This december- january our family of 6 spent just under 4 weeks travelling around Costa Rica. My husband and I are in our 50`s and the youngsters 16-23. We went to 8 different places all around the country, travelling mainly in public buses and shared transports. We stayed in simple hotels and hostels, where we had 3 double rooms, and fixed our own breakfast and lunch most of the time. In the evenings we ate in good restaurants or sodas. Our budget was 10 000 dollars, including the activities (ziplines, national parks, surfing, guides).
The first and last night we spent in Alajuela, a lovely and peaceful little town. We went to the market, walked up the hill from where you have a good view and spent a lot of time in the little park in the town centre. That´s where all the families gather and it was great sitting there eating ice cream and watching all the people.
Next stop was Monteverde where we went on a public bus that was surprisingly comfortable. We spent 3 nights there. Went hiking in the a quiet and beutiful nature reserve (not the most popular one), did the Selvatura hanging bridges and ziplines. I´m scared of hights but after a couple of ziplines I actually really enjoyed it!
Then we went on the jeep+boat to Arenal. That trip was so beutiful with amazing scenery, we enjoyed every minute! In La Fortuna we spent 3 nights. Took a taxi to the lovely waterfall and walked back and hiked the lava fields. The best part was the hot springs, Eco Thermales. Such a beutiful and peaceful place, especially in the evening in the dark! Good food there too.
We went on a shared minibus+boat to Tortuguero where we spent 2 nights. There we saw an amazing amount of animals. Walking on the beach one sunset we disovered that we had around 30 turtle babies around our feet, making their way from the egg to the water! Went on a guided canoe trip with the exellent guide Víctor Barrantes who was really good at spotting animals. We were within 2 meters of tucans and caymans! I can really recommend going with a small quiet canoe as you can get in amongst the trees.
From Tortuguero we went by boat+taxi to Punta Uva where we stayed 5 nights over Christmas. We had a lot of rain but the beach is absolutely beutiful and so peaceful. Went to the Jaguar rescue centre were we saw lots of sloth babies and could hold little monkey babies, something we will never forget! There were loads of other rescued animals too, waiting to be let back out into the rainforest once they are well enough.
We took a public bus to Cahuita were we spent 2 nights. Walked in the National park and laid on a lovely beach.
In Manuel Antonio we spent 3 nights. There was tons of tourists in the National park on New years day but we found a lovely spot in the shade on one of the beaches. There big groups of racoons and monkeys and an iguana came to visit us right by our towels. They were after our sandwiches! We didn´t bother with a guide here, you really don´t need one. I was stung by a jellyfish which hurt but a guide told me to pee on it which actually helped! The jellyfishes here are not dangerous, thankfully!
From here we had a private transport to Playa Samara to save us going back via San José. It took 5 hours and cost 280 dollars for 6 (Transport Costa Rica). Very nice driver who stopped on a bridge from were we could se around 40 huge crocodiles!
We loved Samara and spent 5 nights in a little rented cottage close to the beach (Samara rentals). The kids took a surf lesson and practiced surfing the rest of the days, very gentle waves here. I went horse riding, full speed on a deserted beach next to the main one, great! From Samara we took the public bus back to Alajuela for our flight back to Sweden.
We had a wonderful holiday in this beutiful country and saw so many animals. Not only in the parks but even in the hotel gardens and in the villages. The Ticos are so friendly and helpful. We never felt unsafe and had nothing stolen. I went on long lonely walks every morning and felt totally safe! If you are not into luxury I can promise that cheap hotels and public buses are really good here!