Finding the Best Guides for your Costa Rica Trip

Finding guides that you love to spend time with during your trip can make all the difference when traveling to Costa Rica. It’s important to understand what people are saying about the experience of working with Amazing Vacations Costa Rica.

There are great guides all over, but we like to think that our team takes service to another level. If there was a Disney of guide service in Costa Rica, we hope that people would put us on that level of experience.

Rather than us toot our own horn though, we thought a post that includes direct quotes from emails and survey responses that we’ve received over the past few months, and as you’ll see our guides are almost always mentioned as their favorite part of the trip.

Our clients make a better case than we ever could for working with the Amazing Vacations Costa Rica team.


Q: What was your favorite part of your Costa Rica trip?

A: “I was very impressed by the level of guidance and instruction on the river – the guides are very positive and confidence inspiring. Even though water levels were a little low, they worked to make the most of our river experiences. The kayaks were all pretty much new and fully adjustable, which I think is fantastic – it’s easy for a fleet to fall into poor maintenance. Keep it up! Also a pleasure to have all the logistics, boat loading, lunch prep taken care of! The overnight in the jungle lodge is a great experience.” Robert B

A: “The people – Arnaldo, Davis, Walter and the crew. What a great group of guys. Made me feel like part of the family from day 1. On top of that they were unbelievable on the river. Great great trip.” Jayson S

A: “Our favorite part of the trip was meeting and interacting with Walter Centeno. It felt more than the typical Guide vs Client interaction. Even though Walter Centeno was only a Facebook Message away, and very interactive with us via messages during the rest of the trip, we really missed his presence once we left Sarapiqui. We also really enjoyed the activities, the wildlife viewing and the food!” Davide S

A: “The PEOPLE (staff, drivers, guides) were excellent and very accommodating. Very friendly and anxious to show us a great time. The whole trip was very good (well, not the rain but since it’s a rain forest it was somewhat expected). The selections of places to stay and the activities were great.” Judy O 

A: “Being in a different County with no worries (guides we amazing) and Kayaking rivers thru the jungle canopy with friends and getting the full experience of Costa Rica just amazing. Troy G

A: “Kayaking with Arnaldo! Pacuare! Upper upper was so beautiful! Amazing logistics! Walter was amazing! Emma J

A: “The guides are amazing and I felt as safe as possible pushing my skills with them nearby to assist in a rescue situation. I can’t say enough about their professionalism and support on the river. Top notch. Susan C


Q: What would you tell someone who is thinking about traveling to Costa Rica?

A: “Definitely book through Amazing Vacations and have guides/drivers set up for your trips. We would have missed so much if we were trying to do these activities on our own. Jason really listened to our needs and picked activities that were suitable to our interests.” Judy & Stan

A: “Knowledgeable guides, good boats to use, great food, amazing wildlife , and best weather ever for paddling. It’s worth spending extra time touring the local sites and tourists spots if time allows.” Anne S

A: “You will only regret not going, and once there you will be ready to plan your next trip back.” Troy G

A: “Be sure to sprinkle wildlife viewing amongst adventure-style activities. And try out a hot spring!” Davide S

Costa Rica Activities for Non-Kayakers

We talk a lot about kayaking in Costa Rica, because we love it and it’s what brought us there the very first time. But, even if you don’t kayak, you will find more activities than you can handle in this beautiful country. Below are some of our favorites that we’re sure you’ll enjoy as well.

Best Activities for Thrill-seekers

If you’re looking for something more than the beautiful scenery of Costa Rica to take your breath away and get your heart pumping, there are plenty of activities to do that. Imagine soaring through the jungle canopy at 40mph, surfing on the world’s best waves, and more adrenaline pumping activities. Some of our favorites follow:

Jungle Canopy Ziplines and Tarzan Swings

Costa Rica is home to some of the most beautiful tropical birds in the world. Take a ride on zipline to soar through the jungle canopy just like a macaw or toucan. Ziplines allow you speed through the treetops at up to 40mph, getting a view of the jungle unlike any other. The breakneck speed will give you the adrenaline rush you’re looking for.

If you want to combine speed with a freefall, be sure to book a ride on a tarzan swing. You’ll speed through the canopy like a zipline, but the ride starts with a freefall before your swing catches and gives you an incredible view of the rainforest. Swing heights vary at location, and we can help you choose the perfect one for you. This is not for the faint-of-heart, but is perfect for adrenaline junkies.

Surfing Lessons

We’ve highlighted Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and world-class surfing before. You can experience it first-hand. Feel the thrill of paddling out from picturesque beaches to ride crashing waves unrivaled anywhere in the world. We’ll set you up with an experienced surfing instructor to give you any lessons you might need and ensure you have a safe time on the water.

Plus, when you need a break, or if you have non-surfers with you, the soft sand and warm blue waters are perfect for relaxing and soaking up the sun.

Best Activities for Kids

Got some little ones traveling with you? Don’t worry about them getting bored or not having plenty of to do. Activities abound from finding shells and chasing hermit crabs on the beach, to wildlife spotting, horseback riding, and wildlife experiences, Costa Rica has plenty for kids.

Family Focused Hotels

There are dozens and dozens of family friendly hotels with activities for travelers of all ages and we’re happy to recommend our favorites. We find that kids love it when a hotel as a good pool and opportunity to see lots of animals, but whatever criteria you have, we’ll find you a hotel everyone will love and will meet your budget.

Manuel Antonio National Park

We’ve said plenty about Manuel Antonio National Park before, and we’ll keep praising it for its incredible opportunities to spot Costa Rica’s native wildlife and end the tour at a stunning beach. We recommend you hire a private guide to help you spot monkeys, sloths, frogs, toucans, and more. After a walk through the park that is very doable for kids and strollers, you’ll end up on a shaded, sandy beach with warm blue water to rest and play in. This is a must-see for first time visitors to Costa Rica.

Best Activities for Seniors

One of the best things about Costa Rica is the variety of activities for travelers of all ages to enjoy. Whether you’re young, have young kids, or are young at heart, you’ll find plenty to do and see that meets your ability level.

Arenal Hanging Bridges

We have found one of the top activities for seniors and active retirees visiting Costa Rica is the hanging bridges in Arenal. This is an easy walk through the rainforest at ground level and among the canopy. You’ll experience Costa Rica’s plant and animal life on the ground, seeing caterpillars, butterflies, spiders, orchids, and more. Then, as the trail takes you onto the hanging bridges in the canopy, you’ll have a birds eye view of the jungle, with opportunities to see monkeys, sloths, toucans, frogs, lizards, and much more in its natural habitat. If you worry about the walk being too strenuous, there are several turnbacks along the way that shorten the trip for those that need it.

Catamaran Rides and Ocean Life Spotting

Head out onto the ocean on a catamaran or ocean wildlife spotting trip. You’ll have the opportunity to cruise around the Caribbean or Pacific (depending on the side of the country your on), with stops to swim and play from your boat. You can relax on deck chairs and take in the sun. On a wildlife spotting trip, you’re going to be taken to areas where you can see dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and much more.

Best Activities for Relaxing

After a day on the river sometimes you need to just unwind. Or, maybe while your out paddling the best rapids, your travel partners want to have a spa day. We’ll make it happen for you. Some of the most popular relaxation activities of our guests are below.

Spas and Massages

One of the favorite activities for spouses of kayakers is a spa day or massage. While you’re experience the best rapids in the world, your wife can be getting pampered in a full spa day or get a massage at any of the world-class resorts and spas in the country. We can recommend our favorites depending on your itinerary and locations.

Beaches and Beach Resorts

Costa Rica is home to 800 miles of coastline and 300 beaches. Any of these are perfect for spreading out on the sand, taking a dip in the warm water, and just letting your cares slip away in a beautiful tropical setting. Costa Rica is also home to several beach resorts where you can have drinks and meals brought to you while you rest and relax.

Best Activities for Animal Lovers

Sloth Sanctuary

If your going to be on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, the Sloth Sanctuary is a must visit for children and wildlife lovers of all ages. Here you will get up close with rescue sloths, get more info on how the sanctuary helps rehabilitate sloths, and have a canoe tour of sloth habitat. This is a perfect opportunity to see the amazing creatures and learn more about them. Visitors always leave with a greater respect for sloths and othe Costa Rican wildlife.

Other great options for getting close with wildlife are the Jaguar Rescue Center and the Toucan Rescue Ranch.

Book Your Vacation Today

Don’t wait. Now is the perfect time to book your Costa Rica vacation. We are happy to provide a FREE, no obligation itinerary plan to ensure that everyone on your trip, kayakers or not, will have the vacation of a lifetime. Contact one of our trip planning experts today for a FREE itinerary building consultation or calling (801) 389-7324.

best hotels for kayakers in costa rica

Best Costa Rica Hotels for Kayakers

A lot of travelers ask us, “What is the best hotel for kayakers in Costa Rica?” That depends on a number of factors that we take into account to help you have the best vacation possible. Is your group just a bunch of paddlers looking to run rivers for a week? Do you just need a basecamp to set out from? Do you have children with you that need activities? Are you staying in a central area or moving around the country?

We take all of these variables and more into consideration as we help plan your Costa Rica kayaking trip. We don’t want you to spend a ton of money on hotels with features and amenities you aren’t going to take advantage of. Below, you will find some of our favorite hotels for kayakers in the county

Best Basecamp Style Hotels

Basecamp hotels are simple, no frills, hotels that provide a nice, clean, comfortable room for your group. These hotels may have few amenities at the premises, meaning you’re not going to spend your time hanging around the property, but instead, will be out seeing the country. These are the perfect places to sleep and have and early or late meal.

Turrialba Bed and Breakfast

Turrialba Bed and Breakfast is a cozy, 11 room bed in breakfast near the Turrialba town center. You’ll have an incredible breakfast, and dinner if necessary (we’ve spoken highly of their cinnamon pineapple before) to help energize you for hitting some of Costa Rica’s best rivers. The rooms have comfortable beds, and clean facilities. You’ll love that these are budget friendly rooms that allow you to enjoy some of the best kayaking in the country without feeling like you’re spending money on a hotel you’re not using.

Villa Vistas Arenal

Villa Vistas Arenal allows you to get put multiple people in a single, comfortable room, with everything you need to help save you money. There is so much to see and do in and around Arenal that you won’t want to spend any time in the hotel. You can kayak on Lake Arenal, ride horses, hike jungle canopies, ride ziplines, and so much more.

Bungalows at Villa Vistas Arenal have anywhere from one to three beds, fridges, TVs, and all the room you need for your gear and group. This is a great hotel for having a place to drop your gear, head out for tons of adventure and kayaking, and then head back and recover before doing it all again the next day.

Best Hotels for Kayakers with Family or Non-Kayakers

If you’re coming to Costa Rica for some kayaking, and your family or group has members who won’t be paddling, these are the hotels you should look into. The hotels below have great on-premise amenities so that anyone spending time on the grounds, rather than river, will still have plenty to do and enjoy with their time in Costa Rica.

Casa Turiri

Casa Turiri is a small, boutique hotel near the Pacuare River that you, your tour group, or family will love. The hotel has the feel of a colonial plantation and a staff of 20 for only 16 rooms. Guests that spend time on the grounds while you kayak will be pampered and cared for.

While you’re out on the river, guests at the hotel can enjoy time in the spa, horseback riding, in the gardens, or at the pool. Casa Turiri also has a first class gourmet restaurant and room service so anyone at the hotel will have wonderful meals while you’re running rapids.


Arenal Springs

Imagine staying in a beautiful, private bungalow with views of Arenal volcano, access to multiple swimming pools, luxury spas, and plenty of play space for kids. This is what you get at Arenal Springs. Large, spacious rooms, gourmet meals, and access to all the activities your fellow travelers can enjoy.

arenal springs grounds


Best Hotel for A Day Off from Kayaking

Your itinerary might give you, or maybe you need, a day off from paddling. We’ve been to some great hotels that have just enough to do that a day off from the river will be fun and give you plenty to do, but you won’t feel like your missing out when you’re back on the water.

Hotel Via Florencia

This hotel has a great mix of beautiful grounds and access to the rivers. At Hotel Via Florencia, you’ll be greeted by Montezuma Oropendola nests hanging from trees at the entrance, comfortable rooms with all the amenities, and plenty of space to relax and recover from a day of kayaking. You can enjoy a day of paddling some of Costa Rica’s best rivers and then enough comfort and luxury to truly rest from the day and prepare for more time on the water.

At Hotel Via Florencia you will have a comfortable, clean room with one or two beds, a tv, and nice bathrooms and showers. There is plenty of connectivity if you want to spend the evening chatting with friends and family at home, share your vacation pictures, or even need to get a little work done. The Hotel Via Florencia is a great option for kayakers in Costa Rica.


Ara Ambigua

Are you ready to dine on some great food while tropical birds sing and flutter within arms length? Ara Ambigua will put you close to some of Costa Rica’s best kayaking and has some incredible amenities. The on-property bird sanctuary draws in tropical birds like you have never seen. You can enjoy the songs and colors while dining on delicious meals any time of day in the spacious restaurant.

Private bungalows provide plenty of room for resting and recovering from a day kayaking, or just relaxing from your everyday cares. There are a number of pools for the family to play in, and tons of wildlife for them to spot. Ara Ambigua is a great mix of nicer accommodations and activities that are perfect for a short stay with a family or group members that aren’t kayaking.


Book Now for the Best Costa Rica Hotel Rates

To get the best rates possible on your Costa Rica kayaking trip, book early. We are here to help you get the best pricing on your kayaking vacation, simplify planning, and ensure you have a worry free stay in Costa Rica.

Talk with one of our vacation planning experts. They’re here to answer your questions, give advice on trip and activity planning, and help you start your vacation right. Contact us at (801) 389-7324 to speak with us in person, or send us an email at


Costa rica river kayakers

Costa Rica Whitewater Kayaking Report – Classic Week of Rivers – Oct 13-20, 2018

During the week of October 13 – 20, we took a large tour group on our Classic Week of Rivers whitewater kayaking and rafting trip in Costa Rica. Our group for the week included several veteran kayakers as well as a family with four kids ranging in age from eight to ten years. Here is a recap of an incredible trip with an awesome group of people. Read on to see what your trip to Costa Rica could be like.

Bringing the Family to Costa Rica

We were super excited to have a large group of travelers with us for the week, but one of the best things was seeing young kids wanting to learn to kayak and work on their roll. Before we met up with the family in our group, they had already spent a week enjoying the beaches, scenery, and wildlife around Manuel Antonio.

On days when the river was flat and mellow, our group of expert guides gave the kids and beginner kayakers instruction on how to roll, river safety, and general kayaking. This allowed everyone to enjoy the rivers and improve their skills. For the days that we did more intense Class IV rivers, we scheduled other activities for the kids and their mom, such as horseback riding, visiting a butterfly farm, and much more. See some of the activities we can plan for non-kayakers here.


This is just one example of how we tailor trips to the skill levels of all our travelers to make sure everyone is able to get the most from their time in Costa Rica.

Exploring Costa Rica’s Rivers

Paddling the Week of Rivers trip started by kayaking and rafting on the Pequibaye River. We were able to paddle both the lower and upper sections of the river. After that, we moved to the Sarapiqui river for the next two days. We paddled the Upper Upper section of the Pacuare and then finished the week by paddling into the Pacuare Outdoor Center (a.k.a. Jungle Camp) and rafted out the final day on the Class III and IV section of the Lower Pacuare.

The Perfect Trip for Class III Kayakers

This really is the perfect trip for Class III kayakers who are looking to improve their skills and challenge themselves on a few Class IV rapids. There are a few rapids that you may choose to walk around, but you’re sure to get lots of tips and personalized instruction to help you improve your paddling ability and correct bad habits you might have picked up on the river.

Our guides are all ACA Kayak Instructor certified and have worked as instructors at the famous Otter Bar kayak school as well as other kayak schools in the United States.

We had an amazing time and so did our guests. For more information about our upcoming schedule of river trips, visit our Upcoming Trips page. If you want to speak to a vacation expert, reach to us at (801) 389-7324 or

Enjoy some of the photos from the week below.




Taking Your Family to Costa Rica

You’re looking at taking your family to Costa Rica? We’re here to help answer your questions, plan your trip, and prepare you for the best family vacation possible. Read on for tips and things to know before you take your family to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica  Family Trips are More Affordable Than You Think

Costa Rica is one of the most affordable destinations in the world, and our local relationships and favorable pricing just add to the savings. Trips with us can run as little as $1,000 per person, depending on the time of year, activities, hotels, and other variables. We can plan a custom vacation for any budget.

Family Friendly Activities Abound in Costa Rica

Whatever you put on your itinerary and whatever your budget, Costa Rica has activities for families with travelers of all ages. Some of the most popular activities for families traveling to Costa Rica include:

  • River Rafting
  • Wildlife Tours
  • Beaches
  • Jungle Canopy Tours/Hanging Bridges
  • Horseback Riding

We have relationships with the best tour and activity providers in the country. We use these relationships to book activities for your family at the lowest prices. We can make planning and booking family activities stress free.

Book a Driver and Simplify Your Stay

If you really want to get the most out of your family trip to Costa Rica, hire a driver and car for the duration of your trip, especially if you plan to see more of the country than just your hotel or resort. For about the same cost as a rental car, you can have a local driver take you to all your destinations, make destination recommendations, and allow you to see more of the scenery and sites rather than fighting traffic and looking for directions.

Our driver partners provide safe, reliable vehicles to transport your family throughout your Costa Rica vacation. Most vehicles also have wi-fi hotspots so you can connect and share your family trip with others.

Transportation in Costa Rica

Prepare to Get Wet

Costa Rica has a humid, tropical climate, and San Jose averages 71 inches of rain each year. Plus, with many activities taking place in the rivers, waterfalls, and beaches, you should be prepared to get wet. This doesn’t just mean packing your swimsuit and towels. Depending on the activities you schedule for your family, you should plan on having wet clothes and shoes. And, depending on your itinerary, you could have back-to-back days in the river, hiking waterfalls, and more.

This, combined with the humidity, means you might not have time or opportunity to let everything dry out. If you’re going to be on the water, we recommend bringing a dry bag to keep wet clothing separate; shoes specific for the water; and multiple water specific outfits.

river rafting on the pacuare river

Balance Activities with Downtime

Part of helping you get the most out of your family vacation to Costa Rica is helping you plan for some downtime. Filling every minute of your vacation with activity can lead to stressed parents, kids having a meltdown, and everyone being stressed. Planning in some downtime will help give every member of the family some time to decompress, relax, and not feel the stress that comes with running from activity to activity. Whether your families downtime is relaxing on the beach, or lounging by the pool, we can help you schedule in some time to truly relax.

Relaxing at a hotel

Include Family in Trip Planning

One of the best ways to ensure every member of your family has a great Costa Rica vacation is to include everyone in the planning. We recommend asking everyone what they want to do while in Costa Rica and include as many of those activities as possible. This will help every family member feel like they have been a part of the planning and be more engaged in the activities. And when the family is more engaged, they have a better, more enjoyable trip overall.

We can provide you with a list of age appropriate activities for all your family members. This will give you all the options available for your family trip and help travelers visualize and better look forward to the vacation.

Book Your Family’s Costa Rica Vacation Today

Taking your family to Costa Rica will be a vacation you will never forget, and we’re here to help. We can assist in pre-trip planning to ensure your itinerary is laid out, your rooms are booked, and your trip is worry free. Following the recommendations we have here will help your family get more from the trip and avoid some of the challenges less prepared travelers face.

Contact our travel team today for questions or a FREE sample itinerary by calling (801) 389-7324 or emailing us at We’re here to help you have the best family vacation possible.

Hanging bridge tour in costa rica

Best Costa Rica Activities for Seniors

When we plan trips to Costa Rica, it’s not all just river running and surfing. Costa Rica has myriad activities for seniors and active retirees that work for all ages, abilities, and activity levels. Here, we outline some of our favorite and most popular activities in Costa Rica for seniors.

Hanging Bridges

There are several areas where you can explore and view the jungle from hanging bridges. We’re partial to the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna. You’ll see monkeys, sloths, lizards, snakes, insects, and more. Hanging bridge adventures are perfect for seniors because you can move at your own pace. You can also explore on your own or you can hire a guide to go with you. If this is your first time and you’re not doing any other jungle adventures, we recommend a guide. They will help you spot wildlife and points of interest that you might otherwise miss.


Hanging bridge treks are relatively flat with a few moderate inclines, but should be easily completable for travelers of all ages. If the adventure becomes a little too strenuous, there are several benches and rest areas to take a break. If you need to head back early, there are several cutoffs and shortcuts to get you back to basecamp early. This is a favorite of many seniors and travelers with limited mobility for these reasons.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Similar to the hanging bridges, a visit through Manuel Antonio National Park is a great opportunity to explore pristine rain forest and see Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife. Last time we were here we saw sloths, howler monkeys, toucans, frogs, and more. The walk ends at multiple breathtaking beaches. These are some of our favorite beaches in Costa Rica and some of the most beautiful in the world.

Exploring Manuel Antonio is extremely direct and easy for visitors of all ages and abilities. We like it for seniors because it is relatively flat with paved trails or boardwalks. There are plenty of rest areas along the way and the beach provides opportunities to refill water and relax in the sand.

Costa Rica Cooking Classes

The food in Costa Rica is exceptional and you can learn to make it from local gourmet chefs. You’ll go through the process of making a delicious multi-course meal of local dishes sourced from local markets and farms.

Chef’s will work within any dietary requirements you might have to ensure you have a delicious and enjoyable meal. All meal prep is done in clean, state-of-the-art kitchens to ensure the highest standards are met. You will have a delicious, home-cooked, authentic Costa Rican meal and a recipe you can take home.

learn to cook in Costa Rica

Many of our older travelers like this activity for a number of reasons. First, it is low impact and easy for visitors of any ability to enjoy. Second, it allows you to experience a slice of life in Costa Rica. You’ll shop at a local market for ingredients, and then travel to a local farm and kitchen for prep. Finally, the flexibility of the chefs and meals make this an enjoyable dining experience that meets some of the stricter dietary needs of some seniors.

Dolphin & Ocean Life Spotting Tours

Costa Rica is home to the most diverse wildlife on the planet. On the jungle tours, you’ll see many of Costa Rica’s land animals and birds, but an ocean tour is your opportunity to see dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and more of the stunning ocean life found around Costa Rica.

Tours are on spacious catamarans that are accessible for all travelers capabilities. Wildlife can be viewed from outside or inside the boat to meet travelers needs. This is perfect for older travelers who want to see the stunning and diverse wildlife and sealife Costa Rica has to offer, but may not have the ability to hike or snorkel.

We work with numerous tour operators and will work with you and your group to ensure you are with the best guides for your group and needs.

Book a Senior or Active Retiree Costa Rica Trip Today

These are a few of the most popular activities for seniors in Costa Rica. We can help create the perfect trip for senior travelers and active retirees. Contact one of our trip planning experts today for a FREE itinerary building consultation or calling (801) 389-7324.