Great Road Trips: Costa Rica's Ultimate Family Adventure
Adventure on tap, wildlife all around, the freedom to explore and relax. If you're only going once with the kids, make it count and let the memories begin.
All your questions answered
Helping you find the right holiday for you is important to us, so here's a few common questions about this trip to help. If there's anything you'd like to know that's not covered here, send us over a message or you can also give us a call on +44 1273 676 712 and we'd be only too pleased to help.
Can I make changes to this trip?
Absolutely. We can tailor your holiday in any number of ways. If you have specific activities or wildlife events you want to see then we can rearrange the trip to include those. If you want to combine Costa Rica with neighbouring Nicaragua, we can do that.
When is the best time to go?
Costa Rica's a funny one because it manages to pack an unbelievable amount of weather into a small area. That's why most people are confused as to when to plan their visit.
Essentially, the country has a tall spine of mountains running down the middle so there is near total separation of the Caribbean from the Pacific sides. When it's good weather on the Caribbean side, it's less good on the Pacific, and vice versa.
Any trip to the country is really a balancing act between the two sides, with the weighting adjusted depending on the time of year.
We avoid any/all travel from late September through to late November. Things on the Pacific side are too wet and wild to enable safe travel.
Other than that, you can travel from December all the way through to September.
When is peak season?
Christmas and New Year are peak season for travellers, getting quieter again in January to pick up in February and March, usually through to Easter time. After that point, things are fairly steady.
It should be said that the types of places we visit do not tend to get busy. However, the places we stay are small so it doesn't take much to fill them up.
How far ahead should I book?
This is somewhat dependent upon when you want to travel but for this trip, there are several key properties which make it highly vulnerable - most obviously on the Osa Peninsula so six to 12+ months is normal.
How much carbon is produced on this trip and how is it mitigated?
Total carbon generated on this trip: 2,688kg per person
Carbon mitigated by us: 4,300kg per person
As Yvon Chouinard, of Patagonia, Inc. rightly declared: “To do good, you actually have to do something.”
Therefore, for every kilometre travelled by road, air and sea on your Pura Aventura holiday, we carbon balance it by a mile - i.e. by 160% of your trip's carbon, from your front door and back again, irrespective of whether we book your international travel or not.
This is one of the travel industry's most ambitious and innovative schemes and has recently been praised by Wanderlust, Condé Nast Traveller and The Independent.
What is the driving like in Costa Rica?
Having a vehicle allows you to stay in more remote, interesting places, and to explore locally once you are there. Journey times between your overnight stays will generally be around three or four hours so comfortably fit into a morning - days are not 'lost' to navigating.
Roads in Costa Rica are a mixture of good tarmac, old tarmac with potholes and compacted dirt roads. As a rule of thumb, the further you get from the populous Central Valley, the less traffic there is and the bumpier the road. However, both main coastal roads are smooth and sleek.
Don't worry, we do not expect you to drive as you land in Costa Rica, instead we have your car delivered to you at your first hotel. Since these tend to be on the outskirts of the city, your escape into the countryside should be relatively stress-free.
To make navigation and communication easy, we include built-in WiFi with your vehicle hire. This allows you to use apps such as Waze, Google Maps, Spotify and WhatsApp, when you're not driving of course.
Is the country safe?
Overwhelmingly so, yes. Costa Rica is famously a peaceful place, with no standing army. It is enormously unlikely that you will encounter any problems at all, if you do then it would most likely be theft from your vehicle so you should be sensible about your belongings but you need be no more concerned than you would be travelling to, say, Spain. Or London.
What is it like to navigate?
Although we provide the best available road map of Costa Rica, it's more to give you a sense of the country than for actual navigation. The lack of signs makes navigation tricky to impossible without Waze. That's why we include the local smartphone. Using Waze, things become remarkably easy, it even tells you when there are speed bumps in the road - you'll get used to that one!
What is the rental car like?
We include 4x4 vehicles, well maintained and from reputable rental operators. For families these tend to be full size SUVs such as a Toyota Fortuner, automatic transmission, decent sized engine.
Is this trip suitable for multiple families?
Absolutely, this would be a peach of a trip for a multi-generational family, or two families to travel together. It also works fine for different shaped families - one child, four children, all are possible. For a family of three, the beach house at the end is probably overkill but we can discuss.
How active is this trip?
As a tailormade trip, the level of exertion on this trip is determined by you, your interests and your ages. As a start point, we have included what we think are some of the best activities in Costa Rica, such as canyoning, rafting and snorkelling. All are suitable for people with no experience and all specialist equipment is provided.
If you want more adrenaline, we can discuss this and potentially include other activities. Bear in mind that we also provide you with a detailed Holiday Guide so you can read our tips and advice for any given part of the country and sort out additional activities as you go.
This holiday is intended to balance activities with wildlife, people and places. There is plenty going on already so you are unlikely to want to try and pack too much more in - unless you are a frenetic bunch.
Are activities safe?
The activities we include on this trip are all operated to the highest standards. Whenever you undertake activities as part of our trip, we ensure that they adhere to the very best international standards.
We do not include, or encourage, ATV use - they are noisy and dangerous. We do not include, or normally encourage, horse riding. The quality and treatment of horses is highly variable and the use of suitable helmets rare.
You must be careful of currents in Costa Rica - primarily on the Pacific coast. On this holiday you stay in Drake Bay which is protected, and on the Golfo Dulce which is also facing an inlet so much calmer than the open ocean.
How comfortable will I be?
In Costa Rica particularly, we choose our accommodation very carefully since we want you to both be comfortable and get a sense of the country hosting you.
Over the course of this trip, you stay in a series of very comfortable lodges and small hotels. In Drake, you stay in a cabin, clean and comfortable with its own bathroom and terrace - but it's not fancy. We assume that you all stay in the same room, just because there's plenty of space. We can book a second cabin if you prefer. In Corcovado, you are in a bunk bedded dorm with shared facilities. After all, you are staying in the heart of the rainforest.
Other highlights include a coffee finca in the hills, a house in the sky, beautiful cabins by quiet beaches and a cloud forest retreat.
Will there be creepy crawlies?
Yes. There's no way to keep them out, and no point trying. When walking in forests, you should always wear closed toe shoes and long trousers tucked into socks. At dawn and dusk, make sure you have repellent on and wear clothing as close to colours of the forest floor as possible.
There are also snakes. No point pretending there aren't, however, they are terrified of of humans so you are not likely to see any unless you go in search of them. They hear your clumping footsteps coming and are long gone. Avoid the temptation of rummaging around blindly in piles of leaves and you'll be fine.
Will I meet the locals?
Absolutely, yes. Because you are going off the beaten track, you will be seeing life as lived by Ticos throughout this trip. Between guides, hosts and our top tips for where to go and what to eat, you should leave Costa Rica with a proper sense of the people.
What might I not have thought of?
There's a general and infectious sense of joie de vivre, Pura Vida, in Costa Rica.
Too many holidays to Costa Rica focus entirely on the wildlife with a bit of beach and activity thrown in. That's totally unfair to the people who live here and give it all colour - and who take such pride in their environment. It's not always obvious given the ramshackle appearance of many towns and villages but the environmental education and messaging here is remarkable and people are generally very proud of the lead their country takes in matters ecological.
But really, it's the day to day people watching that too many people miss. Lunch at a roadside 'soda' is an opportunity to see all of society eating side by side, doctors to farm labourers. Eating ceviche whilst watching the fishermen haul in their catch. Tucking into a huge plate of plantains, rice and beans as a pickup truck with a huge speaker strapped in the back goes up and down the street, blaring out the latest special offer at 'MEESTER CHICKEN!!!'
It's a fun, and funny, place.
What is the payment process and is my money completely safe?
We take a 15% deposit to secure your holiday, with the remainder due eight weeks before your departure.
Your money is 100% protected through our ATOL licence if your trip includes a flight booked through us, or through our ABTOT bond if it does not. Either way, this protection provides a cast-iron financial guarantee and helps you book with complete peace of mind. Because the contract between us exists here in the UK, you get this protection regardless of where you live.
As always, our covid-19 policies ensure you have complete flexibility, just in case. Throughout the pandemic we have frequently been praised by Which? as a tour operator to trust, so you're in good hands. Your safety is always our top priority and we want you to be able to fully look forward to and enjoy your holiday with peace of mind.
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Travel with Pura Aventura
Best in class holidays, service, characterful hotels, lovely locals, food and beautiful walks - that's what our clients tell us they love about our holidays, as noted in the highest possible 5* Feefo Platinum Award.
Certified B Corp
We are one of the first UK travel companies to be certified B Corp – regarded by The Independent as the premier sustainability certification, and described by Which? as "meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance".
Award-winning Travel Positive
We are proud to have been recipients of awards from both Wanderlust and LUXLife for our sustainable Travel Positive initiative, that includes balancing carbon by 160%, and providing 1% of our revenue to the planet.