- After canceling our wedding three times, we had little time to plan a honeymoon.
- We chose Costa Rica at the peak of the wet season and were advised to cancel.
- We found so many benefits to vacationing in the off-season that we plan to do it again.
I had 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 in late September. When I told friends, they thought it was a terrible idea, saying, “You know it’s the wet season. It will rain all day.”
We were advised to cancel and book elsewhere, but having canceled our wedding three times and finally locking in a date that seemed like it was going to stick, we didn’t want to cancel the honeymoon we had our hearts set on.
Since we were staying the course, it looked like we would get wet. Very wet.
But what we thought would dampen our honeymoon — quite literally — actually turned into a positive, and we learned that there are some unexpected benefits of honeymooning in Costa Rica during the wet season.
It felt like we had the red carpet rolled out for us 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 additional 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. They treated us like VIPs, happy that 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 got to chat with them and learn more about the local culture.
And it wasn’t just the staff happy to see us. During one meal, we even got a visit from a friendly sloth. This is rare, as sloths are notoriously shy, but because there weren’t many people around, we got to have a special experience. It seemed even he was looking for people to meet!
The VIP service also extended to tours. We booked a guided tour through the rainforest and were delighted to find we were the only two people who’d made reservations. So not only did we feel like visiting celebrities with red-carpet service, but it allowed us to customize the tour to our interests and pace.
There was no waiting for other guests to visit the toilet or rest; we had a private guide there, ready and willing to provide the perfect tour suited to our needs.
We learned that rainy weather doesn’t have to be a bad thing
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 out at the volcano.
To our surprise, it turned out that the peak of the wet season is also the best time to get views of the volcano. Clouds often obstruct it, but before and after rain, the clouds part to reveal a stunning view.
Other activities were also better than they might have been other times — we went white water rafting on the Pacuare River and enjoyed bigger rapids thanks to the rainfall; zip-lining felt even more exhilarating flying over the top of the trees after a storm.
It was an Instagram dream, without the Instagrammers
It seems the primary focus of a holiday for many people is to capture the perfect Instagram moment. Visit any popular site, and it’s swarmed with people with their phones out, all trying to capture the perfect photo.
Not only does it make it hard to maneuver and get where you’re going — and get your own photo, if you want — but it detracts from the enjoyment and can make it hard to be present in the moment.
One morning we took a short hike to No. 1-ranked attraction in La Fortuna — the La Fortuna Waterfall. I had seen photos online, and while it was gorgeous, the online reviews always mentioned hordes of tourists.
When we visited, there was barely anyone there. This allowed us to take some great photos without other people in them or waiting for people to move so we could get the perfect shot.
Once we had taken our photos, we sat peacefully by 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 were waiting at a bar, enjoying a beer while watching the heavy rain outside. We had planned a break and enjoyed watching the storm when a man approached us. He had a warm smile and a pile of tourist brochures.
Though I am often wary of people scouting for business, all the Costa Ricans we had met had been friendly, so we welcomed him. He offered us a range of activities, but we’d already done many of them. He seemed to have a flash of inspiration.
“You are on your honeymoon? Perhaps a couple’s massage would be nice?” he said.
That did sound great, of course.
“And you are lucky — the spa is very quiet, so they have big discounts,” he added.
“Big discounts” are words I love to hear.
We ended up getting a super-special deal: a couple’s massage for the price of one person, plus a 30-minute foot massage, facial, a bonus scrub, and so on.
To be honest, they had me at the two-for-one deal.
I had never had a facial before and would never have thought of trying one, but this was the best part of the spa experience. The stress of organizing the wedding melted away, and I felt 10 years younger.
Our 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 every day. But you can easily plan around this by doing activities in the morning and heading to your hotel or resort in the afternoon or evening.
And when the weather is humid, rain is often a welcome relief because it cools things down. So take advantage of the wet season and enjoy a better experience — it is my new travel mantra, and we’ll definitely be doing it again.