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panama or costa rica w/ kids

Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 02:58 PM
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panama or costa rica w/ kids

Hello, All! My wife and I are looking at taking the kids (girls: 12, 10 and 8) to Costa Rica or Panama for about 5 days. I've been reading the Fodor's book and on-line, but would greatly suggest feedback on preferences (one v. the other) and suggestions of things to do. They are adventurous; beaches are fun, but they also white water raft, hike, etc. Getting there is not an issue; it's which one! Thank you one and all!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 03:15 PM
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Costa Rica is a very popular place to take kids that age.

You could go to Manuel Antonio, which is a nice beach area and enjoy the national park, hiking, lots of wildlife, mangrove tours, a beautiful beach, and horseback riding. Popular places to stay include Si Como No, Costa Verde, and the Buena Vista Villas/Tulemar Bungalows. This area is pretty developed and is easy to get around and offers loads of restaurant choices.

The Arenal/La Fortuna area is another option - it would give you the active volcano, natural hot springs like Tabacon, ziplines like SkyTrek, the Hanging Bridges, and my favorite, the Cano Negro river tour to see wildlife like monkeys and sloths. Our favorite place to stay is the Lost Iguana. Los Lagos is a very popular place to stay with children.

If time allows, you could spend a night at the Peace Lodge and hike the property to see 5 gorgeous waterfalls. There's also a nocturnal frog tour you can take, and the rooms are completely over the top and indulgent. The grounds have an aviary and butterfly house, as well.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 04:34 PM
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I'd go right along with volcanogirl. Start off at Manuel Antonio, 2-3 nights, finish with those beautiful bungalows at Peace Lodge where you and your children will LOVE the property--and the amenities! Check out Monarch Villa for your family. Pricey, but wonderful!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 04:35 PM
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One more thing. . .your family could also have a great time at Bocas del Toro, Panama. One of the most fun tours was a full day of dolphin watching, snorkeling gorgeous coral reefs, and a very nice beach. 4 nights here would be about right. . . or even 3.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 08:39 PM
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We took our girls (7 and 9) for a 2 week trip to CR and had a fantastic time We wanted beach, jungle and animals and got it all. (Arenal - Manuel Antonio and Puerto Jimenez). The kid's favorite was our time at the Buena Vista Villas in Manuel Antonio. I highly recommend CR with kids. Panama is on our list, so if that ends up as your choice, please post your review!
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Old Mar 4th, 2008, 10:50 AM
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Costa Rica hands down! The tips above are great ones. Manuel Antonio is great to visit, nice beach and swimming. I also enjoyed Tortugero very much. There is ample opportunity to view wild life if you are into that. Have fun!
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Old Mar 5th, 2008, 08:12 PM
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Haven't been to Panama (except as a cruise ship stop which really doesn't count) but we just got back from CR with our 9 year-old son and we all had a great time. We went to Arenal, Malpais and the Osa over a 12-day itinerary.

Arenal was our "adventure" leg. We did the ziplines (SkyTrek), white water rafting (Rio Sarapiqui), hot springs (Eco Termales) and hiked (more like "stair climbed") to the Fortuna waterfall. We stayed at Lost Iguana and spent a couple of hours in the middle of the night watching the lava; it was so mesmerizing.

In Malpais, we rented boogie-boards and spent the entire time on the beach. The sunsets were spectacular and we had fun watching the surfers.

We stayed at Bosque del Cabo on the Osa and it was fantastic. We hiked the Pacific trail to the waterfall one day, the Gulfo Dulce trail another and sport fishing out of Puerto Jimenez the third (lots of turtles, dolphins, sailfish.) We did the primary forest hike and the evening walk with Philip and saw and learned so much!

By the way, we did stop at La Paz (Peace lodge) on the way to Arenal but it wasn't our favorite. It's beautiful, yes, but felt too crowded and touristy and just a little too "perfect".
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