2wks with 4, 6, 17 year old

Nov 13th, 2007, 06:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5
2wks with 4, 6, 17 year old


We are traveling next August with our three kids 4, 6, 17. All good travelers. I am looking for input on my itinerary along with a few suggestions on tours etc.. We will rent a car. Suggestions on car rental companies?

Thanks in advance,

I was thinking of staying at a B&B near the airport day 1 and day 14.

Day 2 travel to Arenal (staying at either Arenal Observatory lodge or Lost Lagos?) Los Iguana would be out of our price range for 5 of us.

Day 3-6 canopy tour, cano negro, arenal national park, tabacon, and perhaps one grown up pnly night at ecothermales. (suggestions for tour operators and restaurants to try)

Day 7 drive to Manuel Antonio (stay at La Posada bungalows?)

Day 8-11 beach, mangrove tour, nature hike with guide at MA (any other suggestions?)

Day 12 drive to Peace lodge
Day 13 peace lodge

The above plan gives us 4 full days each in Arenal/MA and 1 full day at Peace Lodge. Does that seem like the appropriate amount of time for each area? I don't like to expect much of my family on travel days. We pretty much plan those days for a dip in the pool for the kids and a few drinks for mom/dad!

I welcome all thoughts/suggestions. While I am aware there is tons to do/see in CR, I really want to have realistic expectaions of my kids. I am sure we will be back for more trips.
magsbubble is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 07:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,211
Highly recommend Hotel Villa Bonita B&B, about 5 min. from airport. Couple of good restaurants nearby.

Also recommend Tricolor car rental--they've consistently offered the best all-inclusive (no hidden costs) deals to us time and again.

Owners of B&B super a nice Tico couple who work closely with Tricolor.


By the way, Humberto, the owner of Villa Bonita would also be more than happy to assist you with any of your other travel questions/arrangements. He's a great guy!
shillmac is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 09:31 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,750
I think Los Lagos would be a hit, especially with the ages of your family. We're staying there next Spring, but also had a wonderful stay last trip at El Campo del Silencio. We enjoyed the canopy tour that goes past the falls run by Mundo Aventuras, we also used them for the Cano Negro tour and it was fabulous. Sunset Tours gets great reviews too. Eco-Thermales os lovely, we went in the evening w/o dinner.

In MA Finca Valmy horseback and Canopy Safari get good reviews in addition to the sunset mangrove kayak you mention.

I would try to get as early deptarture as possible from MA to Peace Lodge, in fact changing either Arenal or MA to 3 nights and just altering your drive times a little 2 nights a Peace Lodge might work better for you. Your younger kids will probably want to visit the birds and animals a few times.

I second shillmac's suggestion for Villa Bonita, although I'm not sure if there's a room that would fit all of you. For that you might try the dome at Orchideas...I've hear that's big enough for a family and is about 20 min from airport.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 02:35 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 109
We stayed at Los Lagos last December and were very pleasantly surprised. The gounds are beautiful and the kids will love the pools, water slide, crocodiles, etc. There was a big breakfast buffet with a large variety of foods and you can eat by hummingbird feeders.You can also drive up a road right on the property and you are viewing the rocks tumbling down. The lava view has changed which is a shame because we saw it at night from our porch. They will ring your room if it is visible.
karenlf is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 05:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 999
That's great to hear karen - we're staying there next summer and while I've read positive reviews on trip advisor, it's always nice to hear a "first hand" experience over here! It sounded like a place our kids would really like - now I'm even more convinced!
ShellD is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 05:01 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5
Shillmac - Yes that is the B&B I was thinking of. For the great price, renting 2 rooms for my family of 5 would be no problem. Also, my hubby and I love meeting friendly local people!

hipvirgochick - thanks for the tour suggestions. I will look at extending my stay at peace lodge, I do want to make sure the kiddos are happy!

karen, thanks for the review of los lagos. it seems like a good choice!

More questions,
1. Why not arenal observatory? anything wrong with it?

2. Is manuel antonio okay for a swimming beach? Or should we think about a few days in Samara?

3. If we didn't go to MA, what are we missing out on?

4. Is SJ to Arenal to MA to (Samara?) to Peace lodge to SJ a logical order? I am hesitant to add an additional stop in just 2 weeks with such young kiddos.

5. Is 5 nights in arenal and 5 more in MA to many?

Thanks for all the help. I really like Fodors boards.
magsbubble is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,750
Maggie -- I've had the same dilemma as you regarding swimming beaches. We love the Caribbean side and are pretty sure we're adding MA to our trip next Spring, but from what I've read you do have to be careful of the beaches in MA for the rip-tides. (Although I assume with good tide tables this wouldn't be as much of an issue)...? Apparently, the 2nd beach inside the park itself is the most swimmable, along with the private beach at Tulemar.
hipvirgochick is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 03:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,211
magsbubble, Humberto has appropriate accomodations for your family at HVB. Downstairs the are 2 rooms with 2 doubles each (one has a bathtub) and another room with one double. It is very homey and safe. There is a little rancho in the backyard. You'll absolutely love Humberto, Carmen, and little Felipe.

We loved Arenal Observatory Lodge and think it would be an outstanding choice for you. A bit "out of town" down a 9km rugged road, but a beautiful property. It is also close to a zipline company (Skytrek?) as well as the National Park hiking.

We weren't so crazy about Samara, but others love it there. You might think about visiting Nosara also--close to Samara. Just depends. Second beach inside MA is great for swimmning. I think you should not miss MA, since it is your first visit. There are a lot of neat things about that area and good choices in activities.

5 nights is, my opinion, one night too long at both MA and Arenal. .
so a stop at Nosara or Samara makes perfect sense.

I think I'd reverse the order, though.

HVB 1 night
Manuel Antonio 4 nights
Samara or Nosara 2 nights
Arenal 4 nights
Peace Lodge 2 nights
HVB 1 night

What time is your departure flight? If it is afternoon, you could do another night at Peace Lodge and still get your vehicle checked in and to the airport in time? PL area is about 1 hour from the airport. With that one extra night in the La Paz area, you could do a 4-5 hour (round trip) run over to the Sarapiqui area, just to see a bit more of the country. Just a thought. . .but with little ones, you might prefer to lessen the "driving around" time.

If you stay the last night at HVB, maybe you could do a late afternoon (2:00 or 3:00) trip over to Zoo Ave. Your kids would enjoy that. It is time well spent when you are trying to fit one last little "time filler" in just before departure madness. . .

shillmac is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 05:06 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5
Again, thank you for the thoughtful responses. I will look into these different suggestions.

I am sure that will bring rise to more questions!


magsbubble is offline  

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