Costa Rica – Our First Time

My 11-year old son and I were so excited to finally be visiting Costa Rica!  Its reputation as a friendly, safe, warm, fun and incredibly biodiverse country preceded it … and it would not disappoint. From the Atlantic Caribbean to the Pacific Coast – with coffee farms, jungle, volcanoes and hot springs along the way … We too discovered that Costa Rica is indeed a nature lovers paradise, with incredible and unique flora and fauna – environments divinely respected by one of the most eco-friendly tourist industries in the world.

And it’s fun and family friendly!  From year-round water sports, including white-water rafting, surfing, boating and swimming, to ziplining and hiking – Costa Rica truly has it all.  And don’t forget about the coffee – delicious, local and organic.  Even though we traveled in August, it wasn’t too hot.  Atlantic, Pacific and mountain breezes keep it cool.

I could write so much more about our trip and this fabulous country – the wonderful people and amazing destinations, but unfortunately there’s only time and space here for some highlights.


Just a few hours east of the capital San Jose, this national Park is one of the best places to try and see protected sea turtles, among other wildlife … and just relax by the beach.  We loved our stay at the Laguna Lodge Hotel – with comfortable lodges, separate pools for kids and adults, just steps from the beach, along with a high quality restaurant/bar.  They even arranged our night-time turtle tour – with special organization and protection – watching them come up from the sea and lay eggs on the beach!

Then it was off to the “airport” for our first local flight – back to the capital, to connect with another flight to the other (Pacific) coast.  It was a grueling check-in process, but we made it through!

Costa Rica – Our First Time Ideal South America

Manuel Antonio

Perhaps THE most well-known and visited national park in the country, Manuel Antonio boasts some of the best nature boardwalks and guides in the región, along with some of its most beloved Pacific Ocean beaches.

Costa Rica – Our First Time Ideal South America

With the help of our experienced guide, we were able to see some hitherto hidden creatures – bats, frogs and more.  No problem spotting the monkeys though – one unlucky member of the group had his bag snatched!

We really enjoyed our stay at the Si Como No Resort. Spacious rooms with fabulous views, delicious food at two restaurants, a fun wáter slide and a unique, small movie theatre on site!

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Many visit Monteverde for some of the top ziplining experiences in the country.  Keep in mind, those are not for the faint at heart or those feeling woosy at heights, but walking on the bridges through the nearby cloud forest is special and should be fine for everyone.  Feel free to come, just relax and enjoy this amazing biological reserve, with some of the cleanest air you will ever breathe!

Costa Rica – Our First Time Ideal South America

We really enjoyed staying at El Establo, with super spacious rooms, its own more managable zipline experience, pool with a view and a shuttle service to help you across the property – it’s really hilly!

Arenal Volcano

Seeing Arenal Volcano for the first time on the boat ride over to our hotel was truly something special.  We wondered, when did it last erupt?  And would we be so lucky!

Costa Rica – Our First Time Ideal South America

Perhaps our favorite hotel on the trip – and there was certainly a lot of quality competition – was the Arenal Springs Resort.  Hot spring pools swimming up to the bar – nothing more needs to be said.  We did a white wáter rafting excursión from here and it was the best we’ve ever done … anywhere!

Papagayo Bay

Then we were back to the Pacific coast, to a more northern región, near Santa Rosa National Park – the Gulf of Papagayo – conveniently located just 20 minutes from Costa Rica’s second airport – Liberia.  Once again – amazing beaches and snorkeling here.  We loved our stay at the cool and chic Hotel El Mangroove, with direct beach front access, a long pool by the restaurant and all you need for wáter activities – kayaks, paddleboards and snorkeling.

Costa Rica – Our First Time Ideal South America

Finca Rosa Blanca

Coffee!  Located just outside San Jose, I can’t think of a better place to stay while passing through the capital city on your way to the explore Costa Rica’s many natural wonders.  We finished the trip at the fantastic Finca Rosa Blanca, which combines luxury accommodations, a sustainable forested coffee plantation, and cuisine that creatively honors the culinary traditions of the coffee highlands. Come share the richness of the local culture, steaming volcanoes, cloud forests and the splendor of the abundant nature that surrounds them. Come and enjoy their hospitality and find out why they’re one of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World (TM).  Start or finish your Costa Rica trip here!  Organize a tour of the farm and then bring some coffee home or get it shipped.  

Costa Rica – Our First Time Ideal South America

We also offer Coffee Tours in other parts of Latin America