If your idea of fun is running, biking and swimming more than a hundred miles in a day, chances are you aren’t going to lay on a beach somewhere when it’s time to unwind. Costa Rica is the perfect option for those who want to train hard and unwind even harder.
Does paradise on Earth exist? It surely does! And if you happen to be a see-it-to-believe-it type of person, you have to visit Costa Rica at least once in your lifetime. Chase the volcanic trails, go zip lining in the dense forest, or just relax on the beach sipping on an exotic cocktail. Ah, that’s life! There is ABSOLUTELY nothing that you won’t love about the land of Pura Vida, but you will have to come prepared. Here is a list of the items you must pack to make the most of your tryst with this breathtaking destination:
“What’s exotic must be exorbitant” – that’s what many people think about paradises like Costa Rica. However, you must validate the truth of the statement before jumping on that bandwagon. In fact, you can experience Costa Rica’s verdant rainforests, rich animal life, stunning beaches, breathtaking waterfalls, museum tours, self-guided hiking, and local events without breaking your bank. Here are three things you can in Costa Rica on a backpacker’s budget:
Arenal Hills is located at the heart of one of the most family friendly parts of Costa Rica.
There are many things that make the La Fortuna area so appealing to families. Most importantly, it’s safe and the people are very welcoming. A recent U.S. News and World Report article reported that Costa Rica topped the list for the Best Family Vacations in Central and South America because of its wide-array of family friendly tours, hotels and restaurants. “In Costa Rica, you can hike active volcanoes, zip-line through cloud-covered rainforests and surf warm turquoise waters within the span of a few days," the article reported.
So, whether you plan on enjoying your Arenal Hills villa as a vacation or investment home or plan on living there year-round, here are the top 10 things you will want to treat your family to again and again.
- Paddle a Jungle River or SUP on Lake Arenal
There is no secret that people come visit the La Fortuna area because it is known as the Epicenter of Adventure and there are lots of fun activities for the whole family, like paddling for instance.
Doing a Safari Float in a raft-style inflatable boat down a quiet, gently flowing river through the rainforest makes the top of the list of things to do with small children. They will be wowed by hearing the boisterous howler monkeys and seeing crocodiles in the river (from a safe distance of course!). Have your young kids practice their counting abilities by pointing out the numerous birds you'll see along the way.
If you have teenagers, you will want to head to the Río Balsa or Río Sarapiqui for exciting whitewater rafting tours. The Arenal Volcano area is lucky to have so many wild rivers, suitable for every level of paddler. The Río Balsais a class 2-3 river, and is recommended for ages 10 and above, while those 13 and up should try the heart-pounding San Miguel Jungle Run section of the class 3-4 Río Sarapiquí.
Another fun water-based activity is stand up paddling on Lake Arenal. If you've never tried this sport, there's nothing more enchanting than standing up on a board and paddling in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano on pristine, beautiful Lake Arenal.
- "I Spy With My Little Eyes" the Arenal Volcano
You and your kids will love trying to catch a glimpse of the Arenal Volcano. When you’re driving around and see the impressive Arenal Volcano peaking through the clouds, call out to your kids "I spy with my little eyes, something that looks like a great big triangle!"
The Arenal Volcano is Costa Rica's most-iconic volcano with a perfect cone-shape visible from just about anywhere in the area. Don't be disappointed if it's clouded over a lot. The clouds roll in and out during the day. There are numerous hiking tours that get close to the base of the Arenal Volcano. The Arenal Volcano National Park hike includes a visit to the section of lava rocks left over from the major eruption of 1968. The entrance fee to the Arenal Volcano National Park is $10 and a round-trip taxi ride from the center of La Nature guides are great at pointing out the fascinating wildlife you can find along the trail and you and your kids will learn interesting facts about volcanoes in general and the vibrant history of the Arenal Volcano.
Do you have kids who are okay with taking a nice, easy-going hike along a rainforest trail filled with colorful, tropical birds and monkeys up in the trees? The El Silencio Nature Reserve is a great place for an informative guided-hike bordering the Arenal Volcano National Park and is looked after by a local family who uses their $10 entrance fee to keep the trails clean and protect the wild animals found there. The area forms an important biological corridor from Arenal to the cloud forests of Monteverde including the Children's Eternal Rainforest Reserve and Arenal National Park Conservation Area.
- Hanging Bridges Way Above The Tree-top Canopy
The Arenal Hanging Bridges is a highlight for kids in the Arenal area. This natural wonderland has a series of solid, well-constructed bridges that connect above deep jungle canyons with almost 2 miles of trails. You'll get great views of the Arenal Volcano and a waterfall. You'll enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica as you walk the trails on your own, but you're bound to see more wildlife and thoroughly enjoy the walk if you do a guided hike with a nature guide.
- Ziplining Above The Rainforest Canopy
It is rumored that the canopy zipline tour was actually invented in Costa Rica. So if you and your family are looking for a little more adventure, from s birds-eye perspective above the tree-top canopy, then ziplining is a must! Ziplining tours are found in just about every popular destination in Costa Rica, so there are many to chose from. Most canopy zipline tours are suitable for all ages. The ziplines in the La Fortuna area will give you great views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Ziplining is definitely one of the most-interesting things to do within minutes of Arenal Hills with your family.
- Go Chasing Waterfalls
If you don't visit the La Fortuna Waterfall, you’re missing out on one of the most magical things about being in Arenal! This 200-foot waterfall is impressive and the entrance fee ($10) goes to support local infrastructure projects and community activities. The path down is newly built with easily accessible steps, suspension bridges and platforms to get great photo ops of the waterfall. There is a nice, little restaurant that sells lunches, ice cream, drinks and snacks at the top with nice restrooms.
Once you make it to the bottom of the trail to the waterfall, there is an area for swimming to the left-hand side of the waterfall (due to strong undertows, it is not permitted to get close to the cascading waters). There are a couple hundred stairs leading back up to the top, so you'll want to take your time, especially if you have small children. There are also horseback riding tours to the La Fortuna waterfall with a visit to an indigenous Maleku village.
Waterfall rappelling, also known as canyoneering or canyoning, is one of the most adventurous La Fortuna activities for teenagers. Guides give thorough safety talks on how to descend the waterfalls and use your equipment. This is recommended for ages 13 and up. For older teenagers, you may want to opt for a new-style of canyoning that is now considered Costa Rica's most extreme tour: Gravity Falls waterfall jumping! And you do just that… jump from waterfalls into deep crystalline pools in nature's ultimate playground.
- Play Farmer For a Day
Take the Campesino Farm tour for an interactive look at rural Costa Rican country life. You can help out with the care and feeding of the farm animals and learn about sugar cane production. This tour is educational and your family will learn all about the importance of taking care of our natural resources and can see how people can take advantage of nature without compromising future generations. There is a delicious lunch provided here too – you'll be amazed how your kids will try new and different foods like handmade tortillas, fresh natural local vegetables, locally-sourced meats and of course Costa Rica’s famous rice and beans. Fried plantains are always a hit with kids, plus they can't get enough of the fresh fruits such as pineapple, watermelon and papaya.
- Best Bet for Toddlers and Young Children
Ecocentro Danaus is a biological reserve near La Fortuna. This is one of the best ways to see wildlife in this area. You might see the two- or three-toed sloths, red-eyed frogs, Jesus Christ lizards and alligators. There are lots of colorful birds to see here too. There is a butterfly farm where the kids can learn about their life cycle.
Arenal Natura is another family favorite La Fortuna. The marvels of nature come alive in this well-maintained private reserve area with nice trails, gardens and aquariums to get up close and personal with amphibian life of the Arenal area.
- Enjoy Your Lifetime Day Pass to The Springs
Every home at Arenal Hills comes complete with a lifetime day pass to world-renowned The Springs Resort & Spa. In conjunction with the MINAE (Ministry of Environment and Energy), they operate a preserve for Costa Rican wildlife that has either been confiscated from poachers or donated by other private preserves or individuals. Here your kids can marvel up close at jungle cats, monkeys, sloths and more.
- Go Boating Through The Jungle
Enjoy a boat ride with the kids at the Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve. You will have a great time spotting the sloths, monkeys, toucans, iguanas and more! This relaxing boat ride makes a stop at Las Iguanas restaurant on the way. Watch the hundreds of iguanas hanging out on the tree.
- Explore Using Pedal Power
The Arenal area of Costa Rica is a great place to explore on two wheels. You’ll find top-of-the-line suspension bikes for rent like Trek and Cannondale and even small-enough bikes to fit five-year-olds who are ready to brave the windy, rural roads around the Arenal Volcano area – a far cry from the hustle and bustle of La Fortuna. We recommend the moderate Volcano and Lake Trail for most families for great riding and wildlife viewing.
There are literally hundreds of more fun things to do for families within minutes of Arenal Hills. Choosing what to do depends on the age of the children, the interests of the parents, and level of adventure you seek!
Do you enjoy relaxing in a hot bath after a long day at work? What if this bath had therapeutic qualities, making you feel better every time you took a dip? Now, imagine that this bath is surrounded by a tropical forest canopy, waterfalls, and a wide array of exotic birds and animals. This is what you’ll find when visiting Arenal Hills in Costa Rica.
Topics: Life In costa Rica
If you find the idea of flying through the air captivating, ziplining is for you. The bird's eye view of the gorgeous rainforest, along with its diverse wildlife, will surely take your breath away. Remember these five tips to make the most of this amazing adventure:
Choose Your Canopy Tour Wisely
Costa Rica has some truly amazing ziplining canopy tours. All of them offer incredible views of Costa Rica’s majestic tropical landscape. While some tours will let you catch a glimpse of the country’s stunning topography complete with rolling hills, verdant valleys, and lush rainforests, some will let you discover the sight of the majestic Arenal Volcano. The question is, what type of view and experience do you want? Research your options before booking your trip.
Choose clothing that will let you move your arms and legs freely. Avoid wearing anything that is too snug or too loose. Wear long pants and closed-toe shoes.
Tie Your Hair
Billowing hair will unnecessarily obstruct your view. If you have long hair or fringes, tie them up neatly. Even if you have short hair, use a hair band to keep things tidy.
Things to Remember
Before starting, apply insect repellant generously on the exposed parts of your body. Don’t forget the camera at any cost; you have to capture the flora and fauna on the go. Use glasses? Then secure them with straps. The same applies for your shades. Use sunscreen lotion to prevent sunburns. Last but not least, carry a pair of binoculars to get a better view of the wildlife you might see on the way.
Follow Your Guide
Tour guides are trained to keep you safe. Your safety is their first priority. So, always follow your guide’s instructions and you will be fine.
Ready to go ziplining in Costa Rica on a regular basis? Purchase a vacation villa home at Arenal Hills luxury villas. Contact us to learn more about Costa Rica at 1-844-MY-HILLS.
For pet parents, it often becomes difficult to enjoy vacation knowing that back home, their pet is locked in a kennel and eagerly waiting to hear their footsteps. The good news is that a lot of Americans who visit Costa Rica on long vacations bring their pet children along with them. Bringing your furry friend to Costa Rica can be simple when you know all the rules. So, keep the following points in mind while planning a Costa Rican vacation with your pet:
> Timing is everything if you want your pet to accompany you to Costa Rica. To avoid hassles, start planning well before your departure date.
> First, get your pet examined by a USDA accredited veterinarian. He should fill up the Federal APHIS Form 7001 declaring that your pet does not have any health problem whatsoever.
> Remember that your pet’s health certificate is valid only for 10 days before departure. On the other hand, most airlines won’t let you make reservations before 13 days. Keep the two dates in mind while scheduling your journey.
> If your pet is not sharing the cabin space with you and is traveling as cargo, the chances are that he won’t be on the same flight as you. In that case, you will have to obtain an import permit.
> Carry two or three extra copies of all your documents.
> All airlines have their own rules for pet transportation be it for cabin or cargo transfer. Keep these requirements in mind while preparing for the trip.
> Don’t tranquilize or muzzle your pet while flying.
Costa Rica Requirements
In the case of cargo transfer, you will need an import permit to get customs clearance. If you have hired an international pet mover, the company will handle the matter on your behalf. They will require a set of documents including a copy of your passport or legal ID and the copy of the passport or legal ID and the contact information of the person receiving your pet in Costa Rica. In addition, the company would also need a copy of your pet’s valid health certificate and vaccinations and his flight reservation.
In Costa Rica, the airport customs office is open from Monday through Friday during the regular business hours. If you arrive in the country on a Saturday or a Sunday, you’ll have to wait till Monday to pick him up. If you arrive there late at night, you will have to wait until the next day.
Vacationing in a beautiful country like Costa Rica could be one of the best experiences you and your pet can ever share. If you want to know how you can make it even better, give us a call today at 1-844-MY-HILLS.