We are a family of adventurers – with teen and pre-teen boys, relaxation is defined as that time in between adventures, solely there to recover and move on to the next activity. We found just the right combination of action and relaxation to suit our family’s style in a recent family vacation to Costa Rica. You might too! Costa Rica has the makings of a wonderful vacation for just about every level of adventure, including our family!
Why Costa Rica?
Why not! Perhaps small in square mileage, Costa Rica is big on adventure. With immense biodiversity, a plethora of adventures for all ages and degree of skill, accommodations and activities at all price points, it’s a destination sure to please practically everyone. From arm-chair adventurers to active adventurers, from beach bathers to supreme surfers, from birders to animal lovers – each can find a little slice of heaven in Costa Rica.
A vacation to Costa Rica might just be the answer to your next wander-lust! It sure was ours! Here’s highlights of our own Costa Rica adventure.
Snapshots – One Family’s Costa Rica Adventure
We had twelve days in Costa Rica. Our objective – to explore three uniquely different regions, each with it’s own biodiversity, it’s own “Costa Rica style.” It was tough deciding! However, after much deliberation and family discussions on the best-fit adventures for our family’s travel style, we adventured our way through the following three destinations.
La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano
A Costa Rica vacation isn’t complete without exploring it’s volcanoes, zipping through a jungle canopy, or hiking along trails in search of native flora and fauna. The La Fortuna area is just the place for such adventures and it’s where we began ours. We spent three days exploring all this amazing area has to offer.
Wish we had more time, but we made the most of each and every minute we did have. Which activity was our favorite? That all depends on who you ask, because we enjoyed them all! Well, ok, except that misguided horseback adventure. Though if forced to pick one favorite, I think it would be ziplining.
See some of the adventures you too can experience in just three days at La Fortuna in Six Fun And Family Friendly Adventures In And Around La Fortuna Costa Rica.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is a crown jewel of the Costa Rican park system, and one of it’s most visited destinations. It was the second leg of our Costa Rica adventure, and definitely worth considering for your own Costa Rican adventure. Our time here? Three days, just barely enough time to give justice this incredible national park.
Manuel Antonio National Park’s immense biodiversity is it’s biggest attraction. Hike tropical jungle trails that meander past exquisite, pristine beaches. Search the canopy for the 109 mammals and 184 birds that call the park home. Look out across the ocean for frolicking dolphins or migrating whales off in the distance. Factor in the myriad of activities in the surrounding area, it’s no wonder this is such a popular destination.
And just what did we see while in the park? Check it out at Sights and Sounds of Manuel Antonio National Park. a photo journal of our park explorations.
The Osa Peninsula and The Golfo Dulce
Want a different kind of adventure? A destination where you can unplug from today’s hectic world? Then head south to the Golfo Dulce and the Osa Peninsula. South to Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, nestled along the shores of the Golfo Dulce, it’s backyard an unspoiled jungle. This was our family’s last stop on our Costa Rica adventure, and we spent five days enjoying every minute of it.
This was definitely not your ordinary family vacation! We went “off the grid” and returned with some of our family’s most favorite travel moments to date. I have seven fab reasons why you too might want to consider a similar jungle adventure. Read them all at Playa Nicuesa – An Off The Grid Fab Family Jungle Adventure.
A must stop while in the Osa Peninsula is the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary. Also located on the shores of the Golfo Dulce, this wildlife refuge is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of injured, displaced and orphaned animals and birds from across Costa Rica.
It was a most memorable experience for our whole family. So if your adventures take you to the Osa Peninsula, you might want to experience your very own Wildly Wonderful Meet And Greet In Costa Rica.
Plan Your Own Costa Rica Adventure
There is so much more to this country than our three destinations. Begin your own Costa Rica travel planning with a little research. Familiarize yourself with the different regions of the country, and the types of adventures found in each region. Go online and peruse through Costa Rica travel websites. Check out books from the library. Get a map and circle the places you would like to explore. Then book and have fun!
Before You Book – Five Questions to Ask Yourself
Here’s five questions to ask yourself before you plan that adventure:
1. How many days do you have to explore?
2. Do you want to explore more than one region?
3. Should you book with a travel agent, or one your own?
4. Do you prefer jungle or beach adventures? Or both!
5. What’s your travel style? An “armchair adventurer” or an “active adventurer”?
Having answers to these questions before you begin planning can help ensure you get the most out of your Costa Rica adventure.
Websites to Plan Your Own Costa Rica Adventure
Costa Rica travel websites are everywhere. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start your search online. Here’s four sites that can help start you down the path of creating your very own Costa Rica travel plan.
Once you have a baseline of where you want to go, then begin exploring other Costa Rica travel and tour booking websites. They can be of great assistance in finding the right kinds of adventures you want to experience.
More thoughts On Planning
Whether you book it yourself, or book through a travel again, you should consider these additional thoughts while in the planning phase.
Travel Agent or Self-Book? Each has it’s benefits as well as disadvantages. The vast majority of adventures, accommodations and transportation can be booked on your own. However, the right travel agent can guide you through the nuances of booking in a foreign country and plan your adventures for you. My advice? Go with what you are most comfortable with.
What did we do? Both. We used a travel agent to book the first two destinations, then booked the last on our own.
Guided Hikes or Not? Why not both? The right guided hike can open your eyes to a world you might not otherwise see. Exploring on your own lets you move at your own pace. My advice? Join in a guided hike, then return and explore on your own.
What did we do? Both in Playa Nicuesa and La Fortuna. Guided only in Manuel Antonio National Park, a decision we wished we’d done differently.
Budget or Luxury Accommodations? Mix it up! Splurge on one place, budget on the others. There are accommodations to fit practically every budget.
What did we do? We splurged on our Osa Peninsula lodging. Well worth it for us.
Mode of Transportation? If you are exploring different regions, you’ll need to plan getting there. Public transportation is inexpensive, and private coach buses also frequent the more popular destinations. You can also hire a private driver or rent a car. Renting a car may not be for the faint of heart when traveling to some areas of the country.
What did we do? We rented a car and were glad we did. We had no issues with the roads nor finding our destinations.
Good bye Costa Rica … Until the Next Time!
With only twelve days on the ground, we could not possibly explore everything Costa Rica has to offer. That’s why we hope to one day return again. And where would we go next? That’s easy! Here’s what’s up for our next Costa Rica adventure:
Corcovado National Park
Tortuguero National Park and the Caribbean Coast
Monte Verde Cloud Forest
So as the sun sets on one family’s Costa Rica adventures, the sun rises for somebody else’s Costa Rica adventures. Perhaps even yours!
Have you been to Costa Rica? Where did you go? What was your favorite experience? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Read more about our family adventures in Costa Rica at the following blog posts:
- Six Fun and Family Friendly Adventures In And Around La Fortuna, Costa Rica
- A Wildly Wonderful Meet And Greet In Costa Rica
- Playa Nicuesa – An Off The Grid Fab Family Jungle Adventure
- Sights & Sounds of Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Images from C.Biederman.