My apologies for the EXTREMELY delayed response!!! We had a wonderful trip to Costa Rica last summer and we greatly appreciate all of your help planning. The second half of the year just got away from us and it’s taken me this long to finally sit down and get back to you. Ok, so here are the highlights:
Peace Lodge: We LOVED the Peace Lodge and really wished we could have stayed at least another night. The room was awesome- probably one of the coolest rooms we’ve ever stayed in. The kids went crazy for the rain forest bathroom. The view from the balcony was great. The highlight was seeing all the animals and feeding the toucans. The waterfalls hike was super easy for the kids and they loved it. It was just an amazing way to start the trip.
Arenal: The room setup at the Nayara was really good in that it had the king and then two single beds like the Peace Lodge had been set up for us. The deck was really nice although I admit I liked the Peace Lodge a little better because it was up high with a view out over the property whereas the Nayara was more secluded with the view of the volcano. It’s just a personal preference. I think the pool at the property was probably more geared for adults but the kids still had fun swimming. They loved the bunnies that roam freely on the property. Several times a day we had to go visit the bunnies and bring them breadsticks from the restaurant- which, apparently, are their favorite. We went to Tabacon one day and they had a blast in the main pool with the water slide. It was too bad the volcano was still dormant as we would have loved to do the lava tour but it did start smoking when we were there and that was exciting to see. We ended up doing the Sky Tram zipline at Arenal and it was great! The first zipline over the deep gorge with Arenal in the background was amazing. Unfortunately the skies opened up after that and a couple of the ziplines were not as much fun when you’re getting pelted in the face with rain. We’d brought raingear so we were fine. Most people didn’t and they were fairly miserable. We did the Hanging Gardens hike and we didn’t really enjoy that one nearly as much as the one at the Peace Lodge. There wasn’t much to see and the path is made with these weird type of pavers that actually made it kind of hard to walk on without tripping if you weren’t careful.
Manuel Antonio: The room at the Buena Vista villas was great! The deck was awesome and I just loved sitting out and enjoying the view. You were right- the monkeys did come to visit us! A couple of times during our stay they just showed up on our deck running around and playing. We got tons of great pictures and video. We loved the private beach and the kids went crazy for all the hermit crabs. It’s just funny what kids will think it great. We did a tour of Manuel Antonio one day. We used Mario with Costa Rica Jade Tours and he was fantastic. The only downside was when my daughter got stung by a yellow jacket as we were nearing the beach. Apparently the park ranger was burning a yellow jacket nest and didn’t put a sign on the trail so we walked right through a bunch of angry yellow jackets. In hind sight it’s kind of amazing nobody else got stung. Anyway, she cried for a solid 10 minutes and then it was over. I just kept thinking I hope she’s not allergic!! My husband, Roger, and I had gone to Manuel Antonio 12 years ago on our honeymoon so it was really cool to be back again. We took the kids to the hotel where we had stayed- Si Como No- which was fun to do.
Finca Rosa Blanca: Our last night at the coffee plantation was really nice. I am so grateful you recommended such a great place so close to the airport. As others have said, the drive to the hotel felt like you were really never going to come upon such a great place so when you did it was quite the hidden gem. The kids loved the pool- we were the only ones there! The room was not as cool as all our other hotels but having a second bedroom for the kids was really nice and given that it was the last night we were winding down and happy for such a beautiful property. Roger did the coffee tour the morning before we left and he really enjoyed it. The food was fantastic and the people were extremely nice.
On another note, we rented a GPS through the rental car and it was a lifesaver! I can’t imagine having done the trip without it. The level of detail it shared was much more than you get in the States and given how the roads can be it gave us peace of mind to know we were on the right road. All in all it was a fantastic trip and we can’t wait to get back to Costa Rica. On that note, we are already planning our trip back for this summer and hoping to get some other families to come along on the fun so I’ll be in touch soon to start planning the next trip!
Leslie and Roger Baker, USA