10 days in CR with two kids - Fantastic!

Old Jul 9th, 2009, 04:38 PM
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10 days in CR with two kids - Fantastic!

We just returned from a fantastic 10 day trip to CR with our kids (ages 7 and 12). This board was so helpful in planning and the vacation turned out perfect in every way.

San Jose, 1 night Finca Rose Blanca: We flew Continental from Austin to San Jose via Houston and stayed the first night at Finca Rosa Blanca outside of San Jose. It was a beautiful hotel with stunning architecture and the grounds are gorgeous. We hiked around the property a bit and had a delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant the first night. The next morning we did a horseback riding tour into the coffee plantation on the grounds and up hill where we had a great view of San Jose. The hotel was very flexible with the horseback riding, we told them we only wanted to go for about an hour and half as we were leaving for Arenal and they were very accommodating. Our driver Leo Rodriguez ([email protected]) picked us up at 10am and drove us to Arenal. Hiring Leo was great decision; he was fun, knowledegable and a great driver who gave us many suggestions during the trip and became like part of the family.

Arenal, 4 nights Lost Iguana: We arrived at Lost Iguana with a full view of the volcano and it continued to show off the whole time we were there. I guess we were very lucky as it was in full view for parts of every day and night. We loved the Lost Iguana! It was perfect for our kids and we really enjoyed hiking the grounds. The food was delicious; we had a complementary dinner the first night which was very good and ate at the restaurant several more times and had great meals. The ceviche was excellent and the breakfast buffet was good also. We got a great deal on two rooms: 50% off a suite and 20% off an adjoining room (we had rooms 114 and 115), along with the complementary first night dinner. The rooms were great and the view of course was amazing. We saw lava flow several times and could hear the boulders tumbling during the day. The kids loved having their own room and my husband and I really liked having our own space with no kids stuff around While in Arenal we did get a rental car from Alamo which came in handy. Alamo delivered the car to us at the hotel for $15. We did the Hanging Bridges with a guide from Lost Iguana, highly suggest using a guide because he helped so much to spot things. We drove to the waterfall and hiked the 380 steps down, swam a little at the bottom, and hiked back up, it was beautiful! We also did the zip line with EcoGlide at Leo's suggestion, its located right outside La Fortuna. My timid 7 year old LOVED it and went with a guide and it was the highlight of her trip. They use a double cable system for safety which is a good feature. At the end of the zip line is a tarzan swing that is not for the faint of heart. While in the harnass you drop free fall from a platform and then swing up and back in huge arc. Everyone who did it screamed on the free fall, including my husband but that was the highlight of his trip!! My 12 year old thrill seeking daughter did it twice! I chickened out after standing on the platform and looking down and of course my 7 year old did not do it, but we loved the zip lining part. We also hiked the volcano on our own, spent about 3 hours in the National Park and really enjoyed it. The volcano went off a few times while we were there and the kids loved that.
While in Arenal we ate twice at a restaurant that Leo suggested, El Novillo del Arenal. My husband had one of the best steaks he's ever had there. The restaurant doesn't look like much but it is delicious! The second time we were there their credit card machine was not working and we didn't have enough cash on us to cover our dinner. They graciously told us to just come back the next day and pay them! Can't imagine that happening in the USA and its just one example we had of the marvelous Tico charm and hospitality that they show to visitors. We also paid $10 per person and spent an afternoon at Los Lagos which the kids loved. We saw the crocodiles, butterfly and frog farms and the kids got to play on the slides and in the pools. All in all we loved Arenal and I felt that 4 nights was perfect for us as it allowed us to do all the activities we wanted without feeling rushed. We elected to skip Ecotermales because we did the hot pools at Los Lagos instead and frankly we are not fans of really hot pools anyway (we live in the heat in Texas).
While in Arenal I also stopped at Arenal Nayara Hotel to check it out as I had a hard time choosing between Nayara and Lost Iguana. I got to see a room and they are beautiful and the grounds are gorgeous! Lost Iguana is more jungle-y and was probably better for us with kids but the Nayara looked amazing, maybe in a more manicured sort of way (although no lava flow views, so we would have missed that).

Manual Antonio, Villa Mot Mot at Tulemar, 4 nights: Leo picked us up in Arenal and drove us to MA. On the way we stopped for lunch and after lunch did the 2 hour jungle crocodile safari cruise which was fantastic (www.junglecrocodilesafari.com). We elected to do this instead of Cano Negro to reduce the drive time with kids while in Arenal and to break up the day on the way to MA. We saw tons of crocs, birds and other wildlife. It was a very good cruise and if you don't want to spend the time driving to Cano Negro I would recommend it (although they did feed the crocs some chicken We got to Villa Mot Mot around 5pm just as it was getting dark and so couldn't really see the view. What a treat the next morning when we woke up! We were out on the beautiful wraparound deck of Villa Mot Mot the first morning and were visited by about 10 capuchin monkeys. They were clearly looking for food and when we did not feed them they never came back. We saw iguanas, a sloth and tons of birds while at Villa Mot Mot. The private beach at Tulemar was amazing and we loved having it for the kids. They provide a shuttle down to the beach (its about a 10 min walk downhill on the property) and have towels, a snack bar, boogie boards and kayaks for use at the beach. The weather was beautiful and the beach was not crowded and the waves were manageable. It was frankly so much easier to have a beach on the property rather than having to go to the park beaches every day with the kids, so I highly recommend this place for families. The restaurant was delicious and again they had fantastic ceviche and the included breakfasts were ordered off a menu. There is a grocery store within walking distance (Villa Mot Mot has a full kitchen) an a few good restaurants you can walk to also. Kapi Kapi (which is almost across the street from the property) was delicious. We spent most of the time at the private beach but did spend one morning at MA National Park. At Leo's suggestion we hired a guide he knew, Elias (phone 88-23-09-09) who was great. We saw a sloth, toucan, monkeys, etc etc.
The last day Leo drove us from MA to San Jose airport. Our flight was at 12:35pm and we left MA at 7am and arrived at the airport by 10am, with plenty of time to check in, etc.
All in all it was such a great trip, the people were fantastic, the food was delicious (we ate everything and drank the water with no problems) and we can't wait to go back. I had so much help from this board and I'm so appreciative of it. If anyone has questions please feel free to email me at [email protected].
laurab8737 is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2009, 07:15 AM
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It sounds like a perfect trip, Laura! So glad that you were able to see the lava - I've struck out on two trips, maybe on trip #4, 5, or 6...
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Old Jul 12th, 2009, 05:53 AM
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Welcome back, Laura - I'm glad you had such a great trip. The Lost Iguana is one of our favorite hotels - so pretty there. What did you guys see at the Hanging Bridges? We didn't get a guide our first time, but I definitely would if we did it again.
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Old Jul 13th, 2009, 02:08 PM
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How much did the cab ride cost from Arenal to MA ? and then MA to sjo
Thanks
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 07:55 PM
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vsntr, Arenal to MA was $190 and MA to SJO was $150.
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Old Jul 14th, 2009, 08:03 PM
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volcanogirl, at the hanging bridges there was a deadly Fer De Lance snake in a container at the entrance, they had just caught it! On the hike with our guide we saw an eyelash viper snake, a mot mot bird with a lizard in its mouth, a huge marine frog,several smaller frogs and so many different types of plants. It was really great to have a guide, we would have missed most of the stuff without him.
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Old Jul 15th, 2009, 02:33 AM
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Wow, laura, that is so cool! I would have loved to have seen those things! A guide is definitely the way to go.
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