Liberia Travel Guide

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The Most Improved Airport of 2012 is...

December 28, 2012 at 6:54 PM | by | ()

It's that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can't just let 2012 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics. Needless to say, we're ready for 2013, but first we're taking a brief look back at the best of 2012 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,—or as we fondly refer to them—The Jauntys.

Ever flown to Liberia, Costa Rica? If no, you should because now they've finally got an airport capable of handling the flood of tourists and international flights heading to this gateway city to the country's spectacular Pacific coast.

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Kai Surfs Costa Rica: Setting Off from the City

January 9, 2012 at 4:54 PM | by | ()

Kai MacMahon had lost himself to the urban life in NYC, taking up running but putting down the surfboard. That is, until recently when he bit the bullet and flew himself to Costa Rica to drive, sleep and surf wherever he damn well pleased. All this week, Kai will share his experiences on the beaches and the breaks, and how he made it happen.

I used to surf a lot in my 20s. I even took a year out of my life to travel 'round the world on a combo surfing/snowboarding trip. At that time, I visited some of the world’s great destinations for these sports, taking in Central America, the Californian coastline, Hawaii’s legendary North Shore, and of course Bells & Bondi in Australia. I wasn't an expert per se, but I was reasonably competent on a board.

Eventually I settled in Southern California, with world class breaks on my doorstep, before making the move to NYC. In recent years though, my dearly loved 7' 6" funboard (hand shaped in San Diego, lovingly transported to New York City by your truly) has been more of an ornament than anything else. It's a beautiful '70s-style blue and white, and it's propped up against my living room wall, making me look all sporty and Californian to visitors that don’t know any better, but definitely not serving the purpose for which it was designed. The truth is, I had stopped being a surfer.

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Froggies and Fumaroles: Hiking Costa Rica's Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park

December 22, 2011 at 3:55 PM | by | ()

Have you got a spare three or four hours? If you were in Costa Rica right now, those could be spent hiking around a volcano and petting frogs. Sure, everyone knows the giant Arenal volcano towards the center of the Central American country, but Costa Rica has six other active volcanoes, one of which is Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, located in the Guanacaste province and within its own National Park.

Rincón de la Vieja is serious business as far as volcanoes go. Heading up to its top rim and caldera is no longer allowed (too risky!) but local, experienced guides can easily lead you on a several-hour hike to spot fumaroles (steam vents), bubbly muddy water cauldrons, cute froggies and waterfalls so clear and cool you'd think it was Norway instead.

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Mindblowing: Costa Rica's Burger Kings Have a Queso Fundido Whopper

December 8, 2011 at 1:23 PM | by | ()

We probably don't need to tell you that Costa Rica has a crazy long list of things going for it. Among them: surf spots, hot springs, eco tourism, canyoneering/ziplining, beaches, and now even a new $40 million airport. But what we bet you didn't expect us to say is that Costa Rica also hits home on the fast food front, as evidenced by our discovery of the Burger King Queso Fundido Whopper.

Drive through the town of Liberia, CR and, at the single stoplight, you'll hit upon a few options: McDonald's, Papa John's, Subway...and a brand new Burger King with this banner out front.

Sadly we didn't stop to try it (hindsight is always 20/20), because we figured we were surrounded with enough better, more local food options than Burger King. But then...when will ever get to try a Whopper that features a deep-fried patty of melty cheese? Guess we'll just have to go back.

Disclosure: We zipped down to Costa Rica as guests of JetBlue and the Costa Rica Tourism Board, but rest assured that all opinions and all photos are completely our own.

[Photo: Jaunted]

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Forget Ziplining; Costa Rica is All About Canyoneering Next to a Volcano

November 30, 2011 at 11:25 AM | by | ()

Canopying goes hand-in-hand with Costa Rica. Maybe it's the allure of the seven volcanoes and the lush flora and fauna they support or the desire to get down and dirty, but visitors to the country often have communing with nature on their minds and we're no different.

Instead of ziplining through the trees and crossing swing bridges on the Caribbean/rainforesty side of the country, however, we were able to go whole hog on the Pacific/dry forest side in the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park of the Guanacaste region, where canopying combines with ziplining, rappeling, rock climbing, canyoneering and—yes, swing bridges—to make an experience simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. There's no one word to describe it, but for now "adventure" will just have to do.

It begins easily enough. The lower half of your body is jimmied into harnesses and a helmet buckled onto your head, where nervous sweat is already starting to bead. From base at the Hacienda Guachipelin's Adventure Tours HQ, it's only a 2-minute walk to the first platform, from which you will take the plunge to zoom the longest of 12 ziplines.

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First Look: Inside and All Around Liberia, Costa Rica's Snazzy New $40 Million Terminal

November 22, 2011 at 10:39 AM | by | ()

The departure hall

Riddle us this: What has four jetways, five security lanes, 484 seats, but no one yet in them or on them? The answer is simple: an airport terminal that hasn't opened yet, and in this case we're talking about Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, Costa Rica, where a $40 million terminal is ready to cut the ribbon as soon as authorities give the thumbs up.

Late last week we had the awesome opportunity to snoop around the place before most anyone else, and what we saw, we liked. We liked very much. Travelers who typically head down to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica for vacation or to visit family will be knocked off their butts next time they fly in and, instead of pulling up to the open-to-the-elements corrugated metal tents that are the old terminal, arrive instead to a jetway, air-conditioned immigration and a baggage claim so clean and spacious that it almost puts a tear in your eye.

Oh, and did we mention that they've managed to break ground on this terminal and complete it in just one year and one month? It's been "Extreme Home Makeover: Airport Edition" for Liberia Airport (LIR), a description straight from the mouth of Wogbe Ofori, the Senior Vice President of Global Operations for ADC & HAS, the good people charged with making the place a reality (though not a reality show, ha).

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Mmm, New Airport Smell.

November 21, 2011 at 5:31 PM | by | ()

Only twice before in the entire history of Jaunted have we specifically focused on airport food items as being too awesome to believe (for to-go airport food). First, it was the fried rice and sushi at JFK Terminal 5's Deep Blue restaurant. Then it was the dessert cups of Amsterdam-Schiphol. Now we have another, and frankly it surprised the hell out of us: the dessert selection at Liberia, Costa Rica's new airport terminal.

Above is just a small sampling, but we'll show you more tomorrow when we reveal the entire interior of the snazzy, fresh terminal space. Walking in, we were hit with the scent of newly painted walls, just-laid carpeting, and—yum yum—pastries fresh out of the oven. Mmmm new airport smell.

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From Central Park to Jurassic Park: JetBlue Flies from NYC to Liberia, Costa Rica

November 21, 2011 at 10:44 AM | by | ()

On the ground at LIR. Yep, that's actually the name of the plane.

So you want to go to somewhere warm this winter but you're not sure where? Get out a map right now and put your finger on the city of Liberia, Costa Rica because it just happens to be JetBlue's newest route and also is on special at $119 each way if you book before December 1 and travel before February 16, 2012. Not bad...not bad at all.

To understand why this town near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica is so hot, we tagged along on the inaugural flight last week. As usual, JetBlue likes to make a big deal out of their new routes, and so the whole flight was one big party; passengers heading down for birthdays, bachelorette parties or just for a relaxing weekend were treated to breakfast and cupcakes at the gate at JFK, complimentary Costa Rican Imperial beer onboard, in-flight trivia with entire vacation packages as prizes, and—perhaps the best perk of flying on an inaugural—plenty of space to stretch out.

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Foreign Grocery Friday: Costa Rica's 'Resbaladera' Drink

November 18, 2011 at 11:00 AM | by | ()

When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!

The first rule of drinking the chilled rice drink Resbaladera is not to call it horchata. Though you may be tempted to and in all fairness the drink could be horchata's twin looks-wise, the two drinks actually differ in every other way. For one, they're from different countries. For another, where horchata's ingredients are rice, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in Mexico, Costa Rican Resbaladera calls instead for rice, milk, barley and clove.

Resbaladera is a traditional beverage of the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica—the northwestern corner, on the Pacific but just under the Nicaraguan border. This happens to be the region to which JetBlue just yesterday launched direct flights from JFK, which is also why we're here sipping this sweet stuff.

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Live from T5: JetBlue Launches Direct Flights to Liberia, Costa Rica

November 17, 2011 at 9:30 AM | by | ()

Good morning from New York's JFK Airport! It's not the prettiest day here—46 degrees and gloomy/rainy as it is—but we'll soon be trading it for sun and 76 degrees down south...way down south. You see, today JetBlue celebrates the inaugural direct flight to their 70th destination: Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, Costa Rica, and we're hitching a ride.

Why Liberia, Costa Rica? Why the heck not?! JetBlue already serves the country's capital, San Jose, via direct flights from Orlando, but Liberia is closer to the surfing, tubing, beaches and volcanoes of the Pacific coast. Flying into Liberia instead of San Jose means cutting out a 4-5 hour drive to reach these, not to mention that JetBlue will have the only flights from New York-JFK to here. Oh, and today those flights are on sale for $119 each way.

One more thing: Liberia's Airport is having a celebration of its own with the opening of a brand spanking new terminal.

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Anne Hathaway Gives Herself A Break

March 6, 2009 at 8:44 AM | by | ()

So her Oscar chances were crushed by the juggernaut of Kate Winslet and the "Extras" rule that Holocaust movies always win. So what? Anne Hathaway gave herself some time off anyway and was spotted relaxing in Liberia, Costa Rica. Hathaway went on a boat ride and, later on, posed for pictures with some fans who happened to be lucky enough to be vacationing there at the same time.

If you like having the place all to yourself, now's a great time to visit the Caribbean. If you're part of the tourist-and-trade economy, ehhh, not so much. Among the American businesses smacked by the effects of the Caribbean tourism slump are food distributors who supply to mega-cruises and transport companies normally mailing goodies between Caribbean immigrants and the families they left behind.

At the same time, no one wants it to look like he's enjoying a deluxe vacation when other people can't. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't -- but hey, don't blame Hathaway. She's just trying to have a good time.

Related Stories:
· Apply the Ryanair Rule to Your Favorite Stars [Jaunted]
· Kate Winslet predicts her future Oscar win on "Extras" [YouTube]
· Celeb Travel coverage [Jaunted]
· Slump in Caribbean tourism from U.S. recession strikes back at South Florida travel [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]