Costa Rica/2 weeks in Costa Rica



We will be spending 2 weeks in Costa Rica in early June.  The first week we will be in Tamarindo at a VRBO rental home.  Are there any day trips that you recommend?  The second week we will drive north to Arenal.  Is it worth the splurge to stay at the high end hot spring resort for a couple of nights?  We also want to see Monteverde. Is 3 days sufficient for this area?  If we have time, we'd consider hopping a plane south to the Osu peninsula but perhaps this would make more sense on another visit.  Our boys are 12 &15.  Any suggestions or can't miss sights?

Dear Michelle,

Rincón de la Vieja National Park is about 2 hours northeast of Tamarindo. It's a good place to hike and see mini volcano activity like boiling pots of mud, etc. Be sure to stay on the trails there.

In Arenal I don't think it is necessary to splurge on the high end hot spring resort unless you like fancy resorts. I don't think that the hot springs at Arenal Springs are particularly hot. I recommend Ecotermales, but your sons might enjoy the waterslides at Tabacón hot springs more. Tabacón is more expensive than Ecotermales, and less sedate. You don't have to stay at Hotel Tabacón to visit the hot springs. But it does cost about $80 per person to enter the springs compared to about $35 at Ecotermales including lunch. There is also Baldí, but there are usually a lot of drunken gringos there and they play Muzak.

If you have a car and like horses, Leaves and Lizards is a nice place to stay, off the beaten track, reasonably priced, with spacious cabins and a distant view of Arenal. Bumpy road to get there, though.

Three days is good for Monteverde. You can ride there on horseback or take the "rapid transit" backroads shuttle bus. Both get you to Monteverde from Arenal in about 4 hours. Otherwise, you have to drive around Lake Arenal, which takes a little longer. It might be worth it so you can have your rental car in Monteverde. I think the Bat Jungle in Monteverde is interesting and fun. Your kids might enjoy the night hikes.

There are ziplines in both places. If the volcano is visible when you are in Arenal, it is probably more exciting to zip in Arenal. If it is not visible, it's probably better to zip in Monteverde in the early morning, before the clouds roll in. You might be able to see quetzals in the Monteverde Preserve if you go on the guided walks each morning. Sign up through your hotel.

Hope this helps,


Not enough time to go to the Osa and enjoy it.  

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Beatrice Blake


I can recommend the best places to visit with children in Costa Rica, based on their ages and the family`s interests and budget. My two children were born in Costa Rica and I have traveled with them all over the country while doing research for my guidebook, The New Key to Costa Rica. I also help people (with or without children) pick the best and most responsible ecotourism destinations and can advise them on the best ways to get around within the time they have.


Author of best selling guidebook for 32 years.

Author of Costa Rica's original guidebook, The New Key to Costa Rica, now in its 19th edition.

BA in Social Science Field Major with a minor in Spanish from the University of California Berkeley

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