Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Mexico & Central America
Reload this Page >

Non-resort travel in Costa Rica with two children (4 and 6 yo)

Non-resort travel in Costa Rica with two children (4 and 6 yo)

Old Jan 19th, 2014, 02:37 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 10
Non-resort travel in Costa Rica with two children (4 and 6 yo)

My husband and I have booked our trip for May 2014 and have two kids (almost 4 and 6 1/2 yo). We are going as sort of a reconnaissance trip. We hope to travel for an extended period of time or live there by late 2015 if plans go accordingly. We've never been so we want to get a feel for the country to see if it's somewhere we'd like to stay longer. We're looking at Costa Rica because it sounds relaxing and safe, and there is good surfing for the husband and kids.

We will be there 15 days and are renting a car. I was thinking:

* Start in Cahuita or Puerto Viejo to experience the Caribbean coast. We get in 11:30am, sounds like it shouldn't be a problem to head straight there from San Jose Airport?
* Would like one hiking trip, thinking maybe Arenal Hanging Bridges because it sounds easier to get to than Monteverde. Also the kids might enjoy the hot springs.
* On to Samara or Nosara. My husband is curious about the Blue Rivers. Is it worth a side visit on the way?
* Maybe drive down to Santa Teresa or Mal Pais? I heard Mal Pais can have loud evening parties and is more for a younger crowd? Not sure if we should skip this area completely.
* Ferry back somewhere closer to airport because our flight is 12:30pm. Any suggestions for this last night? Stay in Jaco, or another town, or just stay close to airport in San Jose?
* A friend mentioned Dominical but I was afraid this would be too far down south for our stay.

We're looking for towns that are laid back and relaxing. Not too interested in adventure activities for now. The kids are NOT into seeing animals We live by the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park and they are not excited by the animals but enjoy running around on the paths. In past travels, we've enjoyed staying longer in small villages with less bustle vs sightseeing/activity/tourist spots, which we still enjoy as side trips. We don't want to be anywhere too remote but we also don't want anywhere too touristy. Any suggestions would be appreciated regarding our choices of towns.

Not interested in expensive or fancy resorts. We don't mind basic accommodations and unless a place is absolutely amazing, would prefer to save money on accommodations. Any suggestions on reasonably priced but not super budget accommodations would also be appreciated. I did budget backpacking 10 years ago in SE Asia and am hoping to bump it up a notch.

Thanks for all the valuable information I've already gotten from the Forum and thanks in advance for any input.
kuriouskat is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2014, 09:16 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,141
The Hanging Bridges are nice. You can explore them on your own, or hire a guide if you want to increase your chances of seeing wildlife. I think your kids would enjoy the natural hot springs. Go with Tabacon if you want fancy with a waterslide, or Eco Termales if you want smaller, charming, and locally owned. You can also do a waterfall hike; that's really beautiful, lots of steps, and you can hike at the volcano as well. The Penas Blancas river float is fun if you want to take a little trip down the river. I was going to suggest Proyecto Asis animal rescue center, but sounds like your kids wouldn't be that interested if they aren't into seeing wildlife.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2014, 09:18 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,141
I forgot to mention that Jaco has a reputation for being kind of a party spot, so I'd lean away from staying there with young kids. Have not stayed there personally so maybe someone else can give you more info.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2014, 12:18 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,141
And for hotels, both Silencio del Campo and Los Lagos are really popular with young families.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2014, 01:02 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 10
Volcanogirl, Thanks for the quickly response! Your posts to others' questions have been helpful, too. As for Jaco, that confirms what I've heard from others. Where else could we stay for our last two days within driving to the Will look into your activity/hotel suggestions.

Suggestions re: the other towns I mentioned would be appreciated from anyone who knows anything about them. Thanks!
kuriouskat is offline  
Old Jan 20th, 2014, 08:35 AM
  #6  
mad
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 316
Samara is a great, relaxed town with lots of food and hotel options. we spent a month there a while ago and would've been happy to stay longer. What's nice is that the waves aren't huge and little kids can safely play in the ocean- hard to find in CR. There are surf schools on the beach. It's not a very touristy town and therefore less expensive and the beach is very quiet. You can go horse back riding for around $10 for an hour. Check out Villas Kalimba. It's our favorite place there. Nosara has rough surf. We went with our 5 yr. old last year and I would not let him go in far. It's also very spread out and doesn't feel like a town. If you're trying to avoid tourists, you may want to check out the Puerto Viejo area. it's a long drive, but worth it.
mad is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2014, 06:06 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,340
We didn't care for Nosara as much as most other areas in CR we've visited.. Maybe it was the lack of an obvious community. Maybe it was the presence of mainly expats. Maybe it was that we were spoiled by visiting the comparatively wild Osa Peninsula and other areas. of CR. Whatever it was, it was the only area in CR we wouldn't choose to return to. We didn't dislike it though. We had a great time, and were impressed with the resident's efforts to save the rainforest.
Cattail is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2014, 07:30 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 10
Thanks mad & Cattail for your input. Samara is sounding great and that makes it easier to choose between there and Nosara. Samara it is!. Now we're considering cutting out our trip to the Caribbean in favor of hanging out for a longer period of time in Samara and perhaps visiting Quepos and Playa Dominical instead. All suggestions are welcome re: exploring possible low key places to live with good surf for a 6 yo. Thanks!
kuriouskat is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 05:16 AM
  #9  
mad
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 316
Yes, I think sticking to one coast is a good idea. You'll be in the car for a very long time otherwise. it can take 4-5 hrs. to drive to Puerto Viejo from the SJO airport, due to slow traffic. I'm not sure how you'd get to Samara from there, but am guessing you need to drive back to SJ and then drive the additional 4 hrs. to Samara. Quepos is not low key, but Manuel Antonio is worth a visit. Even if your kids aren't into seeing animals, you'd be missing a lot if you don't visit the rainforest somewhere. There isn't that much within driving distance to Samara, other than Carrillo, which a pretty beach and very small town, so you're best of exploring more around the Quepos area and then relaxing in Samara.
mad is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 06:55 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,141
We really liked Manuel Antonio too - very pretty beach inside the park, tons of monkeys, and the Damas mangrove tour. It's touristed but not built up with tall buildings or anything like that. Loved how lush and green it was. Do you get that in Samara? I've heard that area can be a lot drier but have not had a chance to visit it yet. Samara sounds great. The Quepos area is actually the more industrial part, and MA is where the tourists are up on the hill.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 07:43 AM
  #11  
mad
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 316
The area around Samara is definitely drier with less wildlife. It's really a beautiful beach area. Monkeys are fairly easy to spot, but you don't see toucans, sloths, etc like in MA. BTW, I should mention that the Liberia airport is significantly closer to Samara than SJO, not to mention a much more pleasant experience!
mad is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 10:30 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,141
Thanks, mad. Were they howler and capuchin monkeys?

Montezuma is another area that looks like it might be fun.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 01:01 PM
  #13  
mad
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 316
I'm pretty sure they've got spider monkeys and howler monkeys around, if I recall correctly. I haven't been to Montezuma, but it does look nice!
mad is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2014, 12:13 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 10
Manuel Antonio is sounding very nice, especially with the kids. They might get excited about toucans, sloths, and monkeys in the "wild" as compared to a zoo. They better!
kuriouskat is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2014, 05:26 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,141
We stayed at Tulemar Bungalows - loved it because they had their own beach so it was really convenient. Free kayaks and boogie boards, and we could look out our window and see capuchin monkeys climbing and eating fruit in the trees, saw several sloths including a baby one, and also an aracari. I'm not sure if the area would be too touristed for you or not. There are a lot of Americans that live in the area. If you think you might like it, check out Manuel Antonio Expeditions.
volcanogirl is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
ladybug
Mexico & Central America
3
Jul 21st, 2018 12:22 PM
sofun1
Mexico & Central America
9
Feb 20th, 2014 11:40 AM
provence97
Mexico & Central America
6
May 14th, 2012 03:55 PM
Geoff_Hersch
Mexico & Central America
7
Feb 24th, 2012 10:02 AM
edoorand
Mexico & Central America
7
Jun 22nd, 2006 10:54 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO