Costa Rica Family Holiday with Teenagers

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4.6 . Excellent
94%
Travel Style: Array Mixed
Physical Level: All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value (3*)
9 days
From: $ 2,280 $ 253 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Dive into the heart of one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries, travelling along rivers, through dense rainforest, past towering volcanoes and to blissful beaches on a journey that will awaken your inner nature-lover
  • Get active on an incredible range of outdoor pursuits – rafting along rapids, climbing up to volcanic craters, safari-ing for crocs, and hiking through jungle
  • Enjoy close-up encounters with Costa Rica’s endless wildlife, then enjoy plenty of time to let off some steam in thermal springs and swimming pools
  • End this adventure by hitting Manuel Antonio National Park, where the evergreen forest grows right up to the long, white beaches and irresistible water

Short Description

Travel to Costa Rica on a tailored family tour and experience a country that’s brimming with natural beauty and adventure activities. Hike to a crater lagoon, soak in hot springs, gaze at precious pre-Colombian treasures, take in mind-blowing views of Arenal Volcano, do some whitewater rafting, explore cloudforest, go on a crocodile safari, and look out for monkeys and armadillos in a jungle right next to the beach. With expert local guidance, photo-ops galore, chances to try your Spanish skills and plenty of swimming pool action, this ticks all the boxes for an epic family getaway.

Style Small group tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value (3*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City San Jose
End City San Jose

Destinations

Costa Rica

Attractions & Cities Visited

Arenal Volcano Manuel Antonio National Park

Activities & Interests

Wildlife viewing

Age Requirement

10-99

No single supplement
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Itinerary

Day 1 San Jose

Welcome to Costa Rica. The adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 5 pm at the hotel in San Jose. You can arrive at any time today, as there are no activities planned until this group meeting. San Jose sits in the heart of the country in the lush, wide Central Valley, and has a comfortable subtropical climate. With over half the country's population living within its limits, it’s a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a fun atmosphere. Its grid pattern makes it easy to navigate too – the avenidas run east to west and the calles run north to south. After the meeting tonight, perhaps get to know the rest of the group by heading out for your first taste of the local ‘tico’ food.

Day 2 Sarapiquí

Kick off your Costa Rican adventure with a hearty breakfast, fuelling up for an exploration of the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum to admire its glittering collection. Gold had an important function in the indigenous social hierarchy, and it was of course a big reason why the Spanish were attracted to the area. Then, make a stop at the Poas Volcano National Park. In the park you’ll discover untouched nature, an active volcano, and have the chance to breathe fresh, cool mountain air. At the top of this volcano, 2,700 metres above sea level, you can step to the edge of a platform and look down on a smoking sleeping giant – steam can pour out around a sulphuric, bubbling, green crater lake. In the afternoon, make your way to Sarapiqui, a town known for its rich biodiversity. On arrival settle into your hotel then join your leader on a walk through the rainforest, crossing trails and hanging bridges as you look out for wildlife. This evening is free for your own discoveries – you may like to book an excursion to learn about the region’s nocturnal creatures.

Day 3 La Fortuna

After breakfast, it's time to head out to Arenal Volcano National Park. The scenery is made up of primary cloud forest and rainforest, and it's a land of rivers, lakes and, thanks to the volcano’s inner workings, a number of thermal springs where hot, lava-heated water gushes to the surface. Some of these springs have been turned into thermal pools, often surrounded by dense foliage, making them a great place to relax and chill out. There is time to relax and have a splash here on arrival, before visiting the volcanic thermal pools at the Ecotermales Hot Springs, where you can enjoy a soak before dinner.

Day 4 La Fortuna

Get and explore the lush tropical surrounds of this idyllic location with the family. For many, one of the highlights of this trip is the exhilarating fun of battling the gushing rapids of the Balsa River. The level of rafting here is very suitable for families (Class 2 to 3), but please note that the minimum age is 8 years old. After a safety briefing and getting kitted out with an orange vest, you’ll get wet and wild, working your way as a team through increasingly challenging rapids with names like ‘Magnetic Rock’, ‘Congo Loco’ and ‘Dredges’. Along the way, look out for wildlife such as sloths and Toucans – if you’re not too busy getting wet that is. When you finish and return to the hotel, there may be time for additional activities like hiking. If you’re worn out from the day’s action, then not much can beat chilling by the pool and gazing up at the much-loved famous volcano. It isn’t spewing lava every day and night like it used to, but it is still rumbling and puffing out plumes of gas.

Day 5 Monteverde

Travel along the Arenal Lake – a famous hangout for windsurfers – via Tilaran to Monteverde de Santa Elena (approximately 4–5 hours). Enjoy superb views across the lake back towards the Arenal Volcano, and stop on the roadside for some homemade cakes and refreshments. Climb to Monteverde, feel the climate cooling and see the vegetation change from tropical to cloud forest. The surrounding hills are scattered with fair-trade co-operative coffee plantations, famous for producing some of the best coffee beans in the country. Teeming with wildlife, the Monteverde Cloudforest Biological Preserve is a nature lover's paradise. Cloud forests are similar to rainforests, but instead of relying on rain for essential moisture, the water comes from the semi-permanent cloud that covers the region. More than 2,000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call Montverde home. You’ll have lots of time to discover the natural wonders here. In the afternoon there may be time to visit a butterfly farm (optional).

Day 6 Monteverde

Today everyone will become an ornithologist! Explore a forest that’s home to the Resplendent Quetzal (one of the most reclusive birds in the world), the blue-crowned motmot, the emerald toucanet and some 30 species of iridescent hummingbird – and that’s just a few of the 400-odd bird species recorded here. There are also 100 mammal species, 1200 amphibian and reptile species, and many thousands of insect species. Experience the Sky Walk, which is made possible by hanging bridges suspended among the trees. It's not for vertigo sufferers, but it provides a fantastic view of everything from above rather than below. As well as optional activities like zip-lining, there might be the option to hike through the forest as dusk as nocturnal creatures begin to stir.

Day 7 Manuel Antonio

Departing Monteverde, descend to the Pan-American Highway, which you’ll follow southward across the flat coastal plain. Your journey takes you along a coastline of fine sand beaches, separated by the occasional area of mangrove and endless plantations of African palm. Your journey ends at Manuel Antonio, Quepos.(approximately 6 hours plus stops). Soak up some rays and relish the spoils of this unique beach setting, where lush rainforests sprawl gently towards the sand and white-faced capuchin monkeys peer cheekily from the treetops. 

Day 8 Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park stands a few kilometres south of Quepos on the shores of the Pacific. Incorporating 12 small islands scattered just off a coast where migrating whales can sometimes be seen, the park is home to hundreds of mammal and bird species in a region of lagoons and fertile mangrove swamps. During your time in the region, you’ll enjoy a three-hour guided walk along the trails within the park and have plenty of time to relax on one of the idyllic palm-lined bays. The turquoise seas are perfect for swimming, kayaking, sailing or fishing. It would be easy to spend your whole time here in, or by, the water, where lush rainforests sprawl gently towards the sand and white-faced capuchin monkeys peer cheekily from the treetops. This is a great spot for a family holiday, with fully equipped apartments, swimming pools, water sports and many activities for both children and adults.

Day 9 San Jose

After breakfast, leave the accommodation and retrace your steps northward along the coastal road to San Jose (approximately 2–4 hours). The adventure comes to an end on arrival at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). If you’re flying out today, it's important to book your flight for no earlier than midday. For families wishing to be dropped back in San Jose City, we will drop you back off at the starting point hotel. Note there is no accommodation included today. If you wish to stay longer in San Jose we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 2,280
Price Per Day: $ 253 per day
Checking price
Start DateFinish DateBase PriceAvailability 
Dec-31-2022Jan-08-2023$ 2,28012 spots left Reserve
Jan-03-2023Jan-11-2023$ 2,41511 spots left Reserve
Apr-01-2023Apr-09-2023$ 2,41516 spots left Reserve
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Dec-30-2023Jan-07-2024$ 2,41516 spots left Reserve

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3,899 Intrepid Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

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4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
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Average 129
Disappointing 64
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Value
4.6
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Costa Rica Family Holiday with Teenagers

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Company Reviews

Logistical nightmare and boring stories

1.0
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Value1.0
Guide1.0
Activities1.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
Turkey Encompassed tour, 2022.
I rarely bother with writing bad reviews because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But this is one of the worst purchase experiences in my 40 year life, so I hope this information can be helpful to you and keep you from a regretful purchase.

For a little context, we had 5 people on this tour. Two in their late 20s, one in their 30s and two in their 40s. The tour-mates made the tour bearable, but the tour itself was a disaster.

Let me list the ways this tour not only fell below expectations, but ruined an otherwise wonderful stay in a country full of warm people.

1. Hotels are below grade. They booked us in $25 a night (for two) hotels that smell like cigarette smoke, when we paid $250 a night (for two) for this tour. There were 3 nights like this out of 14. We know because we checked prices on some of these hotel rooms. Yes we know that our rate includes the bus, the guide and some of the entrance fees. By the way the tour did not include food. Taking into account the company’s margins it should still leave at least $150 a night to book us a decent room. So instead of enjoying a good night’s sleep I was taking allergy pills and wearing masks to get through the night. This is not ok.

2. We did not have a tour leader. Most tours have a tour leader who manages the logistics and a local guide who walk you through the sites. This tour tries to save money by making one person do both. This means the logistics was a nightmare, and no one took care of the tour people. Let me elaborate.

3. Time estimates are all over the place. We stopped at Troy and he said we will be there for 45 min. He started telling us historical facts in a boring way for 30 min, then we finally took a walk together and we didn’t exit until 1.5 hours later, that’s 2x the predicted time. This happened again at Ephesus, with an estimate of 3 hours without no bathroom access, in the raw 40C heat with no shade, and then it became 4 hours with such conditions. Keep in mind that the guide has been to this site at least 100 times already. To be this far off is appalling. Lunch times are unpredictable, so one day it’s at noon and the next day it’s at 3pm. And there’s no warning, so luckily we did not have diabetics on the tour. We were only 5 in the group, and it’s already chaos. I can’t imagine if it’s 10 or 12 people. I’ve never seen a tour managed so poorly.

4. The guide did not care about the health of the group. I understand the the guide is not the tour doctor, but it’s really basic human decency to check in, especially as a leader. Every person had tummy problems once or more during the trip. And people will say so out loud too, and obviously looked unwell at meals. But he never asked about it, or checked in on anyone afterwards. For all the talk of “hospitality” in the Turkish culture, I am amazed at this lack of care.

5. The stories are boring, we Google’d the info instead. When you get only one local guide for two weeks and you get a great one, awesome. But if you get a bad one, prepared to be bored out of your mind. This guy had credentials. Graduated four years from guiding school in Turkey and 15 years of actual guiding experience. But man, the stories, if you can even call them that, are boring. Lists of dates and facts is not a story. A 2 min story takes 30 minutes to tell. You might as well watch a YouTube video instead and learn more. An interesting aside, when the tour started, we had a kick-off meeting at the hotel. The travel company’s branch manager was there along with the guide to observe the kick-off meeting. The manager told us this tour guide is “one of their best.” Oh my. If this is the best they have then you have no hope of getting a good tour guide with this company my friend. Stay away.

6. You get no information, logistically speaking. This is the kicker. We booked a tour so we didn’t have to research what’s around the corner. The point of a guide is to guide you. To give you heads-up about where we’re visiting, how long it’ll be, where the good picture spot is, on-site conditions so you can be prepared for rough terrain, heat etc. you get the idea. But no. Nothing. In fact, I had to ask every-single-day for even the basic itinerary the next day. There was one day in Cappadokia when the guide took us for a one hour walk near the rock formations. The “walk” turned out to be a real bush-wacking experience, scaling slippery gravel, dropping into dry river beds between small canyon rocks, and exposed to bare sun in 100F heat for the entire “walk”. I would at least call that a hike and tell people to put on hiking shoes. I actually had hiking shoes that stayed useless in my suitcase while I scaled the steep gravel in unsuitable footwear. Luckily nobody got hurt. But this tour is rated for any age, as in a 65 year old can join, and I don’t know what could’ve happened then. It was a one-way walk so there was no turning back either
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I traveled with Intrepid on a 2-week…

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I traveled with Intrepid on a 2-week trip to Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenian. The trip leader, Kesenia, escorted us to all the highlights these countries had to offer. We were met along the way by local guides who explained the history of the places we were visiting. Everyday was an adventure where we enjoyed great food, breathtaking scenery, and meeting local people. Spring is a great time to go and see mountains still covered in snow and trees starting to bloom.
All dedicated travelers should go to the Caucuses.
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I am a fairly experienced traveler: the worst trip ever

1.0
Details
Value1.0
Guide1.0
Activities1.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
I am a fairly experienced traveler and have used several travel companies similar to Intrepid and consistently had great experiences. As a single mother, I wanted to give a memorable summer vacation to my 14-year old daughter, so based on the descriptions of the company’s Alaska Summer Family Vacation tour, I decided to pay close to $5,000 for both of us for this tour plus more than $2,000 for the air fare to do so.
I don’t even know where to begin. The guide was very short with me, rude to my daughter (several times he completely ignored her questions and attempt to having conversations with him) throughout the trip.

The native heritage center we were scheduled to visit on the first full day was closed (the business hours are CLEARLY stated on their website), so the guide took us to the Anchorage museum and just left us there for 4 hours - thank goodness I brought some snacks with us! When I asked the guide if there was any cafe at the museum, he, without a pause, immediately said “it’s closed”. As we walked through the museum, there it was, a nice cafe selling food. Finally, after 4 hours of killing time there, he took us to a lunch place PAST 3. Then the rest of the day was free. Basically it went on like this for the entire course of the tour, aside from a 6-hour cruise to glaciers (provided by a third party). In Seward, we had a lot of free time and we wanted to try and hike up the very popular Mount Marathon (we are both experienced hikers), so I asked him if the trail was open. He never got back to me until the last day, and he said it would take full 4 hours (a lie - only 2 hours per it’s website) to do the hike and it’s very, very steep (true), so we decided not to do it when we got some time in the afternoon. We were so upset when we found out it would take only 2 hours - we would certainly have done this popular trail but thanks to him who clearly couldn’t be bothered to provide accurate information, we missed this opportunity.

I was beginning to be concerned towards the end about how uneventful, literally lame and inactive this tour had been and how unhelpful the guide had been. My daughter started to complain about how incredibly “un-Alaskan” its been. Not a single hike contrary to the tour descriptions. Its been very wet, but that’s why we were all told to bring rain gear and be ready and we were ready. But nothing happened and our precious and very expensive time kept on flying by.

The worst came when we were driving back from Seward to Anchorage. The guide told us we could hike to see the Portage Glacier but “weather permitting”. Once we got to the information center, he outright told us “we have 2 options: 1. we hang out at the information center due to rain (?!?); or 2. we keep on going to Anchorage”. See, hiking was not an option we were given! There was another family with us and we all went to the visitor center to “hang out”, only viewing the glacier fr the distance. At this point, it was simply ridiculous and asked the guide why hiking was not an option. He very sharply, and intensely dismissively responded “it’s raining and it’s all about safety”. ???? I told him then why the trail was open and people have been going on the trail. He repeated it’s a matter of safety. He told us we could hang out at the center and watch a 20-minute “movie”. I asked the other family in the tour and one of them said she invested more than $400 for rain gear and its been completely wasted, and they were thinking also how underwhelming the tour had been. Then the heritage center we arrived. He told us we had 4 hours there. 4 HOURS in such a small, very compact place!!! My daughter and I essentially went around and around and around to kill 4 hours of our precious time. At that point, I realized my $5,000 I saved up was completely wasted, and asked the guide this was not worth the money, he could not keep doing this. You know what he said after a while? He said he’s been in touch with Intrepid about me complaining!!! I was super polite, never, ever complained up to this point, and he threatened me for “complaining”???? Looking back, I never once saw him wearing a rain jacket, not once. He just did not want to get wet!! I later called the office of the Portage glacier office on the same day and asked if the rain in the morning posed ANY danger. The person on the phone was very confused about why the rain could possibly be considered dangerous, and said “ well the trail has been open”. When I emailed BEFORE the trip was over to Intrepid about how the trip went and his incredibly bad behaviors, the email said I should have brought the concerns to the guide. When asked where $5,000 was spent for, complete silence. Stay away from this company. As soon as I brought up the financial worth, they just went silent. All the glorious “mission” of the company they put out, I guess the quality of the tour is not their interest. Money is.
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I lost my holiday money with intrepid

1.0
Details
Value1.0
Guide1.0
Activities1.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
I booked a trip with Intrepid and paid for it. About a week later they told me they could not give me place on the trip, but they have not refunded money so I can't afford to book anything else. I cant get through to them on the phone and after two weeks I fear I will never get mt money back.

I have now incurred bank charges for the cost of a holiday I didn't get. I will be complaining to ABTA about the appalling practice of charging for non-existent holidays. Intrepid must be making a fortune from holding everyone's money for a month.
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I travelled the Premium Turkey in Depth…

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
I travelled the Premium Turkey in Depth in mid June 2022. It was excellent, and exceeded my expectations in many ways. This was my four trips with Intrepid. Our Group Leader Nilufer is the best, Nilufer has taken care of all of us in the whole trip. The two drivers are really good too. We had a small group, we got along extremely well like family.
How could I ask for more! Highly recommend to other travellers if they want to see the real Turkie. Some of the hotels are not up to the standard as premium. Otherwise I would not hesitate to give five stars.
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Spain Portugal Trip

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Spain architecture is stunningly beautiful and the people of Portugal are very laid back. It was a great trip, beautiful cities in both countries and the weather was perfect. I’ve used Intrepid before and highly recommend them because they get you out with the people in the country you’re visiting and are environmentally conscious. My recommendation would be they use public trains more than the public buses.Touring with people from other countries is a real treat.
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport Minibus

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 16

Accommodations

Hotels (8 nights)

Guides

All Intrepid Family trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to assist your family to take the hassle out of your travels and help you have the best trip possible. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for fun things to do and see - for both kids and parents, recommend great local eating venues that will even get the kids trying new things, and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. Our leaders are not babysitters on this trip - we leave that to you (the experts), but they will make sure that group members of all ages are able to explore their destination safely and with as much fun as possible. Our group leaders are not responsible for looking after children at any time and children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times throughout this itinerary.

Age Notes :

Min. Age: 10

Max Age: 99

Additional Information

Finish point

  • San Jose, Juan Santamaria
  • Array
  • San Jose
  • COSTA RICA

Trip ID#:

intrepid-QCFS

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