Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, right?! Well, it was definitely more go than slow in Costa Rica – so much to do.
We travelled with our friends who also have two kids, so the combination of our families made us a group of eight. My baby was the youngest, aged 7, and one of theirs was the oldest of the bunch, aged 12.
The flight wasn’t too bad, lasting a total of four and a half hours from Toronto to Liberia direct with West Jet. Upon arrival, our baggage didn’t take long at all, and before we knew it, we were already in our rental car.
Boy, was it hot. Air-conditioning became our most inviting best friend. I know we left the cold weather of Toronto for a reason and probably shouldn’t complain, but it was 39 degrees Celsius!
I was the designated driver since I usually get motion sickness as a passenger. It took us approximately three hours to get to Arenal Volcano, which is another 20 minutes from La Fortuna. The drive was squeamish for our crowd, and the winding roads the whole way didn’t make it any easier. The last three kilometres to our resort, The Springs Resort and Spa really sucked with the rocky roads, and not going to lie, it was a little scary.
The amenities, the view, and of course, the hot springs! Yes, water naturally warmed by the volcanos in the area. I think there were about 20 hot springs pools in our resort. My room was facing the volcano, and my mid-day you could see the tip. The food wasn’t too bad, though I wasn’t a fan of the seafood. As a result, I stuck to chicken and vegetables for most of the trip.
Our first full day there was INSANE. We woke up bright and early at 6:30am, at which point I squeezed in a quick work-out and then made my way to the breakfast buffet – the oatmeal is a must-try. Delish!
We went to the Activity Centre and the first excursion we booked was horseback-riding. While we waited for the excursion to start, the kids did some rock-climbing. I just enjoyed the hot springs: showering with Mother Nature!
Everyone had their own horse during the ride. Including my little one, Shyla, who is only seven. She was a little bit afraid, but the guides took really good care of her. The horses went through the beautiful forest and rivers in the area. The excursion lasted about an hour.
Once we got back, we made our way to the headquarters of Club Rio. The kids wanted to go tubing… Let me tell you, hitting the rapids in a tube… oh boy! All I recommend is to hold on tight, keep your butt up so it doesn’t get a beating from the rocks below, lay back, and enjoy. A life jacket and helmet definitely eased my fear of water. Oh, and don’t forget to admire the sights of wildlife everywhere!
The next day it was time for what Costa Rica is known for: zip lining. I’ve been to Costa Rica before and these zip lines weren’t as high or scary as the ones I’ve ridden in the past. It was a beautiful experience; I felt like I was flying. The scary part came later – my hubby signed us up for something called the Tarzan Drop, which is similar to a mini bungee jump. The initial drop had one thought running through my head: YIKES! The kids all did it, and even Shyla got to do it with a guide. The excursion worked out perfectly for our group dynamic.
Next up: lunch in La Fortuna and then the Falls. Hubby and I have been to the falls 10 years ago, but it was interesting to see the addition of stairs and a safer route. These are signs that it has definitely become a hot spot for tourism.
We returned to the resort to finally enjoy some of the amenities it has to offer. There is a slide the kids could enjoy in the natural hot springs. They spent a lot of time there for the rest of the afternoon.
Day 3 brought us on an adventurous ATV tour with the kids on a rainy day – definitely an adrenaline rush! I believe it lasted about 2 hours. The scenery was beautiful and I couldn’t stop giggling
I think at this point my body was done! We spent the rest of the day at the resort. It was chilly since it was raining all day, which made for a restful half-day off. This concluded our stay in the area, and after all the crazy excursions, it was time to head to the coast. We took the drive back closer to Liberia.
It took us close to three and a half hours to get to Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort – this place is stunning. And what a difference in the weather. It was steaming hot with temperature averaging 39C and really dry, which was fine, since this was our time to relax. From the beach, to the pool, to the room. Beach, pool, room, repeat! It was paradise.