Passion Points: Family
Rye-based friend of Indagare, Amy Herlihy, just got back from a family vacation in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, with her husband and sons, ages 7 and 8. She writes:
“Costa Rica is a beautiful, diverse, rugged country with lots to see and do. If you go in November, as we did, be prepared for some rain (rainy season officially ends in early December). It rained nonstop for our first two days, but that didn’t stop us from taking a zip-lining tour. On sunnier days we took a horseback riding excursion at a working cattle ranch and had surf lessons. Our boys did all of it and loved every minute of it. They were rappelling down 100-foot palms, zipping along endless zip-lines with the best of the adults, riding their own horses at full gallop, and ‘hanging ten’ after a single surf lesson! They also couldn’t get enough of the monkeys who hung around our backyard. Each day at around 4:00 pm, about 15 titis (squirrel monkeys) and 10-15 white-faced monkeys would visit. As for the adults, we enjoyed all of the above, plus a beautiful beach with warm water and stunning sunsets that we watched from our beach chairs, cocktails in hand.
“We are an active family and wanted a beach vacation with enough activities to keep our boys happy, but without being surrounded by lots of children. Our preference when traveling with the kids has always been to rent a house to provide some privacy and flexibility. We were looking for a house with a pool and directly on the beach, easily reachable from New York City. We specifically looked at the Pacific coast of Costa Rica to avoid hurricanes while providing some surf for the boys. Another crucial element was for the house to have maid service so I wouldn’t have to do dishes and laundry every day!
“The direct flight to San Jose, Costa Rica was only five hours and then we opted for a private charter to the coast rather than a three-hour drive. The plane was tiny and the 15-minute flight was not for the faint of heart! I am not sure we breathed the whole flight, but it saved us a lot of travel time.
“We found a three-bedroom house with direct beach access, a lovely open-plan kitchen/dining/living room, its own pool, daily maid service, and a personal concierge to arrange dinner reservations, tours, babysitters and anything else we might need. The concierge even got a shopping list from me in advance of our arrival so the house was stocked when we arrived. There was also a gardener who helped carry chairs to and from the beach and a property guard. The only negative of the house was that the hot tub was broken, and on the rainy days we would have enjoyed it.
“We ate out frequently: some of our favorites for seafood were Agua Azul (Villas del Parque, Manuel Antonio National Park, 506-777-5082), El Gran Escape (also known as The Fishhead Grill) (Quepos; 506-777-0395), lunch at the Blue Marlin (Main Street, Manuel Antonio; 506-777-5222) and Kapi Kapi (Manuel Antonio National Park; 506-777-5049) for an adult night out. We all loved the pizza at Victoria’s (Manuel Antonio National Park; 506-2777-5143). Our concierge arranged for babysitters on two nights—they were both American teachers and we felt 100% comfortable with them. We also cooked in sometimes…there was a grocery store within walking distance, along with some restaurants and shops, which made our house’s location just perfect.
“I was happy we brought lots of sunscreen as the sun is very strong: we went through five bottles. At the same time, we also used our hooded windbreakers often. We brought life jackets for the boys and insisted they wear them when they were in the ocean. The surf on Espadilla Beach can be rough and with them wearing life jackets, we were able to relax while they frolicked in the waves. I also brought us all rash guards for our surf lessons and was grateful for them.
“An interesting tip I picked up: if you want to see the National Park but are not up for a 3-hour hike, you can buy tickets from the kiosk and then head back to Espadilla Beach. At the far end of the beach, past the tourist shops, there are guys with rowboats who will take you across a small lagoon to the National Park exit. The guard there will let you in with tickets, and it’s a short walk to the Park’s three beaches.
“We absolutely loved the diversity and unpredictability of Costa Rica. The people are kind, are always smiling and live life with the motto: _Pura Vida!_— Pure Life!”
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