We had talked for years about visiting Costa Rica, so we were so excited to finally get to visit this gorgeous country. We started our visit at The Peace Lodge located on the grounds of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park. It was just an hour drive from the San Jose International Airport and after an early morning flight from Newark (and ridiculously long lines at customs and immigration) we were happy to be there. When we arrived we were offered the most amazing passion fruit punch (with or without alcohol) which Jessie continued to order the entire time we were there. Then our hosts told us about the 2 sloths that had recently been added to the park. I don’t remember the last time I saw Jessie that happy – sloths are her absolute favorite animal and it was one of her life goals to see them up close! Another life goal of Jessie’s was to milk a cow (strange, but true), so when they mentioned the daily cow milking we knew we had come to the right place!
Packing note – it was rainy and cool at night. We would have been happy if we had brought lightweight down jackets. The next morning we had a private tour of the park. We saw toucans, parrots, jaguars, mountain lions, butterflies and so much more. Then we toured the magnificent waterfalls. It was just beautiful. We had lunch back at the hotel, then spent the afternoon watching the animals being fed and milking our cows. Definitely fun to interact with some of the animals!
The next morning we headed to the Arenal Volcano area. On our way to the hotel we stopped for our private canopy tour at the Arenal Ecoglide Park. I have to admit, I was absolutely terrified. I have a fear of heights and I don’t love speed, but I promised Jessie that I wouldn’t chicken out. When we got to the top of the first platform, I held onto the railing with white knuckles. Thankfully the experienced guides could see that I was panicked and they offered to let me go tandem with one of them. I graciously accepted – thank you Marvin for holding on to me! After that, it was really a lot of fun! We didn’t see any animals, but the views were spectacular.
Next we stopped at the Tabacon Hot Springs for some relaxation. The pools are heated by the natural springs and it is a luxurious experience. Then we headed to The Nayara Springs Hotel, a new ultra-exclusive boutique hotel located near the Arenal Volcano. The villas are surrounded by lush vegetation and are extremely private. The service was first rate – everyone knew our names by the first night. The villas were absolutely gorgeous with our private pool fed by mineral springs. Jessie’s favorite spot to relax was the hammock on the deck.
The next 2 days were filled with adventure and relaxation. White-water rafting with Wave Expeditions in Class III – IV rapids. Private canyoning tour with Pure Trek Canyoning where we rappelled down 5 waterfalls. Thankfully that did not trigger my fear of heights and I was really able to enjoy the entire experience. We highly recommend it! Packing note – make sure to bring water shoes. We wore RokSoc and they were great. Then I had an absolutely magnificent spa treatment with volcanic mud that claims to give peace and energy to both mind and body at the Nayara Springs Spa. Definitely worked for me – I was so peaceful, I almost fell asleep and that never happens to me during a treatment! For those that know me, I did get my hair blown dry after my adventure days!!
After 3 days in the Arenal area it was time to head to the beach! We were so excited to relax and soak up the sun. I recommend leaving relatively early because it is a long drive on very winding roads. It took 3 and ½ hours, but we finally made it to The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. We spend 4 blissful days at this luxurious resort that also happens to be extremely kid friendly. There was a list of activities posted everyday to keep everyone occupied. Jessie enjoyed the wave runners and honestly, I just enjoyed reading my book on the beach. Pura Vida!!
P.S. Thank you Maryanne Scully at firstname.lastname@example.org for helping us plan an amazing trip!