Family Enjoys Adventure In Costa Rica
It seems like a nice substitute for Hawaii.
Laura Gibble wanted a family vacation in the Aloha State, but couldn’t get her airline points to jibe with the trip. So she “settled’’ on Costa Rica, where the average temperature in San Jose is between 68 and 72 degrees and on the beaches between 75 and 92 degrees.
The sun shines throughout the year (about 12 hours of sunshine a day) and there really is no winter.
Gibble, of Lititz, flew direct from Newark, N.J., to San Jose, Costa Rica, with her husband, Scott, and daughters Melissa, 13, and Michelle, 11, for their June 18-28 vacation.
It was early in the rainy season, which begins in late April, early May and continues for eight months.
It is less expensive to visit during the rainy season, Laura said. The most expensive months are December and January.
Costa Rica is a very trendy area right now and a shorter trip — 5½ hours away — than Hawaii, Laura said. The airline points paid for two of her four flights. She paid about $400 a seat round trip for the remaining two tickets.
Scott worked a lot in China last year and was away for large periods of time. Laura wanted a chance for the family to spend quality time together. Planning the vacation wasn’t easy.
“I spent a lot of time researching the trip and airfare,’’ said Laura, who used Trip Advisor and Googled places for the trip. “You can get good rates, especially in the off season. The trip was perfect, and I know that was because of the energy I put into it.”
They used two hotels during their stay. The first was the Hilton Cariari by Doubletree in San Jose. The hotel was secluded; you didn’t hear any airplanes.
La Paz Waterfalls is the most-visited privately owned ecological attraction in Costa Rica. Taos has a large amount of volcanic activity. The coffee plant offers tours with a local guide. For coffee drinkers like Laura and Scott, this was neat to see.
After spending two days in San Jose, they moved on to JW Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, which is next to the Pacific Ocean. The place would be expensive, Laura said, if they weren’t using Marriott points She said there are reasonable places to stay such as Tamarindo Diria.
Other activities included going on a zip line in a rain forest at Canopy Safari. Michelle was first in line.
There is a nice walk to the get to the zip line, providing a scenic view. They saw pineapple and vanilla plants, just like they would in Hawaii.
The owner of the zip-line company drove her family to the location and helped hook them in. They felt safe, and that’s important.
Laura said people in Costa Rica are very nice. She felt as if many of the locals were her friends by the end of the trip. “Being with the people and feeling like they are your friends makes it more enjoyable,” she said.
They also went river rafting in Quepos with Iguana Tours, booked by Bill Beard’s. Laura and her family had fun and felt safe. The guide put them at ease. The water was not too dangerous and was at a safe level.
Iguana Tours also provides a meal after rafting, which consisted of chicken or fish, rice, beans and salsa. Watermelon and pineapple were the desserts.
The girls also wanted to go surfing. Laura found the tiny town of Tamarindo and Bill Beard’s arranged a private instructor for about two hours of lessons.
It cost $65 per person, which she felt was reasonable for the private instruction.
They also visited Manuel Antonio National Park. She said it was beautiful.
You can walk by yourself or hire a guide who comes along with a high-powered spotting telescope. “We were amazed at what he pointed out,’’ she said.
The guide showed them a termite nest. “We all ate termites,’’ Laura said. “They taste like peanut butter.”
Monkeys and three-toed sloths were highlights of the walk.
A few tips
They rented a car for $1,200 for 10 days. She recommends getting the GPS at the car rental place, instead of bringing your own.
The rental company will have the GPS set up properly for Costa Rica. Put in the places you are going, not the address.
Another tip: Call Bill Beard’s anytime for suggestions, 877 853-0538 or 954 453-5044
Get a different person on the telephone for a new perspective and helpful information. Laura’s favorite question is “Anything that I haven’t asked you that would be good for me to know?”
Would they go back?
“I would, but I’m the type of person who likes to see new places, but it would be fun to see the people again,” Laura said. “The trip brought the family together. … Great conversations, with no friends or TV. Just us having fun, and that’s worth a lot.”
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Family Enjoys Adventure In Costa Rica
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