Happy Travel Tuesday! Don’t forget to link up at the bottom of the post.
This month it was my turn to choose the prompt and I chose “One of the best parts about traveling is finding somewhere new and unexpected. What’s a hidden gem that you have stumbled upon while exploring a new place?”
This seems to be a common theme in our travels. Maybe it’s because we are what Travis calls 85% travelers (we get about 85% right, the other 15% rarely goes as planned) or maybe we just have a tendency to stray from the beaten path. Either way we often find ourselves unexpectadly surprised at what we find when we do.
My favorite story of when that has happened is from our honeymoon a couple years ago.
PS I did share an abbreviated version of this story for another Travel Tuesday prompted post, so it might sound familiar to some BUT I like it enough to share again.
PPS This was pre-blogging and good camera days, so please don’t judge my crappy picture quality too hard.
ANYWAYS we spent the first half of our trip at a resort on Playa Tamarindo. We aren’t very good at hanging out on the same beach all day every day, so in the morning we would ask the desk at the hotel for recommendations for different beaches to try out.
One beach that got rave reviews from multiple staff members was Playa Conchal. They told us the water was the clearest you could find and the sand was actually made of broken shells (Conchal is shell in Spanish).
We were pretty excited to check this place out so we hopped into our trusty rental car, Jimy, and cranked on the GPS that we got from the rental car company.
After driving for a while we saw some signs for parking for Playa Conchal so we figured we must be at the right spot. We found a spot to park and started walking towards what we thought was Playa Conchal. When we got to the beach it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. The water was no where near the clear blue that had been described to us and we didn’t see anything that looked like crushed sea shells. The sand was the darker, volcanic type but was still quite soft to walk on.
We looked around and as far as we could see we were the only beachgoers. Looking back, this probably should have been a red flag that we weren’t at the right place, but we just figured they people that had talked up the beach must have just overhyped it. We decided to make the best of it and hang out on our private beach. There were a couple restaurants on the beach, so we walked up to one for lunch. Once again, we were the only patrons. We just shrugged it off and dismissed it as low season (yes, we always tend to travel during the non-ideal times, it’s part of the 15% failure).
After spending several hours at the beach we decided to go walk around the other side of the cove and see what was there. As we were passing a restaurant the manager asked us to come in, when we told him we were going to check out the other beach he replied “Oh Playa Conchal?” Yup, we had been at the wrong beach- all. day. For the record this is what the real Playa Conchal looked like, much more picturesque.
At this point we were pretty pooped for hanging out on the wrong beach all day and didn’t even stay at Conchal for very long.
The next day we went to a different beach and when we were done we decided to pay Playa Brasilito and it’s cute little town a visit, now that it had cemented a special place in our hearts. Once again, we typed into the GPS and hit the road.
Does anyone remember the episode of The Office where Michael drives the car into the lake because he was following the GPS?
Yup, we drove straight onto the beach. And got stuck. With not a soul in sight.
We walked for a while and found some locals working at a nearby resort. We hopped on to the back of their 4 wheelers and they drove us back to our car. It took quite a bit of man power and some 4 wheeler power but eventually we got out of the sand. Where did we go to celebrate our victory?
The restaurant where we found out we were at the wrong beach.
The owner happily greeted us and we recounted our tale of sinking poor Jimy in the sand. He had his very own cigar roller in the restaurant straight from the Dominican Republic, and they rolled Travis one for good luck in our marriage.
They also offered us complimentary shots and we toasted to our future. We talked for hours about Playa Brasilito and the local life. At the end he made us promise we would come back in ten years with our children.
Playa Brasilito is not one of the most scenic beaches we have visited, but the untouched, non-touristy little town square, the friendly locals and the tranquility of the beach make it our personal hidden gem. Hopefully we can keep our word and return in another eight years. 🙂
Oh and another funny picture for the road…
Travis’ old roommate/”bromate” Thomas went with us on our honeymoon Flat Stanley style. I was cracking up looking through all the pictures we took of him hanging out on the beach, but this one is my favorite.
Have a great rest of the week and as always…