“Advice from a Waterfall” 

Go with the flow. Roar with excitement. Let your cares fall away. Create your own magic. Immerse yourself in nature. Stay active. Make a splash!  – Ilan Shamir

After a delightful Costa Rican dinner made by husband and wife team Eric and Francesca at the Naguala Eco-Aldea, it was time to put our headlamps on and walk back to our cabins in the jungle. It was pitch black outside with not a single light except for the radiating glow of our headlamps. Despite the darkness, the jungle was alive as ever with all the nocturnal species. I confess that I was constantly watching my footing fearful I would finally see one of Costa Rica’s many snakes. But I didn’t thank goodness.

I slept well inside my little jungle cabin, listening to the ebb and flow of the cicadas and whatever else was out in the jungle stirring in the night. I arose wonderfully rested and ready for my final day in the jungle before heading back to civilization. I was half excited half disappointed thinking it would be nice to have wi-fi again yet how sad it would be to leave such a tranquil place where I felt so attuned to nature. If only there was a way to incorporate this relaxed state of being into my daily life!

It was another gorgeous day in paradise. A fresh pot of rich, dark Costa Rican coffee was waiting as was our breakfast of gallo pintos and fresh smoothies. I enjoyed all the birds greeting the rising sun and singing their melodic songs. The roar of the nearby waterfall reminded me of our upcoming adventure. After breakfast, we would hike a half an hour following the river to another even larger waterfall. After seeing the Cascada Naguala yesterday, I couldn’t imagine there being anything more spectacular. I was in for a special treat.

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa RicaCascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Our delightful breakfast

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

The hilarious hummingbird who was obsessed with his reflection in the mirror.

By nine o’clock, the sun was pouring down with intensity. It was already hot and humid. I put on my bathing suit, layered on the sunscreen and set off up into the unknown.

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa RicaCascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa RicaCascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa RicaAbout fifteen minutes into our walk we ran into a pair of Costa Rican park rangers who were on a walk themselves. We couldn’t believe our luck! They didn’t have any tourists with them and decided to join us, stopping frequently along the way to point out the small, tiny things I would have never even noticed. Without their presence I would have easily walked by many of the fascinating insects, flowers and reptile eggs we saw along the way. That is the beauty of Costa Rica as it has so much diversity and variety in its flora and fauna, and the Osa Peninsula alone accounts for 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity —-quite an amazing treasure.

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa RicaCascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

We hiked another quarter of an hour through the meandering river and I was thankful for wearing my Tevas, which proved to be the perfect shoe to wear for this sort of adventure. I got some rocks inside at times however overall I was so relieved I wasn’t wearing my sneakers as they never would have fully dried out in such high humidity.

I was so excited by my “river hike” that I had to capture a short video of it. It was another new experience for me in Costa Rica!

Finally we heard the roar of the water crashing down and  knew we were close. The late morning sunlight was pouring down through the jungle giving it an even more surreal, heavenly appearance. I could hardly to get into the inviting water.

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

There it is off in the distance

When we arrived, my mouth dropped in awe at the spectacular beauty of the waterfall. The sunlight was hitting it just perfectly and I realized that my photos would never do it justice so I took a video. Here is what I saw (it looks best on a full screen).

Our magical surprise!

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The water was crystal clear and soothing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and even opted to take a selfie which I posted for my friends back home. (I never take selfies but I looked so darn happy!).Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica


Then it was time to go for a swim…and do a mud facial…and just embrace the magic of being here in such a beautiful place. I thought of my family and wondered what they would think. If only they could have been here with me.

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

I even got a few shots of my new friends…

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

On the way back, the guides pointed out a few things that I would have never seen with my virgin eyes. Here are some of the interesting things they found along the river bed.

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

A Hummingbird nest with eggs

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Another bird’s nest

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

The infamous “Jesus Christ” lizard eggs. These lizards can walk on water.

They also showed us brilliant blue shrimp, lots of spiders and insects and of course the blue morpho butterflies which I could never capture on film. Their iridescent blue wings fluttered away too fast for me but I loved them so much. It was so hard to leave such a magical place. I felt like I’d been on a movie set for some kind of fantasy film. It was so surreal.

Cascada Naguala Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Heading back

The rest of the walk back, I stayed a little behind the group so I could take it all in and try to bottle up the incredible feeling I had with being so intricately connected with nature. We were heading to Drake Bay where we would be back in civilization once again. After almost a week of being completely off the grid, it was going to be bittersweet. Thankfully I had two more full days of adventure ahead. A sunset horseback ride along a deserted beach and a day of snorkeling in a private reserve off the coast of the peninsula.

If only I could bottle up this pure feeling of being alive, of “pura vida” and bring it back home with me to Minnesota.


  1. It is a rare gift to be conscious of the moment as you’re living it, and to be able to slow down as you did to soak it all in. Something tells me you’ll not only bring the “pura vida” back home, but that you’ll carry it with you wherever your life’s path takes you next.

    Gorgeous photos and adorable selfies, by the way. Those smiles say it all. 🙂

    1. Thank you! I was really feeling like I desperately needed that trip. It was just at the right moment in my life. I am excited to be heading back to Costa Rica with my kids and husband next week. It will be my kids first real international trip and I can hardly wait to see what they think. I’m hoping they catch the love of traveling and cultures that I have. 🙂

      1. I’m SO EXCITED for your kids! And I have no doubt they will catch their mom’s love of traveling and cultures; it’s highly contagious. 🙂

      2. Oh thank you! I am excited too! I also got your earlier message with the blog post. Can’t wait to read it! Do you have any more posts you recommend that I read? I would love to dive into your blog too. I just need to know where to start! 🙂 Nicole

      3. Wow that is a cool shot! How long have you been blogging for? You have a very strong readership! That is fabulous! Yes, I wish I had more time to read more blogs. I always feel like it is hard just getting the time to write my own posts

      4. Thanks for your kind words about that shot! Although I was really disappointed at the time, in hindsight it seems like a “happy accident.” As for your blogging question, I’ve been posting at this URL for almost eight years. I’m honestly a bit mystified by all of these followers — because I have no idea who the vast majority are, or why they subscribed! But I have formed friendships over the years with a handful of loyal blog-friends, whom I treasure. Which brings me to your last statement: I struggle to find time to follow all my friends’ blogs too. It’s definitely a time commitment, but I think it pays huge dividends in new perspectives and creative inspiration. There are a lot of wonderful, talented people out there who are doing their thing for the sheer love of it (like you!) and I find the enthusiasm contagious. 🙂

      5. Yes I agree! Sometimes I wonder who these phantom subscribers are! But every now and then I’m surprised by a comment from someone who has never commented before but has been following for years!

    1. Thanks Amy! The owners called that bird “Mr T” because he kept thinking it was another hummingbird and pounding his face into the mirror trying to attack it! Isn’t that hilarious?!

  2. I know what you mean about missing things without sharper eyes to see them. It was the same way for us in the rain forest. The guide could spot everything and with a spotting lens that we could take turns looking through, we saw lots of great things.


  3. Hello Nicole!
    I could really feel myself there reading your post. I think the total silence in the house afforded me full immersion. How beautiful, and such an experience. Your photos and videos are superb. I adored the little hummingbird looking at himself in the mirror. So adorable. And I can understand you wanting to take a little piece of the beauty and peace with you back home. Not long and you’ll be back to share it with your family… that must be such an amazing thought. Great post Nicole 🦋🌟🌺

  4. What a beautiful place Nicole, though I wouldn’t have liked the breakfast much not being a fan of rice and beans (got too much of it in Cuba I guess). The waterfall is spectacular! And you do look soooo happy!

    1. Oh I love rice and beans! The way the Costa Ricans make them is so good that I even bought the special sauce to make them at home! 🙂 Yes it was really a divine place. One of the best I’ve stayed at as I felt so connected with nature, and yes happy!

  5. You’ve transported me yet again Nicole with your amazing adventures, words and stunning photos. That river hike sounds like quite an adventure. Loved it.

    1. Thanks Miriam! It was really fun. I have never done that before and there is something to be said about trying new things. It makes you feel so incredibly alive and free! 🙂

      1. Yes I need to do that more in my home life. I need to take more chances I think. Love that you are starting a new job Miriam. I need to figure out some creative ways for me to grow.

      2. I’m so nervous yet I’m also really excited about this job. Feels like good timing for me. Good luck to you Nicole, things will work out for you. Life has a way of nudging us out of our comfort zone, don’t you think.

      3. Thanks so much Nicole. It was hard. Day two today, leaving home in 3o minutes … no time to write sorry. xo

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