A trip to this rainforest paradise will thrill every member of your family
Jade and I love a beach getaway - we're California girls, after all! - but it can be hard to find a destination that ticks all the boxes for a great family vacation: relaxing beachside lounging for the stressed-out grownups, engaging activities for the kids, and an affordable price tag on top of it all. This year, we found our holy grail!
The tiny Central American country of Costa Rica is just the size of West Virginia, but it's packed from coast to coast with stunning rainforests, volcanoes, waterfalls, and beautiful beaches. Costa Rica has taken special care to protect its natural resources, and the lush jungles are full of exotic creatures and outrageously colorful birds, making it an inspiring place to teach your kids about biodiversity.
We spent a week in Costa Rica earlier this year with my sister Eloisa and nephew Julian, and we all had an absolute blast. There was zip lining, ATV excursions - it was by far the most action-packed vacation we've been on. But don't worry, Eloisa and I still managed to get in that much-needed relaxation time! It was such a joy to watch the kids get excited each morning for the day's adventures, and made us feel like we were kids again ourselves. We'd go back in a heartbeat.
Here's what we loved: See: Manuel Antonio National Park isn't the country's biggest park, but it is its most diverse, with more than 100 species of mammals and nearly 200 species of birds roaming freely. Spend an afternoon on one of its gorgeous beaches or take a guided tour through the forest to spot wildlife like sloths, squirrel monkeys, and giant iguanas. El Santuario Canopy Adventure has over 2 miles of zip lines suspended 4,300 feet above the lush treetops of the rainforest. Any anxiety you might feel about the heights vanishes the moment you let go and feel the wind through your hair - I found it totally exhilarating! A unique opportunity to get a different perspective on nature. Stay: Tulemar Resort has accommodations ranging from affordable one-bedroom bungalows to luxurious private villas that will hold your entire extended family, all situated in a gorgeous gated community in Manuel Antonio (the town next to Manuel Antonio Park). We especially loved the private beach for resort guests, which has kayaks and boogie boards available to borrow, comfy lounge chairs for relaxing, and food and drink service so you never have to leave the sand! Eat: Cafe Milagro was my go-to stop for great coffee every morning, and Jade couldn't get enough of their Nutella pancakes. At night, it becomes a fun spot for live music and dancing. Emilio's Cafe is a cute all-day cafe with incredible beach views and a healthy, Mediterranean-tinged menu. Their eggs Benedict are super popular, and their homemade desserts are to die for. Agua Azul is the place to go for the freshest seafood, laid-back vibes, and margaritas! Dinner here was a blast, and their menu smartly includes some simple dishes like quesadillas and burger and fries if you have a picky member of your party.