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My husband, my 14-year-old son, my 12-year-old daughter, my 9-year old son, and I visited Costa Rica over Christmas break. We landed in San Jose, visited Arenal for 2 days, Monteverde for 2 days, Heredia for 2 days, and Lapa Rios on the Osa Peninsula for 3 days, before flying home (New York). Overall, it was a very fun trip, and we learned a lot.
Wilson drove us from the San Jose International Airport to our hotel in La Fortuna. On the way, we made many stops. First, he took us to a nice, inexpensive place to eat breakfast. Then, we stopped at the La Paz waterfall. While he drove us around, he was so much more than just a driver. He booked tours for us and provided recommendations of things to do on our trip. I can't say enough nice things about him as he went out of his way to make our trip better, and I would strongly recommend using him. His e-mail is email@example.com
Nice area, but volcano wasn't clear.
A cute little place where you stay in individual cabins. The people are helpful, breakfast is included, the rooms are attractive and clean.
A very fun river tour. They take you to and from your hotel, and provide lunch after the tour. It's about a 2 hour drive to the river from La Fortuna. Our guide was great, and we saw many amazing animals. We saw a variety of birds, a variety of lizards, a cayman, two sloths, white-face monkeys, and we both saw and heard howler monkeys. A great tour, all-around.
The most accurate review on the link I posted is the one by "divine_poet". We felt very good about our decision to go to Ecotermales. It was an intimate setting that was naturally beautiful. I think it compares well with the more commercial options such as Tabacon and Baldi.
Hanging bridges were worthwhile.
Tours are fun, no need to do both a day tour and a night tour unless you really like insects.
This a cozy hotel that has a fireplace in the lobby, and an indoor jacuzzi. The one thing that I will say is that while I thought the rooms were nice enough, I did think that the common areas were nicer than the rooms themselves. The staff was very helpful.
A cute, casual place to stop on the way to or from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Great food for breakfast or lunch.
My older son, my daughter, and I did the canopy tour at Selvatura. We were very pleased with it. Although I was a little scared beforehand, I felt that I was in good hands. The views were amazing, and I made every effort to absorb the sights. The "Tarzan Swing" was the scariest part, but it was optional. While I haven't done SkyTrek, I have heard from most locals that Selvatura is the better option.
You wouldn't know it from looking on the outside, but Tramonti was the best restaurant we ate at not part of a resort. It serves Italian food, and the pizzas and pastas that we ordered were excellent across the board, and surprisingly were consistent with what we would get at a good casual italian restaurant in New York.
A good choice if you need access to San Jose.
A lovely hotel where we had a seperate villa. Excellent beds and beautiful bathrooms. Great pool and jacuzzi. The people at the desk went above and beyond when our White Water rafting trip (Costa Rica Expeditions) was cancelled by the company, when they worked hard without being asked to find us an alternate rafting company who were running tours that day. The food was also exceptional for all three meals. An all-around outstanding hotel.
This was a polished tour that you could look at two ways. You may see it as hokey and over-rehearsed, but it was informative and the kids really enjoyed it.
Although not mentioned in our guide books, this company was able to accomodate us when we called the morning of the 2:30 rafting tour. Although they were tardy to start the tour, our guide was great and it was an enjoyable afternoon for the whole family.
We went here solely to stay at Lapa Rios.
Consistent with the reviews I had read, Lapa Rios was a beautiful place with very helpful staff. Our bungalow was very nice, and the animals were amazing. The kids loved that it was common to see animals such as squirrel monkeys and toucans in the trees near our bungalow. They have a wonderful pool that is open 24 hours, and some amazing views. Also, some very interesting tours (I recommend the "Wild Waterfall Tour" and "Dolphin Tour"). The food was exceptional as expected.