We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

family trip with children 9 & 13

Clarkston
Level Contributor
78 posts
105 reviews
Save Topic
family trip with children 9 & 13

I am planning a family trip. We are going March29-April 5, 2012. This will be the 1st time my grandchildren have been out of the USA. I was planningon going for 8 days & flying into San Jose. Going to La Fortuna for 3 nights at Los Lagos Hotel. Rafting(2 &3 level), horseback riding to waterfalls & touring the Arenal Volcano. Going to Monteverde & staying 2 nights at Los Pinos. Doing a guided tour of cloud forest 1st afternoon & spending the day at Selvatura ziplining, suspension bridges & museums. Leave for Manuel Antonio the next morning for 2 nights at the buena vista villas. I'm not sure whether to do a guided tour of Manuel Antonio park or not. Any suggestions or comments-am I moving around too much? What about where I am staying? We are being driven to these places. Is there anywhere worth stopping to see along this route? Any banana/pineapple plantations along this route? Any input or help would be greatly appreciated. We are not "locked into this yet."

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

First of all, thank you so much for providing such clear information! It really helps us to help you when people do this.

As for the number of locations - it kind of depends on when your flight arrives/leaves. If you are hiring private transportation and your flight arrives late afternoon, for instance, your first night would be in Arenal and that would get you started off rather well.

If your flight leaves late afternoon, you can spend your last night in Manual Antonio and that helps.

The best thing to do to maximize your time is to try to arrange a flight that arrives as early as possible the first day and a flight that leaves late on your last day.

Normally, for eight days, I would recommend only two places - but with the right arrangements, you could do the three. Look here for distances and travel times: www.yourtravelmap.com

For Arenal to Monteverde, you might arrange the taxi/boat/taxi which cuts down on the travel time between these two. Then arrange your private transport from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio. For more information about the taxi/boat/taxi, look here: www.arenal.net

Edited: 06 October 2011, 15:34
Punta Arenas, Costa...
Level Contributor
787 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

Op, answers for your questions, there are guided tours of Manuel Antonio park as well as "self service", and depending on your time and how "traveled out" you are, you can decide. I strongly recommend the guides as there is so much to see and learn, it's well worth the tour. As to plantations, there are palm oil plantations on the way to Manuel Antonio/Quepos when you are on the coastal highway, you can stop and look, but not much to see except acres of trees. A few of the bridges across some of our many rivers (near the ocean) are good spots to perhaps view crocodiles, and plenty of rest stops on the way for snacks and breaks.

Sounds like you have a well planned trip.

I hope you have a great holiday.

Bethesda MD
Level Contributor
1,727 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

You don't sound particularly anxious, and have no reason to be, but -- FWIW, our 9 and 13 year olds took their first international trip, to CR, last summer, and loved it. Different places, so I can't add much else.

Clarkston
Level Contributor
78 posts
105 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

I'm not anxious but don't know if I've planned too much traveling.... I thought they could see a volcano-(is it spewing any lava now?) cloud forest and the beach and the variety of animals/plants/etc that are in each area. Costa Rica is so diversified....How did your children do with the food?

Clarkston
Level Contributor
78 posts
105 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

I had planned on taking the boat/car route to Monteverde. Is there anything you would recommend for 1st timers & children. I don't want to do too much but your country is so diversified and this would give them 3 different views.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

I agree this would give them three different views. But you might eliminate Monteverde without missing out on a lot. There is so much to do and see in the Arenal area.

If you want to experience a cloud forest, there is a place on the way to Arenal - Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden - and you could make a reservation for visiting there. Of course, this assumes that your flight arrives early enough to make this during daylight! http://www.nectandra.org/com/garden.htm You could even make the stop on the way from Arenal to Manuel Antonio.

There is no lava flow from Arenal Volcano right now but who knows what will happen by the time you get here!

Only you know yourself and your family as far as seeing three locations rather than two. I am sure that whatever you decide, you and the kids will have a wonderful time! I am just proposing some alternatives for consideration.

I'm going to jump in and write a bit about the food. Costa Rican food is rather bland - not hot and spicy. Rice and beans will be prominent on the menus but you can also get burgers, chicken, pasta and pizza almost everywhere. For breakfast, eggs, toast, fruit, cereal, etc. I don't think the kids will have any problems.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
3,528 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

Your itinerary looks fine and taking the land boat tfr to Monteverde is a great idea it will save you 1 and a half hours on the road. In Manuel Antonio exbeacher is right having a guide for the Manuel Antonio Park is highly recommended.

Punta Arenas, Costa...
Level Contributor
787 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

OP, don't skip the trip to Monteverde/Santa Ana as the landscape is so different from Arenal (and cooler as well) There is an amazing view of the valley and a chance to zip line http://www.monteverdeextremo.com/ if you can spare the time. I always forget the boat trip, and I am glad MikeA943 brought it up....great time saver and another experience on the water.

Have a great and safe holiday.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

For me, going to Monteverde is a kind of toss-up, given what it takes to get there and out.

It really depends on what someone is looking for. There are great zip lines in Arenal as well as fabulous views and you can see a (uncrowded) cloud forest at Nectandra. Monteverde is a beautiful place but sometimes people have to make difficult choices about their visit to Costa Rica.

Once again, I think visiting Monteverde and whether it is worth it really depends on what the expectations are - especially with limited time in country.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
3,528 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: family trip with children 9 & 13

I feel that Monteverde should not be taken away, exbeacher is right it is so different than Arenal. Both areas Arenal and Monteverde are great with lots of activities for your family. As per time in the road if you skip Monteverde you would only be saving about one a half hours on the road. Arenal-Monteverde by land/boat approx 2 and half hours and Monteverde-Manuel Antonio a little less than 4 hours vrs approx 5 hours from Arenal to Manuel Antonio.