Costa Rica Pura Vida: Guanacaste

West Coast Costa Rica: A Group of 10

I love Costa Rica. I first went there in my early twenties with my parents and fell in love with their commitment to the environment and education as well as the "laid back" attitude of the country. Costa Rica has beautiful coasts and interior boasting wonderful wildlife, rainforests, mountains and beaches. I was fortunate enough to be able to return to Costa Rica for work and then with my now husband for a vacation. Costa Rica has remained relatively safe and has continued to be committed to the environment, education and tourism. I knew that returning, this time with my kids would re-kindle my love for the country and I was not wrong.

December 22, 2104

I typically do not like to take group tours when I travel. I'm more of a DIY traveler. Spending more hours than there are in a day pouring over websites of hotels, reviews places to eat and see in order to put together the perfect Family Five Adventure. However, this trip was my parents' idea and they were taking us. They wanted it to be easy so they booked a group tour with a company. 
A nice pro with going with a tour company is you don't have to do any work, it's all done for you, just sit back and let them take care of everything. Also, most meals are included, taking the stress out of trying to find the awesome places to eat. However, the cons are bus rides with people you don't know, tours with people you don't know, meals with people you don't know. Small talk: I don't love small talk; but I love to travel and I love Costa Rica, so I was excited to go. It was my family of five kids ages 9, 8 and 6 1/2 , my parents and my sister and her two kids ages 9 and 12 and the other 20+ individuals on this trip. We were traveling from the west coast of Costa Rica to the east coast in eight days total. We left a day early so the kids and parents could enjoy a relaxing day on the beach. We flew into Liberia, Costa Rica and were transferred to our first destination.g

Our hotel was located on Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste region of Costa Rica on the Pacific Ocean. The area is a bit more arid, but the horseshoe shaped beaches are beautiful with coconut trees lining the shore line. We checked into the Hotel Bosque del Mar as that was where the tour had us staying. A hotel in a bit of a need for a update when we were there. Seems like it has had a face lift since we stayed. It was fine. We did take in the distinctinve scent of the howler monkeys that hang around the hotel.  I'm sure guests give handouts and therefore, the monkeys have become accustomed to free food.  The hotel staff does their best to wash down the walkways to clean up after the monkeys, but there is only so much they can do. We went for dinner at the restaurant there, the food was decent with many choices. After dinner and the kids took a walk on the beach. Before heading to bed, I warned everyone that in the wee hours of the morning, the howler monkeys will start howling and it is loud. My mom still called the front desk in the morning to complain about the loud air conditioning unit in her room; can they please move her room?

December 23, 2014

We spent the day on the beach relaxing. Tried to snorkel a bit, but not very successful, as the water is a bit rough and sandy. There was also a pool and the kids discovered the massive iguanas hanging out by the pool. They became a source of entertainment for hours. They tried to catch the iguanas. I would hate to see what would happen if they did. It was a great day of family bonding, a day for the young cousins to spend time laughing and exploring the new beach and animals, insects and surroundings. At days end we had a welcome dinner for our tour. It was an official start to the next seven days. We met at the restaurant where our guide introduced himself, went over the itinerary and spoke a bit about Costa Rica. Let the adventure begin.

December 24, 2014

In the morning, we had a typical Costa Rican breakfast of gallo pinto (black beans and rice) scrambled eggs and coffee, kids also had pancakes, not so typical, but kid-approved. We all hopped onto the bus and took a scenic drive to our first destination, Vandara Adventure Park and Spa. Here we split up to do different activities. Our youngest was too young to do the zip line, so he did the canopy tour with my husband and my father. My mom wanted to do the horseback riding tour, one of the kids joined her. My sister and I took the other three kids on the zip line. It was actually a nice zip line and the guides were very fun and helpful. We zipped through the trees and did see a lot of birds and of course howler monkeys. After this was over we headed over to the waterslide. The water was freezing, but the kids were excited. Because the slide is constructed of concrete pipe sections with joints between, the park recommended wearing a leather "diaper" over your bathing suit, Our kids were too cool. Big mistake.  Looks like now you can use a tube on the slide, but not when we were there. Dinner was at the hotel and we packed up as we were headed to the interior of Costa Rica the next day.

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