When the opportunity to go to Costa Rica came about, my husband and I couldn’t resist! Known as a great family-friendly destination, we decided to go with our kids and four other families.
Instead of trying to do a hotel with different rooms, we got a house together in Manuel Antonio. The home was a purchase from a gala that one family had recently attended.
The Villa Mariana (our home away from home for the week) was a beautiful property located right in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. While there was enough room for us all to sleep, it didn’t prove to be the most kid-friendly property. As an important note, I would highly recommend this property for adults only! Keep in mind many of the properties in Costa Rica do not have central air conditioning in the common areas, so make sure to inquire before booking your stay. We only had air-conditioning in our bedrooms, so you can imagine how hot it felt in the main hangout areas when it hit 90 degrees! Thankfully we had two pools to cool off in, so it didn’t ruin the trip (but something noteworthy to consider when booking your next trip to Costa Rica). The main home in the Villa Mariana has four bedrooms with a guest house boasting two additional rooms to make for enough space to accommodate 5 families. Aside from the home, I wanted to share my top 5 things to do in and around Manuel Antonio.
This beach was a short 10-minute drive from the Villa Mariana. Make sure to book umbrellas and chairs ahead of time. The Costa Rican sun gets very hot midday. Consider bringing a cooler (they allow them!) with cocktails, water, and snacks…. it will make things easier especially with kids. For a proper lunch, we headed to a neighboring hotel which you might want to consider when deciding where to have your umbrellas set up. Make sure to pack a portable speaker and some beach toys. This is a great way to experience the Costa Rican beach and dip in the Pacific Ocean!
Since we were traveling with 20 people, we decided to book our own private Catamaran. If you are traveling with a smaller group, they have group charters. We opted for the sunset cruise. Aboard the boat, we had two chefs and two helpers. Our outing included a late afternoon meal with rice, beans, chicken, and veggies as well as snorkel gear, and dolphin watching. This was a great way to dip in the water, bond as a group, and watch to a beautiful sunset on the water! A must-do activity!
At this park, we saw some extraordinary animals including sloths in their natural habitats. With some small stops along the way, including some food, it makes for a nice outing with the family. Midway in the national park, there is a beach with the option to take a dip (pack a swimsuit or wear one under your shorts).
*Something noteworthy* If you plan to include this in your travel plans make sure to pick a temperate or cloudy day so it can be more enjoyable. On the day we had planned the national park it was VERY hot! There was not a lot of solace from the sun along the walking path and doesn’t make for easy transport of infants. The walkways are rough at the beginning so not ideal for strollers. If you catch a nice day, this is a must-see stop!
We picked Canopy Tarzan for our zip lining. To be honest, it wasn’t the closest to our house in Manuel Antonio, but we heard it was the best one. It did NOT disappoint! With a multitude of LONG runs, it made for a perfect way to experience the jungle from the treetops. The last jump in this excursion, was a quick dip in a pool and waterfall, make sure you wear your swimwear under your shorts! *If you have a fear of heights this might not be your best bet.* Lunch was included. Make sure to mention any dietary restrictions when booking.
White Water Rafting: Savegre River
The location for white water rafting was a total of an hour and half away in the middle of the rainforest and mountains of Costa Rica. It was simply breathtaking! Kids ages 6 and over are allowed to partake in a class 1 rafting trip. Equipped with proper gear and a guide, you are taken down the Savegre River’s rapids and taught fun facts along the way! There are safe places for you to take a dip so make sure you are in your swim gear. I would highly recommend this as a fun-filled family excursion!
I hope this guide helps plan your next trip to Manuel Antonio! Costa Rica is filled with beautiful customs, food, scenery and most of all beautiful and friendly people!