Family Trip to Costa Rica

Family Trip to Costa Rica

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Full Itinerary

We booked our trip through Costa Rica Expeditions (www.costaricaexpeditions.com), which was terrific. They suggested a few itineraries based on what we wanted to do and then booked everything from hotel and transportation to activities. It made the trip seamless and super easy. Everything was prepaid except for a few meals.

It was a great trip for a family with college age kids. It was full of activities and combined rafting, rain forest, volcano and beach. Highly recommend this trip and the travel company that booked it. Only thing I’d change is to swap out the beach hotel (final stop) for one that was a bit higher. The hotel at Arenal was one of the BEST we’ve ever been to – don’t miss it!!!!

Dec 28 2019 / Jan 04 2020
8 Days / 7 Nights

Saturday, Dec 28 2019:
Arrival Capital of Costa Rica, San Jose (SJO)
Hotel: Costa Rica Marriott Hacienda Belen

Sunday, Dec 29 2019:
City of San Jose – Sarapiqui River – Tortuguero National Park (BL) (SD,RG)
Met our driver and drove minivan for the 3 . -3.5 hour drive to La Pavona Dock for white water rafting tour.
Sarapiquí River Rafting Tour – Class III (Private)
Met our Adventure Guide to start rafting trip in the community of La Virgen de Sarapiquí. This section runs through rainforest which towers over the banks of the river, sections of Class II-III whitewater and clear pools of water. The whole section (La Virgen to Chilamate) is 7 miles (11 kms) long and normally takes about 2 ½ hours. Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours.
Be sure to bring: Water shoes or back-strapped sandals, swimwear, sunblock, insect repellent, shades and water-proof camera (optional), towels & changing clothing.
Important Note: Minimum age to participate in this activity is 9 years old.

Buffet style Lunch at Aventuras Sarapiquí
Basic lunch served in a thatch-roof shack near the Sarapiquí River after rafting.

Boarded a air conditioned van with a private driver for an hour drive, then took a boat for 15 minutes to Tortuguero Lodge along the creeks to reach the lodge. Arrive at Tortuga Lodge mid to late afternoon. Set on a private rainforest reserve bordering Tortuguero National Park, the lodge’s rooms have private baths and hot showers. A swimming pool is surrounded by botanical gardens that lead to the rainforest and river.

The lodge was terrific, owned by Costa Rica Expeditions, and was a great experience to stay in the jungle, but be right next to the ocean.

Originally intended to protect a major nesting beach of the Atlantic green sea turtle, Tortuguero National Park now protects 77,032 acres or 30,812 hectares, one of the last large areas of tropical rain forest in Central America. Eleven habitats are found in the park. Three species of monkeys (Spider, Howler, and White-faced), Three-toed sloths, and River otters are frequently seen along the natural inland waterways and canals. Caiman, iguanas, River turtles, Basilisk lizards, and Poison dart (Dendrobates) frogs inhabit the area, along with more than 320 species of birds including all 6 species of kingfishers found in the new world, 3 species of toucans, 8 species of parrots, and other neotropical species such as the Slaty-tailed trogon, White-collared manakin, Purple-throated fruitcrow, and White-fronted nunbird and many more species.

Hotel: Tortuga Lodge & Gardens. 1 River View Penthouse Suite

Monday, Dec 30 2019: Tortuguero National Park Region (BLD) (LG)

Morning: Private 3 hour boat tour to explore the creeks of Tortuguero National Park. The morning hours are especially active in the rain forest, when the wildlife is hungry and in search of their energy source for the day. It’s not uncommon to find troops of Howler monkeys in search of tender young figs or the leaves of the Monkey Plum tree you might also encounter a River Otter hunting. This tour is a three hour trip into the back water lagoons and creeks of Tortuguero National Park.

Afternoon: Leave the lodge by boat with your Tortuguero Naturalist Guide and took kayaks to the entrance of Caño Chiquero or Caño Mora. These creeks are designated for non to motorized boats only. Both the boat in the morning and the kayak in the afternoon were great, and different experiences. Duration: Half Day

The penthouse suite we stayed in was great – fit the whole family as it was giant and you could separate each bed with curtains. Really recommend this room for a family!

Hotel: Tortuga Lodge & Gardens. 1 River View Penthouse Suite

Tuesday, Dec 31 2019: Tortuguero National Park Region – Town of La Fortuna (B) (SD)
SANSA flight to Town of La Fortuna (40 min).
40 min transfer to Hotel near Arenal. The airstrip was right across from the hotel and was a quick boat trip away. Small plane but was good and that took us to La Fortuna.

This hotel was incredible! It was the best place we’ve ever stayed….ever! Our private house (the kids had one and we had one) had private hot tub and amazing view of the volcano. Two pools -one with a swim up bar and one with waterfalls. Meditation/yoga platform overlooking the entire canyon. The spa is terrific and highly recommend it!!!! The restaurant was all local and organic and delicious. The resort was just 4 months old when we stayed there. Stay there!!!

Hotel: Amor Arenal Canyon Hotel. 2 Canyon Casitas

Wednesday, Jan 01 2020: Arenal Volcano National Park Region (B) (LG)
Hanging Bridges Hike
Met guide and driver and drove to Mistico Hanging Bridges. Mistico consists of eight fixed bridges built with the latest techniques and designed with an eye for both beauty and safety. The hanging bridges are between 48 and 98 meters (160 – 330 feet) long and length between 8 and 22 meters (25 – 75 feet). The bridges were designed to blend with the natural environment, leaving the forest virtually intact. The trails, covering about 3.1 km (2 miles) and they are right inside the forest. As you start your walk, you can observe a significant diversity of plants and wildlife that are typical of the rainforest as well as some views of the Volcano (weather permitting).The trails are made of cement tiles and have some steep sections with 15 – 20% gradient. You return to your lodge after the activity at the bridges. We had a private guide who was amazing!
Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours. Plus the time of transportation.

Arenal Lake to El Castillo Mountain Bike
Met Biking Guide and the had half day biking activity. The ride will took us to an old road connecting Arenal Dam with the main entrance to Arenal Volcano National Park. From there, went towards the village of El Castillo, where we biked on a quiet lane surrounded by dense forest and cattle farms,.
The volcano was visible during the whole ride. There was a support van with us all the time.
Duration: Half Day. Distance: 13 to 26 km / 8 to 16 miles.

Hotel: Amor Arenal Canyon Hotel. 2 Canyon Casitas

Thursday, Jan 02 2020 Arenal Volcano National Park Region – Hermosa Beach (SD)
Met our driver at the hotel lobby and drove (3.5 – 4 hours) to Hermosa Beach

Hermosa, which means “beautiful” in Spanish, is a lovely beach that perches between the coastal mountains of Guanacaste. Playa Hermosa is situated between Playa del Coco and Playa Panama. Hermosa is a convenient getaway for those seeking quality relaxation and due to its calm surf, Hermosa is a favorite for swimmers.
While Hermosa Beach maintains an overall laidback atmosphere, it has grown lately. The town of Hermosa runs from north to south along its beachfront. Large hotel complexes are located on the northern end while the south remains more relaxed.
Services in town are ample, offering shopping, food, bars, and tourist activities. The coast of Hermosa Beach is known for its marine fauna, and visitors can enjoy this ocean life through activities such as snorkeling, sport fishing, and Scuba Diving.
Hermosa Beach is a short 20- 25-minute drive, along a paved road, from Liberia’s International Airport. A number of national parks lie within a short traveling distance from Hermosa Beach: Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Palo Verde National Park and
Santa Rosa National Park among other attractions. These parks provide an opportunity to view wildlife and experience a few of Costa Rica’s diverse ecosystems.

If we were to do it again I’d stay in Papagayo rather than here as it was a nice place but a bit too crowded/busy for us. It did have a nice local vibe though, vs the 4 Seasons if we’d stayed there instead.

Hotel: Hotel Playa Hermosa Bosque del Mar. 2 Junior Suite

Friday, Jan 03 2020: Hermosa Beach (B) (LG)
At Papagayo Peninsula with the following activity included:
Snorkeling Excursion Met our Snorkeling Guide and crew at Coco Beach Dive Center. Drove from Coco Beach or surrounding properties at Papagayo Area. Visit some beaches at this small inlet located in northwest Pacific waters of Guanacaste. Accompanied by our Snorkeling Guide, explored some of the quiet beaches and snorkeled.

The coral reefs were rather gray however so not best spot if you are going for the underwater experience only.

Duration: 3 – 4 hours
Notes: The usual visibility at 10 feet depth is about 25 to 30 feet. Extra flotation devices need to be requested separately and may have extra cost.

Hotel: Hotel Playa Hermosa Bosque del Mar. 2 Junior Suite

Saturday, Jan 04 2020 Hermosa Beach – Liberia International Airport (LIR) (SD)
Drove by minivan to the Daniel Oduber International Airport in the City of Liberia (1 hour drive).
Flew home.

Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn San Jose La Sabana

IMPORTANT NOTE: WHEN FLYING OR TRAVELING BY BOAT WITHIN COSTA RICA: A MAXIMUM OF 40 LB. OF CHECKED LUGGAGE IS ALLOWED PER PERSON (on Domestic Airlines SANSA and AEROBELL, an additional 10 lb. carry-on luggage is permitted).

Photos

Author

Time of year

Jan-Mar

Type of Trip

Adventure/Active, Nature, Relaxation

Duration

2 weeks

Who Went

Family with teen kids, Family with adult kids

Accommodation Type

Hotel, Resort

Budget

$200-$400

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