Last year I caught a segment on the news and learned one of the best times of the year to get mega travel deals is the week before Thanksgiving. We did some research online and booked one of our favorite trips to date, to Costa Rica.
We stayed at Andaz Papagayo up in the Guanacaste region. Our bungalow was perched in the jungle overlooking the ocean with wildlife surrounding us. We spent our days off property hiking to secluded waterfalls, exploring hot springs, zip lining and checking out other little towns. And we spent our evenings in luxury enjoying the grounds of the Andaz as well as access to it’s sister property Four Seasons. Both properties were at about 50% occupancy. And we paid about 60% of the normal rates.
One of our favorite days was our adventure to Rincon De La Vieja National Park (closed Mondays). It was an hr+ drive from our hotel but well worth the excursion. We started our day with a hike to Oropendola waterfall. To access the falls we parked in the main lot at the Las Pailas entrance. Instead of entering the rangers station we headed to the small coffee shop and paid about $10 entry. There is often is a guide named Hugo in the lot, we found him and tipped him $10 to take us. Very glad we did! The waterfall was spectacular, and huge, approximately 60 ft high. We swam in a blue water tidal pool and Monte climbed up behind the waterfall. Had I known how much of a true hike it was I probably would not have risked it with our three year old at the time. She handled everything fine, but I was anxious. The hike was only about 20 minutes but steep and we had to cross a river with slick rocks. If you plan to take this hike, don’t carry more than a backpack, there is a very narrow rock wall to put your stuff before entering the lagoon via rope. Now looking back…it was totally AWESOME and I want to do it again.
Afterwards we navigated our way to Rio Negro hot springs, also part of the National Park. The springs are on private property so you have to pay a $10 fee at Hotel Hacienda Guapchapelin (which was located on the same road we entered). From there we drove about 5m to the springs lot. After a short 10 minute hike we found six mystical looking stone crafted pools set on both sides of the river connected by a suspended bridge. It was stunning. The pools were all different temperatures and one area had volcanic mud you could use. Brooklyn didn’t want to get dirty but she had no problem covering us. These thermal springs felt secluded and non touristy. There is also a small waterfall across the street. I’ll definitely be visiting these springs again.
One of the trip highlights was zip lining. We did the tour closest to the hotel, Witches Rock Canopy Tours, which was perfect for us. We brought our child harness from home since many places don’t offer them, and had Brooklyn ride tandem with a guide. We zipped between 24 platforms over about 1.5 hours. Brooklyn LOVED it and still talks about it.
So if you’re looking for good travel deals, try checking those dates. Andaz currently has an ‘unreal deal’ running on expedia. You won’t be disappointed.
You may be surprised at the cost to rent a car though, so do some research before you go. Costa Rica requires car insurance purchased through the rental agencies, and this often costs as much as the rental itself. I recommend getting a SUV as many roads are unfinished. Airport rentals are most expensive, we ended up renting one about 10 minutes away from airport. And the rental company provided a free shuttle so it worked out well.
Costa Rica was definitely one of my favorite adventures with my family so far. I’m torn between doing a trip there again, or trying something new…especially now since there’s such a great deal.
Other adventures on this trip:
We rented a wave runner off the beach at Andaz, all three of us fit, and cruised around bay and Monkey Head island. Brooklyn loved it.
We used the free kayaks off the beach at Andaz and saw dolphins, they were right next to us, doing jumps and almost touching the tips of the boats. It was was stunning.
The lifeguard at Andaz found a seahorse in the water and brought us over to check it out up close.
The road to Llanos de Cortes is the bumpiest road I have ever taken and I still giggle about it, remembering how tickled Brooklyn was over the drive.