In the past weeks, we have had a lot of families visiting our sustainable luxury hotels and lodges in Costa Rica since many schools in the United States and Canada were on Spring Break in March and April. We love seeing how families reconnect during their vacations and how this quality time spent together is such a great investment. All of us that are parents know that taking a whole family on vacation is not cheap. But we also realize that it is a great investment as the memories that can be created are ” priceless”.
So what makes for a great family vacation to Costa Rica? What are some of the ingredients necessary to make sure everybody has a great time and wonderful memories are created? Here some advice based on our observations in the past weeks.
Take it easy! You and your family are on vacation. Not every minute of the day needs to be filled with a rainforest hike, a waterfall rappelling adventure, surf lesson, a dolphin tour or many of the other fun activities and tours that are available at and around our hotels and lodges. Give yourself time to adjust to a different climate and take in the somewhat slower rhythm of Costa Rica. Pura vida!!!
We also recommend keeping the number of destinations and hotels that you visit in a week to no more than two or three. Some families make the mistake of visiting Sane Jose, Manuel Antonio, Arenal, Monteverde and Tamarindo in one week. That is just stressful. Remember that driving in Costa Rica is much slower that what you might be used to.
We met a family from New York last week at Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula that spent the whole week there and just one night at the Grano de Oro Hotel in San Jose on their way back. They really connected with the rain forest experience and the local staff at the lodge. The parents and kids looked all really relaxed and happy by the time they left. The father of the family told us at the airport: ” Wow, what a vacation, I will never forget going on the hikes with my daughters and observe all the wildlife in the Lapa Rios Rainforest Reserve. It was simply amazing.”
For a great connection, try to leave the iPhones and iPads packed up and spend some time talking to each other. How about a table game before dinner? Most of our hotels and lodges don”™t have TV”™s and we found that that also has a very positive impact on reestablishing communication between different family members.
In Spanish there is a saying ” Juntos pero no revueltos” which is applied often to being together with family members. It means, together, but not ” scrambled” or ” mixed up”. It describes well that it is very much desirable for a family to spend time together, but that it is also good to have some alone time or have different family members engage in different activities.
How about if Mom gets a massage that she really deserves and in the meantime, Dad takes the kids on a river rafting or horseback riding trip? While some members of the family participate in cooking lessons, others might prefer to read a book or take a nap in a hammock. Or maybe one family member wants to sign up for surf lessons, while others prefer to hang out at the beach watching.
A family vacation in Costa Rica is also a way to raise awareness about sustainability for the whole family. We find that especially children are really open to the concept of nature conservation and hiking through a primary rainforest is a life changing experience. But social aspects are just as important many children really enjoy the visits to the schools that are supported by our hotels and lodges and interact with children in the classroom or during their breaks (soccer games guaranteed).
We find that the ideal destinations for children are Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio, Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Inn in the Central Highlands, the Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the Osa Peninsula and the Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Guanacaste. Let us know if you would like us to help you plan a summer vacation with your kids at [email protected]
For a family adventure with older kids (12 years and older), consider the Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Lake Nicaragua.