Kris and I went to Costa Rica for the first time about 15 years ago. We both love adventure and will typically find a place where we can pack our schedule full of fun and exciting excursions. I love a little bit more of relaxation than Kris does, so we have learned to compromise over years on adding some hammock swinging or pool time for me just to sit. If Kris had it his way, we would be seeing every square mile possible all day every day.
Costa Rica Itinerary
This was our travel day. Although, traveling to San Jose, Costa Rica is one of the easiest destinations for us to travel to. It is a short 3 hour (if that) flight from Orlando. The hardest part for us is getting to Orlando due to traffic on the interstates. But we quickly decided to stay the night before our flight, so we took out the stress and anxiety of running into those issues. Our flight was early in the morning, but not so early that you were toast the rest of the day. We arrived in San Jose by 10 am and had arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport and we started the drive to our hotel, CLUB DEL MAR.
We have stayed in other areas of Costa Rica, but this was Audrey’s first time and we knew the Jaco area would be best suited for the adventures we wanted to take and most importantly the beach we wanted to surf. CLUB DEL MAR is about 1 and a half hours away from the San Jose Airport. The drive is easy and you have many delicious fruit markets you can stop at on the way. The other fun adventure along the way is the “Crocodile River,” where you get to see dozens of HUGE crocodiles hanging out at the bridge. It truly is a sight to be seen. They are so big and I am mesmerized just the same as the first time I saw them.
We did not waste any time. As soon as we hit the hotel, we changed into our bathing suits, ate lunch, and hit the beach. CLUB DEL MAR is a small hotel with several condominiums to rent. Our condo had a full-size kitchen, living area, 2 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms. The kids thought they hit the jackpot. It had a balcony that overlooked the pool and the hotel is directly located on the south end of Jaco Beach, so you can see the beach from every room there. There is also a full-service open-air restaurant that serves up the most delicious food.
We had all kinds of plans to hit up other restaurants, but we loved our little restaurant so much we ate there every night! The staff was amazing. They were quick to interact with our kids and make sure we were all as comfortable as possible. Everyday high-fives and fist bumps were given. They played soccer with the kids and always entertained Brydon by speaking Spanish to him each time he attempted to speak their language. Brydon formed a bond with one of staff when he first visited 4 years ago, so they were able to catch up on this trip.
Another fun fact about this resort, there was a pair of Toucan birds that come every afternoon perched in a tree on the property. They are the loudest birds, but the most amazing to see in the wild. Another bird you see ALL DAY are the Macaws. They are gorgeous and you will see pairs flying here and there, almost to the point where you become accustomed to seeing them so frequently.
Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 2
We got up early and adventured out on JOSE”S CROCODILE TOUR. This is a 2 hour guided tour down the Tarcoles River. We were able to see so many crocodiles, I lost count. The guides were amazing at explaining the river and all the wild life we were able to see. There were too many birds to count, iguanas, and crocodiles of all ages. They stopped several times to feed the crocodiles as well. So we were all able to see and get a ton of pictures! If you ask Brydon about it, he says we saw too many birds and somehow forgot about the 25 plus crocodiles we saw. Audrey on the other hand was in awe.
Costa Rica’s economy is based on tourism. Kris and I are amazed at the transformation we have seen on roadways, bridges, and cars over the last 15 years. We have never had a guide or driver that hasn’t been overwhelming friendly and they all are quick to tell you about their country.
Costa Rica Itinerary- Day 3
We slept in!!! Holy moly did it ever feel so good! I did not realize how much rest we ALL needed. We have been going non-stop since Christmas between school, travel, lacrosse, dance, and horseback riding. I will say it was GLORIOUS not to get up and rush off somewhere. Our day literally consisted of eating, swimming, eating some more, swimming, naps, eating again. It was my kind of day!
We took a taxi into the town of Jaco, shopped, and ate lunch. Then it was right back to the pool and surfing. The kids quickly learned how to belly up to the Tiki Hut for their Fanta and Fruit Punch smoothie. I wish I had a picture, but they felt so grown up and were so cute, I never interfered.
Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 4
Our original plan was to take the kids to Manuel Antonio. When we had visited in the past, we were able to see so much wildlife, but as the time drew near, we just didn’t know if the kids would love an all day hike through the hot forest and even though we had been fortunate to see a ton of wildlife in the past, there was no guarantee they would see it. So we quickly scratched that idea and did the MONKEY MANGROVE TOUR. It was a good decision. In just 2 short hours we were able to feed the monkeys, go down the river while we viewed birds, crabs, crocodiles, and iguanas. We even ended the tour with all of us seeing a sloth! Day made!
We took the MONKEY MANGROVE TOUR early in the morning. As soon as we pulled up to where we load up on the boats, there were 40 plus monkeys swinging and playing all over a bamboo tree. You couldn’t stop watching them. Then once you are loaded on the boat, the guide will take you directly to the monkeys and you can feed them. The kids were just about to bust a gut. They thought this was the best thing ever. The monkeys will eat directly from your hand and some will even sit on your shoulders or head while eating. Our guide had been studying the monkeys for almost 20 years, so he was the most informative and entertaining throughout our tour.
Costa Rica Itinerary – Day 5
See Day 3. This was our last day and we took in every relaxing moment. The only difference between this day and Day 3, was Audrey decided she would surf. Her first wave Kris pushed her out on, she took it all the way to shore. She didn’t stop until Brydon finally wanted a turn. I had a blast watching do what their daddy loves most.
Kris spent the day pushing both kids into waves on boogie boards and then he taught them how to body surf. That was the only time this momma had anxiety. But they LOVED every minute of it.
We ended our trip with a dinner celebrating our date-anniversary. 20 years! Crazy how fast time goes and I do not take one minute for granted.
Other Areas of Interest and Activities in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is full of adventure. It is a vast land with volcanoes, rivers, rain forest, and waterfalls.
- Manuel Antonio National Park
- Arenal Volcano
- Fishing for sail fish out of Los Suenos
- Hiking Monteverde
- Braulio Carrillo National Park
- Deep Sea Diving
- Hanging Bridges
- San Jose
- Bird Watching in La Fortuna de San Carlos
- On the Pacific coast you can visit Herradura Beach and Quepos
- Surf Lessons
Feel free to ask any questions or let me know if you have visited Costa Rica! I would love any suggestion of what to do our next trip there!
Don’t forget to check out WHAT I PACKED for the trip.