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family of 5 destination information

Cleveland, Ohio
posts: 624
reviews: 105
family of 5 destination information

Planning a trip to CR for my family of 5 this summer. My husband and I last visited CR in 2005 and stayed at AI Paradisus Playa Conchal (which I believe is now closed and Wyndham took over)? My husband wants to stay at all inclusive because he believes it will be cheaper than staying somewhere else and paying for food and transportation. I would like to enlighten him and get him into my mindset. Can anyone give me recommendations of areas to stay? We will be flying into Liberia. Again we are a family of 5. Two teenage girls (17 and 14) one loves adventure and the other is afraid of her own shadow lol but she has come a long way! Our third is a 4 year old boy. When my husband and I last visited we did a trip to tabacon springs, and zip lining. We really didn't see any wildlife (other than the monkey park we went too). I would like to stay somewhere that has wildlife! The kids would love to see a monkey and more than an iguana! We do not need anything fancy! Just clean with moderate amenities (unfortunately TV with cable and internet access will likely be a must) my husband almost gets out of work but prefers to have internet access for emergencies. We do not necessairly need a beachfront property but close to a beach that would be good for our 4 year old would be nice. A nice view would be great! Don't want to travel there and not have something beautiful to look at! Although I could care less about having AC 3 out of 5 of us would be very upset if we didn't have it! Last visit I wanted to do Monteverde but we never made it. Would like something like that (but it would need to be suitable for our 4 year old). The girls and I would love to do some horseback riding. Good pool and reasonable food options would be a must. We have a budge of $2000-$3000 for a week. I would love to rent a home and brought it up to my husband but he is apprehensive to rent a home in a foreign country (worried that someone will break in because it's a known rental). A family friendly location with similar things to do as mentioned with reasonably priced accommodations and food options would be great!! Also info on car rentals would be welcome!! Thanks in advance!!

11 replies to this topic
Costa Rica
posts: 25,229
reviews: 26
1. Re: family of 5 destination information

There are more non-AI options that AI options in Costa Rica. Many more. And, it can be proved that you don't save money. Period.

Some possibilities flying into LIR:

1. Playas del Coco or Playa Hermosa -- both of these beaches are 20-30 minutes from the airport. You can arrange private transportation or a taxi or just rent a car. Playas del Coco is a bit more developed with lots of activities, hotels, villas and condos and Playa Hermosa is more quiet. For day trips, it's easy to visit any of four National Parks: Rincon de la Vieja, Santa Rosa, Palo Verde and Tenorio, all 2 hours or less from Playas del Coco.

anywherecostarica.com/destinations/playa-her…

anywherecostarica.com/destinations/playa-del…

2. Tamarindo - a great place for the teens. LOTS of choice of lodging, condos or villas, many good restaurants and some nightlife. Many activities available. anywherecostarica.com/destinations/tamarindo…

Tamarindo is a bit further for day trips, but still do-able.

At Hacienda Guachipelin, near the entrance to Rincon de la Vieja, there is a variety of activities that would suit everyone. www.guachipelin.com

For transportation - the most economical for a family of your size is to rent a car. Otherwise, use private transportation or organized tours for your day trips. For car rentals, you can check into these agencies: Vamos, Solid, Service, Toyota, National, Adobe, Alamo. These are all recommended and have good service and good cars.

There's really no need to stay in an AI in Costa Rica which just tends to separate you from the country. There is an excellent tourist infrastructure all over the county, good restaurants and inexpensive restaurants and lots of activities everywhere.

For more information, you can check out the www.anywherecostarica.com website - it is very informative with descriptions of many places.

If you are determined to do the AI thing, the Playa Paradisus is now the Westin Playa Conchal, not Wyndham. (Yeah, both "W's") There are some other choices, but stay far away from the RIU.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 634
reviews: 135
2. Re: family of 5 destination information

I like your mindset, I avoid AI's the world over, and in CR I dont think they are a value at all, the majority are up in Papagayo and you may as well be staying in a another country, isolated, touristy, nothing quaint or intrinsic about it.

I would shoot for Playa Tamarindo, Playa Coco area beaches are so so in comparison and the overall feel is not nearly as interesting as Tamarindo. Though Tamarindo has morphed from a once sleepy surf town to villas and condos and lovely homes, it also has a lot of lodging options too. When you were at the Playa Conchal, did you go into Tamarindo for a bite/nightlife or shop?

Monkeys and Sloths are all along this area of the coast as well.

The only problem with a beach for the whole week, is you are limited in access to major parks, though Rincon and Tenorio are good day trips for sure. Otherwise, you could do 2 nights in Rincon or Monteverde, then head to the beach and relax.

Though I am opinionated and passionate about Costa Rica, and ruffle peoples feathers with my comments, here they are-

Costa Rica has some of the nicest and finest options for lodging in the region, lovely, charming, rustic, authentic, intimate, hand built, family owned, lodges, boutique hotels and Inns/Cabinas. Why people stay in a large resort like Mexico I have no idea, but they dont know what they are missing. One the reasons to come to this country, is its lovely and sweet people, and the nature, wildlife, and old traditional way of still doing things. Unlike our modern lives back home, the key is to use this country to press reset, detach, engage in the simple world of sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere f a new culture. Not going here and staying in a sterile resort with hum drum rooms, long hallways with music, pools packed with kids, TV and computers.

Use this opportunity, to tell the kids, in order to enjoy and learn about a new culture, you need to engage it, no laptops, no ipads, Iphones, Ipods, just a book, a hammock under a palm tree, ocean breezes. Fish, swim, boogie board, surf lessons, kayak, snorkel, river boats, fishing and so forth, take advantage of what is right in front of you, that you dont have at home.

But the reality is, people go to a AI and do all the same things they do at home and never meet a local, try to use spanish in greetings, small talk, play with local children, engage the local shop keeper.

On that note, one the nicest boutique hotels on the coast, is Capitan Suizo (No TV/some rooms AC). Its tranquil and peaceful, on the ocean, shirt walk to town. No conference rooms, no phones, a nice spa, family setting. Spa, Horseback, kayak, surf, right off the property.

Upstairs rooms are high ceilings and non AC, nice terraces with chez lounges, get two adjoining rooms...

For a nice family style outdoor adventure, consider the La Carolina Lodge near Celeste Waterfalls, a working ranch, family style open eat in kitchen, horses, tucked in a gorgeous valley on the river. Wood fired Hot tub made of stone on the river. 2 nights here is bliss.

I would not hesitate renting a home or villa/condo in CR, afterall, 2 million tourist a year come there the last 3 decades, and the housing options are endless, foreign country? Well, yes, so what. VRBO, Flip Key, Homeaway, are all options for renting a private home in international destinations.

Tamarindo also has everything from multiple rental car agencies, airport, bus/shuttle services, internet cafes, and dozen surf schools for the kids.

www.hotelcapitansuizo.com/index.php?english

www.lacarolinalodge.com/activities.html

Cleveland, Ohio
posts: 624
reviews: 105
3. Re: family of 5 destination information

Thanks you guys so much! When my husband and I were there last I did convince him to leave the resort and we went into tamarindo and walked around. We had lunch at this lovely little open aired restaurant right on the ocean and I loved it! A few more things. First I am embarrassed to even admit this and please don't rip me to shreds but I have a phobia of spiders. Since we would b going during green season I was reading that the tarantulas can get flooded out of their homes and will b kn your home. When we were there last it was rainy season and I never saw a spider. Of course in the wild I can handle more but I would not be able to sleep if I found a tarantula in my room. What is the likelihood of that happening in one of the smaller boutique hotels or a private home? Again I know it's a ridiculous question as we are going to a tropical location in the jungle! I realize they will be around but I don't want them in my bed!! Lastly I found a hotel last night called costa verde. Their prices are really reasonable for a room of 5. It is near MA state park. What do u think about that area as compared to tamarindo or the others? I am thinking it's like a 3 hour drive from Liberia airport? Do u think we would have a similar experience in a hotel in tamarindo coco beach area parks? Thanks again to you both for your guidance. I truly feel the sane way about the ai issue. We have been to many in the Dominican, Jamaica and Mexico. But in all of those places it's really to advised to venture off on your own. I definitely want to see the heart of Costa Rica this time and hope that I can get my husband on the same page. By the time we pay for ai and then add in tours it's going to be quite costly. Oh and will it be ok go do canopy tours/hanging bridges with our 4 year old. I saw a few pics of monteverde hanging bridges and looks like they have something going along the sides so they are not completely open. Thanks again to you both!

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 44,923
reviews: 2
4. Re: family of 5 destination information

I do not like spiders either...and I drive around my country almost daily...and honestly I never seen them...inside or outside anywhere...very rarely I see one...again I do not like them at all..sorry for the spiders...maybe they do not like to be around me either...

I really do not care for Costa Verde at all..last time there...they turn off power at noon...when I walk to fornt desk and ask for the problem,,,they toll me that it was the way to let people know that was check out time...?? The owner also is not a very nice person... ...in simple words in my personal opinion not a nice place...good location...but not nice people that runs and own the place...

The Costa Verde is about 4 hours from Tamarindo..

La Posada Inn by the park entrance they offer a nice small apartment ...the owner is a great guy...Michael...incredible decent person..

Also try The Falls...nice location...Hotel and Cabinas ESpadillas...El Bosque...Vela Bar...

roadadvisor

Edited: 11:47 am, January 08, 2013
Costa Rica
posts: 25,229
reviews: 26
5. Re: family of 5 destination information

If you ever saw a tarantula, I would consider you LUCKY! They are very shy. Whatever you are reading about houses being flooded and tarantulas coming into the house has nothing at all to do with what you will experience.

It is very unlikely that you will see a spider at all in your room in any lodging. The rooms are cleaned every day so the most you would see would be a small jumping spider - about 1/4" big - or a tiny "daddy long legs" - about 1/4 " plus legs. If you have a problem with spiders, that's OK. We all have our little "things." If you are unsure, you can always ask at the hotel desk to have your room swept out late in the day.

As for activities with your 4-year-old, each one is different and they all have their own rules. It's doubtful you could go on a zip line with him/her but hanging bridges would be OK.

The Manuel Antonio area is fine, especially for families, but really best if you are flying into SJO. If you are flying into LIR, it is too far and there are many many good choices a lot closer to LIR.

Samara Beach is a great family-friendly town www.samarabeach.com and Tamarindo, while more developed, would also be good.

www.nicoyapeninsula.com

For distances and travel times www.yourtravelmap.com

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 723
6. Re: family of 5 destination information

Tracie "The Bug Lady's" night tour in Drake Bay is very spider heavy and one of the best tours in the country. My 11-year old loved it when he was 7, and now always takes any guests we have visiting out with strong headlamps at night to see the hundreds of shiny eyes (that look like dew drops) of the spiders living in the lawns and empty lots of our neighborhood.

Tarantulas, trap-door spiders, golden orb spiders, these are beautiful and important members of our ecosystems...

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 634
reviews: 135
7. Re: family of 5 destination information

Agree, few spiders I encounter in CR, you have to look for them. The night bug lady tour in DB is one the best tours I have been on, it was really cool.

Cleveland, Ohio
posts: 624
reviews: 105
8. Re: family of 5 destination information

my son would love the spider tour! He see's spiders here and just picks them up. I am encouraging him not to do that as even in Ohio we have spiders that could bite! My son is actually really into frogs though. I read somewhere about hunting for frogs at night?? It was a guided walk I believe and I thought I bookmarked it but apparently I did not. Does this ring a bell to anyone? I am certain everyone in our party would enjoy that so any information that you could tell me about it would be appreciated since I can't seem to locate it. Thanks again for all of the suggestions. I am going to do some research on the places you mentioned and will be back in touch with more questions if I have any, if you don't mind! Thanks again! Jamey

Costa Rica
posts: 25,229
reviews: 26
9. Re: family of 5 destination information

Jamey - just about anywhere you go, you can arrange a night tour to see frogs. There are lots of them and very colorful.

After you have done some research (and your heads stop spinning) we would be happy to answer any other questions you have.

Cleveland, Ohio
posts: 624
reviews: 105
10. Re: family of 5 destination information

Well, thanks to you guys I have narrowed down a few places. My husband may or may not be happy about what I want to do. I am actually considering just planning it and surprising everyone...HA! So - I found a place near La Fortuna that I feel we MUST go to at least for 2-3 days. It's a farm with a few villas that you can rent. You can feed the horses and buffalo and will take you on rides too. That's my condensed version that I am positive doesn't even remotely close to describing this place accurately. The owners actually do Hot Air balloon rides? Familiar to either of you? Have you heard anything negative? All but one review was glowing and so I tend to discount the 1 person out of 20+ reviews that say negative things. From this point I am not so sure. If I thought we could spend the entire stay without irritating some members of the family I would. However, beach time is a must. That being said I actually really like the area of Samara SO MUCH and have found a few rental homes that I think would be lovely to rent! The only down side to this area is that its a little further from the airport than I would like to be but our return flight home doesn't depart until 1 so it is workable. I just know the pain it will be getting my 2 teenage girls to get their butts moving the morning we leave. So due to the fact that coco is closer I am strongly considering that area but I really think we would like Samara more. That being said, I am actually thinking of trying to add an extra day or two to our stay so that we can do a few days in one area and then go to Samara and not feel like we've lost too much vacation time due to the traveling! The airfare cost will remain the same. Might add a few more hundred to our total but I think we will still come in at or below what we planned to spend on the AI! Now I am so excited for this vacation and completely obsessed with planning it!! I haven't ruled out tamarindo yet, I just haven't researched it as much yet so that is still an option. Once I nail down the second half and figure out where we will stay, once again I will get your advice if you don't mind! Thanks to everyone so much for your suggestions. This will be SO MUCH better than staying at AI and I can't wait for Gallo Pinto.....haha!

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