Sitio Mata Canyoning and the Best Homemade Ice Cream in Costa Rica

Your kids have never done this…

Day Two on the Pacuare River-

 This lower stretch is my favorite part of the seven rivers I have been on in Costa Rica. The mix of rapids, beauty, speed variation and then, bam, there is “Dos Montañas” (Two Mountains).  If it were legal, I would have my family bury me here.  We still might find a way to make that happen. 

  We are with a unique group on this trip.  We have five professional SUPpers.  Not the dinner kind, although we did see a couple of them eat it a few times.  These are Stand Up Paddleboarders (SUP) with Badfish and Hala boards. This is the first time I have seen them in action on a river.  I always thought it looked so peaceful on a lake, but on a river… it appeals so much more to me as an innocent by-boarder, I mean, by-stander.  Watching these gals and guys shoot the same rapids as the kayaks and rafts is killer. Our river guides are even caught trading out their kayaks for these inflatable river sticks, on a few features. 

  We couldn’t resist the offer to try this out and catch a few waves, rapids, and rocks on the way down.  The kids hitchhiked a few ripples and are arguably the youngest to SUP on the Pacuare.

  This stretch of the river takes you by waterfalls, through terraced rapids, then makes you earn an entrance to my favorite place, Dos Montañas.  Empty kayaks are a common site entering the sanctuary of the mountains.  The storm before the calm spits you between two sheer walls, smooth water, with a distant exit of lush green leaves.  We can’t resist abandoning the boats and swimming in this canyon.  Normally this stretch is reserved for 12 years-old and above.  However, with a few dollars and some chocolate milk we convinced the guides to let our kids go down.  Kidding.  The water level had dropped just enough it was deemed safe for everyone to enjoy.  We were all in.  So glad the family was able to see this with me.  I had tried to explain it to them but now they know what I was trying to describe. 

You just read about it, now you can watch it!  Link:Two Days Floating in Paradise

 

Pacuare River and Jungle Camp

Week 2 Takes us to Turrialba and down the Pacuare River… we tried to go up but got way tired.

When we first decided to come to Costa Rica and stay an extended amount of time, we originally thought we would want to spend most of our time on the beach.

  After talking to Jason and Walter, with Amazing Vacations CR, we got super excited about the opportunity to raft with our kids through the rain forest, on some of the most majestic rivers in the world.

  Kris and I haven’t rafted much. Kris has been down a few rivers in Costa Rica and the Snake River in Jackson Hole, WY. My last raft experience was on Survivor! We are no experts.

 Our kids ages, 13 (Kai) 10 (River) and 8 (McKay) were up for the adventure and here we are!

  Let us just take a moment to explain, as best we can, the Pacuare River. Where do we start?  We go as a family and spend two days on this river.

  Walter and his world class guides take us on a raft, with a few other people on SUP (Stand Up Paddleboards) and kayaks.

  The water is unreal. Crystal clear and the perfect temperature. The beauty is breathtaking. We are the only people rafting down the river surrounded by lush green landscapes, stunning waterfalls, jungle terrain, singing birds and a rainforest that is so alive and full.

  The kids can’t stop smiling. There are fun rapids and the kids do great with helping us paddle.  About 2 hours down the river we get out and hike up the jungle mountainside to the Pacuare Outdoor Center, affectionately known as “Jungle Camp”.

 You would not believe this place exists in the middle of the river! It is a high-end jungle resort with individual bungalows nestled in the mountain. The views are insane. Absolutely breathtaking!  We get a hot shower and we able to kick back and relax. You can read books in the hammocks, enjoy views in the rocking chairs and be prepared to eat a delicious home cooked meal. It is magical!

  At night, you hear the sounds of nature as you fall asleep. You wake up to the beautiful sound of birds singing as you watch the sun peak over the mountains.

  You just have to experience it! Click here to see a Sneak Peak at the Pacuare Family Adventure

We all slept like babies and can’t wait to go back.  We have breakfast then headout for day two on the river. Another epic day. We will never forget this experience.

 

 

   

 

This place is so SWEET!!

You have to see it to believe it. Click the link to “see” Costa Rica’s SWEETEST Secret!

It is hard to put into words the beauty of Costa Rica. You have to be here to really appreciate what you see. The images captured on our camera just don’t do it justice! The lush green, the vibrant colors of the trees and flowers, the thick jungle canopy, the blue skies and the sounds of the birds singing, is pure magic. 

This country is alive!!

First Stop – Pacayitas, Turrialba, Costa Rica

The first stop on our family’s Costa Rica journey has taken us to Pacayitas. This is a gorgeous little town tucked away in the mountains above Turrialba, Central Costa Rica. We have spent the last few days meeting amazing people in this small town. The kids have made some great friends and they have been so welcoming. The food at Rita’s home is outstanding. The kids are learning to live, play and cook like the locals, right down to making homemade tortillas.

 

Picking Coffee and Learning How It’s Made

We are “helping” the locals pick coffee beans and learning the fascinating way coffee is made. Tia Rosario is teaching us all about her family tradition. It is such a huge part of the culture here.  Families will spend hours together harvesting coffee.  We sit back with our fresh fruit juices and watch them enjoy the “fruits” of their labor.

Harvesting Sugar Cane with Locals

We hiked into an amazing sugar cane processing hut in the Costa Rica hills to see the entire process of cane to sugar. This family is one of only two in the area, who still harvest and process their sugar in this artisan way.  The men are chopping sugarcane with machetes, they don’t trust us with those, yet.

The “trapiche” takes three to four hours from cane to dry sugar but they take advantage of every stage in the process. Cane juice, syrup, “punto” (a carmel-like candy), sobado, and tapa.  We ate our weight in sugar, trying each stage of the process.

Exactly the Costa Rica Experience We Wanted for Our Children

Between the waterfalls, the food and the new friends, the kids haven’t missed their electronics or complained once about the lack of hot water for showers. They actually enjoy the refreshing splash before heading to bed. This is exactly the experience we were hoping to have with them. Real and authentic. Fabian, with Finca Via Lig, has been so wonderful. His English is great. This town has opened their arms and hearts to us and welcomed us in.   

We are so happy here.

Most Popular Costa Rica Family Vacation Activities

As you explore your options for bringing your family to Costa Rica, you want to make sure that everyone has something to do and enjoy. We’re outlining the most popular vacation activities and packages for families that come to Costa Rica.

Playa Manuel Antonio

We’ve written about Manuel Antonio many times and always recommend it as a place to visit. It’s a short, easy walk through the park to the beach. While in the park, you might see monkeys, toucans, sloths, fogs, crabs, and more. Your hike ends at a beautiful, shady beach with gentle waves and warm water. On the beach, you can relax in the sand and soak up some sun while your kids splash in the water and chase hermit crabs or collect sea shells.

Rancho Margot Organic Farm and Hotel

Give your family an opportunity to experience working on an organic farm while staying in top class private bungalows. Rancho Margot is a working organic farm where the food is farm to table (and delicious), the hotel is powered by renewable energy, and the buildings have living roofs. Your family can tour and work on the farm, viewing how nothing goes to waste to create a sustainable ecosystem on the property. This is a great learning opportunity for your family to see how they can work for a more sustainable lifestyle.

rancho margot ponds rancho margot path rancho margot room

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park & Horseback Riding

At Mistico Arenal, there is no shortage of activities for the family. We find that everyone loves walking through the hanging bridges, seeing monkeys, sloths, lizards, frogs, and more. Viewing the jungle from the canopy is a unique perspective that you won’t otherwise see.

Another great option at Mistico Arenal is horseback riding. Atop some of the most gentle and well trained horses you’ll ever ride, you’ll get a guided tour of the jungle and spectacular panoramic views of Arenal Volcano. Guides will be sure to point out snakes, birds, and other animals of interest. We even saw deer on our last trip.

Beaches, Beaches, and More Beaches

Costa Rica has over 700 miles of beaches for you to visit. Take in the sun while your kids play in the sand and the surf. Depending on the beach you visit and how adventurous you are, you can take surfing lessons, snorkel, boogie board, and more. Or, if you want, just relax in a hammock, on a chair, or with your feed in the water.

Some of our favorite beaches include Playa Manuel antonio mentioned above. Walking through the park is great preparation for relaxing on the send. Tamarindo Beach in Guanacaste is home to some of the best surfing in the world, but is also perfect for beginners if this is your first time. Langosta beach is also nearby if you want to escape Tamarindo’s crowds. Costa Ballena is on the South Pacific side of the country, but gives you the opportunity to see breaching humpback whales and nesting sea turtles if you visit at the right time of year.

Whitewater Rafting and Stand-Up Paddling

If you’re kids are a little older, one of the most thrilling and popular activities is braving the rapids of Costa Rica’s numerous rivers. Most families choose to raft the river together, but we have just added stand-up paddling options for visitors. You and your family will get absolutely drenched covering up to class IV rapids through serious drops and whitewater. It’s heart pounding, safe, and an absolute riot. Plus, floating the rivers is one of the best ways to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Guests regularly see toucans, blue morpho butterflies, monkeys, and more. We recently had a group rescue a sloth that fell from its tree into the river.

rafting on the pacuare river

We’re Here to Help Your Family Have an Amazing Vacation

Bring your family to Costa Rica and we’ll help you have the most amazing vacation possible. We’ll start with a free itinerary plan to meet your budget, then we’ll handle booking, reservations, and everything else to ensure you have an effortless, worry free trip to one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Contact us at (801) 389-7324 or request a FREE itinerary plan to get started. Our team is here to help.

Whitewater Kayaking and Rafting on the Pejibaye River in Costa Rica

The Pejibaye River is one of most beautiful rivers in the country to paddle because of the jungle canopy that hangs over much of the upper section of the river. The upper school put-in is my favorite beginning to any river run. Its a steep hill to walk down but when you get to the bottom of the hill you feel like you are on a movie set of an Indiana Jones movie.

The upper section is a Class III- section of river with no sticky holes to worry about. You do have to keep your eyes open for trees and there are a few spots along the river where the current pulls you towards a rock or tree that you have to be careful with. However, overall, if you have experienced guides, this is a great river for kids in a raft or in duckies (1 or 2 man inflatable kayaks).

This is typically the river that we will start most of our kayak trips on as it is super fun but a great way for boaters to get comfortable on the water, enjoy some fun surfing waves and ensure that everyone can still roll a boat.

The lower section of the river hosted the international championship slalom races back in 2017 and this section is short but super fun to play around in. There are deep holes you can surf and play in the eddies.

Here’s a few photos of the river from our whitewater kayaking trips down the Pejibaye River in Costa Rica.

  

If you are interested in joining one of our multi-day or week long river rafting, whitewater kayaking or SUP River trips, please contact our team via our website and we’d love to have you join us on the river here in Costa Rica!