I always enjoy planning trips for inter-generational groups and this family vacation to Costa Rica was no exception. They wanted an active trip for their whole group, from grandparents to grandchildren and they wanted to see lots of wildlife so I split their time between the lush and wild rainforest and beaches of Osa Peninsula and the Arenal Volcano area, two incredibly parts of Costa Rica which provide lots of activities for all ages and the best opportunities for wildlife viewing, including big mammals. I was happy hear that their vacation was wonderful!
"La Paloma Lodge was awesome. The rooms were spacious and air conditioned, the grounds were beautiful and the staff were awesome. Every meal was so delicious and it was such a great mix of local style food and international type dishes with local ingredients. All of the adults loved the food and even my kids did. We were never hungry! "
"The wildlife at the lodge was amazing. We regularly saw white face monkeys there. We also found a sloth, a snake in a tree, twice saw a toucan, other birds, a brief glimpse of a 'local' agouti, and we could hear howler monkeys and saw them a few times. The night walk with the 'bug lady' was truly amazing. Seeing the local anteater was fantastic and the ability of the guide and her husband to find things was great. They were also so full of information. And she offered to send us links to things/ videos of animals that she showed us. We took her up on this and she did forward great info."
"On the boat ride in Cano Negro we saw so many animals in such a short time. We saw many birds, caiman, and monkeys. The boat driver and guide helped us see (and get super cool video of) a Basilisk ('Jesus Christ' lizard) in action running across the water! We even saw a white face monkey coming down to the river, putting its tail in the water and then moving back quickly and 'drinking' from its tail!"
"The hot springs we visited was very nice. in general I would not recommend going there in the daytime when its warm. We chose instead to go after an early dinner. it was very quiet at that time and was a more appropriate temperature to get into hot water."
"The staff was very helpful when we needed extra help. They had to move our things to new rooms twice while there and they were great. They were very helpful whenever we needed the golf cart transport to the beach or back and to the dock. (My in laws and my injured daughter did need this regularly.)"
"Hanging out at the main dining area at La Paloma was great when we had down time. In the evenings there were staff who would often find animals for us to see. At least twice they brought a red eyed tree frog to the dining area. They also took my husband and son to see a large frog and an adorable bird sitting in its nest. Randal at La Paloma very knowledgeable and friendly, especially with kids."
"The wifi was only available at the dining area and was super slow. Unfortunately our snorkeling wasn't great. The water was choppy and a lot of sand churned up so it was hard to see things when snorkeling from La Paloma and the boat ride back to La Paloma was very difficult due to choppy water. "
"The chocolate/ cocoa farm tour was worthwhile. It was a little long but was really cool to see what the actual cocoa fruit and seeds really look like. We got to taste them right out of the fruit with the sweet coating on it and then taste the beans at various stages. We also participate in grinding some into the various products and trying lots of combos of the drink and chocolate paste with mix ins. I personally love chocolate but I think even the non-chocolaholics enjoyed it. And I did spend a lot of money buying chocolate there to bring home as gifts and things to share at work, which I was happy to do since it's made by very small local groups that you can't find that at larger stores or at the airport."
My son was scared to go on the zipline but the staff was super helpful and they rode with him on the first two lines. They were smart to know that if someone is scared, they should take them first instead of standing in a line at the platform. The platforms were over areas with trees so standing there didn't scare me as much as I thought it would. For future travelers, I would recommend you not book any tickets for elderly people on the zip lines. My father in law definitely wasn't going on it and my mother in law at the last minute was apparently considering it. I didn't see anyone on the lines who seemed older than maybe 55-60."
"Hotel Kioro was great! It was literally at the foot of the volcano and we had a gorgeous view out our balcony when it was clear. The rooms where beautiful and had two double beds and a single bed so all 4 of us stayed together in one room. The amenities were super nice and the grounds were beautiful - we didn't get to spend enough time there! We did use the pool and hotel restaurant/ bar and the hotel has a hot spring on site but also takes you to one for free that is nearby that is more extensive. The night walk in La Fortuna was great. It was amazing how many animals/ insects live at that site and the guide helped us get amazing photos! We saw a sloth, red eyed tree frog, a poison dart frog, heron on a nest, a spider wrapping up a beetle in its web, other frogs."
"The last place we stayed was the Xandaria Plantation which was gorgeous, I wish we could have stayed longer. The rooms were beautiful and so unique. The food was delicious--both dinner and breakfast. We luckily had a later flight out of San Jose around 12pm so we got to check out the whole grounds that morning. My son and I walked to see the waterfalls on the grounds (which is definitely a strenuous hike back). The gift shop at the plantation was actually full of very unique and reasonably priced items (when we compared prices to another store and airport.) Although it didn't surprise me to see local and unique items there, the fact of very reasonable prices was the surprise and not what I expect at a hotel gift shop, especially one at such a fancy site. I later wished I had bought more there."
"Wildlife is a big part of why we went to Costa Rica and we saw a lot! My son has kept saying how much he misses Costa Rica."
Keeping it wild,