Top Family Outdoor Adventures in Costa Rica

Four Seasons Costa Rica is perfectly located for outdoor fun with kids.

Sep 12, 2014
The beaches of Costa Rica
Pristine beaches, windind jungle pathways, colourful birds, chattering monkeys and chocolate growing on trees (well, cacao beans, anyway)—no wonder Costa Rica is such an ideal spot for families to explore.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

What sets Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Península Papagayo apart? Its unique setting is perfectly positioned for a family outdoor adventure.

The Resort is nestled on an isthmus ringed by two volcanic sand beaches: Playa Virador, the quiet Pacific-side beach, and Playa Blanca, the active bayside beach and your playground for an array of non-motorized water sports.

We travelled from New York to Costa Rica, a group of two families with five children ages five to 15. The kids couldn’t wait to dive into all that the Resort had to offer, much of it complimentary, all of it listed on the daily activity sheet presented at breakfast. During our vacation, we soaked up sun, salt, sand and sea. We also came away with a greater appreciation of Costa Rica, and the abundant wildlife and plant life that inhabits the tropical forest and the waters surrounding this beautiful peninsula.

With only a week, it was hard to experience it all. But here’s our list of top 10 favourite adventures, including the two private excursions the Concierge arranged for us:

Kayaking

The kids loved the freedom of kayaking in and around the bayside of the peninsula. Spotting pelicans, sea turtles and schools of mullets was a highlight. My older son, age 15, brought along his fishing rod, fished off the kayak and caught a lovely ladyfish, which he released back into the sea.

Standup paddleboarding

Throughout the week there were lessons for beginners like me—I actually managed to stand up … once. Being kids, they were fearless, of course, and needed no instruction.

Snorkelling

My boys brought their own equipment, but the Resort had ample supplies. They spent hours swimming among pufferfish, parrotfish and grouper off Playa Blanca; and triggerfish, trumpetfish and jacks off Playa Virador.

SCUBA lessons

Held in the Blanca Pool, this was a safe way for the teens to try their hands at SCUBA. The instructor made it so simple—they learned how to retrieve the regulator, communicate under water, adjust buoyancy and release water from the mask.

Trail of the Giants

This was a unique one-hour guided tour that took us through the tropical dry forest that surrounds the Resort’s golf course. We paired up and formed a caravan of six golf carts, weaving up and down the wooded trails and stopping to observe all the wildlife. Our favourites? Adorable white-faced and howler monkeys, perched up high in the trees. At the top of the trail, we jumped out of our carts for a photo op in front of the gorgeous panoramic view of the Pacific.

Tidal pools

During low tide on the southern end of Playa Blanca, we explored the tidal pools, chased hermit crabs and collected seashell treasures: colourful cowries, olives, cones and augers.

Boogie boarding

As serious boarders, the boys would study the tides and the winds to figure out the best time of day to catch a wave off of Playa Blanca.

Palos Verdes National Park

On this five-hour private excursion, we enjoyed a boat ride across the waters of Tempisque River. Our expert guide pointed out the creatures that inhabit the mangrove-lined shores: iguanas, crocodiles, monkeys, blue herons, egrets, kingfisher and bats.

Included in the tour was a delicious casada—a traditional Costa Rican-style lunch at El Viejo, a local hacienda. The kids gobbled up multiple plates of breaded tilapia, fried plantains, corn tortillas, white rice and beans, and for dessert, sweet rice pudding, washing it all down with natural fruit juice. On the ride back, we learned how sugar cane is harvested with fire and how cashews, surprisingly, grow outside their companion fruit.

Half-day fishing trip

Our half-day in-shore fishing excursion embarked from Marina Papagayo, a quick 15-minute ride via the Resort shuttle. The Fish Tale II accommodated five people, plus captain and mate. The boys trolled the crystal-blue waters, hooking bonita fish and mahi-mahi. On the way back to shore, they excitedly spotted sea turtles and leaping manta rays. Back at Four Seasons, their catch of the day became the base for fish tacos and blackened fish, expertly prepared by Tico’s restaurant chef.

Four Seasons “Catch of the Day”

For those who may not have sea legs, three mornings a week, the local fishermen bring the fish to you. From the poolside ice-filled cart manned by Resort chefs, we selected freshly caught snapper and grouper, then the fish was served to us that night for dinner at Congo’s Bar & Grill. Simply delicious!


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