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Trip List by Ann R

Costa Rica with the whole family!

Mar 3, 2007  sharing the place we love with the people we love
4.5 of 5 stars based on 15 votes

Relaxation, adventure and fun for 3 generations

  • 1. Playa Hermosa

    A quiet alternative to Jaco, just a few miles south, this pretty dark sand beach was a nice stop en route to Manuel Antonio

  • 2. Marea Brava
    Marea Brava, Playa Hermosa, Province of Puntarenas

    Enjoyed a night at a great little 2 BR condo right on the beach. Hammocks and beach right out the front door and a great pool right out the back door with a little jungle just beyond. Cute place! Had a little trouble with the credit card charges and getting a proper receipt, but otherwise a great place to stay.

  • 3. Jungle Beach Cafe, Playa Hermosa, Jaco

    Great little find just off the main road and a 2 minute walk from the Marea Brava. Great banana pancakes for breakfast, amazing fish tacos at lunch and their famous seared tuna for dinner. Don't miss the frozen key lime pie!

  • 4. Playa Manuel Antonio
    Playa Manuel Antonio, Manuel Antonio National Park, Province of Puntarenas

    White soft sand, clear, blue-green water and slanted trees for shade and great photo ops. A great beach for swimming, relaxing and just gazing in awe. One of the most beautiful around and well worth the $7 admission into the national park. The jungle comes right up to the sand, so there's plenty of wildlife just a few steps away.

  • 5. Hotel Costa Verde
    Hotel Costa Verde, Manuel Antonio National Park, Province of Puntarenas

    We love this place! Right there in the jungle, we saw more wildlife here than in Manuel Antonio National Park (howler, squirrel, capuchin monkeys, iguanas, sloths). Get a studio-plus in the B building and get a spectacular view of the beach and be right by the pool, where squirrel monkeys like to come and entertain in the late afternoon. While we visited (until 3/1/07), an adorable sloth had taken up residence in a tree just across the driveway from the hotel's Anaconda restaurant. And one of the best sunset views around is right there at the adult pool.

    Sure there are fancier hotels with more manicured grounds and nice views (eg. Si Como No, La Mariposa), which are well worth a visit for a drink or a meal, but nothing compares to the authentic charm of this place. It's comfort in the jungle.

  • 6. Barba Roja, Manuel Antonio

    Nice outdoor sunset dinner, relaxed setting

  • 7. Titi Canopy Tour

    My 4 1/2 year old son went with his dad and both grandfathers and they all had a great time. "Gecko" and "Mosquito" were great with my shy son and pointed out all kinds of interesting things in the jungle (interesting plants, poison dart frogs, sloths...) The Titi Canopy is a little more low key and therefore safer for the younger and older adventurers. It's also just 10 minutes away, so an early morning tour will get you back to the hotel by 10:30am to enjoy the rest of the day.

  • 8. Damas Mangrove Tour

    A nice relaxing outing. Perfect for grandma, who preferred to explore the wildlife from a safe distance and in a slow-moving canopied boat. An education for all of us, too. We didn't see any crocs, but the monkeys came right up to the boat and we saw a boa constrictor in the trees as well as lots of interesting critters that our guide, Eric, was happy to show us from whatever distance was comfortable (in my son's case, hands on).

  • 9. Surf lessons at the beach

    While Manuel Antonio isn't known for it's surfing in particular, my husband jumped at the chance to try it for the first time for $20/hour. Alex is right there on the main strip with his adorable sons nearby and he was a great teacher. My husband was up riding waves within a few tries and was soon addicted.

  • 10. Arenal Observatory Lodge
    Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park

    A great place if you have a car - a little remote if you don't. But the view!! If you're there on a clear day/night, there's no better view of a perfect cone-shaped volcano. Stay in one of the panoramic view rooms and watch lava flow right from bed, not to mention the sounds that make you feel you're right on the volcano itself. Walk across the hanging bridge and take a dip in the infinity pool. Oh, and don't forget to visit the hot springs - both Baldi and Tabacon are great, though Tabacon gets a better view of the volcano and is apparently a real scene at night.

  • 11. Vista del Valle Plantation Inn

    Great place for our last night. We first stayed at the T-house last year and loved it. This year, Mango Manor and Exotic Woods did not disappoint, though the Exotic Woods rooms didn't have screen doors, which is less than ideal in a resort with no AC (with screens you really don't need or even want it). But otherwise, this place is beautiful. The air smells so sweet, the views are gorgeous (especially at the edge of the canyon where the restaurant and several of the villas are set) and the food at the restaurant is delicious and organic. There's a beautiful waterfall if you're up to the hike. Fruit and flowers growing all around and a coffee plantation, too. It's 20 minutes from the airport, but you'd never ever know. This place is a find!!

    If you plan on starting and ending your visit here (not a bad idea if you have a long flight), it's a great idea to arrange to have your rental car brought/picked up here. So much easier than dealing with it at the airport.