Bikepacking in Costa Rica


Through the positives and negatives I have experienced since moving to Costa Rica, I sure have been blessed with some great adventures. This one is definitely for the books. My girlfriend and I live on the north point of the Nicoya Peninsula of the Guanacaste Province in Costa Rica, Costa Rica’s odd thumb. The weather is hot, dry and the sun shines every day all day without a cloud in the sky. Some friends from Montana who also live in the area wanted to do this crazy bikepacking trip down the coast. A 120 mile ride, camping on beaches and keeping it simple. We planed for a more chill approach with only 25 miles per day and filling the rest of the day with snorkeling and napping on the beach.

Jerry-riggery was the name of the game for me, slacking before the move I didn’t have time to get my frame bags for the Wyatt. PVC piping worked great for the rear where I kept the BigAgnes tent, my frame was the perfect hold for my camera gear and with the help of my friends, I had a great handle bar set up with clothes and bare essentials. Packing for super warm weather was pretty nice as you don’t need any extra clothes for chilly night temps so the bikes were relatively light. Day 1: game on. We started our route in Brasalito with an easy day of mostly flat riding. We got lucky with a cheap fairy ride across a crocodile infested inlet but were soon crossing a waist deep river with bikes on our backs. The first day was a breeze in comparison to the days ahead. We finished up in Playa Negra where my girlfirend met us with ice cold Pilsens (local cerveza). We said our goodbyes and made our way down to the beach for a soft slumber.

The Costa Rican country side is a gorgeous but very ruthless environment. This is some of the hottest sun any of us had experienced. We really looked forward to sleeping on some cooling soft sand at the end of the day. The trip was split between some country gravel grinding and a hefty balance of firm sandy beach riding which was a relief. Passing through traditional little towns along the way also gave us a good break for some great traditional food know as casados. I’ve really come to love these gracious helpings of salchichon (sausage), rice and beans, and eggs. After long days of sweaty, sunburnt, sore butt pedaling, we were met by relaxation and great food. Our goals with this trip were to spend as little amount of money as possible. Camping on the beach everynight; free, hearty casados for lunch and dinner; $10 for both, and occasional pit stops to the market; $5-10.

The nights were filled with relaxing rhythms of waves, warm sea breeze and shell hunting. Meditation, yoga and stretching was in the mix too and had a great way of aiding the recognition of slowing the tempo of life. There was time to appreciate such small things we would skimp over during a normal day. It was easy to stop and disconnect from the screens and realize how much life is actually surrounding us. The simplest things brought me joy. There was only now, the present. The only things that mattered were what was right in front of me, time seemed like a made up concept. It was rejuvenating and life-giving. Being in this state of presence you learn to become patient and tolerant, really appreciating the little things.

The struggles were real, we are often asked why we mountain bike places especially when we can take a vehicle. Our answer is simple, this is the clearest way for us to challenge our own being, to push ourselves and fight fears of failure. By the fourth and fifth day we were pretty burnt out on sitting in the saddle but no matter how negative things seemed, life was good. The tents were getting stinky, we were beyond dirty, I ran out of clothes and smelled like a bum, you could scrape the grease off of my body yet the adventure continued! There are plenty of times when we want to give up and go home but honestly, going home is just as hard. Having time on the beach to sit and digest what we accomplished that night or will be accomplishing this trip was self empowering and motivating in itself. I remember thinking to myself how much harder it was than expected but how lucky I was to be in this country and to challenge myself. The entire move and existence here is a challenge but only betters me as an individual.

I had hoped to search for something greater on this trip other than riding my bike. What I found was simplicity. Eat well, ride bikes, fight less and look to the stars at night. Love the people around you and be happy with what you have, live for experience not possessions. This opportunity gave me time to slow down and appreciate exactly what I had. Going on a trip like this on uncharted terrain does not come with uncertainty and adversity. We often found ourselves too hot, too tired and just wanting to get to the next destination but that state of mind didn’t last long. “You guys, we live in Costa Rica, we are bikepacking along beaches in Costa Rica!”.  Its true value may not unfold yet but we will continue to remember these adventures for the rest of our lives.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Denis Blaise
    March 26, 2017 4:42 pm

    Hi Riley,
    Thanks for the great pics and info on Costa Rica, Riley. I’d like to bike pack through the country and ride mostly/only dirt roads to get everywhere. I know there are mostly dirt roads in CR, so I shouldn’t be disappointed. I wonder if there’s any kind of map(s) detailing CR’s back roads so that I might do some route planning before going…or is it all “off the cuff” and “take it as it comes” touring? Your input appreciated.

  • Hey Denis!

    Thanks for reaching out! The route is pretty “off the cuff” yes, the good thing is there aren’t many roads to get lost on. We planned our route off of the website as a guide but went with our own guts once we left. Link here: The route is pretty simple as we hugged the coast the whole time. Most roads are fairly straight forward and the phone GPS works throughout the coast so you can adjust accordingly as you go. But as far as maps go, your guess is as good as mine! Getting lost is half the adventure! I hope this helped Denis!


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