Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Costa Rica: Quepos Bicycle Tour

by Kathy 4. June 2013 21:06

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Quepos Bicycle Tour

The small city of Quepos is several miles from the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park. Named for the Quepoa people who originally lived here (and who didn’t fare too well after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors), the city has gone through various personality changes over the years—from a major banana shipping port to an ecotourism destination.

To explore the local scene in Quepos, we took a bicycle tour led by Leo Martinez:

Leo was raised on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, where the employment opportunities are mainly with banana plantations. He moved away from there and has lived in Quepos for 9 years, tending bar as well as starting a bike tour company 3 years ago that he named after his young daughter Eva.

Leo picked us up from our hotel at 7:45 a.m., and we started with a short walking tour through Quepos. The first stop was the Catholic church, with a fairly stark interior:

The walls of the church had an open-air design, with no glass in the windows:

Leo noted that the pews were not made of local teakwood, which is very expensive and thus exported to the U.S. instead of being used for furniture here.

Crossing a street, we passed by a discount store called Pali, which announced “Welcome to the Lowest Prices”:

We were surprised to learn that this is one of many stores owned by Walmart throughout Costa Rica.

Then we popped into the antithesis of Walmart--a small mom-and-pop shop with fresh produce and groceries:

While the eggs (above) were not refrigerated, the apples—-which are not grown in Costa Rica and are imported from the U.S. and sold at $2 each—-received the royal treatment in the cooler:

We were not in this small store to merely gaze. Leo offered us samples of Costa Rican fruit, including two kinds that I had never tasted—carambola and passionfruit.

The juicy carambola is also called starfruit for the interior pattern when sliced:

I am not sure of the reason behind the the name for passionfruit, but the slippery thick coating attached to the interior seeds was not stimulating much passion from any of us.

Leo said the taste is better if you put sugar on it. Maybe next time. For today, one slimy bite was plenty.

We enjoyed the next fruit much better—coconut juice, as fresh as it gets!

Genevieve and Ben:

Several more blocks of walking, and we reached Leo’s bike shop:

Sebastian and Genevieve, getting their gear and bikes ready:

While pedaling our way to the city center, Leo stopped to tell us about the symbolism of the red, white and blue colors in the Costa Rican flag:

He said that the red represents the passion of the people, the white is for peace, and the blue is for the sky.

Downtown Quepos:

Today was Saturday, and we were fortunate to get to experience the local market down along the water. The road had been blocked off to allow the vendors to set up booths. Here is Leo lifting the barrier for David:

To our right was the tidal overflow from the mouth of the Quepos River:

The local market had clothing and a wide variety of local fruits and vegetables:

One stand had some of the largest pineapples I’d ever seen:

Leo ordered us some freshly squeezed sugar cane juice—it was brown (surprising) and sweet (not surprising).

Genevieve, taking a few sips:

Down past the market was the marina, which had been built 3 years ago in the spot where the city once had a nice beach:

Leo said that the marina provides employment for about 100 people, so there was at least some benefit to the local people losing their beach.  We could also see a construction crane in the above photo—being used to build the first Marriott in the area. Leo said that the big hotel might mean more business for his bike tours, but it also would present competition for the smaller, locally owned hotels.

Past the harbor, we rode into a small park called Nahomi:

This point of land was once considered a holy place for the Quepoa people who had lived here before the Spanish conquistadors had arrived (and decimated their community). As an acknowledgement of that belief, the city had recently demolished the long-standing bar here and turned the area into a park.

The views of the ocean were lovely:

On the backside of the point, we could see the remnants of a cement dock:

In the distance was Playa Visan, where Leo said you can often find dolphins.

Along the nearby water’s edge was a gray heron:

The park had a small playground, and Genevieve still likes to zip down a slide every now and then:

The sun was hot today, and Leo shimmied up a coconut tree to retrieve some refreshments for us:

Then he whipped out a small knife to cut a drinking hole in the top of the coconut:

After leaving the park, we rode back into town for a relaxing stop at Café Milagre (which had superb coffee milkshakes made with chocolate chip ice cream):

After our break, we rode through a small neighborhood to reach the Quepos River:

We were headed across the river to an island with a beach called Playa el Cocal, favored by the locals.

Here comes our taxi boat:

People lived on the island, so the taxis had a steady stream of customers who wanted to get from one side of the river to the other.

Our turn:

The taxi driver was a happy fellow:

Here I am with Leo on the boat:


On the other side of the river was a long dirt road that led through a row of homes:

The houses here were more modest than others we had seen thoughout Costa Rica:

Leo told us that the government owns the island, and that the people live here for free. They build basic homes, many with sand floors and without indoor plumbing, because they don’t know when the government will decide to evict them.

Still, most of the houses had electrical wires, and some even had satellite dishes:

Playa El Cocal was very wide and over 4 miles long. Leo had brought a Frisbee and a paddleball set, and he played with Ben and the kids while David and I rode around the beach on our bikes:

Leaving the island:

A boat on the riverbank:

The ramp back on the other side:

Houses that we passed:

Given the usual style of architecture in the city, the design of the synagogue really stood out:

Arriving back at Leo’s bike shop:

We were so glad to have met Leo, as he not only was a good tour guide, but he shared his personal experiences with us and gave us a lot of insight into what it is like to live in Costa Rica.

Genevieve and Sebastian, back at the hotel:

We spent the afternoon relaxing and boogie boarding at the wonderful beach near Manuel Antonio:

This was our last day in Costa Rica. Tomorrow morning, we would be up early to drive about 2 ½ hours to the airport. Our travels in this country had been so much more amazing than I had expected—on so many levels. And the experiences were made richer by the people we had met, including Leo today.


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Map of Our Journeys

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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin