Snapshots of One Family’s Costa Rica Adventures

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.

Explore Costa Rica

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.

Arenal Volcano

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.

Manual Antonio

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.

Travel to Costa Rica

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.

Osa Costa Rica

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.

Costa Rica animals

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!

Costa Rica beach Beaches of Costa Rica

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:

Images from C.Biederman.


  1. says

    We had been planning a trip to Costa Rica when I got pregnant with complications 15 years ago, and somehow it never made it back on our list. I love unspoiled places, and these photos look the same as I remember seeing photos back then. It’s back on the bucket list, thanks. (PS, I love your comment font! It makes me want to type more :) )
    Rhonda Albom recently posted..Skiing on an Active Volcano in New ZealandMy Profile

  2. carolbiederman says

    Hi Rhonda, how coincidental! I also had this whole trip planned 16 years ago – and found out I was pregnant! Then my son had medical complications as a pre-schooler so it stayed off our list for years. Then I came across my original plan one day, and decided we needed to it as a family, with some “kid-friendly” adjustments to the original plan, of course! So glad we did, and hope you make it too.

    And since you seem to be of the adventurous spirit, I would suggest some of the lesser traveled areas like the Osa. Costa Rica tourism has changed a bit in the past 15-16 years, as it’s been “discovered” but there are still plenty of places to get away from the mass tourism.

    Thanks for the font comment! I like it too. Have a great weekend.

  3. says

    I know so many people going to Costa Rica these days. Lots of my mentors live there and say it is absolutely divine!

    These pictures do say a thousand words. The best to me is Manuel Antonio National Park. What fun it must be to see all those birds and animals! Nature at it’s best!

    Who knows, I may just visit one day!

    Donna Merrill recently posted..Get Rich Quick Is A LieMy Profile

    • carolbiederman says

      Hi Donna, wow – I’d love to live there too! But alas, my life keeps me stationed in the US. Hopefully you can make it there one day. So much to do!

      And yes, Manuel Antonio – an awesome place. Just have to avoid the crowds. We also loved the Osa Peninsula, but it’s not for everyone. It’s quite a bit more wild and remote there.

      Have a great week!

  4. says

    Hey Carol,

    My parents have been to Costa Rica and they said it was absolutely gorgeous. It was never on my radar though as some place I wanted to visit. Doesn’t mean it’s not pretty and these pictures are really beautiful too.

    Thank you for sharing and I’m sure it’s still a destination many would like to venture to some day.

    Adrienne recently posted..How To Avoid Becoming A Victim Of Social MediaMy Profile

    • carolbiederman says

      Hi Adrienne, your parents are right! Costa Rica is absolutely gorgeous. But like you said, it’s not for everyone. We all have our own travel style and there’s something out there for each and every style. As for us, cities are not our style, so we rarely spend more than a few days in one.

      Hope you are having a great week!

  5. says

    Excellent post and I have to concur on many of your points. We (CRV) see a large volume of our travel package requests including exciting and adventurous tours and accommodations off the beaten path.

    For those that have come here…return and experience it again and again. Those who’ve dreamed of it…YOU MUST COME!

    Costa Rica is the land time forgot and the adventure of a lifetime awaits you.

    PS: I originally came from Montreal, Canada to Costa Rica and every day I am here I am reminded on what a great decision this was.

    • carolbiederman says

      Hi Michael, thanks for the kind words! We loved Costa Rica, and hope to return there again in the next two years. Just curious … CRV … does that stand for Costa Rica Vacations?
      Color me a bit envious in that you actually make Costa Rica your home now.
      Have a great week!

  6. Danny Hull says

    My favorite destinations in Costa Rica are Arenal and Manuel Antonio. What Great destination, both are top on the world. Last year our Costa Rica vacation planning changed , we were thinking on visit Manuel Antonio both we moved to a eco lodge on the south pacific, we discovered Osa Peninsula, what amazing place. It is a little amazon , we could see a Jaguar eating a turtle , it was impressive.

    • carolbiederman says

      Hi Danny, glad you enjoyed! The Osa Peninsula was our favorite region of Costa Rica, though we have yet to be to the Caribbean side. One day!

  7. James Gordon says

    Osa Peninsula is one of the top destinations in Costa Rica because you can discover real nature and wildlife. Some Luxury Hotels in Costa Rica are out of this area, that’s why Osa Peninsula offers great vacations. An area full of nature where you can visit the magnificent corcovado National Park, one of the areas most virgins of America.

  8. Luxury Hotels in Costa Ria says

    An area full of nature where you can visit the magnificent corcovado National Park, one of the areas most virgins of America.

  9. Will James says

    Remember when I arrived to Costa Rica 10 years ago. I was visiting some friends who have two house, one in San José Costa Rica and the other one in the Osa Peninsula. My first impression about CR was : “it is like a city, where is the nature? where is everything we watch on TV?” What I did not know San Jose is not a real travel destination. But when I visited Osa Peninsula I was like “Wooww” it is an amazing place, I fall in love immediately. Since this experience I travel to Osa, every single year.
    Really nice article.

    • carolbiederman says

      Hi Will, thanks for stoppig by. And I agree! Our next trip to Costa Rica we will bypass San Jose, other than the airport! Loved loved loved the Osa Peninsula. We’ve only been there once, but it’s one of the few places we want to return to. Seeing as you’ve been there several times, perhaps you could provide a few recommendations on where to go for our next visit.
      Happy travels!

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