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Costa Rica or Caribbean for Family?

Old Jan 25th, 2007, 03:27 AM
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Costa Rica or Caribbean for Family?

Last year we were in Jamaica, and this year we're considering going to Costa Rica. But I'm concerned that this won't be a lot different from Jamaica. Instead, maybe we should go to an island in the Caribbean. Can someone offer some input here as to a good family-friendly island? We like to be able to venture away from the resort compound. Or should we go to Costa Rica? THANK YOU!
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 03:57 AM
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To better help you, you have to say your criteria, likes and dislikes.
Caribbean from 1 island to another can be completely different from each other, and Costa Rica is completely different from Caribbean.
State tastes, activities, and budgets please!
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 04:35 AM
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We enjoy hiking, biking, shelling, tennis, golf....generally we like to be active and not lounge around on a beach.
Jamaica was downright dangerous at times once venturing from the resort compound. We would prefer not to have that some experience.
The idea of monkeys and a "jungle" experience is pretty enticing. That is why we are thinking about Costa Rica.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 07:18 AM
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We have been to many islands in the Carribean, but only those not too developed, so can't help with you with the golf/etc. We have also been to Costa Rica. My family and I loved it. We were in the Manuel Antonio area. We did hike, the beach there is spectacular(though crowded), and we saw many monkeys! If there was a golf course, I don't know about it.
If you want golf/tennis/resort atmosphere, you may want to try the north part of C.Rica. That seems to be where the new development is. Not sure about the monkeys, though. There are many zip line courses, which are a blast. River rafting, volcano watching...Lots of adventure in Costa Rica! I'd go again in a minute.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 07:44 AM
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I've been to Jamaica and to numerous Caribbean many times islands and to Costa Rica. I suspect you and your family would absolutely flip over Costa Rica. It's Jamaica gone to heaven. There are some golf courses on the island (one, I believe, at the Marriott near Manuel Antonio), but there are so many other kinds of things to do there that I'd guess that you'd want to skip the golf for the more "exotic" ventures. It's got everything: beaches, mountains,forests,jungles,rivers,rafting,kayaking, zip-lines, numerous wonderful flora and fauna. Check out the Costa Rica board on Fodor's-- tons and tons of helpful info.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 08:17 AM
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Been to a few islands in the Caribbean and to CR a couple of times, and both are really different. I go to the islands to relax, I go to CR for adventure. Islands for a tan and beach, CR for memories that will last a lifetime. I have two children under 5, and they talk about CR all the time. The red eye tree frogs, the sloths, the monkeys, especially the howlers that woke us up early each morning, to our amazement, and all of the other incredible things that we saw. My recomendation is this, go to two areas of CR. Arenal and Manual Antonio, both are great first time areas. Take tours and have a ball. Just remember, CR is still a third world country and they don't have the huge all inclusive resorts and prisine white sandy beaches, but they have so much more. have fun.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 08:20 AM
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That's funny b/c I would not suggest Costa Rica for a family. I thought it was fun for our honeymoon, but unless your kids are older, I would go to an island. Costa Rica (IMHO) is hard to get around and the roads (many) are awful. We loved the volcanos and the small resort there, but will only consider going back when our kids are older.

Good luck with your decision! Have you considered St John?
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 08:25 AM
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You should add Grenada to the islands you're considering. The golf there is not great (I think there's a 9-hole course, it might be 18 but not sure), but it offers plenty of other activities--hiking, waterfalls, river tubing, rain forest, beautiful flora & fauna, and beautiful beaches to boot. Driving is pretty easy since the main roads are in good repair. It's also easy to get a private island tour just for your family so that you can set your own pace with the little ones.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 08:47 AM
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What about St. Kitts or Nevis? Our family is going to St. Kitts in April. The Marriott has a golf course and tennis courts. There are rain forest and volcano hikes you can go on and there are monkeys!
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 10:05 AM
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Another vote for Costa Rica, adventure at every turn if that's what you want; hot springs, volcanoes, and beaches; wildlife everywhere you look (including the north). First time we went the kids were young, maybe 6 and 9, and it was fantastic.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 10:19 AM
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I've been off the beaten path in Jamaica(with 2 young kids), and loved it.
I've been to Costa Rica 4x, 2x with my kids and loved it more than Jamaica! No golf around Manuel Antonio, but tons of animals, my kids do flip, its pretty amazing. My choice Costa Rica, its NOT like Jamaica(which I DID love).
faithie is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2007, 10:20 AM
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Just returned from Costa Rica on Dec. 26th. Off to Panama on Monday. (all with kids).
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 10:32 AM
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Parts of Jamaica really did remind me of Costa Rica-- all that inner part, the "jungle" part, the river rafting and waterfalls and all. Loved CR more though. And I think it's especially fantastic for kids (not babies).
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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I would suggest Four Seasons on Nevis. The golf is GREAT, hard to beat. They have nice tennis courts too. Spa, etc. Lots to do besides the beach, plus great hiking up in the rain forest. And yes, leaving the property, no problem. Lots of interesting places to visit. Beautiful island
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 05:20 PM
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Poss, indeed Port Antonio was every bit as lush as Costa Rica, if not more so. I meant that distinct Jamaica "vibe" is not in Costa Rica! The Jamaica has the irie factor cornered!
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 05:52 PM
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Lived in Costa Rica for 3 and a half years and returned last year for a 9 day visit. To me it is imcomparable, but traveling from one destination to another is time consuming, so one week can hardly do it justice. I have not been to Jamaica because I have been told that you were safer in a resort situation. Not my thing. I like to drive around the local countryside. In Costa Rica I did this very safely with a car full of kids most of the time. By the way, there are monkies in the Guanacaste (resort) area as well as in the Manuel Antonio area. My favorite areas (that I have been able to explore) are Arenal, Manuel Antonio, and the southern Caribbean side.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 08:13 AM
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drewzilla652,You went to Jamaica last year and stayed at the Coco LaPalm.Did you enjoy your trip?? I saw your first post where you debated wether it was safe to bring your children to Jamaica.
I did not see a trip report from you.
Please let us know since we are taking our first trip there this April/May.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 08:21 AM
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Whoops.Sorry drewzilla652.I did find your trip report on the same post I read about it!I didn't go down far enough to see your report.Nice report too.Thanks.We are looking forward to our trip to Jamaica.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 01:40 PM
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We've been to Costa Rica, Hawaii, and various Caribbean islands, including: U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Dominica...

I LOVE Costa Rica! Our young adult "kids" enjoyed it as well. WE all hope to go back. I recommend Arenal especially...take the Hanging Bridges walk, and go very slowly. Look up in the trees for monkeys. Manuel Antonio is more developed, but easier to see wildlife in the park. Our favorite areas were Arenal and Monteverde Cloud Forest.

I don't really like the Caribbean. This is a very subjective reaction. I prefer Costa Rica and Hawaii over the Caribbean.

Shillmac on the Costa Rica forum is a great resource for Costa Rica if you choose it!!!

I think Costa Rica is very family-friendly, though you need to research well, as you would for anyplace you take your family to. yes, the roads can be bad, but we drove them and at least there isn't a lot of traffic...if you think about it, driving through LAX traffic is probably a lot more dangerous, or driving through any city traffic, than driving over some rough roads in Costa Rica!

If you are worried about crime you can skip San Jose in Costa Rica... cities in general around the world tend to attract more crime.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 02:39 PM
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Hi Melissa5 - Can you tell me what you didn't like about the Caribbean?

We are from California and LOVE Hawaii (have been to the main 4 islands several times since the early 70's). We've made a couple of Caribbean cruise stops only... but are visiting the USVI and BVI (land vacation) this summer for 2 weeks. Our kids are going with us and they are will be 16 and 12 when we travel. Our main focus will be relaxing, plus scuba diving and snorkeling.

Maybe if I hear what you didn't like, it will help us with planning for our trip.


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