COSTA RICA - Pura Vida! The Ultimate Family Adventure (Part 2 of 2)
After four nights on the beach - we hired COSTA RICAN SHUTTLES to take us to the rain forests - a 4 1/2 drive away.
Once you hit the town of Canas (where tilapia is farmed in the canals - after you see it live - you will never eat farm raised fish again!) you start going up in elevation and the road becomes very twisty and bumpy for the next 2 hours.
Ride to jungles $275.00 or you can be like Beyonce and hire Helijet and get their in 45 minutes for $500 a person.
THE SPRINGS - La Fortuna de San Carlos.
We stayed at The Springs which is hands down my favorite place I’ve visited so far. This place is 5 stars all the way and crazy remote in the middle of nowhere! According to Travel Magazine it has one of the best hotel views in the world - and when you wake up and see Vulcan Arenal in all it’s glory - you can’t imagine anything better!
There are 48 rooms and they fill up fast so be prepared to book 6-9 months in advance. All of the rooms face the volcano - even the basic room is AMAZING! The Springs has several restaurants and all of the fish they serve is brought in fresh, catch of the day. The sushi is amazing - right outside the sushi bar there is a game room - you can sit at the sushi bar and order from any restaurant in the hotel and your kids are in the game room - happily playing wii - xbox or games!
The coolest part about this hotel next to the room is the springs. There are dozens of mineral springs that geo-thermically heated by the volcano - they range in temp from 88 degrees all the way up to 104 - they are amazing! There is even a "monkey slide" that goes through the jungles and lands in one of the springs - a big hit with the kiddies! The Springs is not all inclusive - but food and drinks aren’t as shocking as the rooms!
Basic Room - $625 a night
Jr. Family Suite (two bedrooms) - $825 a night
Other hotel options - Tabacon Hot Springs Lodge is right down the street and very nice!
Food and Activities:
The food is amazing at The Springs
If you crave local - La Fortuna is a short 7 minute cab ride -
Rancho Perla, Don Ruffino and Nenes all have good food - just don’t be prepared for anything fancy - fish with rice and beans is the standard Costa Rican dish
Club Rio is The Springs own activity club about a mile away - Rio Arenal - a real river offers white water tubing, kayaking, horseback riding, rock climbing and a jungle - and there are more springs!
We did the white water tubing and my 7 year old was big enough to go by herself. This is a pretty good ride on a real river - there are several guides to help you if you hit a rock or get stuck. You get to go down the river twice - our guides worked hard and make it a cool trip but it was $40 a person!
Kids begged to go zip lining - I would rather not. At 49 inches - my daughter barely met the 48 inch height requirement for Sky Trek - but she made it and was ready to go. It’s a VERY bumpy ride through Arenal National Park to Sky Trek Adventures. Even in a van with seatbelts on, we bounced so hard our heads hit the ceiling a few times! You are fitted with equipment then you take a tram to the top of the mountain and you overlook Lake Arenal. The kids went with a guide - but it was very scary! Sky Trek is the longest, fastest, highest zip lining adventure in CR - you are 528 feet above the canopy going down 1/2 mile long cables. The 8 year old was not a fan but knew after the first cable - going on was the only way out - the 7 year old loved every second of it. I am just happy to be alive!
La Fortuna Falls
We took a cab to the National Park and did the 500 step hike down to La Fortuna Falls. They are amazing and you feel like you aren’t really looking at something that is real! You can climb down the rocks and take pictures but they won’t let you get in the water by the falls - you can go down the river a bit and get in! The 500 steps are pretty tough because you are at a high elevation already - but if a 7 and 8 year old can do it - well!
$6 entrance fee for adults
Horocito La Fortuna Orphanage
We visited an orphanage while in La Fortuna - you have to arrange the visit ahead of time - and they do not speak a lick of English. It’s safe, clean and the children look happy enough. We brought them supplies and gifts. There were 17 children there from ages 0-10 - after 10 they go to a new home for older kids. I went to the dollar store and bought cars, footballs, jump ropes, dolls and bears for the kids. The cars were a huge hit - they did not like the footballs - they called them “funny balls” - duh soccer is big here. One little girl cried when I opened her doll - she wanted it new in the plastic box - I felt so bad :( They are cute - well dressed and clean - so sad it’s so hard to adopt a kid in CR! No one speaks a word of English - so be prepared to speak Spanish or bring someone who can!
We hired a driver from The Springs to take us to the airport in San Jose - one hour closer than Liberia. Overall it’s an easier drive because it’s not as twisty and all downhill plus you get to go through some bigger towns like San Ramon and San Jose.
3 hour drive
We flew out of San Jose - direct flight to Atlanta - @ 4 1/2 hours with a one hour forward time change.