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Family trip from uk

burton on trent
Level Contributor
104 posts
17 reviews
Family trip from uk

Hi guys... I’m after a little help/reassurance on a few thing regarding our family hols next year... myself, wife and two young sons,9 &7 plan on visiting Costa Rica at the end of May... plan on two weeks and flying on BA into San Jose... for us in UK it’s much cheaper to book an all inclusive package ... however Costa Rica is somewhere I’ve always want to go and obv would be a shame to be confined to a hotel?.. however plush and luxurious.. wondered whether to do that and just go excursion crazy?.. prob is ,all inclusive hotel I like I’d the Dreams las Mareas , ( we’ve been several Dreams in other countries and really like them)...which is right up near the border with Nicaragua, so trips are gonna involve to much driving time on buses or whatever they use... so I keep coming back to my more independent itinerary which is as follows...

Fly into San Jose...land 1315

Pick up car .. midsize 4x4

One night at a Ranch about 25 mins from airport..

Two nights in Treehouses hotel near Arenal

Two nights Arenal Observatory lodge

Two nights Monteverde inn

6 nights at the Dreams all inc

Final night near San Jose ( maybe the ranch)

The ranch has horses and a nice looking pool..

I know the four nights nr Arenal in two different places may seem daft but the treehouses look great and I think there’s enough to do all around... plan on doing night walks, free hikes...planing on sky adventure park at Arenal, tubing and zip lines...(are my kids old enough?)... horse trekking at Monteverde... bikes too?.. am I doing the right thing?... is it safe , does my trip sound any good??.. thanks in advance!👍

21 replies to this topic
Co Durham
Level Contributor
461 posts
63 reviews
1. Re: Family trip from uk

Who says it's cheaper to book a package from the UK? We did it ourselves far, far cheaper this summer.

A couple of things I'd consider. If you plan on staying near the airport first night, don't get the car until the following day and save a fortune, particularly if you are set on a 4x4. We travelled for 4 weeks in a sedan, granted we never went to Monteverde, so a 4x4 might be a good shout. Yes it's totally safe for the kids, ours loved the place. I'd love to know of the free hikes near Arenal you have lined up for our next visit. Very little in CR was free, though good value was to be found. In Arenal area I'd suggest the Bogarin Trail and Kalambu hot springs/waterpark, great for the kids.

Hope it goes well

Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
3,614 posts
51 reviews
2. Re: Family trip from uk

It's not crazy to divide your time in Arenal between those two great hotels, especially since you'll have your own vehicle. They will provide very different experiences. The Tree Houses are close to Proyecto ASIS wildlife rescue; I highly recommend a volunteer tour there.

burton on trent
Level Contributor
104 posts
17 reviews
3. Re: Family trip from uk

Nice one ... yes that’s what I thought, Treehouse hotel and Arenal Observatory lodge both look great but totally different... the second of those hotels do an 0830 walk for free... maybe it’s really quick?...anyway I know it all costs and soon adds up!... how’s the driving there? And roads?... did anyone go to the Sky Adventures Park?..are the . hanging bridges there too?... how’s the cost of eating out and drinks?... regarding car hire , I put in cars from San Jose Costa Rica Airport and got some crazy cheap prices?... I’m gonna have to check again now.. heads swirling with questions... thanks again👍

Copperas Cove, Texas
3 posts
4. Re: Family trip from uk

Yes. Invite me along as I speak Español. Sola una broma. I have been to CR many times and it is the safest country in all of the Americas, but still be aware. You should have a great time. With a rental, you should be able to make side trips. However, many of the roads/city streets are the same size as when I first lived there in the early 70’s but today there is 20 times more traffic. 1000’s of motorcycles jam into every space possible making 5 or 6 lanes wide when one or two lanes are available. Don’t be in a hurry to be anywhere.

Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
3,614 posts
51 reviews
5. Re: Family trip from uk

First for the car - there are countless threads on this forum about this. Your SUV will be expensive; do not fall for the inaccurate pricing your searches reveal. Go with a Costa Rican agency with a good reputation and transparent pricing. I recommend Vamos; spend some time on their website. For your family and your plans, I believe the cost of the vehicle will be well worth it.

The roads are mostly good, with the exception of the last bit up to Monteverde, where it gets rocky and bumpy, and the same for the road to AOL. You're fine if you go slowly and have the clearance of an SUV. You'll need a good navigation tool. Vamos can provide a cell phone with Waze and/ or a GPS.

All of the activities you mention are very good but you're right that the costs will add up. You are staying at places (have you reserved yet?) with great properties to explore and that comes for free. You'll want to splurge on ASIS, hanging bridges, entrance to Monteverde Reserve.......It's a long list and only you know what your budget is.

The night walk at the Tree Houses is great; it is not short. You will be escorted by one of the night watchmen for perhaps an hour or so. They are great at spotting wildlife on the property. The experience is free but tips are very much appreciated.

burton on trent
Level Contributor
104 posts
17 reviews
6. Re: Family trip from uk

Thanks for the help !.. I’ll check the car situ... thanks mimdaisy, great info 👍

Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
3,614 posts
51 reviews
7. Re: Family trip from uk

My pleasure.

Thornton CO
Level Contributor
100 posts
23 reviews
8. Re: Family trip from uk

We took our kids ziplining in Monteverde in July. My kids were 6.5, 9, and 11 and they just had guides take the two little ones on most lines. Your kids will likely be able to do it, but you have to make sure the company you choose allows it, some don't allow kids under a certain age, others do.

That's about all I can answer from your post, but thought I'd throw that in there. Oh also, our rental car (intermediate 4x4) was pretty cheap compared to what I'm used to paying. It was a touch over $400 for 11 days with all of the required insurance. Considering I usually pay around $1000/week for a rental minivan I was pleasantly surprised. We had a good experience renting the car, not at all the horror stories I've read about. However, I am going back in February for a destination wedding and the same rental car company at the same airport for the same rental car is going to cost about $400 for the 5 days we will be there. So high/low season definitely plays a big part in the cost.

Co Durham
Level Contributor
461 posts
63 reviews
9. Re: Family trip from uk

I'd second the vote for Vamos, we had a good experience with them this summer. Older cars but reliable and well maintained. If you prefer newer then Adobe were probably the next best option. The rental isn't the expensive part it's all of the insurances. We paid around $400 for 26 days rental, with the insurances added in it was around $1100.

Eating out is similar prices to the UK for most restaurants. Though some places were very expensive for the quality of the food, particularly in Arenal. There are other places equally good value to balance this out.

Driving was an experience, I'd not say a bad one but I'd not say a good one either. Interesting, sometimes a little hairy in the mountains and where there are a lot of trucks. Overall though the roads were in reasonable condition in most places.

I see where you are getting the idea of 'free' walks from. However the costs are simply added into the rate at the hotel. Though it's a lovely hotel with good ratings the rate charged is very high compared with other places. I suppose it depends on budget like all travellers.

Drinks were between 1000 and 2000 colones for a beer in most places we visited. That's £1.20 - £2.40 for a bottle of beer. Reasonable. Soft drinks were 900 - 1400. Smoothies between 1500-2500. Again the establishment visited probably influences the price. Wine was a little more than beer and cocktails a little more again in the main.

I'm sure the children will love the activities you have planned.

burton on trent
Level Contributor
104 posts
17 reviews
10. Re: Family trip from uk

Thanks for all the help and advice guys👍... been tinkering with our itinerary... knocking the all inclusive bit on the head and heading over the Manuel Antonio NP.. looked at Tulamar hotel and also at La Foresta lodge which was less expensive... both look great and are on B&B... anyone been MA before?.. or those hotels?... MA looks great?.... grecojess , who was your rental with?... thanks in advance 👍

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