Exploring Costa Rica
A Family Adventure

With family life sometimes running at a frenetic speed, trying to find a holiday that everyone is happy with can seem like an impossible task – never more so than when you factor in teens with their endless interests and activities. With four children then aged between 11 and 18, the Gleeson family opted for Costa Rica for one of their summer holidays. With their eldest about to go off to medical school and time out at a premium, it was the perfect opportunity for some precious family time away from everyday life. 

After their flight from London to San Jose and a night to unwind in the Central Valley, they took a light aircraft to the remote Osa Peninsula for a spot of intrepid exploring, Robinson Crusoe style, in this region of untouched rainforest. Basing themselves at the wonderful El Remanso, known for its excellent naturalist guides, it’s fair to say this was a wildlife extravaganza, with monkeys, birds, butterflies and sloths galore. They were even lucky enough to spot whales whilst surfing off the beach there. Considered by many to be the adventure capital of Latin America, Costa Rica really does offer the whole package for families looking for thrills and spills as well as sloths and caimans. So, the Gleesons were hardly going to pass up the opportunity to try out waterfall rappelling – one of El Remanso’s most popular activities. Even Amelia, then aged 11, got kitted up and gave it a go.

Aerial view of El Remanso in the rainforest

The next stop on the Gleeson family tour was Arenal, famous as much for the numerous on and off water activities as for the iconic, but now dormant, conical peak of the volcano of the same name. Whilst visitors no longer get the all singing and dancing light show they did when Arenal Volcano was active, the sight is still spectacular on a clear day. Here though, some adrenaline-pumping white-water rafting on the Rio Balsa was the order of the day before a relaxing dip in the hot, volcano-fed springs.

After crossing Arenal Lake, the family moved on to Monteverde – famous for its wildlife – especially bird-watching. What better way to experience life in the Cloud Forest than from up high in the tree canopy? Do as the Gleesons did by heading to the fabulous Sky Trek and Sky Tram. The former is a 1250m hi-tech cableway which travels up the Continental Divide to one of the highest mountains in Monteverde. The latter on the other hand, is a 2.5 mile long system of zip-lines, giving you the thrilling experience of whizzing through the cloud forest at speeds of up to 40mph and heights over 524ft. All-in-all a memorable way to experience the atmospheric cloud forests of Costa Rica!

After all that exhilaration, the family finished their latin adventure with some time on the coast near Tamarindo. With stunning beaches galore, including Playa conchal, Playa Grande and Playa Langosta, there is enough here to keep everyone happy; although surfing may have been the main attraction for some family-members!

Here’s what Ben, 15, had to say about it all:

As we left for Costa Rica I was admittedly a little apprehensive about the holiday, knowing little about the country… other than its unpredictable weather during August and being a major eco-tourism destination. As someone who loves the sun, beach and water sports and isn’t particularly interested in wildlife and animals this wasn’t really the news I wanted to hear, my expectations were low. However I was pleasantly surprised, and enjoyed quite possibly the most fun-filled 2 weeks of my life. Visiting deserted beaches, white water rafting, waterfall rappelling, zip-wiring through the canopy of the rain-forests and surfing in paradise. Other highlights include watching some incredible sunsets, swimming with turtles, relaxing in the warmth of the volcanic baths and travelling via an 8 man plane. I even began to become interested by the incredibly diverse and unique wildlife found within Costa Rica. An unbelievably cool country to explore. – already keen to go back.

And there you have it – a country cool enough for teens!

Zip lining

About the author

Gleeson Family (2 adults and 4 teens) travelled to Costa Rica in August 2016.

The Gleeson Family - Guest Bloggers!

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