Family Travel Survival Guide: Costa Rica - Page 3

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Macaw Parrot in Monteverde National Park, Costa Rica
Macaw Parrot in Monteverde National Park, Costa Rica  (iStockphoto)

Where to Stay

The Peace Lodge
An hour’s drive from the San Jose airport is the Peace Lodge, perched on a hill overlooking the jagged green flanks that form the base of Poas Volcano. Connected to La Paz Waterfall Gardens—a wilderness preserve and series of impressive waterfalls—the Peace Lodge is a wonderful introduction to the country. Drop off your bags in the spacious rooms, which come with an outdoor patio for hummingbird viewing and an indoor waterfall for soothing baths, and then head down to the wilderness preserve. You can feed toucans, see hundreds of hummingbirds whipping around your head in the garden, and take a short walk into a canyon to find the high stream of white water plummeting down the rocks.

Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort 
If you plan on visiting Carara National Park to try to see the scarlet macaws or want to head out deep-sea fishing from the large marina on the outskirts of Jaco, this is the place to stay. The pool is a maze of connected waterways with bridges and man-made waterfalls. The resort also features a golf course (one of very few in Costa Rica) and one of the top-rated spas in Central America, according to Travel & Leisure.
Compare room rates at the Los Suenos Marriott.

Hotel Riu Guanacaste
Only a 30-minute drive from the airport in Liberia, this all-inclusive option features a glorious crescent beach on the Pacific with no other hotels in sight. Swim in the warm ocean waters or in the large pool with two swim-up bars. Monkeys can be found on the perimeter of the property and large lizards scurry under chaise lounges, giving the resort a wild feel.

Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort
Just down the road from Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenas del Mar has the same tantalizing appeal. The spacious suites, with oversized outdoor decks for viewing monkeys and sloths, are nestled into the cliffs overlooking the beach and the waters of the Pacific. Golf carts whisk guests up to the main lobby for a breakfast of fresh fruit and banana-almond pancakes, and then back to the beach for a pool or ocean swim. Be sure to sign up for a guided walk through Manuel Antonio National Park with Ersel, the resort’s knowledgeable naturalist.
Read our travel expert's review of the Arenas Del Mar Resort.

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn
Only a 25-minute drive from the airport in San Jose, this natural oasis is a world away. One of the finest eco-resorts in the country, this boutique hotel features bedroom walls painted by local artisans, excellent food often grown in their greenhouse, and paths that weave through the century-old trees and coffee plants. This is the place to spend your final night in Costa Rica, see your last hummingbird, and breathe in your last bit of fresh Costa Rican air.

Where to Eat
Gallo pinto, a mix of rice and black beans; tender chicken; plantains; and fresh fruit like papaya, mangos, pineapple, and bananas are the staples of Costa Rican dining. At lunch, the standard dish is casado, where rice and beans are served with a small salad and either chicken, fish, or pork. Steve & Lisa’s, a restaurant on the main road into Jaco from Carara National Park, serves consistently good Costa Rican fare. Otherwise, you’ll most likely be dining at your hotel, tucked away in the mountains and beach, far away from a selection of restaurants. In the rare instance where you do find yourself surrounded by dining options, like Manuel Antonio, you might want to say adios to the rice and beans and try an international option, like the yummy Italian food at Victoria’s.

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