June, August 2017

June, mom of 4 and 7 yr old, traveling with her family and parents
10 day Arenal Volcano, Cloud Forest, Manuel Antonio beach custom itinerary

Our 9-night trip with 2 parents, 2 grandparents plus 4 and 8 year olds, guided by Jose Pablo, was extraordinary. We are ALL sure that we would not have had the trip we did without Jose Pablo and without Jenny’s great approach to family adventure travel.

Jose Pablo met us at the airport, and did EVERYTHING possible to help us have a wonderful trip, facilitating our activities, dining, outings and learning everywhere. And, yes, he really can spot very specific birds and other animals as he’s driving down the road, at which point he would quickly pull over so that we could all see…howler monkeys, snakes (yes!) iguanas, and more!

From San Jose, Jose Pablo drove us to Arenal (Observatory and Lodge), to Montverde (los Pinos) and to Manual Antonio (San Bada Hotel) – then back to Alejuela (Buena Vista Hotel).
One of the best things was Jose Pablo’s flexibility. We were able to do what worked with the weather to make the best of the time. And, while making recommendations about choices, Jose Pablo was open to trying something new that we had read about — so we could have the experience we wanted.

Finally, I would say that ALL of Jenny’s recommendations, advance information and advice is top notch and will keep you in good stead. I only went awry when forgetting her caution about fresh veggies at a soda, which did result in a dreadful day lost due to bathroom trips. Oh, well! The trip was FABULOUS and we tried to do it all!

Our thanks again to Jose Pablo and Jenny and based on our experiences, we offer unreserved recommendations!

In Case You Are Interested – Where We Went and What We Did
Location: Arenal (4 nights)
Hotel: Arenal Observatory & Lodge – Fabulous breakfast/menu options, amenities, and accommodations. We stayed in Phil’s Villa.
Highlights of Activities/Experiences Here:
Parents/Children – Arenal 1968 volcano flow – led by Jose Pablo
Grandparents – Waterfall, hanging bridges, onsite hiking trails
Daneus Wildlife Center – a private reserve, great butterflies, point dart frogs, lovely crafts from indigenous population
Don Olivo Cocoa Tour –Family run. Read about on TripAdvisor. LOVED it!
Baldi Hot Springs – Relaxation like you have never known! Try the Gigante Jacuzzi
Horseback Riding at Arenal Observatory and Lodge – Well above and beyond expectations for family ride. The guide assessed the 4 year old , who was able to ride alone. Spectacular experience for all!
Pool – Fabulous loved by kids in particular!
Sunset on the hotel deck overlooking Arenal volcano and Arenal Lake – Loved by all.
La Fortuna city square and church visit and dining like a Costa Rican (at a soda). Great fun! Very special.

Location: Montverde Area (2 nights)
Hotel: Los Pinos, San Elena – Beautifully designed cabins in rainforest setting with animals and birds all around. No breakfast offered, so we cooked eggs and had pastries. Yum! Coffee & Tea provided.
Highlights of Activities/Experiences Here:
Hiking in Cloudforest – led by Jose Pablo
Local shopping – and dining like a Costa Rican (at a Casona)
Zip Line & Superman fall – The parents and 8 year old girl fell in love with this one.
Location: Montverde Area (2 nights)

Hotel: San Bada Hotel, Manual Antonio – Right next to the park. Beautiful hotel and the most personal service we received at a hotel, especially with a 2-night stay! Saw spider monkeys 7 toucans from hotel.
Highlights of Activities/Experiences Here:
Manual Antonio National Park – 3 toed Sloths, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, toucans, more!
Ocean King Catamaran Cruise – We observed Hump Back mother and baby whale plus magnificent views; enjoyed an delicious lunch, tried snorkeling and the on-deck Jacuzzi pools. Super fun!
Dining fun at El Avion (airplane from the U.S. “Contra Affair” scandal); gorgeous views from dining terrace
Local shopping nearby in the pouring down rain – and tried local coconut water drinks sold on street in the heat!

Location: Alejuela Area (1 nights)
Hotel: Hotel Buena Vista
Lovely rooms, wifi and balconies; no elevator to help with luggage when leaving
Delicious dining room with appealing menu options
Box breakfast included for early flight, which was much appreciated
Beautiful grounds and pool which we didn’t have time to use, but are lovely.
Would definitely choose this hotel again