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. 

 

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.

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!

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

Join our numerous previous guests in having the vacation of a lifetime. Contact us at (801) 389-7324 or reach out for a FREE itinerary plan. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Costa Rica soon.

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.