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Costa Rican Getaway

We FINALLY  did it!! My husband & I took a week long vacation without the kids!

I turned 40 in December & really wanted to get away to somewhere warm & new to us! We originally had planned on another couple joining us but they couldn’t make it so we decided to go on our own!

Thankfully I have the BEST parents ever & they agreed to watch our two boys while we were gone for the week. There was a lot to do for the kids with homework & running them to activities but they did a great job & my kids had a blast!

We started by flying out of Seattle with a couple stops in California & then on to Liberia, Costa Rica. I tried to sneak my sunscreen through security but got caught & had to give it up! Sunscreens expensive in Costa Rica so I was bummed that we’d have to buy some once we got there.

 

After a VERY long day we landed in Liberia & a hotel shuttle picked us up. We stayed our first night at the Hilton Garden Inn at the airport since we didn’t want to drive late at night.

The next day we got up early, picked up a rental car at Vamos, and hit the road.  We had a three hour ride ahead of us to Mount Arenal.

Mount Arenal  is a volcano that last erupted in 2010.  It’s not currently erupting but the area is full of birds, animals, and jungle.  The drive there  had lots of twists and turns. We had to pass a lot of cars but the scenery was beautiful with mountains, jungle, and the huge lake.

After our long drive we arrived at Volcano Lodge and Springs.  This hotel had a large pool and several pools that were hot springs.

 

We loved our room that looked out onto the garden & there was a creek behind our room with lots of wildlife. The hotel also included breakfast every morning  and I loved how they set up fruit for birds to feed on so you could watch the birds while you ate breakfast.

 

 

Around Arenal we hiked to the La Fortuna Waterfall  where we climbed down 500 steps to the beautiful waterfall and river. It was fun to watch spring breakers hang out in the river as we dipped our toes in the water and ate some snacks.

 

 

We also went to Sky Trek where we went on superfast zip lines! I kept saying “please don’t die” as I was flying through the air! It was much faster than the zip lines in Whistler that  I had gone on before. Mark loved all of it!  As we were taking the tram up the mountain we also saw Howler monkeys swinging in the trees. The guide said they hadn’t seen monkeys for a long time so we were very lucky!

 

 

Another day we went to Arenal Observatory Lodge.  The road was incredibly bumpy to get there.  The grounds here were amazing and we hiked for several hours and saw an animal related to the raccoon. We also saw lots of birds and we absolutely loved having lunch at the lodge while we looked out at the volcano.

 

 

Each afternoon, after some activities, we went back to the hotel where we lounged by the pool and hot springs and had cocktails.  It felt so amazing to lay out in the hot sun and relax!

Since the hotel included breakfast we ate lunch and dinner at local restaurants. My favorite way to find out which restaurants to go to is to check Trip Advisor.  We mostly ate a protein with salad or veggies and rice and beans. I found that the food was pretty healthy overall  and probably my favorite meal was fish tacos in La Fortuna.

 

After three nights at the volcano we then headed out and drove to the beach.

We stayed at the beach Playa Grande and our hotel was called Hotel Cantatana. We loved where we stayed! The beach was three minutes away down a cute path and we were away from the busy tourist town of Tamarindo. Our room overlooked the small pool and the hotel only had five rooms. Breakfast was included every morning and each afternoon the girls opened up a smoothie bar. We loved how the hotel felt like a cozy bed and breakfast.

 

 

The beach at Playa grande was amazing! It was incredibly shallow and ideal for surfing and boogie boarding. We attempted to surf our first day and failed miserably! So while Mark continued to try to surf, I traded my surfboard in for a boogie board and have the best time!

 

 

The next day we took a small boat across the river (where there are crocodiles) to the town of Tamarindo. The town was crazy busy, full of spring breakers, and it was a tourist trap! As soon as we saw the town we were so thankful we hadn’t stayed there!

We bought a few souvenirs including bird whistles and a stuffed sloth for Reid and then we headed out to lunch and had the best food ever at Pangas Beach Club.  We sat in comfy chairs underneath a tree, while Howler Monkeys climbed overhead. We had a beautiful view of the river and the ocean. Mark had an amazing lunch of smoked salmon lasagna while I had seared tuna salad.

 

 

 

That afternoon we hit the beach, played on the boogie boards, and grab some wine while we watched the sunset. We made it a priority to watch the sunset every single evening & they were just as good as the Hawaii sunsets!

 

One day we decided to drive to Hacienda Guachapelin which is a place where you can do a full day’s worth of adventure! It was a 2 hour drive from the beach but we had so much fun! First, we went horseback riding through the mountains, next we went innertubing down a fast river with rapids, then we had lunch, and last we went zip lining and rappelling in a canyon.  It was only $90 for the whole day and totally worth it!

That night we drove to a little Italian restaurant called Cafe Del Pueblo and have the best pizza and homemade pasta. We even met a nice family there – they were from Kansas & we overheard them joking about Nebraska!

On our last day we decided to completely relax. We started out with a nice breakfast at the hotel and then decided to drive north to check out Playa Conchal.  We went to this beach because we heard you could get $20 massages and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was true!  It felt so amazing to get a massage right next to the roaring waves. Mark and I both enjoyed it!

 

 

After our massage we hung out at the beach for a little while but it was super touristy and lots of vendors were coming by asking us to buy stuff!  It was super annoying so we headed out back to Playa Grande and went to lunch at Taco Star.  We went to this place twice because it was a little taco shack that had really good food and it was right next to the beach.

 

 

Our last afternoon we spent boogie boarding which was super fun! We spent three hours boogie boarding and my stomach hurt so much!  That evening was our last nice dinner so we went to the Rip Jack Inn Restaurant where Mark had steak and I ate shrimp. We had a few good laughs because we were watching this guy dance around with his beer!  On our way back to the hotel we were so surprised to see an ant eater with a baby on its back crossing the road!

 

 

We had the best trip! It was a very long flight home but I will always cherish the memories of hanging out with Mark and remembering why we are best friends!  It was so great to see our kids and we hope to go back to Costa Rica next year for two weeks. We know our kids would absolutely love it and it would be the best family vacation!

 

Have you been to Costa Rica? What part? We’re planning on going back next year &  would love to know your favorite place and advice!

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