Costa Rica with kids
We now understand why the phrase “la pura vida” is this country’s tagline! The food was incredible and we met the nicest and most generous people. There is so much to do with kids of all ages, and we will absolutely return to enjoy more as the girls get older.
We spent 17 days here in 3 different locations, the longest amount of time we’ve stayed in one country consecutively. Each location was very different from the other and that gave us a good feel for the variety that Costa Rica has to offer. We flew round trip from Atlanta to Liberia, which was quick & easy, and a great airport to fly into from Atlanta (LIR is very small airport and there’s barely anything around it besides the rental car agencies).
A few things to know before you go:
– Unless you’re just staying put at a resort, you’ll want to rent a car. The car rides alone make a great adventure.
– Most of the roads are dirt/gravel roads and are rugged. Keep this in mind when renting a car. We would recommend a 4WD (we had a four door Suzuki that was about the size of a new Honda CRV. We crossed a 2-1/2ft deep river in it…)
– There are no addresses, only directions. For example, our third house to visit was 1 kilometer south of the town police station. That makes things somewhat tricky to find, and you have to pay attention the whole time while driving.
– We felt safe the entire time we were here. Locals say not to leave any valuables in your car or unattended on the beach. We listened and had no issues.
– Eat all the fruit! It was so good and so fresh!
Junquillal. Our first week was spent in an AirBNB condo about a 5 minute drive from the beach. We loved this little place and would absolutely stay here again! It was gated, had a pool, a little supermarket and a couple great little restaurants attached. This is NOT a resort town. This condo was off the beaten path, but the beaches nearby (Playa Blanca is a 10!) were empty and absolutely gorgeous. The locals were all smiley and very friendly. If you’re okay with getting out of the resort comfort zone, this is definitely a good spot to visit.
While staying here, we visited Playa Blanca most frequently. It was the closest beach to us, but it was very secluded and most days we found ourselves entirely alone there! There were several calm spots near the coral which made swimming possible for us and the girls, and it had tons of beach front so there was lots of room to play. Parking was in a leveled dirt lot, and then required walking down a narrow, and sometimes steep, path. It was definitely a workout hauling the girls and all the beach stuff down for the day, but it was worth it! Plus, we saw TONS of crabs and lizards each day!
We also visited Playa Junquillal for the fabulous sunsets. The black sand here was SO SOFT and it was definitely the easiest beach to get to. This beach has plenty of parking right next to the sand, so that made sunsets and evening walks much more enjoyable here.
One day we visited Playa Avellana and had lunch at Lola’s. This beach was busier with surfers and some families playing in the sand. Lola’s had a great menu and perfect family atmosphere, and even a huge pig named Lolita! As we were driving there, we had to stop for a monkey to cross the road, which was fun for all of us!
Cala Luna Resort. For four nights, we stayed at Cala Luna Resort, a luxury boutique hotel in Tamarindo. We felt so pampered! Fresh fruit smoothies by the pool, cooked to order breakfast daily, animals made out of towels, a private pool at our villa (in addition to the main pool) AND a private beach – yep, we could get used to that! The service was exceptional our girls were loved on by all the staff! It was very kid friendly even though there weren’t any other kids here during our stay. We would go back in a second!
We didn’t leave the resort much except for a small grocery run, and our last morning we went to Playa Tamarindo where Chris took a surf lesson! He did really well and loved it! The town of Tamarindo is commercialized with an abundant amount of hotels, restaurants, and beach shops.
San Rafael. The remaining days of our trip were spent in the mountains at a Thrive Farmers coffee farm (Thrive Farmers is the exclusive coffee provider for Chick-fil-A restaurants!) staying in co-founder Ken Lander’s guest house. Our guide (and now great friend Pipo!) gave us a private tour of the farm and an extensive lesson on how coffee beans are grown, picked, processed and distributed. While on the farm, we saw toucans, tons of green parrots, dogs, spiders, and horses. Mr. Lander also has a pet macau named Cocoa that the girls talked to every day outside the house 🙂 It’s really fun to pick up a coffee at Chick-fil-A now, and they’re beginning to open retail stores too!
Less than an hour away is the adventure town, Monteverde. We took a day trip here to Selvatura Park where we walked the suspension bridges and even got to hold hummingbirds while they drank their nectar! There was zip-lining and many other activities nearby as well. We would have loved to do this if the girls were old enough.
Overall, we had a great time in Costa Rica. We had a few tarantula encounters and became a little “homesick” for the comforts of the US, but all in all we enjoyed our time and would recommend a visit to any family looking for a relaxing international family travel experience.
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