Recently my family and I embarked on a family trip to Costa Rica. I am by no means a travel writer like the very talented Natty P however I must recap my trip in hopes that I might inspire a few of you to visit this magical place.
Friends of ours have been to Costa Rica several times and convinced us to travel there this year. Before having children, my husband and I traveled across Europe extensively. We loved to explore new places but didn't have the courage to go far once our small children started to get more active (Florida was about as far as we went with toddlers). This year we felt ready to branch out and Costa Rica seemed like the best place to start.
Location: Nosara, Costa Rica (specifically Playa Guiones). This little town is all dirt roads, beautiful beaches with firm sand and endless surf. There are fresh market stands with the best tasting fruit (all local) on every corner. Two grocery stores that have everything you need and multiple restaurants with beach views, amazing food and great vibes. Most importantly (to me) the locals are very friendly. Most people speak english and it's not 'touristy' or overly commercialized.
Restaurants: We went to a few but my favourite was La Luna. It's a magical spot right on the ocean and most tables are outside. The food is great but I went for the ambiance. I have never been in such a special spot before. 10 Pies, Burgers and Beers and Beach Dog Cafe were also big hits with our family.
Rental: We stayed in a beautiful 4 bedroom home with a pool and a 7 min walk to the beach. Nosara Travel was wonderful in helping us find the right home for our family. Home Away and Airbnb had some great options too. The pool was a life saver for us as it was really hot while we were there and helped keep the kids cool and entertained.
Yoga/Pilates: There are so many great little yoga and pilates studios in town. The options were endless and every instructor we experienced lead a challenging and enjoyable class. Bodhi Tree was close to where we were staying and had so many class options (spin, yoga, pilates etc...) so we tried most of our classes there. I have also heard good things about Nalu but didn't have the chance to try it for myself.
Hiking: We love to hike on our vacations. Unfortunately, while we were in Costa Rica it was their dry season (ie. rain forests weren't as lush and the waterfalls had dried up) so we didn't hike a lot. We did find a beautiful spot that offered a beautiful view of Nosara. We could see miles of beach to the left and an endless forest to the right, with some of the most spectacular trees I've ever seen. You can go to Lagerta Lodge for access to the hike. It's $10 per person which also gets you a free fruit smoothie when you are done. Such a refreshing treat after a hot hike in the jungle.
Monkeys: Loads of monkeys that are so much fun to watch, right in our backyard. Doesn't need any more explanation cause I know you get it.
Surf: We've taken surf lessons in Portugal before so we rented surf boards and surfed everyday. It ended up being $10 a day for long term rental and it was well worth the expense. We had so much fun in the surf watching the family experience the big waves. Many wipe outs and a few actual surfs were achieved. There are many shops that offer short term and long term board rentals, as well as lessons.
Money: We used credit card and US cash.
Travel: From Toronto it was a 5.5 hour flight to Liberia Costa Rica. We flew with West Jet and it was (fortunately) a direct flight. The kids were ok. Loads of crafts, games, movies and snacks kept them entertained. At the airport we rented a car and drove 2.5 hours to Nosara without any issues. The roads were mostly dirt but there are some paved roads now. You can also pay to have a driver take you from the airport to Nosara as well for $120 US. Nosara is small and transportation varies from car, golf cart and quad rentals. I was happy we had the car because the dirt roads make everything really dusty.
Weather: Hot. Really, really hot. We were there mid-march and as long as you were near water it was fine but we took it really easy. Each day was sunny and 32-37 degrees. Not a drop of rain and very few clouds. We found a great routine where we would walk the beach, surf or do yoga in the morning and then hang out at home (nap, read, swim in the shaded pool etc...) until about 3 pm when we would go to the beach again to surf and picnic with the sunset. We took a few road trips to other towns which was nice as well but our spot was my favourite.
All things considered, we had a great family trip. We traveled with my parents which made it extra special and allowed for a few mini escapes with just my husband.