- After canceling our wedding three times, we had little time to plan a honeymoon.
- We chose Costa Rica at the height of the wet season and were advised to cancel.
- We found so many benefits from off-season vacations that we plan to do it again.
I’ve always wanted to visit Costa Rica, so without much thought, my wife and I booked flights to visit the popular town of La Fortuna for our honeymoon at the end of September. When I told friends, they thought it was a terrible idea, saying, “You know it’s the rainy season. It’s going to rain all day.”
We were advised to cancel and book elsewhere, but having canceled our wedding three times and finally booked a date that looked like it would stick, we didn’t want to cancel the honeymoon we had set our hearts on.
Since we were staying on course, it looked like we were going to get rained on. Very wet.
But what we thought would dampen our honeymoon—literally—turned into a positive, and we learned that there are some unexpected benefits to honeymooning in Costa Rica during the wet season.
It felt like we had the red carpet to ourselves the whole time
Often on a honeymoon, you pay more for a private, romantic dinner. We found almost every meal we had turned into a honeymoon special, but without the extra cost.
With so few tourists visiting, many restaurants were empty. Not only did this provide a romantic atmosphere, we received unparalleled service from the staff. We were treated like VIPs, glad we had visited in the wet season. We often received a special cocktail or a free dessert as a thank you. Perhaps even better, we talked with them and learned more about the local culture.
And it wasn’t just the staff who were happy to see us. During one meal, we even received a visit from a friendly sloth. This is rare, as sloths are notoriously shy, but since there weren’t many people around, we got to have a special experience. It seemed that even he was looking for people to meet!
VIP service extended to tours. We booked a rainforest tour and were pleased to find we were the only two people booked. So not only did we have the desire to visit celebrities with red carpet services, but it allowed us to tailor the tour to our interests and pace.
There was no waiting for other guests to visit the toilet or rest. we had a private tour guide there, ready and willing to provide the perfect tour to suit our needs.
We learned that rainy weather doesn’t have to be bad
In La Fortuna, we stayed near the base of Arenal Volcano, and since the hotel was empty, we were upgraded to a room with a beautiful view. There was nothing better than waking up and looking at the volcano.
To our surprise, it turned out that peak wet season is also the best time to see the volcano. Clouds often prevent this, but before and after rain, the clouds part to reveal an amazing view.
Other activities were also better than they might have been at other times — we went rafting on the Pacuare River and enjoyed bigger rapids thanks to the rains. The zipline felt even more exciting flying over the treetops after a storm.
It was an Instagram dream, without the Instagrammers
It seems that the primary goal of vacation for many people is to capture the perfect moment on Instagram. Go to any popular website and it’s filled with people with their phones out, all trying to get the perfect photo.
Not only does it make it difficult to maneuver and get where you’re going — and take your own photo, if you want — but it detracts from the enjoyment and can make it difficult to be present in the moment.
One morning we took a short hike to La Fortuna’s No. 1 attraction — La Fortuna Falls. I had seen pictures online and while it was gorgeous, the online reviews always mentioned hordes of tourists.
When we visited, there was hardly anyone there. This allowed us to take great photos without other people in them or waiting for people to move so we could get the perfect shot.
Once we had our pictures taken, we sat quietly at the water’s edge and took it all in, listening to the power of the waterfall and enjoying the absence of chatter.
A massage with a different kind of happy ending
On our last afternoon, we waited in a bar, enjoying a beer while watching the heavy rain outside. We had planned a break and were enjoying the storm when a man approached us. He had a warm smile and a stack of tourist brochures.
Although I am often wary of people looking for work, all the Costa Ricans we had met were friendly, so we welcomed him. He offered us a number of activities but we had already done many of them. He seemed to have a flash of inspiration.
“Are you on your honeymoon? Maybe a couple’s massage would be nice?” he said.
It sounded great, of course.
“And you’re in luck – the spa is very quiet, so they have big discounts,” she added.
“Big sale” are words I love to hear.
We ended up getting a super special offer: couple’s massage for the price of one person, plus a 30 minute foot massage, facial, a bonus exfoliation and so on.
To be honest, they had me on the two-for-one deal.
I had never had a facial before and never would have thought to try, but this was the best part of the spa experience. The stress of planning the wedding melted away and I felt 10 years younger.
My honeymoon gave me a new perspective on travel — and a new travel mantra
In many countries with tropical weather, the wet season often means at least an hour or two of heavy afternoon rain each day. But you can easily plan this by doing activities in the morning and heading to your hotel or resort in the afternoon or evening.
And when the weather is wet, rain is often a welcome relief because it cools things down. So take advantage of the wet season and have a better experience — it’s my new travel mantra and we’ll definitely be doing it again.