Travel Exchange: A Family Vacation to Adventurous Costa Rica

Travel Exchange: A Family Vacation to Adventurous Costa Rica

I’m pleased to announce a new series on the blog called the Travel Exchange, where I will be conversing with others about their travel experiences, and sharing them with you all. From trip highlights to accommodations to top tips and more, my goal is to create a travel resource on vacation destinations throughout the world.

The Travel Exchange is just as much for me as it is for my readers. No one can go everywhere and see everything, as much as that may be the dream. Furthermore, we all have places in mind of where we’d like to travel, and what better way to learn more about these destinations then from the personal accounts of people who have traveled there. Past guest posts on London and Iceland have been a huge hit, and I’m so glad my readers have found them helpful.

Costa Rica

Travel Exchange - Enjoying the hot springs with volcano views in Arenal, Costa Rica.

This photo is from many years ago when I was last in Costa Rica! Bathing in hot springs with volcano views was the best.

Without further ado, I’m thrilled to kick off the Travel Exchange with Michele, who recently took a family vacation to Costa Rica with a family adventure tour company. I lived in Costa Rica years ago pre-kids, and when I found out she was planning a trip there, I knew I had to get her on the blog! I’ve always thought Costa Rica would make for an ideal family vacation as it’s adventurous, beautiful, and the people couldn’t be nicer.

Costa Rica has a bit of everything, which is what makes it such an amazing place to visit. The beaches are gorgeous, the rainforest exotic, the volcanoes fascinating. Picturesque beach and country towns dot the many regions, and all types of accommodations can be found whether they be affordable or high-end luxury.

Travel Exchange - Enjoying Arenal at night in Costa Rica.

Another one point Arenal was active.

Below is a Q + A with Michele, and after hearing her answers, I am dying now more than ever to visit Costa Rica with my family! Michele’s vacation sounds like it was an incredible experience, for everyone.

Q + A with Michele on her Family Vacation to Costa Rica

Travel Exchange - Family portrait in Costa Rica.

How did you decide on Costa Rica as a place to visit with your family and which regions did you go to?

Now that our children are getting a bit older we have started to branch out from the beach resort vacations we had taken previously.  We did Washington DC, San Diego, and Jackson Hole Wyoming and Yellowstone.  When we were looking for a warm weather destination we thought Costa Rica sounded like a good choice for adventure and wildlife spotting. We stayed in San Jose, Arenal and Guanacaste.

Who went?

Myself, Husband and 3 sons (13,10, 7)

What was the name of the tour company and how did you learn about them?

We travelled with Thompson Family Adventure.  We heard about them through friends who travelled to the Galapagos with them.  We looked at several tour companies though but this one had the best trip at the best time for us.

Where did you stay and were you satisfied with the accommodations?

We stayed in three different hotels.  One in San Jose the first night, the Hotel Bougainvillea, the Hotel Arenal Springs, and El Mangroove in Guanacaste.  The last hotel was a higher end boutique hotel, which was really nice with great facilities.  The other two were more basic but good.

Travel Exchange - Hanging with animals in Costa Rica.

What activities did your family do and were they all kid-friendly?

Everything we did was kid friendly because it was a tour company that specialized in families.  El Paz Waterfall Gardens, zip-lining at Arenal, hanging bridges walk, hot springs, river float trip, an animal refuge, sea kayaking, a school visit.

What were the highlights of the trip for you? And the kids?

Probably zip-lining is definitely the highlight for us all.  It was very adventurous and thrilling.  We all had a really great experience with that.  The kids also really enjoyed all of the birds and animals we saw, even on the side of the road during our travels.

How did you like traveling with a group of people? Did everyone for the most part gel and get along or no?

We were a little apprehensive about traveling with another family.  It turned out to be a good experience.  They were a family of 4 with 2 teenaged boys.  They were all very friendly and although the kids didn’t interact very much it was great.  We got along with the adults very well and we all agreed that our children seemed better behaved because there was another family around.  There was enough time together and enough time on our own that it never felt intrusive or too claustrophobic being together.

Travel Exchange - Beach time in Costa Rica.

How did you like the organization and lay-out of the activities? Did the general pace work for you guys or were there things you wish you spent more time/less time doing?

The first few days of the trip were packed and very busy.  There was more down time at the end of the trip.  For our family, we would like things spaced out a bit more so there was activity and a little down time each day.  But now we know that for our next adventure!

Do you feel Costa Rica was a good family destination or were there any challenges?

It’s definitely a good family destination.  It is a modern country that is very used to American tourists.  My children are really picky eaters but we were able to accommodate them almost everywhere we went.  There can always be challenges when traveling internationally especially for picky eaters but rice was plentiful there and we were able to find pretzels and things like that at stores and the kids even found a Costa Rican cookie that they loved.

My son and I did get some kind of stomach ailment or food poisoning for one day of the trip, which was awful.  Unfortunately I had to bring him to the emergency room for IV fluids.  We were so grateful to be travelling with a tour because the bus driver and tour guides brought us to the hospital and stayed with us and helped us with the translation.  They have socialized medicine in Costa Rica but also have private hospitals so they took us to a beautiful, modern private hospital and we were the ONLY ones in the ER.  So, in the scheme of things it could have been much worse.

Travel Exchange - Waterfall exploring in Costa Rica.

What are your top tips for taking this trip and/or visiting Costa Rica in general as a family?

Our top tip it that you have to know your family.  Know your likes, dislikes, and what really works for you.  Then you need to do your research and plan something that will work for your family.  For Costa Rica specifically, we felt we had to travel around which is tiring and challenging, but we didn’t want to go all the way to Costa Rica and just stay at one resort on the beach.  We felt we could have done that closer to home with much easier traveling.

Would you recommend your vacation to others?


Thanks for joining us, Michele. Hearing about your experience has been enlightening and inspiring!

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Costa Rica is an extremely family friendly country due to its magnificent beaches and outdoor activity. Think beach relaxation, water sports, zip lining in the rainforest and hot springs with views of the volcano. Costa Rica is high up on our family travel wish list!


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