If you are looking for a way to reconnect with your tweens this winter, consider a trip to Costa Rica. Turn the planning aspects over to your kids. Once they have done the research, work with a travel agent to nail down the specifics.
From the moment Kristina Tucci from AAA Travel began working with our son, I relaxed. At first, Nick thought parachuting over a rain forest and dropping down to camp for a while would be the ideal vacation. Kristina listened closely to what our son really wanted: eco-lodge, zip-line, rappelling and close encounters with exotic animals. With the ideas and our budget in mind, Kristina mapped out a plan that was easy for our family to manage.
Tirimbina Rainforest Center, located in the northern region near the Sarapiqui River offers a comfortable hotel with breakfast. A suspension bridge that is held high above the river leads you to an incredible learning adventure. The guides explain how the country is balancing a focus on ecology with tourism. The researchers at the facility are eager to talk about their work and the importance of maintaining Costa Rica’s biodiversity.
Day 2 and 3
Arenal Volcano area in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica is a great spot to launch high adventure activities. We chose Arenal Volcano Inn because it offered great views of the volcano and free breakfast. Touring the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge by boat is the best way to start the adventure. The variety of birds, lizards, sloths and monkeys that appear along the river is incredible. The ultimate thrill is canyoning and rappelling down waterfalls. Pure Trek experts make jumping off cliffs and landing in waterfalls safe. Kids as young as seven are able to enjoy the fun that ends in a delicious lunch.
Day 4 and 5
Monteverde Cloud Forest, nestled high in the Tilaran Mountain range, is what National Geographic calls “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves.” Prepare for cooler temperatures as your family enjoys exploring more of the rainforest. Trapp Family Lodge makes a great home base for adventures that can include a Skytram and Skytrek experience. There is nothing quite like zipping 300 feet over a tree canopy for a view of the Guanacaste lowlands.
Day 6 and 7
Saving the best for last, spend time in Manuel Antonio, listed at one of the top 10 most beautiful places in the world. Costa Verde offers a resort home base with wonderful restaurants and open air rooms. You won’t have to leave the complex to see the monkeys and expect a gecko or two to join you in the shower. Make a plan to tour the park early and bring a swimsuit to jump in the ocean at the end of your hike. We arrived at 7 a.m. and had the amazing experience of seeing a large group of white-faced Capuchin monkeys cross over the trail, sand crabs waddling on the beaches and an iguana nestled in the bush atop a rock.
The cost of the trip was kept to about $100 per person for lodging, adventures and food by traveling mid-week and just before the rush of the holidays. Keep expenses down lower by looking for accommodations that include meals. Most adventures included snacks and a Costa Rican lunch with beans, rice, chicken and plantains. It’s a good idea to pay for travel insurance and be sure to take photocopies of your passport on your Costa Rica adventures, leaving your original in the safe at the hotel.
Got ideas to share about Costa Rica or other family-centered escapes? Post them below or email Liza at firstname.lastname@example.org.