pirate cove, drake bay, costa rica
DAY 5 Another lazy day! Except, I never do lazy very well. As I’ve said before, I’m not the kinda gal that jets off to a tropical destination just to lounge on a beach. That’s why Costa Rica is an ideal getaway for me – there are more than enough activities to balance out the laziness. But after shelling out the big bucks in Drake Bay to snorkel with sharks near Isla del Caño and mingle with monkeys in the rainforests of Corcovado National Park, I’d decided to cool my heels by spending a few days chilling at my eco-lodge, Pirate Cove. Or so I thought.
Honestly, there’s really only so much beach I can take. So for my second lazy day at Pirate Cove, I threw in a couple of hours of horseback riding in between my beach time and paddle time. And unlike the horseback riding I did later on in Santa Elena, riding at Pirate Cove felt like an authentic Tico experience.
There was something very relaxed and easy about it all. Susanne, one of the owners, manages the lodge and loves horseback riding; she was really excited to ride that day because the only chance she gets to ride is when a guest rides too. That day, I was the sole guest who’d requested it, so it was going to just be me and Susanne riding through the jungle! It’s personal experiences like riding with a private guide that made my stay at Pirate Cove so special.
As usual, I waited till low tide before crossing the river. I strolled along the beach a bit before lounging under an almond tree, where I'd seen a pair of scarlet macaws the day before (macaws love almonds, so it's not unusual to find them in almond trees!). This stretch of beach became my go-to spot for lounging. Yes, I do lounge, though not very often and not for very long! And, hey, if lying on a deserted beach was what it took to get a shot of those elusive scarlet macaws munching almonds, well, I wasn't about to complain.
Except that all of a sudden, Susanne came galloping up on horseback. I didn’t realize it was her till she was close – hardly anyone walks, let alone rides, along that two kilometre beach. I thought we were riding at 1 p.m., which is why I’d spent the morning relaxing at the beach; she thought we were riding at 11 a.m. and was wondering why I wasn’t at the lodge. Oops! Thankfully, they’re pretty laid back at Pirate Cove, and when Susanne found me lying there, she told me to continue chilling and we’d ride after lunch. Phew!
When I returned to the lodge, I found our horses waiting next to the trees down by the beach. I was a smidge scared to get on my horse, Coyote (he’s the one in the back), for fear his saddle was going to shift right around as I swung my leg up and over.
As I was taking such a long time trying to mount Coyote, Susanne had me use the bench beside this hammock as a step. And I know it’s silly, but I had to use it to dismount Coyote, too. I chalk it up to my fear of heights!
From the lodge, we rode along the main (gravel) road, and on the way to the tiny town of Drake, I noticed a series of monkey bridges in the treetops so the monkeys could cross the road! It really is a jungle out there, just beyond the lodge!
And it’s really rugged out there too, as I’ve said before. Those monkey bridges are some of the only bridges in the area. When we reached the Rio Drake, our horses continued right on through it without a pause! I’d crossed the river by car the same way the day I arrived – and, lemme tell you, I thought our car was going to get stuck. No worries about our horses getting stuck, though I did fear I’d fall off Coyote, thus I gripped the reins mighty tight.
Riding was fun! I enjoyed passing by the locals’ houses and looking out across the fields and forests to the mountains in the distance. It took us about half an hour to ride to the town, where we stopped at the soda for a drink. I was still too scared to get off and on Coyote, so I stayed on him and snacked like that while Susanne was laughing at me (I would have laughed at me too!).
After our break, we turned down the little road past the school (which has a big football field) and continued through a muddy path in the jungle, passing the occasional house and harvested field.
Every now and then, especially as we got closer to the beach, Coyote would break into a gallop and I’d freak out even more till I could rein him in. But it was rather thrilling when the jungle opened up to the beach, and we could see the vast stretch of sand and sea before us.
A bit farther down the beach was this shipwreck washed ashore! It’s split in half, and locals were salvaging it for parts to sell/reuse. From Pirate Cove, it was a small speck in the distance. I’d no clue that it was there!
We ended up riding two kilometres back along the beach, which you can only do at low tide because at high tide stretches of the beach completely disappear under the water! When we reached the Rio Drake, our horses plowed right on through again, the rushing water coming up to their bellies.
Oh! Not to make you jealous, but I did see that pair of scarlet macaws I’d been waiting for on the beach. While I was relaxing in my hammock before riding, they’d landed in the almond tree right outside my bungalow! Sigh. That’s what was so awesome about Pirate Cove and Drake Bay – wildlife was always right at my fingertips! (Luckily, wildlife wasn’t too, too close when I paddled the Drake after siesta; had I seen another caiman, I might have screamed!)
Want to see how exciting my other days in Drake Bay were? Check out…