Having returned from our 2 week holiday in Costa Rica, I thought it would be good to share our planning of the trip before I write a breakdown of our adventure. Travelling with young children means that you have to plan carefully and sometimes do things a little differently. Our boys are 4, 6 and 8. Whilst I would have happily filled my days with zip lines, white water rafting and wildlife spotting, my boys were happier with the thought of playing in the sea. We therefore needed to plan carefully so that we could all enjoy the trip.
When we were looking into a tailor made we contacted Trailfinders and Mercator Travel. Although we liked the Trailfinders itinerary the agent we were dealing with didn’t get back to us (I would usually recommend Trailfinders as we have used them for travelling to Dubai, Australia and the States in the past) so we went with Mercator Travel.
BA now fly direct to San Jose, Costa Rica and we chose this direct flight of around 11hrs.
It was suggested that we visit Tortuguero National Park first which is home to nesting sea turtles. It was a hard decision but we decided against this and I think it was right for our family. We decided against it due to the amount of time we would spend travelling with the boys. However, with hindsight, and speaking to people that did this, I think it was the right choice for a different reason. The boys didn’t struggle with the flight at all. They did struggle with the resulting jet lag. Middle man could barely keep his eyes open the first night. Whilst I have no doubt that Tortuguero would have been amazing, a lady that went said that the trips were at 8pm or 10pm. You were allocated a slot rather than choosing. It would have been too much for the boys, so early in the holiday.
Instead we headed straight to Arenal. Here we wanted to relax and booked the Arenal Springs Resort and Spa. As for trips, we booked a morning rainforest tour and and afternoon at Tabacon Springs. Both worked well and gave us plenty of time around the pool. One thing noting about Arenal is that if you don’t have a car, you will really need taxis to get around. I was pleased that we had purchased some snacks and drinks to take with us in the supermarket in San Jose.
After 4 nights in Arenal we took the boat and coach trip to Monteverde. This was an experience and not quite as comfortable as the private transfers we enjoyed the rest of the trip. It was worth doing though! We booked 2 nights at Poco a Poco which for us was a good length of stay. There are many trips and activities you can do in Monteverde, and you will want to as because you are in a cloud forest, it isn’t that warm. Here we had prebooked a morning cloud forest tour and later booked a horseriding trek.
We spent our last 6 nights in Manuel Antonio. A mistake in our booking meant that we were upgraded to the Los Altos resort and we were not disappointed. We actually asked to go here as my brother in law had been and recommended it. Although Manuel Antonio is on an extremely steep hill, it is easy and cheap to use their bus service. We didn’t prebook any trips here and ended up doing one rainforest tour and visiting the beach.
We ended our trip with a night in San Jose, before heading home.
With the luxury of hindsight the trip worked well. We got to see a lot of Costa Rica without too much travelling being involved. Whilst it may seem that we did a lot of rainforest tours, each was totally different with different animals. I shall be writing a post about it soon, but I would always recommend hiring a tour guide for the rainforests. We had been concerned about the weather in August, but it treated us well. Costa Rica is a great destination for any age. There is fantastic wildlife all around you if you look, and it is an adrenaline junkies dream with zip wires and rafting everywhere.
Other things you need to keep in mind if you are booking a trip to Costa Rica:
- It isn’t cheap when you are there if you are anywhere touristy. Children’s meals are around $8. Adult meals $15 upwards. A cocktail was a minimum of $8. Most meals are American sized.
- At the tourist resorts everything is priced in dollars.
- Often there is a charge for paying with a credit card for trips and activities.
- We didn’t drive and I wouldn’t recommend it in San Jose (aggressive driving with motorbikes weaving everywhere) or on the unmade roads of Monteverde.
- Whilst the rest of Costa Rica is amazing, it’s capital San Jose is not. Plan as little time here as you can.
- You need to make sure that you are vaccinated for Hep A and currently it isn’t advised pregnant women visit due to the Zika virus.
Have you visited Costa Rica? What was your favourite part?
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