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Critique My Time in Costa Rica

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Sep 14th, 2012, 09:42 PM
  #1
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Critique My Time in Costa Rica

In May I spent nearly 2 weeks setting my alarm clock for 5am (when the Alaska Partners desk opens) to try to secure my family of 4 our airfare for Costa Rica using my air miles. Well, I am very happy to report that my diligence paid off; my air mileage account is empty, but my heart is full. My husband and I will get to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary in Costa Rica with our 2 daughters (then ages 6 and 3.75)! If you'd be so kind as to look over and critique how and where I have us spending our time, I would love the feedback.

Sat. March 30th – depart on red-eye flight.

Sun, March 31st - arrive Costa Rica 10:55am - drive to Arenal (approx. 3.25 hrs. drive) - Stay at Hotel El Silencio del Campo

Mon. April 1st - Proyecto Asis, Hot Springs

Tues. April 2nd – Hike or Horseback ride to La Fortuna Waterfall

Wed. April 3rd – Snake Museum, Drive to Tenorio National Park (approx. 1.5 – 2hrs.) - Stay at La Carolina Lodge

Thurs. April 4th – Rio Celeste Hike

Fri. April 5th – Horseback Ride, Drive to Playa Samara (approx. 2.5 - 3hrs.) - Stay at The Hideaway Hotel

Sat. April 6th - Ziplining

Sun. April 7th - Surfing and Beach Day

Mon. April 8th – Surfing and Beach Day

Tues. April 9th – Drive to San Jose (approx. 4 1/2 hr. drive) - Stay at Casa Bella Rita

Wed. April 10th – Poas Volcano in a.m.
Depart San Jose 5:05p.m.

Is there a "must see" in the Samara area that I just can't miss that I need to make time for? Any other suggestions for things to do with the children in mind? Thanks in advance.
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Sep 14th, 2012, 10:13 PM
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Monteverde cloud forest is a must see if you are in arenal. Hire a private guide and take a hike in the cloud forest... Zip lining is best in Monteverde IMO...
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Sep 14th, 2012, 10:16 PM
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I think it looks nice. What's the snake museum?
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Sep 15th, 2012, 05:06 AM
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Monteverde is a slight haul, even from Arenal, though it appears close on a map. You would need to allot extra time for this.

Other than that, it looks great. Do you know the age requirements for horseback-riding and ziplines?
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Sep 15th, 2012, 07:24 AM
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6 and 3.75 ? You cant ride a horse TO the falls. You still have to walk down and UP a zillion steps.These aren't steps you're use to seeing. Each are a different height and width and climbing some you need to pull your knee up to your chin.
La Carolina is great(one of my faves) but don't expect corn flakes and pop tarts. The kids willing to sit down to beans rice and fried plantains at breakfast ? The Rio Celeste hike is pretty tough too.
Alaskan kids are 5 times tougher than their chubby little counterparts to the south but I still don't recommend taking kids under 13-14 to Costa Rica.One thing CR is NOT is child friendly.
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Sep 15th, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Wow - is that true, Arenal botanical? Shillmac and others with small kids or grandkids have talked about CR as being kid-friendly (though of course there are specific age requirements for certain activities), and we've encountered many, many happy families with children under thirteen or fourteen. It would be interesting to hear the perpective of those who travel with children.
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Sep 15th, 2012, 08:11 AM
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"CR is NOT...child friendly"
I feel so sorry for all those poor children in Costa Rica!

Of course, many adult activities are not appropriate for children, or allowed; but the Hanging Bridges (there are a couple) would be a good substitute for a more strenuous hike. A Cano Negro trip would be fun, and Los Laureles hot springs are an inexpensive and family friendly alternative to TAbacon.
Beaches are always nice for kids (but choose a gentle beach, not a surf beach).
YOu don't need to go on nothing but organized "fun" activities (those get expensive, too); exploring the scenery and short walks are very rewarding. (Take a short drive to Muelle, and see the iguanas in the trees; Google Muelle for nearby nature preserve/tours/ etc.)
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Sep 15th, 2012, 08:12 AM
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Thank you everyone for your thoughts. Swanner, my husband and I actually visited Monteverde on our 1st trip to CR, (and did the yes, outstanding zip-lining on that trip), however due to age restrictions our children wouldn't be able to take part, thus the decision to skip Monteverde this time, and instead include zip-lining in Samara where they can participate.

Volcanogirl, the snake museum (or serpenteria) is wonderful! It was one of our favorite (and cheapest) places on a previous visit. Owned by a very nice young man who shared his love and knowledge of snakes, frogs, and other Costa Rican animals freely (many of which we were able to hold). After much googling we were able again to find them on Facebook, and it seems they have definitely expanded (perhaps a change of ownership?). Hopefully we'll be able to find what we loved to be the same.

I am thinking that we will probably forgo the horseback ride to the falls since we will be doing the ride at La Carolina (where in either instance our youngest would ride with us or the guide).

Arenalbotanical, maybe I should have a disclosure that we maybe have always bucked the system when it comes to traveling with our kids. At 5 months, and 8 months respectively we were tent camping with our daughters, at 6 months old we took our daughter to Alaska, and have continued traveling as such. They are not at all chubby, and have never in their life ever eaten a pop tart. Rather things like cous-cous, naan, tzatziki, and other "non-traditional" foods are part of their vocabulary. I think we're up for the challenge, although we like to think of it as an adventure.
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Sep 15th, 2012, 08:14 AM
  #9
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sylvia3, I think our posts were in sync with each other. Thank you for your suggestions. I'll start googling on some of them now.
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Sep 15th, 2012, 09:00 AM
  #10
 
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Congrats on scoring tickets, and happy anniversary! I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time; as you know, children are very adaptable and enjoy and remember simple things as well as organized fun. It's nice that you can provide special family memories for them.
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Sep 15th, 2012, 09:14 AM
  #11
 
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Well-put,sylvia. And what better spot than CR! I often wish I'd brought my son when he was very young. All he'd have needed were his inate child-like curiosity and maybe a camera, and he would have been in heaven.
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Sep 15th, 2012, 11:08 AM
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oh, yes, Cattail, that's a great idea for kids these days! With cheap digital cameras, they'll have a blast.
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Sep 15th, 2012, 01:13 PM
  #13
 
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Costa Rica is definitively child friendly, both as a safe country and even more as a country where kids should never be bored. As I have been to same places you will go here are some remarks:
In La Fortuna no need to have a horseback riding to the waterfall; you can do this or afternoon on day of your arrival, or before hot springs. Instead do the Cano Negro boat tour (whole day) or ziplining with Hanging bridges.
La Carolina is a special place. You will love it, and kids also, even if there is no TV etc. Horseback riding at its best!!! Rio Celeste hike is a strenuous one; if previous day (or night) will rain hard then skip it. Rio Celeste will not be celeste, and trails will be muddy and slippery. Food at La Carolina is local but gooood.
Driving to Samara will take a little longer; we started at 10 am, arrived at Canas (do check Las Pumas while there) at 11 am, and after an hour continued to Samara where we arrived at 3 pm. So it was just short of 4 hours, with another 30 min lunch break between Nosara and Samara.
While in Samara do visit nearby Playa Carillo; its plam fringed white sand beach is one of better in Costa Rica, and also relatively safe for some bodyboarding.
Monteverde is another great location yet not feasible inside your itinerary; maybe next time?
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Sep 15th, 2012, 07:47 PM
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We brought our 2 girls to CR when they were 8 and 12 and they loved it! We horseback rode to a waterfall (yes, had to get off and walk down steep incline the last bit), did hanging bridges at Arenal and they did zipline. We also did hot springs (at Los Lagos where we stayed) and did several days at Manuel Antonio. It was a great trip and wonderful for kids!
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Sep 17th, 2012, 05:16 PM
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Not child friendly? Absolutely it is! I have such sweet memories of our 6 month old granddaughter at Monteverde and our 5 month old grandson in a small soda in Tuis-- the wait staff took them, held them, showed them things in the restaurant. Costa Ricans love children, and there are plenty of things you can do with them. Our oldest granddaughter even ziplined at the age of 4. She had a blast.

You sound like you have a good deal of experience traveling with children and doing unique things. Go for it!! Your itinerary sounds good. Plan on those transfers taking 1-2 hours more than you allowed. Have a great time!!
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Sep 19th, 2012, 09:37 PM
  #16
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Thank you all for your thoughtful replies (and more accurate time estimates of travel). Thank you as well for your encouragement of traveling with our children. I have to say that while not expected, it is something we've heard (but never listened to) before. My brother-in-law used to always tell us, "Once you have kids, you're never going to go anywhere." How sad for us and our children if we would have adopted that approach to parenting.

Made a minor adjustment to the itinerary too. Exchanged out our stay in Samara at the Hideaway Hotel to stay instead at Villas Kalimba (which I 1st heard about on this forum) which will provide us with a kitchen so we can eat in when we so desire.

One last question, on our drive from Playa Samara back to San Jose, can anyone suggest a good place to stop to kind of break up our drive for the kids? Could be a good place to eat, could be a museum, something with animals? We're open to ideas.

Thanks again!
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Sep 23rd, 2012, 05:59 AM
  #17
 
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c, thanks for the snake info. I had never heard of that one. The Penas Blancas river float is another nice activity in the Arenal area. You can see some wildlife there.
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