Jen, March- April 2017

Jen, mom of 6 yr old, traveled with friends with 4 and 6 yr olds
8 day Arenal Volcano, Samara Beach itinerary from Liberia with eco-Plud lodges

We had a really nice trip! We loved the Volcano Observatory Lodge and Villas Kalimba and the first night at the airport hilton garden inn was perfect after a long flight – the breakfast was awesome and the pool was really nice for the kids before we hit the van for the long drive up to Arenal.

Luis was amazing!!! He was really personable and a safe driver – without him, we would not have seen half the wildlife we did at the Ecocentro Danus and the Hanging Bridges walk! I loved that he brought the scope and let the kids all look through it. And when we were all tired (kids ready to melt down) and decided to spend an afternoon at the hotel, he gladly turned around from the intended hot spring trip and brought us back. You were right that the evenings were very comfortable at the Volcano lodge. You might tell people to check out the frog pond there with flashlights after dark! It was a highlight for us to hear the loud frogs and try to find them – tricky but once you see one, you see the rest of them! Oh – and I really enjoyed the happy hour and sunset on the patio!

Down at Playa Samara, we booked a zipline tour and a boat trip to see dolphins and snorkel. We also rented surfboards and boogie boards and had a blast at high tide. Villas Kalimba took care of everything for us and it was very convenient. We were super-impressed with “Wingnuts” the zipline place – they take kids as young as 3 and our adventurous kiddos had a blast – we even saw an iguana named Boris, a little boa, and howler monkeys. The guides were GREAT with the kids. We did a little snorkeling and it was worth bringing our own gear (which we did).

The only negatives for us were the amount of car time (but glad that we didn’t have to drive!), the food at the Volcano Observatory Lodge, and the hotel the last night. I loved the Volcano Observatory Lodge, but the food and dining service was pretty awful and we were basically trapped there for dinner. We literally grabbed a table right at 6 one night because the kids were tired and waited an hour for food. It wasn’t even that busy! Maybe they don’t focus on the food service since they don’t have competition? The breakfasts were okay, but not special. While it was nice to be in Liberia the last night (our family of 3 walked into town just past the square and church to a steak house for dinner), the hotel was pretty run down, loud, and the power kept going out. The breakfast was pretty limited and my daughter only ate toast and fruit that morning. It wasn’t terrible to any extent, but not up to the standards of the other 3 places we stayed.

Also – A little advice for others you might want to share. I usually pack packets of ketchup since most countries don’t have it. CR has it everywhere, and they have peanut butter. Also, we brought booster seats for the older kids but didn’t need them. The vans we rode in had only lap belts so these were completely unnecessary. Bring a camera with a big zoom lens for wildlife and birds, but also the iPhone to shoot through a scope. We found the binoculars basically useless – I wouldn’t bring those again. Also, having multiple bathing suits was really nice as we often got wet more than once a day.

Thanks for a really easy and memorable trip!

Photo: Most of us at the zipline course above Playa Samara.