Chilling Out in Costa Rica

I came face-to-face with a poisonous snake during my visit to Costa Rica and was nearly attacked by a monkey, but I'd return in a heartbeat.


Costa Rica frustrates me. There are far too many interesting places to see and things to do to fit into a single trip, which for most travelers from the United States typically means a week or two, tops. Do you want a jungle adventure? An ecotourism focus? Surfing and beach time? A luxury spa break? Volcano hiking? Perhaps you prefer to do some voluntourism work. There are plenty of opportunities, from saving baby leatherback turtles to helping plantation farmers. It’s too difficult to choose. I want them all!

I spent two weeks in Costa Rica during the holidays nearly four years ago and managed to experience just a fraction of what’s possible on a Costa Rica vacation. Didn’t make it Volcán Arenal or the Caribbean coast, and Monteverde was covered in rain (although I did improve my skills at maneuvering on mud-covered rocks and find my favorite souvenir of the trip: a traditional drip coffee maker).

However, Manuel Antonio had gorgeous beaches and hikes—great for families—and my favorite place was Montezuma. Very laid back, fantastic food and moderately challenging trails through the first national park in the country to a secluded little beach chock full of bird life and monkeys. Just watch out for the snakes in the trees along the way!

I took that trip as a solo backpacker, so my personal experiences probably don’t fit too well with our focus on family travel. Plus all my notes from that trip were lost, so I’m afraid I don’t have as many details and recommendations to share as I’d like this time.

But John Higham, our contributor who with his family traveled around the world a couple years ago, spent a good deal of time in Costa Rica, as has Regina W.B., a new writer to TravelMuse who lived in Monteverde a couple years ago as well. John shares his family’s experiences in our anchor article and our feature on Tortuguero this week. Previously, his daughter Katrina has written about her experience hiking Volcán Arenal in our Teen Voice column, which you can read here.

Regina WB penned two pieces: one on how best to sight the abundant wildlife that makes Costa Rica home, and one on ecotourism opportunities in Monteverde. If you missed it back in May, check out Christy Mehrlich’s article on how to save the leatherback turtles.

Travel Inspiration

If you’re a volcano junkie, then don’t miss our On the Volcano’s Edge article, by new contributor Gretchen Kelly. She highlights Arenal, along with five other places guys, and adventurous gals, can hike up to see some of the top active volcanoes in the world. We also have an article on Madrid’s museums, for families with wannabe artists in tow, and a new Teen Voice piece on what it was like to vacation at the Dancing Rabbit commune.

Travel Advice

Travel sage John Frenaye defines the types of travel insurance available in our Travel Tips column, while Amy Hatch shares advice for healthy international travel. We have two companion pieces from Laurie Bain Wilson on destination weddings: planning tips and destination fun spots. There’s also a Florida Keys guidebook review and our weekly Travel Deals column.

On a closing note, I want to let you know that starting this week, we’ve added a new feature on the Photo Blog—Q&As with our favorite Flickr photographers. Check out the first two on Babasteve and Arvind S. Grover, whose adorable frog image graces our Costa Rica cover!

If that’s not an inspiring travel photograph, then I don’t know what is.

Happy trails!

Donna M. Airoldi
Editorial Director

p.s. Next week’s landing: Beijing.  

Destinations: Costa Rica

Themes: Ecotourism, Family Travel

User Comments

The Snake, the Monkey and the Human I wonder what is actually the most dangerous at the end: the venomous snake, the biting monkey or the passer by.

The Snake... Having traveled in Costa Rica (plus other Central and South America destinations), I usually trek in some rather unspoiled terraine, without my family. Snakes, common sense to look out for them. Monkeys usually no issue. The monkeys that are used to entice tourists for photos, I highly reccomend to stay away from them. They sometimes grab and bite. They are wild animals after all. Tip for families, you would miss out if you did not go to any of the parks, keep to the paths and enjoy the wildlife!!

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