long trek back to the car. It ended up being about eight kilometers. So tired! Our two guides then drove us to this beautiful blue lake overlooked by a lovely restaurant. There was some confusion regarding food. I brought my own but my friend did not, but they thought we brought enough for us both. No food for him! I got him a beer at least! 

Blue lake in Costa Rica
We went to this crazy blue lake for lunch (well I brought lunch). Just gorgeous!

Pictures for The Insta

We hung out at the blue lake for a couple of hours and watched the other tour group arrive, eat, and get their pictures taken in kayaks, on a small bridge, and on a wooden dock. Posing and looking all cute in swimsuits and such. People watching is the best! I got the impression that the people on the tour bus received a lot more info on what to expect of the tour as everyone looked very prepared. The bus also provided water and protective cases for cell phones. That would have been nice. I managed to get a few pictures at least. It really was gorgeous! 

Blue lake restaurant in Costa Rica
Check out the volcano overlooking the restaurant next to the blue lake. So pretty!

We were not looking forward to the long drive back! That dirt road had some major car-swallowing potholes that the driver would swerve madly to avoid and the 2-wheel drive car could barely make it up the hills with four of us in it. It was a crazy drive back through countryside covered in giant wind turbines, surrounded by three active volcanoes. It was totally surreal. Pretty though.

Bridge across river near the blue lake.
Bridge across this cool river near the blue lake. I think this is called tropical cloud forest.


We made it to Liberia, Costa Rica where our English speaking guide jumped out at an intersection. It’s usually only about 25 minutes from there to Coco. Wonderful! I climbed over the seat into the passenger side to help prevent me from being carsick. My friend kept looking at Waze (a smartphone direction app) with a sad look on this face. As we came upon a line of taillights, Waze cheerfully blurted that our expected wait in traffic was 72 minutes. Holy crap monkeys!!! What the hell!?! There had been an accident on the only road to Coco. Someone had just wrecked their brand new SUV and they were clearing the wreckage. We just had to wait it out.

Sunset from a traffic jam.
Sunset while stuck in traffic on my way home. Maybe I can walk from here? Nope.

I finally arrived home well after dark and got my friend some food (he hadn’t eaten anything since before sunrise!) and lots of water. Between the hike and exceptionally long time in the car, we were both in so much pain for days afterward. That was way too much! I just didn’t know what we were getting into. One of my ribs popped out near my neck, which is not pleasant. Over the next few days, I used every piece of physical therapy equipment I brought with me and just stayed home and rested. No more crazy waterfall adventures for me! 

Iguana on tree
I leave you with a picture of a giant iguana on a mango tree outside my apartment.

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  1. Omg, I’m hooked on your writing now! I won’t ever need to travel again, I’ll just live vicariously. You’re brave. Dental Daaayamn/Scheris S., Seattle

  2. I went swimming at a nice waterfall nearest to coco beach. It was a short drive, maybe 10-15 minutes down the highway with one turn. I remember because I was the guide to this waterfalls. My friend was living at a small resort, Luna Tica, his buddy owned & some Canadians were staying there who wanted to be led to this waterfalls. None of the people from the resort management wanted to take them there. They convinced me it was easy, there was a sign for the waterfalls along the highway and since I didn’t have wheels this was my chance to go to the waterfalls. I just told the Canucks I had been there and knew the way. It was a piece of cake. They had a jeep and drove and I memorized the way. Cataratas Llanos de Cortés, off the Panamerican Highway before Bagaces.

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