We were lucky enough to have my parents visit Costa Rica recently, my dad was also able to convince his sister (Aunt Sally) to come along on the adventure.
Their visit was for 9 days, so we wanted to try to cover as much ground as possible. We planned to visit La Fortuna (Arenal) area, Manuel Antonio, Grecia (our city), and even San Jose for a day.
Picking up my parents at the airport was uneventful, my mom was a little nervous leaving the USA, but she said everything went smooth. The kids were super excited to see their Nana and Pappers, and the feeling was mutual. For lunch we took them to the downtown market in Grecia, we wanted to give them a feel of “real” Costa Rica before heading to the popular tourist locations. Pappers was impressed with how comfortable we are now, then again it has been almost 7 months. They enjoyed the market, and I gave Pappers a tour around the downtown.
Sally arrived at night, and she also had an easy time getting thru customs/immigration.
The next morning we headed off to Los Lagos which is at the bottom of the Arenal volcano in the La Fortuna area. We have visited the resort before so we knew it was nice, kids love it, and has some tremendous views of the volcano.
We enjoyed two days of hot springs, pools, and pretty much relaxing. Here are our visitors on a nature trail at Los Lagos.
Sally had a butterfly land on her leg.
MK calmly removes the butterfly without hurting it, this is not her first time playing with the butterflies.
My beautiful mom enjoying the nature of Costa Rica.
One morning while getting ready for pool, we heard a lot of noise right outside our rooms, we walk out to see a large group of about 10-15 horses just trotting down the road, all by themselves! I quickly grabbed my phone, but only caught the last 2. A few minutes later the cowboy came by, but it overall it was a really cool thing to see.
On our last day there, we did a quick swim in the hot springs and then decided to get on the road. The GPS said we had almost a 4-5 hour drive to Manual Antonio Beach area.
The beginning of the ride was very uneventful, we made it back to the pista (Pan American Highway) in San Ramon, and then started to head over the very large mountain that was supposed to connect us to the other highway to get to Manuel. After a big hike up and then half way down the mountain the GPS had us take a turn on a dirt/rock road. Most people would have immediately been surprised, but since we live here we know that these type of roads are quite common. I thought in my head “it may only be rock/dirt for a little while, and then it will probably be paved further down”.
We were still on the rock road, and there were some very steep inclines and declines; Gigi was driving a rental car that doesn’t have 4 wheel drive, and I was in our car which does. After about 10 minutes on the road, of which I am surprised her car is even making it up some of the hills, she stops the car on a flat part and looks upset. I ask her what is wrong, and she is say something like “Oh my gosh, my brakes went out.” You can smell the burnt smell and I am just glad we are on a flat part of the road. (Note, we are in the middle of nowhere, and on the side of a mountain.)
We all start thinking what are we gonna do, Gigi is visibly upset about the potential danger she avoided and doesn’t want to get near the car. Our cell service is not working as we are in a remote area so we split up. Gigi, Nana, GL, and myself walk to find a house to either use the phone or ask for assistance. My dad, Sally, TM, and MK stay with both cars. We find a nice helpful family, use the phone to call the rental service, and come up with a plan. They say to wait 45 minutes as the breaks probably overheated and they should return.
By the time we get back, my dad said the brakes felt like they were working. I decide to drive the car back the way we came, so that we can get it off the side of the mountain. The brakes were working fine, and were were finally off the mountain, but then the other car overheats! By the time the car cools and both cars are running, our 4-5 hour drive to Manuel Antonio is approaching 6 hours with another 3 hours to go. We are less than an hour away from our house in Grecia, so we decide to call it a day, go home, regroup, and head out in the morning.
We felt bad that our visitors had to experience such a crazy situation, but there was nothing we could do about it, and everyone stayed in pretty good spirits throughout the whole day. Sorry I didn’t take any pics, as it was too hectic at the time.
The next morning, we woke up early and got on road. We stopped in Jaco so we could enjoy our favorite Taco Bar, and made it to our villa rental with still time to enjoy the day.
Very nice and warm cliff side pool.
One reason we chose the Pacific Canyon area of Manuel Antonio is because of the monkeys; we were only there for a few hours before Pappers saw his first visitors.
Who’s pool is it now?
MK is very comfortable with her new friends.
The view plus the monkey sure is something to smile about. (Oh yeah, and the wine.)
Our little monkey and a real monkey.
Gigi, you are not supposed to feed them.
The next day we decided to just relax on the beach all day. While loading up the car, Gigi was putting GL in his car seat and he was pointing and talking about something, Gigi turned around saw a sloth! Yes, our very inquisitive two year old found the sloth.
The beaches in this area are amazing. Tremendous views, soft white sand, water is not too rough ( it does pick up as the tide comes in), and lots of vendors and food options close by.
The next day we got up and enjoyed the villa and pool, here is view we had. Pretty amazing if you ask me.
In the afternoon, we were signed up for the Ocean King catamaran tour, this is basically a sunset cruise that includes snorkeling, dolphin watching, swimming, drinks, and good food. The Ocean King is the largest boat in the area so we thought it would be the best one for the kids.
One of the most popular locations on the boat… the bar.
TM and Sally just enjoying the open ocean and beautiful sun.
The boys of the family.
The OneYearOff crew doing some sight seeing.
This tour was easily the highlight of the trip and is also one of the highlights of our trip so far here in Costa Rica. Not sure if we maybe got lucky, but we saw a whale, snorkeled with a ton of fish, saw dolphins playing with the boat, birds, perfect weather, great food, free drinks, and more. During the snorkel stop you can jump off the top of the boat into the ocean, and they also have 2 slides off the back of the boat. Sally was brave to go down the slide, and I was surprised when Nana took a jump off the top.
Dolphins so close…
And they cap it all off, with an amazing sunset…
Our last full day in Manuel Antonio, we decided just to relax and enjoy the beach.
I seem to have a new interest in climbing rock structures at different beaches around the country.
The trip to Manual was amazing, we saw monkeys every day, spent hours on the beach, enjoyed the company of our loved ones, reminisced, laughed, cried (only a little), and had a feeling like that we were almost at home. It was so refreshing to share wonderful moments with our family, and the only downside was how quick their stay went by.
We miss you guys so much already, and just want to say thanks again for creating memories with us that we will never forget.