Costa Rica

Costa Rica customer reviews

We are very proud of the feedback that we get from our trips and are pleased to share reviews from past travellers. These are kept as up-to-date as possible. Please have a read-through to get a real sense of the kind of experience that you might have on a family trip to Costa Rica. You might also like to see some recent photos of Costa Rica sent to us by our customers.

Costa Rica customer reviews - family on boat with teenage kids

Trowell Family (with grandparents + children aged 14 & 16)

Travelled Christmas 2023
Hi Charlotte. We all thought Costa Rica was amazing, from teens to grandparents it covered all bases. The wildlife was amazing throughout and a definite highlight. At Drake Bay the wildlife and wilderness were stunning. The flight in was really good and we got to see a lot from the air including a preview of Manuel Antonio. The guided tour was excellent, we were lucky to have our own guide and saw plenty including a puma, anteater, tapir, monkeys, parrots, crocodiles etc.  The tour guide was really nice and it’s a nice touch all having lunch together in Drake Bay afterward.


The Drake Bay beaches hike, which we did on our free day was one of our best days. We arranged a boat to take us to the far end of the hike then walked back, a mixture of jungle and beaches with some wildlife mixed in. It’s quite a walk but as you can stop for swims it’s fine. We also found a nice Soda for a snack in one area.

There was a slight mix up picking the car up as it was late but the local agents looking after us and the provider couldn’t have been more helpful and resolved quickly.

The camp at Manuel Antonio was a superb location. The spectacular wildlife continued with sloths and monkeys literally in the camp.  The beach was also stunning with great sunrises and sunsets, but the sea has rip currents, so when we body boarded we only went in up to our thighs.  

The tents were great, and it was nice to have an outdoor kitchen area too, very rustic, and the owner was really helpful and kind.  There was a great pizza restaurant in the village 10 mins walk away.  On our free day, we attempted a hike but didn’t realise it was called the MAE (Manuel Antonio Extreme) for a reason!  We got a little lost and ended up walking in long grass in the heat so didn’t make it to the end! We ended up in a cafe called Ronnys which was amazing with good views!

Monteverde – the roads became fun the closer we got but not too challenging.  We loved the hotel and the small town. The zip wire and hanging bridges were really good, everyone enjoyed them and the guided tour across the bridges was fun – we saw all kinds of things. Christmas Day we hiked the Waterfalls Hike which was good but long and very uphill on the way back. We went on a guided night hike in the evening which again was brilliant.

Arenal – really lovely hotel location we felt like we were in the wild and had views of the volcano. The town itself was probably our least favourite place mainly as it was so busy although we found some great places to eat.  The white water rafting was a great day out, my mother-in-law was dreading it but enjoyed it! The kids absolutely loved it. The sloth tour was also good, despite we’d seen a lot of sloths by then we still enjoyed it.

The hotel on the outskirts of San Jose was also very good in the middle of somewhere that looks like it should belong there.

So, everything pretty much worked out perfectly. You need to accept you must be up early to see the best of things, most days we were up by 6 am but to bed early which worked fine for us. Putting the locations in order or favourite to least favourite it was the order we travelled, Drake Bay, Rafiki, Monteverde, Arenal.  Although M put Arenal higher up as he was living his best life with the rafting. 

All the people we met were friendly, helpful and genuine. The food all the way through was really good. Our contacts in Costa Rica were helpful and attentive.

I would really recommend people visit the Osa Peninsula if at all possible as it was an amazing experience but also expect this isn’t for everyone. We weren’t affected much by the bugs and mosquitos, but I guess we were at the start of the dry season. Travelling light was better, and in most locations, there were laundry services if needed.

We’ve been lucky to have a few amazing holidays, and this was right up there with the best – we would highly recommend it for an adventurous family holiday of all ages it had everything; wildlife, beaches, mountains, jungle, volcano, rivers, lakes etc.

Baldwin Family (with children aged 11, 17 & 19)

Travelled Christmas 2023
Hi Claire. We had a brilliant time in Costa Rica, everyone loved it! I was pleased my daughter spoke fluent Spanish as it was so helpful. The white water rafting was the highlight for everyone apart from me. Everyone also loved the tubing. The Rio Celeste was gorgeous. Lomas de Volcan was also a highlight, amazing view of the volcano when the clouds cleared and huge breakfast options. We loved the beach at Samara, the sunsets were incredible and the girls loved bodyboarding in the warm sea. The chocolate tour was interesting, but not enough tasting for the kids! 

The whale and dolphin trip was more of a speed boat ride, we zoomed along so fast we didn’t spot anything. The sea was too rough for snorkelling, but we did stop at a gorgeous beach for a swim and fruit. We had the beach all to ourselves, this was my highlight, swimming in the warm water. 

We had an amazing trip, we really had the chance to bond as a family, there was no time to be bored as we had such a variety of activities and hotels to stay in. Thanks so much for all your hard work organising the trip, we didn’t have to worry about anything. Highly recommend Costa Rica for a family trip. Pura Vida! 

Quinn Family (with children aged 8 and 11)

Travelled Summer 2023
We had an absolutely fantastic time thank you, Costa Rica is a beautiful country, easy to travel around, lovely welcoming people, amazing wildlife and brilliant activities. Once again the activities were exactly right for our age range of children and everything ran exactly as planned. We also feel that we got a really good insight into the country with the different parts of the itinerary and really enjoyed driving ourselves around despite having been a bit anxious about it prior to arriving.


I think for us particular highlights were….as you predicted….the zip-lining and tubing. We also really enjoyed the sloth tour, sea turtles, rope bridge guided walk, and rafting safari – the main reason for that was that the guides were SO enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and enjoyed what they were doing. The guide on the sloth tour even went so far as to take and share with us pictures on his telescopic camera so we have some brilliant photos.
 

We loved the beaches at Azania and went over to the reef to do an additional snorkelling tour which we enjoyed. 

One of the highlights for us was after tubing, the guide who collected us said that if we self drove that afterward we could go to the rope bridges and do some swimming….it was just us there and we had a fabulous time.

Thank you to you all for such a great holiday….we are already thinking about next year and would love to travel with you again.  We have certainly recommended Stubborn Mule to a lot of people.

Clare Family (with children aged 6 and 9)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Charlotte. We have had an absolutely fabulous time! I will go through each place and give our feedback, which may be of interest to you when planning future trips. The airport runs were brilliant, on time, polite, efficient, really good! Hotel in San Jose – nice resort, small and the trails are very short, really a wander around a garden! Room very basic but food and pool nice.

Bijagua
Great hotel, lovely helpful staff, great accommodation. The downside was that you cannot buy food on site (breakfast only) and have to either go into the town or you can order takeaway but times are restrictive.  The farm walk was okay, but very little English spoken. The girls enjoyed feeding the calf though.

Tubing – amazing!  Great guides, really enthusiastic about ecology/wildlife/environment, very informative, tubing great fun.  We stopped and jumped off a 4m bank into the river too – great fun!

Horse riding – really good. Riding was mainly at a walk, stopped by a river for a swim, and had a swing too. Would be worth taking a small towel/change of clothing.

La Fortuna
The hotel was absolutely wonderful!!  Beautifully done, lots to do on-site. On-site (small) hot springs, amazing water slides into cool pools, food lovely, great with the children. The room was beautiful, a really wonderful resort.  Worth bearing in mind that it is a good 30-minute drive into La Fortuna. Which was fine for us, but a lot of driving the day of the raft trip and hot springs.

Raft trip – really good, lots of wildlife spotted. They also included a wee talk about chocolate production at the end, which was interesting and we got to taste cacao, nibs and chocolate.

Eco Termales hot springs – really nice but very very busy!  Buffet afterwards was good. Zip lining and hanging bridges – The hanging bridge walk was good, brilliant guide, saw loads and loads of snakes in particular!  Took about 2 hours, not at all taxing, children managed with no problem.  Zip lining – great, but my girls got up there and then were too frightened to continue!  So, only I did it.

Sarapiqui
Loved the lodge here! Room was much more basic but great facilities on site – wish we had another night here!  Great bird viewing area, with loads and loads of frogs.  Jungle swings and 2 pools. Brilliant place, food good too!

Chocolate tour – really good!  Worth going early as can wander around the forest (Can’t do it after tour as closes at 5 pm). Guides great, informative and chocolate tour really good. Definitely worth doing despite the small chocolate talk in La Fortuna.

Tortuguero
The travelling was a lot longer than planned!!  We set off at 6.45 am and didn’t arrive until 3 pm…not too much of a problem for us, but worth noting! The lodge was basic. Swimming pools great.  The food was absolutely fine.  Seated with another family for all the meals and this was nice.

We went out on a boat ride through the canals, this was at 6.45 am but worth it to see the gorgeous scenery and animals.  Another trip was to the village, which was really good, and informative.  We did feel a bit lost here at times as it was tricky to understand when things were going on and where to be! There was a rep on our bus, but he wasn’t staying at our lodge.  So it is definitely worth asking at reception to make sure things are not missed!

We went on the turtle excursion too – this was absolutely magical.  We got to see a mother turtle lay her eggs, cover them, camouflage them and then return to the sea – absolutely fabulous. There was also some magnificent lightning whilst we were there. I would strongly recommend that if anyone has a small child they take a carrier or sling to stick them in as there is a lot of waiting around and this would be handy!  Closed-toe shoes are needed for this excursion and they also advise dark clothing which we did not know about and ideally a torch too.

Caribbean Coast
Lots of frogs, agoutis and birds. Great accommodation. Nice place to stay, food good. The bungalow had one bed up on a mezzanine, which was up a ladder. Fine for us, but may not be suitable for small children. It is worth noting that the beach across the road Playa Cocles is not great for swimming. It is primarily a surfing beach. About 10 minutes down the coast is a much better beach for swimming/paddling/playing/enjoying.

Jaguar Rescue Centre – great place, seems to be doing a good job to rehabilitate and release Costa Rican wildlife. Is expensive if your children are over 10 though as 24 dollars pp for the tour which is about 1.5 hours. Good for us, but not sure it would be as good value if the girls were older…all going to a good cause though!

Resort outside San Jose
Absolutely wonderful.  Faultless!  Amazing pools, trails to waterfalls, beautifully designed. AMAZING!!

Derry Family (with children aged 18, 21 & 23)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Liddy and Jess. We had the most wonderful time thank you. Everything worked perfectly with a great balance of activities and downtime. I would highly recommend it as a trip to do with older children like ours, who usually went on out after dinner to find a bar to chat with locals or other travellers when A and I went to bed. They saw the most animals coming home later at night – they saw a lot more sloths and armadillos! The highlight for me was Uvita and Monteverdi, both a little piece of paradise. For the boys, it was white-water rafting, jumping down waterfalls, snorkelling and all the animals.


From seeing tarantulas to being surrounded by monkeys and hummingbirds, I felt we learned loads about flora, fauna and geography. It was fascinating hiking with the guides.  

Had good rooms with great views in all the hotels. The hotel in Manuel Antonio was the least favourite as the most commercial and least eco-conscious. The view of the volcano from the hotel in La Fortuna was wonderful. 

Flights and transfers worked well, driving was easy, the car was perfect for us, weather fine as we were fully prepared for some rain (incredible thunderstorms).  All the guides were very good and we ticked off all the animals we hoped to see even the magnificent blue morpho.

Despite Manuel Antonio being very commercial it is a must because of all the animals and the beautiful beach.  

Great to have the last couple of days on the beach to just relax before heading home.

Thank you once again Stubborn Mule for helping us organise an incredible family holiday in a very special place.    

Ramage Family (with children aged 13, 18 & 20)

Travelled Summer 2023
Many thanks, Emma, all home safely after a wonderful trip. We had a great time and really enjoyed the itinerary that you put together for us. The activities and accommodation were both well chosen and I can’t think of anything that we would have changed. Thanks in particular for your help with the lost bear – we were reunited successfully! I am sure that we will be using Stubborn Mule again and will certainly recommend it to others. All the best.

Pluckwell Family (with children aged 13 and 15)

Travelled Summer 2023
Dear Claire. We had a wonderful time in Costa Rica. Thank you so much for arranging such a great holiday for us. Pretty much all the itinerary went like clockwork, if we had any pickups for trips, anyone picking us up was on time and normally early! We loved the country, it’s so beautiful, the wildlife is amazing and it’s a great place to travel around. All our accommodation was great, we especially loved our stay at Bijagua. It was so chilled just sitting on the balcony watching the wildlife in the rainforest. We had not expected to see our first sloth only a few trees away from our room! The staff there were fantastic too and made us really feel at home.

We especially enjoyed the white water rafting, tubing and zip-lining activities. Other highlights were the chocolate tour and turtle watching in Tortuguero National Park

We are hoping to travel again with you in the future for another big family trip, if it’s not next year, it will probably be the year after the next big set of school exams!

Thank you so much for all your help planning such an amazing trip Claire. I just hope to be back in contact again at some point to start planning our next exciting trip with you!

Beckett Family (with children aged 15, 16 & 19)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Caroline. We are back and had a fabulous time, thank you for organising! All went smoothly. From our perspective, the hotels in San Jose were both nice. Manuel Antonio, it was good to have a guide (although pricey) but the park itself did feel a bit like a zoo! There were so many people crammed in trying to look at the same animals. The beach there was lovely though, and funnily enough, we almost saw more wildlife on the beach than during the tour. Cahuita National Park was definitely nicer (we just wandered around ourselves).

Arenal Manoa was definitely the best quality hotel. Overall the hotels are not top quality – quite old-fashioned,

Whilst seeing turtles laying eggs at Tortuguero was amazing, the travel time was crazy. I was very impressed with those with younger children who survived that trip!

The ‘farm’ at Bijaguia wasn’t really a farm, I had in my head we were going to a chocolate farm and doing a tour there. Our ‘tour’ of the farm was through a sparse veg patch and seeing a 3-month-old calf! We loved the area though.

OMG ziplining, I genuinely thought I wasn’t going to be able to do the first one – 200 metres up!! Amazing experience if a little heart rate elevating!!

La Fortuna itself was a wonderful area too – definitely tell people to go to the free hot springs at Chollin we really enjoyed that. And the scenic drive to El Ceibo restaurant was stunning. (Might be worth giving more directions to El Ceibo as you have to come off a main road and find it with absolutely no signs not even at the entrance to the restaurant!)

Tubing and white water rafting were also fantastic. Loved seeing pineapple fields, banana plantations, mango trees etc.

So many animals, such a beautiful country, and such a wonderful family experience. Thank you.

Reynolds Family (with children aged 6 and 8)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Claire. We had a great time thank you. The lodge near Rio Celeste was possibly our favourite place, such a lovely friendly B&B, the staff were super helpful, the room was amazing, and we saw so much wildlife – including a sloth coming down the tree outside the bathroom window to have a poo whilst my 6yr was having a shower!! Tubing was lots of fun and probably my best activity, we did the hanging bridges walk just up the road in a downpour which was fun! The chocolate tour was great and really informative.

La Fortuna was great, but a bit touristy. We went to the waterfall when we arrived which was a great experience, but busy and a LOT of steps up and down! The sloth tour was brilliant – so much info on the wildlife we found. The walk before the zip lining was also really good, we found lots of snakes and a tarantula, but maybe the “hanging bridges” title is a bit of a stretch, as there were only 2 on the tour.  As you know we had a few issues with the zip-lining, but the boys really enjoyed actually doing it. The hot springs were a lovely relaxing afternoon. 

Your partners in Costa Rica, by the way, were really good – I got them to change the hot springs last minute from evening to afternoon, as my youngest couldn’t stay away past 7 with jet lag! (he made up for it at 5am each morning!), and they were really responsive despite being in the middle of moving offices.

Torteguerro was certainly an experience – we did the turtles and it was very long, dark and late (our turtle hit a root and had to restart its nest!). But was the most amazing experience and we stayed and watch the whole thing, so were there 2-3 hours! 

We loved seeing the wildlife – quite a few crocodiles and the boys liked the boats and the swimming pool.

Finally – the Caribbean coast was great too! We rarely do beach days, but we enjoyed a lovely 2 days on the beach in the warm but VERY strong waves. We were disappointed the snorkelling was cancelled, but understand it was due to weather. We did a bit of a wildlife walk instead and spent some time on the Cahuita Park beach.

Habba Family (with children aged 10, 13 & 15)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Sinead. I’ve just been looking back at some photos and can’t quite believe we went to Costa Rica. La Fortuna was a great base, with loads of different restaurants if you need to escape the rice & beans. We tried the sushi place and the Italian, and both were very good. Tubing – an excellent adventure, well worth the detour north. Rafting – excellent guides plus an enjoyable lunch and a surprise chocolate tour which we weren’t expecting.  Zip-lining – the best activity by far.

Tortuguero was my favourite place, really basic but so evocative. The wildlife was incredible and the tour guides were fantastic at every point. We paid for the turtles (absolutely phenomenal! We were so lucky to see all stages of the egg drop/covering/back to the sea parts with three different turtles – it was a moonlit night so extremely memorable).

Driving in Costa Rica – the car hire was great. Roads – ummmmm! Most were fine apart from the main west/east highway which was being dug up and rerouted – driving was a little hairy at times! All the timings that you gave in the itinerary were very accurate. We did use Waze a lot.

I hope that’s useful! We really had a great time, thank you so much.

Shiner Family (with teenager aged 16)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Liddy. We had an absolutely wonderful holiday (apart from the outbound travel!!) full of mini adventures. Very happy to write a review soon. We also made a note of a few things that might be helpful info for future travellers. Overall we found Costa Rica to be a breathtakingly beautiful country, and we found the Costa Ricans extremely friendly and helpful. Thanks so much for all your help.

Ripley Family (with children aged 15 & 17)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Robyn. It was a fun trip! Lots of positives – extremely well organised smooth pleasurable transfers. La Fortuna was fab – great for teens with all the fab activity. Lovely hotel. We knew we needed a bit more time so we had crammed in a bit too much. Tortuguero – I am pleased we went as a great experience. Monkeys and iguanas were highlights. Again v well organised, I can now understand why we were warned about the heavy organisation. 

Beach hotel-nice – but would have been better for us if on the beach and bigger / possibly out of the jungle at this point. Kids loved the surfing (which we all tried) and the tutu taxis!!

We were so chuffed with all the wildlife we saw. Monkeys stealing a bottle of coconut cream from the bar in Tortuguero and then carrying it around up tree and cracking it open with baby was also a highlight. We watched them all close up for ages, lots of video…

Hailey Family (with children aged 7 and 10)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Claire. We have had a brilliant time in Costa Rica! La Paz waterfall gardens was a good introduction to the wildlife on a day of jet lag. We weren’t expecting the driver to remain with us for the whole visit as a guide but actually, it helped ensure we navigated the big site in the right order and he was delightful (Diego). La Fortuna was a bigger, busier resort-like place than I expected (traffic jams and parking chaos!) but we enjoyed it. The hotel had a lovely site close to town but outside it was on the slope of the volcano and the gardens and birds were lovely, with no noise from the town at all.

The small pool was cold but the kids enjoyed it and the jacuzzi was warm! The room (a cabin) was very comfortable with 2 places to sit outside so enough space for us all. The restaurant here was oddly modern in design but the food and service were good. The kids loved the breakfast buffet.

We hiked a circular trail on the volcano’s 1968 lava flow which was excellent (self-guided). The river float trip was worth doing as we saw some animals we hadn’t seen in Tortuguero including owls, crocodiles, turtles and crocodiles. Your colleagues were very professional with excellent guides.

We also loved the guided forest canopy walk at Arenal Sky Adventures – another excellent guide and we saw coatee, agouti, and tarantula plus some new birds. The volcano was mostly shrouded in cloud but on day 3 did emerge for about 10 minutes so we did finally see it!

On the last day here we walked the Bogarin Sloth Trail (unguided but probably better with a guide) in the town as we hadn’t seen many sloths up close. I’m glad we did as we watched a 5-month-old male sloth climb down his tree for his weekly poo and then watched him climb back up again, an experience none of us will ever forget!

Bijagua was the opposite of La Fortuna, this one-horse town was a change of pace and we enjoyed it but 2 nights was enough. The hotel was lovely; very friendly and in a lovely setting although not actually in the rainforest as I had expected – they called it ‘remnant rainforest’ and it still has sloths, monkeys, and toucans so was pretty good!

We appreciated having 2 bedrooms here. Breakfasts were delicious. Everything else you had to buy outside, there was no bar or drinks or snacks available. We walked the trail to Rio Celeste in Tenorio National Park, which was very busy on Easter weekend but had stunning views of the primary rainforest, so was still fabulous. In the evenings we ate at local Sodas which was a nice experience – service very laid back, food fine, and extremely good value.

Tired from our adventure we did virtually nothing but laze on the beach and in the pool at Samara. We loved the hotel here – what a gem. Samara was delightful – oddly more litter than anywhere else we’d been, with a distinctly bohemian and laid-back vibe – and the huge beach was superb with lovely soft sand and incredibly warm water. The weather was really hot which sapped our energy so we just relaxed. The kitchen was useful (the supermarket was virtually next door) and the hotel breakfasts superb.

The pool was marvellous – like everywhere this hotel was immaculate too. Kids loved the sea, we rented body boards which was fun in the gentle waves. We also swam in the neighbouring beach 10 minutes drive away which was deserted – a magical experience. There were lots of restaurant options here but very little in the way of nice shopping opportunities. Some beachfront bars were great spots for sundowners and dinner, a really good end to the holiday.

Thank you to you and the team for such a professional service.

Thomas Family (with grandparents and child aged 12)

Travelled Easter 2023
Hi Kelly. The trip was a big success, thank you!  We loved every minute. We wouldn’t have changed a thing on the itinerary – it was perfect.  We also did paragliding on the beach in Manuel Antonio and surfing at Samara. Pato’s surf school was fantastic.  We paid $50 per person and they allowed us to use bodyboards and surfing boards for the duration of our stay, which was brilliant. We squeezed in a visit to Tenorio Volcano National Park after the tubing as we really wanted to see the Rio Celeste Waterfall. We felt this was really worthwhile doing – really interesting hiking.


In terms of highlights:

We absolutely loved the hotel at Manuel Antonio. We saw so much wildlife at the hotel alone!  There was a sloth down really low by the swimming pool. 

E saw a shark on the Isla Cano snorkelling trip (he’s a shark super fan!)

The crocodile cruise was a welcomed break from the long drive to Fortuna – really beautiful and peaceful.

The whitewater rafting in La Fortuna was so much fun!  Tubing was also hilarious (but much wetter and wilder than we expected!)

The nocturnal frog tour was excellent – this right up E’s street as not only did he spot so many different types of frogs, but he also saw a fer de lance snake.  He’s been desperate to see a snake in the wild.

We saw tarantulas on the hanging bridges tour, which was a pleasant surprise!

But, like I said, the whole trip had the ‘wow’ factor   We met several Stubborn Mule families out there and they were all having a lovely time.

I was nervous about how the private transfers were going to work, but they worked out perfectly.  The drivers were punctual and friendly every time!

So, thank you, once more for a wonderful holiday!

Traves Family (with children aged 12 & 14)

Travelled Easter 2023
Hi Liddy. We had an amazing time thank you!!! With regard to feedback….here are some thoughts. Care hire – getting the car was such an easy process and it was great. Wi-Fi in the car was also a huge win with the kids!! Waze was also a great app! The first accommodation was interesting! I think we used the word quirky quite a bit. The deco was just a bit odd!! But the pool was lovely and the view from breakfast was gorgeous. Breakfast was also good. 

Manuel Antonio was great. The hotel room was brilliant, with an amazing view over the ocean. Spacious and clean. Loads of monkeys at breakfast and saw sloths by the swimming pool, so all was good there!!!

The hotel at Arenal was also a lovely hotel. We got one peak of the top of the volcano and again our room had an amazing view (had it not been cloudy). I think we underestimated how much it would rain there! But we loved the white-water rafting and zip lines. The white-water rafting was a very professional setup, but very busy! Zip lined into a thick cloud which was unique in itself.

The hotel in Bijagua was a beautiful hotel also. It was really nice to have a full kitchen set up and not have to eat out, so we made the most of it. Loved the tubing and it felt much more local and authentic, was also quite a fast river so the kids thought it was really exciting too!!

Yet another lovely hotel in Guanacaste. Fabulous room with a brilliant view. Was really busy being spring break and as noted very ‘American’. When we first arrived it was so busy on the main road I was slightly worried, but actually, it was great to have hustle and bustle on the doorstep and then be able to hide back in the peaceful hotel, so was again spot on!!! 

Overall, such a great trip. 

Allman Family (with a child aged 12 )

Travelled Easter 2022
Hi Charlotte. Costa Rica was the closest to paradise I think we have ever been. A superb mix of activities and relaxation in a country that offers so much – from incredible landscapes to a full range of micro-climates interspersed with nature, warmth, rainforest and a safe atmosphere. The trip itself was well organised. All of the activities were high quality and we felt that all of them had been well checked both for safety and quality of experience. The early morning sloth tour and the tubing were the definite highlights…with the added delight of seeing toucans in the wild too. We weren’t rushed, the activity and relaxation balance was great and the hotel on the coast kindly helped us arrange an amazing boat tour… we saw dolphins and were able to snorkel too. Many thanks for an amazing holiday.

Cooley Family (with teenagers aged 17 and 19)

Travelled Easter 2022
Hi Claire. Overall the trip was fantastic and an ideal family trip that got our 17 and 19-year-olds interested throughout. Thank you for all your help putting the itinerary together. The work in fine-tuning everything was really worth it. We have made some comments on the itinerary and the trips where we think the feedback may be useful. Air Canada was very good and really appreciated business class both ways. All transfers between hotels and the airport worked very well. The guides were all very good.


– Recommend eating out in La Fortuna in the evenings at least once.

– Sloth Tour good – a lot of driving to see sloths at different sites – expected more of a hike.

– Zip Lining very good. Nice walk through the rainforest and hanging bridges (could not do complete walk due to recent rains).

– Chocolate tour very good and fun and not too long.

– White- water rafting excellent

– La Fortuna was extremely busy coming up to Easter Weekend – glad we left on Good Friday

– The hotel in Rio Celeste was excellent. We enjoyed swimming in the river from the hotel trails but it was in rapids and so challenging and so we needed to be very careful.

– Night hike was very good and arranged by the hotel.

– Tubing was excellent.

– Hike in the national park seeing the waterfall and where Rio Celeste turns blue was very good. Quite challenging walking. People have not been allowed to swim in the waterfall or in the national park for about 15 years. Very busy on Easter Sunday so got to the park earlier to beat the crowds as much as possible but not much chance to see wildlife as a result of the number of people (Easter Saturday was apparently even busier).

– Isla Chiquita was very good and we were looked after – it was very hot and fans in the tents struggled to keep us cool.

– Isla Tortuga trip was very nice – the beach was quite busy. Was more of a half-day trip than a day trip.

– Snorkelling was not that great, OK but average visibility.

– We added in a sunset cruise which was nice but unspectacular and expensive for what it was.

– Bioluminescence tour was interesting again, expensive for what it was.

– Getting the ferry back to Puntarenas was a bit difficult with heavy bags with quite a lot of stairs on the ferry but manageable. Worth getting ferry tickets online from the island in advance. By the time you get to the ferry port early for the ferry it might not be much quicker than having a car pick up from the ferry port and driving back to San Jose around the bay – and so no need to lug heavy bags around.

Margrave Family (with children aged 12 & 16)

Travelled Christmas 2022
Hi Kelly. The holiday was fantastic – what an amazing country! In terms of the arrangements; hotels; local reps, etc, these were all excellent. Our only feedback is that for the excursions such as the Manuel Antonio National Park, it is well worth advising future travellers to invest in one of the personal guides, as without such, you will see very little wildlife and they are well worth it for what they will highlight/show you. Thanks again for all your assistance in helping us with such a fantastic trip.

Shepherd Family (with children aged 9 & 11)

Travelled Christmas 2022
Hi Liddy. Thanks for your email, I’ve been meaning to email you all of last week too. We had an absolutely incredible holiday; Costa Rica completely exceeded our expectations!  There we so many highlights from the trip – snorkeling and Cano Island, tubing, the nature (diverse and everywhere), zip lining, surfing. All of the accommodations were excellent but a special highlight was the hotel at Sámara. The pool and restaurant had just had a refit and the whole place had a great, relaxing atmosphere. The staff called everyone by their first names!

Every guide we had was superb, they really knew their stuff and were great with our girls. Speaking of which, thank you so much for making a fuss for L’s birthday, it was really appreciated.

Things to bring:

– anti-sickness travel tablets, especially for snorkeling and the long winding roads.

– Towels. We just had the quick-drying ones, they were handy for snorkeling and beach trips esp. in Manuel Antonio.

Thank you and your team so much for putting together a holiday of a lifetime. I have already and will continue to recommend Stubborn Mule to everyone.

We can’t quite decide if safari or Jordan will be next!!

Wishing you all a happy new year.

Moss Family (with children aged 10, 11, 13 & 14)

Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Liddy. The trip was absolutely fantastic. All the hotels you booked were great including that last-minute upgrade in Arenal. Shuttles/ taxis between places were on time and really nice drivers. And the balance between free time and pre-booked activities was perfect! We explored deserted beaches, did surfing, forest hikes etc in between the booked parts. Tortuguero was a massive highlight as the place we stayed was surrounded by animals and we got to see a 2m turtle laying eggs at night – wow! Everyone loved the booked water activities. All in all, you did a phenomenal job as it was a phenomenal holiday and I would not hesitate in recommending your agency. We loved Costa Rica and got to really see lots of it. Thanks again. 

Sadie Family (with children aged 4, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15)

Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Liddy. Our trip to Costa Rica was honestly the best trip we have ever done with the kids. Travelling with 7 kids is always a challenge, but you and your team had really given attention to the details that would make it both exciting and practical. Huge, huge thank you. Only question is where next??

Easton Family (with child aged 11)

Travelled Summer 2022
Hello Claire. We had an amazing time in Costa Rica, a wonderful safe country to visit and navigate around. The people were so friendly, the food was delicious and we can honestly say it was the best holiday we ever had. The wildlife was breath taking and we never tired of spotting frogs, geckoes and lizards… Thank you for your help in booking this holiday.  I will have no hesitation in recommending Stubborn Mule and putting Costa Rica on your bucket list!

Family R (with teenagers aged 13 & 15)

Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Kelly. We loved Costa Rica – the people were so friendly and welcomed tourism, very much seeing the benefits it can bring. It also showed very clearly what can be achieved by a progressive government that invests in its natural resources and people. Little things like seeing the number and quality of schools, and the way that people slowed down in residential areas, say a lot about a country. People were so knowledgeable about conservation and wildlife with a well-developed certification system for guides. Corcovado National Park was super – everything we wanted it to be. Drake Bay we loved – a real adventure and fun way to start the trip in a small plane and then boat to the hotel.

Driving overall was completely fine and the car hire firm was brilliant.  The vehicles were new and good quality and the wifi worked well.  Lots of roadworks going on and plenty of trucks so you did need a certain level of confidence, but if you’re ok driving abroad normally then not a problem.  

Activities wise, the tubing was amazing and great to start off with. The family who runs it were really friendly and great to visit their house etc. After speaking to other Stubborn Mule travellers (who followed a similar itinerary) we added in a day of rafting too. Brilliant, but also good to do after the tubing.  Zip lining also brilliant fun although very wet and we all made it despite vertigo fears. We could have probably dropped the hiking aspect as that was about number 5 for us.

Tortuguero was a surprise but so special. The start (numerous buses turning up in a muddy car park) was initially organised chaos and it felt like a huge package holiday, but once we got going it was superb. Turtles were a fabulous experience, but as much we enjoyed seeing the jungle from the water. We ended up going for a private kayak at 5.30 am one day to escape the crowds.  

 And then on to the Caribbean coast which was a fabulously relaxing end to the holiday.  We found our favourite beach for lunch and cocktails plus great waves, and also a great bar for the evening.  

We are already talking about the next adventure – most likely in 2 years’ time when the kids are between GCSEs and A levels. Ideas at the moment are Thailand or Vietnam, so any information you have on either of those would be great to start us thinking.  Separately we are also thinking about a trip to Croatia/Montenegro. Look forward to the next time! 

Shah Family (with children aged 11 & 14)

Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Claire. We had an amazing time in Costa Rica and got very lucky with the weather. We only got caught in the rain once for one of the morning nature walks. The whole trip went really smoothly. The flights were nearly all on time and our baggage arrived safely! Each hotel was lovely and we really enjoyed our stay in Rio Celeste and on the Caribbean Coast. The car hire went smoothly and having wifi in the car was a great idea and helped us navigate our journeys.

The people in Costa Rica were so friendly and helpful and they always seemed to have a smile on their faces. The food was amazing, especially the fresh fruit, coffee and the chocolates…. we really enjoyed every aspect of the trip – the scenery, wildlife, local people, beaches, Caribbean sea and the food were all amazing.

The whole trip went so smoothly and we really felt we had a holiday of a lifetime. Thank you for all your help in organising the trip and have already recommended you to a couple of friends who are planning trips.

The people in Costa Rica were so friendly and helpful and they always seemed to have a smile on their faces. The food was amazing, especially the fresh fruit, coffee and the chocolates…. we really enjoyed every aspect of the trip – the scenery, wildlife, local people, beaches, Caribbean sea and the food were all amazing.

The whole trip went so smoothly and we really felt we had a holiday of a lifetime. Thank you for all your help in organising the trip and have already recommended you to a couple of friends who are planning trips.

Gooch Family (with child aged 13)

Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Charlotte. We had an amazing time in Costa Rica, T has declared it our best-ever holiday as he was never bored, high praise from a 13-year-old. A big thank-you to you for organising the holiday and for your advice and patience when we decided to change our original plans, also thank you to Claire who we originally started this journey with us back in 2019.

We were so pleased that we chose to hire a car as it meant we were free to stop and see what we wanted to on the days when we didn’t have activities planned (and T loved visiting waterfalls and spending time swimming/jumping/rope swinging near them). I was a bit nervous about driving but it was fine, the navigation was easy once we got the car wi-fi and Waze sorted and the roads were fine – although some were more like tracks and you have to watch out for the potholes (and lizards), it all added to the adventure.

We liked all our hotels, all different but all worked for us although I think a special mention to the B&B farm near Parque Nacional Vulcan Tenorio for the warm welcome and also for the wildlife spotting while eating breakfast. We also enjoyed the activities, it’s hard to single out highlights as we enjoyed it all so much but the canyoning and zip wires in particular got the adrenalin flowing.

Have attached a couple of photos. if there’s anything that we did/anywhere we went that you want more feedback on, let me know. And thank you again.

Hartley Family (with children aged 6 & 8)

Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Caroline We had the most amazing holiday in Costa Rica and for us, it was the perfect level of adventure and relaxing, exploring, experiencing and travelling together. We have brought home so many memories of this wonderful country and just loved it and feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to experience this wonderful country together. Everything was really well managed for us, please pass on our thanks to your in-country team as every booking, accommodation, activity, and travel was booked perfectly and everything ran like clockwork and was really easy.

All of the activities and guides were knowledgeable and helpful and friendly. The self-drive option was definitely the best so that we could explore at our own pace and make extra stops, get out in the evenings etc. The roads were great (apart from the main road to and from Limon which is undergoing huge roadworks for about 100kms.) It was easy to get around and an exciting part of the trip. 

Our highlights were seeing Mount Arenal smoking, zip lining through the cloud forest, and for me seeing the turtles in Tortuguero. The kids loved the animal and bird spotting and we got amazing views of monkeys, sloths, toucans, crocodiles, lizards, ants, hummingbirds, iguanas, spiders and so much more. 

We loved all the different accommodations and hotels, they were all of a high standard and we all loved having time in the pools everywhere. 

With regards to the tour in Tortuguero, we loved this, the adventure of arriving by boat and being in the middle of the rainforest was incredible, we loved seeing and hearing the wildlife all around us and the pool was lovely to cool down after a hot trek or boat ride.

We were so lucky to see the turtles, we had incredible clear weather, there were so many turtles on the beach when we were there, we only waited about 5 mins, hardly had to walk anywhere and saw at least 3 of these incredible huge green sea turtles coming in and out of the sea, laying their eggs and making their nests, it was jaw-dropping and felt almost unreal that this was happening in this dark and peaceful beach, well worth the travel, heat and sticky, humid weather. 

We loved Puerto Viejo, the beach, and the town, in hindsight we would have preferred accommodation closer to the town so we could walk in and out of the town but had a lovely relaxing end to the trip, enjoying the sea and beautiful beach. 

Thank you so much for helping us with this trip, I would definitely recommend Stubborn Mule to families looking to travel and have already told lots of friends about you! Now we just need to decide where to go next… 

Rayner Family (with teenager aged 14)

Travelled Summer 2022
Morning Kelly. We had an absolutely amazing time! Lots of lovely memories made which is what we wanted. The tour was perfect for us – everything was so slick and easy because of the partners you had chosen for us and there was no time to get bored but also plenty of down time. All of our guides were amazing and talking to others who didn’t use Stubborn Mule, we know we were lucky to have had you in our corner. The horror stories we heard from one poor family! Highlights of the tour were tubing, rafting, Tortuguero for the animals (including turtles nesting in a thunderstorm and monkeys trying to break into our room), and the Caribbean coast.  

Sell Family (with teenagers aged 15 and 19)

Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Lee. We had an amazing time and the most wonderful adventure in Costa Rica. The highlights were the zip wire and the hot springs.  Sky Adventures were amazing, the staff were brilliant. The spa hotel was suburb and the dinner and service was the best we had during the trip. Generally, everything was great. Thank you once again for all your help in booking this trip.

Moir Family

Travelled Summer 2022
Brilliant trip thank you so much. We never usually use travel companies so it has been a great experience! Wanted to share some feedback which hope is helpful for future travellers. Xandari is great and loved it the first night and able to use the facilities. The driver we had on longer trips (Mica) and the transport were fantastic. We loved the hotel at Rio Celeste (with food caveat for adults – kids loved the pasta). Rafting and horse riding were ace. Chocolate tour at Sarapiqui fantastic. The zip lining terrifying but great. Jaguar Centre ace. Tubing was a lot of fun also. An amazing vacation.

Lester Family (with teenagers aged 16 & 18)

Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Claire, I’m so sorry, I totally forgot to reply to you. Been so busy with work since we got back (& then A-levels yesterday). Holiday was completely fabulous. Think we may have drummed up a lot of business for you from friends and family! I will reply fully early next week.

Ward Family

Travelled Summer 2022
Hello Sinead. We really did want to correspond and say how amazing the whole holiday was. It was a phenomenal experience for all of us. The organisation was superb, even though we were initially nervous about the lack of tickets etc, there was never an issue when we arrived at our scheduled destinations or events. Everything ran so smoothly and everyone was kind and helpful. The help and support we had from yourselves was excellent throughout and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you to our friends and family.

We absolutely loved our visit to the rainforest, it was one of the highlights of our trip. The diversity of experiences planned for us ticked all of the boxes and we couldn’t have asked for a more well-rounded trip in seeing Costa Rica.

As far as slight changes that could be made to help other families in the future, we participated in the zip lining and bridges etc (incredible) but on the same day we had the hot springs booked. In hindsight, the hot springs would’ve been better placed on the afternoon of our kayaking trip.

We’d like to thank you again for everything as it really was the trip of a lifetime!

Mcelhinney Family (with children aged 10 and 13)

Travelled Easter 2022
Hi KellyWe had an amazing time in Costa Rica. I think we had the most fun at Fortuna and Samara. Both hotels at these places were really lovely and Samara was just a lovely place. Obviously, Fortuna was action-packed and the kids of course love the zip lining. The sloth tour was also excellent – we saw two males having a fight!. The car was great with excellent navigation using Waze. It came with a wifi device which was great. Finding places was no problem. The crocodile tour was fun. Tubing was my personal favourite!! Generally, it’s such an easy country and the people were just the best. Kids loved the food.

Family W (with children aged 11 and 12)

Travelled Easter 2022
Dear Helene. We had a truly amazing time. The itinerary was perfect – we were slightly nervous about any delays driving back to the airport, but we left really early and of course, all was well. The best bits were white water rafting (big group, but once we were in rafts felt it all felt very personal with fabulous guide), zip lining, the amazing wildlife, and sand-surfing at the end. All the info provided was brilliant and really helpful. The only tip lacking was having some change for the toll roads. We’re looking forward to organising another trip – we are going to create a shortlist of countries, but Japan looks like hitting the top.

Clarke Family (with children aged 11 and 14)

Travelled Easter 2022
Hi Charlotte. We had a fantastic time in Costa Rica. I have to thank you for all the wonderful organisation throughout – transfers, drivers, trips and accommodation, all superb, especially the resort outside San José….wow!  The hotel Costa Verde was also awesome. If we could change any part of the trip it would probably be the amount of time spent in Samara – three days instead of five in hindsight, but that was our choice… On to Vietnam and Cambodia for Easter 2023!

Laker Family (with child aged 7)

Travelled Easter 2022
Hi Liddy. We had such a fantastic time in Costa Rica, it is such a beautiful country. We really did enjoy all aspects of the trip and thought the itinerary was brilliant and everything was so well organised. In terms of what we particularly enjoyed, we loved our hotel on the Osa Peninsula, the location was absolutely stunning and the staff at the hotel were so friendly and helpful and everything was so well run. 

A couple of highlights were definitely the jungle trek, our tour guide Stephen was fantastic, so knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and was really good with our daughter. We also really enjoyed the whale and dolphin tour, especially as we were the only family on the boat and we were lucky enough to witness a very rare bait ball, where literally 100’s of dolphins surrounded our boat.

La Fortuna was also a real highlight, the landscape was stunning and I loved the town, especially in the evening as it has some really good restaurants and a nice atmosphere. I guess the only criticism with La Fortuna was that our hotel was probably our least favourite, the rooms and facilities were nice but the staff were quite unhelpful and not very friendly and the food wasn’t great.

In terms of location, I think Tamarindo was our least favourite, just because it was quite touristy and westernised, I think we would have preferred to be in a quieter area with a more laid-back resort.

But honestly, we had a fantastic trip and would highly recommend Costa Rica, especially for families as there is so much to see and do, and it’s so clean and safe. We will also be recommending Stubborn Mule to friends or families, you guys have been great and in fact, we are already thinking about our next trip….potentially Borneo next Easter.

Many thanks again and please let me know if I can provide any more feedback.

Simmons Family (with children aged 9 and 11)

Travelled Easter 2022
Hi Charlottetrip big success, kids loved it and all timings worked well. Glad we didn’t drive as think some journeys would have been tiring if we were doing it ourselves. Only negative comment is we didn’t like the hotel at Playa Dominical very much…Ideally a hotel nearer Uvita I think would have been better as we like to walk around at night to bars or restaurants. Best hotels were at Manuel Antonio and Playa Sàmara, and the hotel in San Jose was good… Excursions were all great, kids loved tubing and zip-lining as to be expected. We also booked horse riding in Samara which they enjoyed. Best family holiday ever according to them so many thanks for putting together a great trip.

Weir Family (with children aged 9 and 11)

Travelled Easter 2022
Dear Charlotte, I think it’s fair to say we had an amazing if slightly eventful time… including a puncture on a Sunday! We were very glad that alternative accommodation was found for us so easily in Samara when there had been a double booking. Carolina and all of the staff at the hotel were so helpful and really lovely. The villa was lovely too and huge and we were glad to have the opportunity to stay on-site for our last night…. All of the trips that we took were fantastic and the people running them were marvellous.

A reasonably minor suggestion would be to summarise what we ought to take with us on each trip, eg what to wear and how long each is expected to last, on your detailed itinerary. On our day in Arenal, we weren’t aware that we’d been booked for a walk in the morning and the Ziplining in the afternoon so didn’t have insect repellent with us. We also didn’t know that breakfast was included with the sloth safari so effectively had paid for breakfast twice that day. 

Our favourite accommodation was the lodge in Uvita (breathtaking views, fantastic room, and amazing wildlife) and our last night at Samara (great room, wonderful restaurant and bar, lovely staff and amazing proximity to the beach) and we’d go back to both of these places in a flash. The view from our room at the lodge in Quepos was amazing but the room was perhaps not quite what we were expecting after the previous lodges.

In summary, we loved Costa Rica and didn’t want to leave… I think you will likely hear from me again about another family holiday for 2023!

Croft Family (with children aged 4 and 10)

Travelled Easter 2022
Hi Kelly – We all had a lovely time. The activities organised were a nice variation and really gave a taste of the country, including the different locations we stayed at.  It was a good balance of adventure in the jungle and relaxation at the Pacific beach… Once again, thanks for your efforts in creating a truly fantastic holiday that will be a topic of conversation for many years to come!

Jenkins Family (with child aged 9)

Travelled Christmas 2021
Hi Charlotte, Thank you so much for organising everything. We had a wonderful holiday! Going straight from the airport to Manuel Antonio is completely doable. The flight arrives, you’re tired, you sleep for a few hours or are excited and happy to look at everything and then you’re there. So worth it if people are short on time and people just want to get to the good stuff… All in all, an incredible holiday. We loved it. What a fabulous country. They were brilliant with mask-wearing, handwashing and sanitising and we felt very covid safe, so that was a real bonus too.

Williams Family (with friends + children aged 12, 14 & 16)

Travelled Christmas 2021
Dear Charlotte. What an incredible adventure! We have so many stories to tell our friends and families and so many wonderful memories. We saw more wildlife than we imagined – sloths, howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, Jesus Christ lizards, hummingbirds, crocodiles, and surprisingly raccoons, porcupines, a viper, poisonous dart frog, turtle, and a tarantula! So we feel very lucky indeed. The sounds in the jungle were amazing and we loved hearing the howler monkeys marking their territories, the red frogs calling and the cicadas in chorus – quite spectacular. 

The different parts of Costa Rica that we travelled around were a great variation. The whole trip was so well planned and organised.

We all tried choosing our best bits of the trip but it was all brilliant. The zip lining was bonkers, the rafting was so peaceful and magical and the sea kayaking in the thunder, lightning and pouring rain was crazy with pelicans flying low beside us.  

All our guides were very friendly and informative and their English was excellent. (We tipped generously).

Thank you very much for refunding us so swiftly for the hiccup on the transport to the crocodile trip. Very kind. 

Our driver throughout the trip was always on time and a very safe driver, especially when the children felt car sick! But a shame that he couldn’t speak any English. It would have been nice to have some things pointed out on our journeys.

Thank you again for all your hard work and we will definitely be using Stubborn Mule again.

I hope you had a great Christmas and we wish you all the best for the New Year.

Mowlem Family (with children aged 5 and 10)

Travelled Summer 2019
Hi Emily. We had the most amazing time, we loved everything, every activity, every hotel. We were so busy that it felt like we were away for weeks! I was so apprehensive about all the moving around and in fact the whole holiday (I’ve never properly travelled) but it was fantastic.

The kids coped so well with all the activities, one of the best things for me is E has never been overly confident with physical activities, but she loved tubing and zip wiring (in fact she did it twice as T didn’t want to do it so she did it first with P and they then said she could go again with me – I hated it! But loved it at the same time and would do it again, but she was buzzing!)

They both learned so much and took so much in. All the guides were great as well and took time to point out everything and make sure we could all see what they had spotted.

We were so lucky with the weather. We had hardly any rain in the second week on the Caribbean coast and really didn’t have much rain in the first week either, certainly not enough to stop us doing anything!

Kapoor Family (with children aged 11 and 14)

Travelled Summer 2019
Hi Helene – We absolutely LOVED Costa Rica, what a beautiful and friendly country. We were picked up at the airport by your local rep and given our full itineraries. Everything went smoothly with no glitches.

Initially we were a little apprehensive about driving ourselves around, but there is nothing to worry about. The roads are safe and well looked after, we loved the fact that we could stop whenever we felt like it and sample many of the roadside fruit stalls! We must have eaten our body weight in pineapple, watermelon and mango – it was delicious! The car hire company were great and delivered the car to our hotel – a huge Chrysler! Easy and comfortable drive.

The company provided us with a mobile phone with 4G and the app WAVE – you just typed in hotel destination and off you go. We had no issues getting lost and our longest car journey was about 4 hours, it really felt like an adventure driving from one place to the next.

We were also a little apprehensive about visiting during the rainy season but it was absolutely fine. In the coastal areas it usually rained late afternoon/early evening for hour or two – some spectacular thunderstorms. More inland places like Bijagua there was a bit more rain, but we only postponed our plans once because of the rain.

In terms of hotels, we absolutely loved the clamping at Isla Chiquita – the place was stunning and the tents were 5 star! The kids could not believe they had their own tent! We enjoyed paddle boarding and kayaking there.

I would also recommend the hotel near Manuel Antonio National Park – it had an excellent location so close to the park. The beach there was stunning, (naughty monkey nearly stole our lunch!) and had a beautiful pool area and excellent on site restaurant. You could hear the howler monkeys in the mornings for your wake up call!

We also loved Bijagua – felt a true sense of Costa Rica… great lodges, felt like you were in the rainforest and great bird watching at breakfast. The hosts were lovely. I would definitely recommend the Uncle Tio’s night time Frog tour – there is something special about seeing different animals at night, the kids really enjoyed this.

The zip lining with Sky Adventures was simply thrilling! They are a great company and they have a fabulous and very professional team looking after you that really wanted to give you the best experience. We really enjoyed the 3-hour rainforest guided tour there too.

Samara beach is beautiful – very boho, hippy. The hotel was stunning with a perfect location, gorgeous villas with amazing pool area and Italian owner cooked a 5 course Italian meal whilst we were there! The kids had surfing lessons, perfect beach for 1st timers.

All in all it was a truly amazing experience, the animals we saw, the interesting people we met. I could go on and Thank you so much for helping us organise this. I have been telling all my friends about Stubborn Mule!

Bacon Family (with children aged 7 and 9)

Travelled Summer 2019
Hi Charlotte – a huge thank you! We had THE best family holiday! Everything you booked for us went seamlessly which allowed us to focus on having a great holiday. It is such a wonderful and welcoming country and we have all promised to visit again at some point. The activities were great fun. The boys particularly enjoyed the zip lining so we did it again with sky trek in Arenal.

We also loved the river activities and found Onca tours and the river tour at Arenal to be fantastic. The wildlife was so abundant that by the end of the trip, the boys would barely look up when a monkey passed by!

We were very lucky and privileged to have witnessed the green turtle lay her eggs, however agree with your warning that some of your clients found the hotel too rigid in its planned activities and mealtimes.

We are glad we took your advice and found the driving absolutely fine and, although satnav took us on some unusual routes at times, the roads were not as bad as we feared. The worst roads were in and around San Jose!

The only negative we found and that I wanted to feed back to you was the timing for the Tortuguero tour. Both the itinerary and the chap who collected us from the airport stressed how important it was to be at the restaurant by 8:30am so as not to miss the bus. When we (and 2 other families) arrived, we were told that the bus would not be arriving before 11:30! As a result, we had woken the boys shortly after 5am and bundled them into the car for a 2.5 hour journey without a proper breakfast only to arrive at a roadside restaurant and sit there for over 3 hours.

Other than that, we had the most wonderful time and thank you again for all of your time and work putting it all together for us.

We took thousands of photos so will dig out the best ones and submit them to the competition.

I am very happy to do a review and have already recommended you to a couple of friends.

We will definitely be in touch again next year to plan our next trip.

Harding Family (with child aged 12)

Travelled Summer 2019
Liddy – I wanted to thank you for organising the holiday. We all enjoyed the whole thing as it was really varied with different things to see and do in different places. From my perspective, it was a real treat not having to organise it all. The Rafiki Beach Camp also needs a special mention, not just because it was lovely, but W left his camera there and Mauren went out of her way to get it back to us before we left, for which we were very grateful.

I do of course have a little feedback that will hopefully be useful for others:

El Ceibo restaurant in Guapiles has no sign, however, it is located next to a fertilizer company/depot. We arrived an hour early so the security guard hadn’t arrived, so we drove past it a number of times.

The turtle trips in Tortuguero cost $40 per person and have to be paid for in cash. There is no ATM in Tortuguero.

The departure to Tortuguero was fairly chaotic. There was a system, but it just wasn’t immediately obvious. It might be worth warning people as it looks and feels like something you’d find in an Indian bus or railway station.

It might be worth including the address for the airport Adobe Rent A Car office in the notes. We didn’t have a SatNav with the car so used Google Maps which came up with the address for the San Jose office which is where we ended up.

I hope this is helpful and will certainly recommend both Stubborn Mule and Costa Rica to others.

Svetic Family (with child aged 11)

Travelled Summer 2019
Ah Charlotte, we just had the BEST time!!!! We had the most incredible few days imaginable, packing in as many activities as humanly possible! Every day was an adventure and I only wish we could have stayed longer – overall our impressions were incredibly positive and we want to thank you so much for all your help and advice with helping to organise our itinerary and for guiding us to the more remote, unspoilt places. None of the places we visited felt “touristy”, and they all had an authentic, indigenous feel, which is exactly what we wanted.

The standard of the accommodation was exactly as we expected – Suenos Del Bosque was, truth be told, a bit rough and ready and there were a few things in the room that were broken (e.g. the toilet seat, the balcony lock, the bathroom window latch) or not working properly (the safe). However, they more than compensated for it with the incredible food they served (the best we had during our holiday – it would not be out of place in a fine dining restaurant) and their wonderfully warm and gracious staff who went out of their way to accommodate our concerns. In fact, Suenos Del Bosque was probably my favourite of all the places we stayed in – remote, untouched, humble, but warm and welcoming.

I would particularly praise Ami who was absolutely delightful and a credit to the whole establishment. For your information, we decided against the Quetzal hike in the end – the starting time was 5:30am, and we would have had to drive to the meeting point in the dark… We were also told that we were unlikely to see any wildlife other than birds and by this point L was unwilling to get up so early, to go birdwatching. Ami was incredibly gracious and offered to exchange the quetzal hike for free entry to the hiking trails in a neighbouring establishment, thus enabling us to have a lovely self-guided hike instead.

Our time in Drake Bay was also wonderful, and we packed in a crazy amount of activities.

I also wanted to let you know that we did a couple of extra tours – the bioluminescent tour which involved swimming with bioluminescent plankton (mind blowing!!), and a Floating Tour which was mine and L’s absolute favourite! It is a bit more extreme and not for everyone, but I thought I would let you know in case you have any future clients who, like us, are into slightly more adventurous, fast-paced activities. This involved a pretty rugged trek through the primary rainforest, a swim by a waterfall, and then floating downriver to the ocean, including going over some rapids, while wearing a life jacket as a diaper (!). It was superb and L talks of nothing else but the Floating Tour.

I think that about sums it up – we have loads of superb photos so I will dig some up for you and send them to you shortly.

All in all, we had the most incredible time and really want to thank you again so much for all your help!

Hopefully we will be in touch with you again soon to plan our next adventure. 🙂

Manson Family (with children aged 4, 8 and 9)

Travelled Easter 2019
Dear Charlotte – Sorry it has taken me so long to get back. I’ve finally completed a photo book of our trip, and this has given me a chance to gather my thoughts.  Overall – a trip of a lifetime, it’s actually been quite hard adjusting back to the ‘Surrey Rat Race’ but have just about stopped myself from booking a round the world trip and home schooling the kids!

Your colleagues in Costa Rica were fantastic, and although no real emergencies, thankfully, being able to contact them by phone really was invaluable, especially when we were held up in traffic and unsure of whether we would make it to meet the bus to Tortuguero, but also for other little things here and there that we were unsure about.

All the accommodation was great – having a swimming pool everywhere was really important, as was something to do in quiet moments/down time. I think the only place that didn’t have a pool was Casitas Tenorio, and we (and other families) I think found this a bit of a struggle at times during the stay. Also, having a guide (at specific places) made all the difference, they were incredibly knowledgeable and patient with the children, and we saw so many things we would have missed otherwise.

Villa San Ignacio – we loved. A lovely place to stay at the beginning and end of the holiday, swimming pool and food were fantastic, and rooms really comfortable. Lots of exciting birds to spot from the balcony.

Quite a long drive to Cahuita… we should probably have set off a bit earlier, but got there before dark… just. Remains one of our favourite spots. The lodge were really helpful in recommending a safe beach for swimming, and we loved the Eden Beach Cafe by Punta Uva. We did a snorkelling and hiking tour in Cahuita National Park and were amazed at just how much was pointed out by the guide that we would never have seen otherwise. We also did a hike in Gondoca de Manzanillo Nature Reserve, which felt really special, although in hindsight, should probably have booked a guide. The food and pool were also lovely.

The boys also loved Tortuguero, and the evening tour where we saw lots of tree frogs. Again, the swimming pool was a lifesaver for keeping them entertained during ‘down time’. The guide was fantastic, and again, we saw all sorts of things we never would have spotted ourselves. He was very patient with our youngest who was never far from him, and always had a story to share with him! Hadn’t fully done my homework in relation to timings to see turtles, so that was a little disappointing, but otherwise it was a lovely stay.

The hotel in La Fortuna was definitely one of the favourite places to stay. Food, accommodation and pool were all amazing. I think the boys were a little disappointed by the ‘breakfast’ boxes provided, but that was the only niggle. There was some misunderstanding around the Zip Wire tour – I think we were hoping that both adults and big boys could do it, but it turned out that we were only booked for one of us and the two big boys. They loved it! O and I went up on the tram, and walked down – which was a lovely hike…

Casitas Tenorias was lovely, although I think we were a little disappointed with the take away food ordered… However, we loved viewing the birds, monkeys & sloths from breakfast, and the boys all loved milking the cows. I would say that the Tubing was a definite highlight, made all the more special as we were the only family on tour, we stayed for lunch, and then swam with the family in the Rio Celeste behind their house. O also couldn’t stay away from their pet lambs. Really special experience, and lovely, lovely family running the tour.

Cerro lodge was probably less impressive from the food point of view, and the room was quite cramped – not an issue as it was just one night, but we might have struggled if we were staying longer… However, we were lucky enough to see Scarlet Macaws from the restaurant, and they were definitely one of the favourite ‘spots’ of the holidays. We did the Jungle Crocodile Safari, and would highly recommend this. Again we were lucky and ended up with a private tour, but the boys loved being given an identification guide, and identifying the numerous birds on the river, as well as getting super close to some enormous crocs!

Manuel Antonio we really just used as a couple of rest days, and relaxed on the beach. It was beautiful, and the boys loved their beach days and seeing monkeys so close. It was a lovely resort, food and accommodation very high standard, and good for fussy kids, although I don’t think it was anyone’s favourite, as it felt quite Westernised, and touristy, after we had been spoilt with the rest of our tour!  ​

Pirate Cove was the perfect place to finish. We were really sad to leave. The snorkelling tour was incredibly, and boys will never forget seeing reef sharks and a turtle. The dolphin watching tour was also hugely successful, and the hike too.

I can’t thank you enough for putting together such a fantastic holiday for us, can’t think how it could have been improved. Will no doubt be in touch again once have saved up enough for another adventure!

Fuller Family (with one child aged 13)

Travelled Easter 2019
Hi Charlotte – It was an amazing holiday, Costa Rica is so beautiful, people are so nice, food is great too, all the hotels were excellent, and the organisation of all trips and transfers etc was spot on… We loved all the trips, all the guides were great, they all had excellent knowledge, we particularly enjoyed the Canos Island excursion at Uvita, we saw turtle, dolphins and lots of other marine life.

Also the tubing was great and we enjoyed having lunch with the family after, although the place was in the middle of nowhere which we did have concerns about getting too, even when we were half a mile away as Google maps didn’t know about the road so we had to go in the general direction, think they need some more signs or maybe they should just do pickups, but as I said they were excellent so no complaints really.

None of us did the zipwire at Arenal, I don’t like heights and it was certainly high, we did the guided walk which was great…

All the hotels were great, really enjoyed Casitas Tenorio for it’s remoteness and friendliness… As I said earlier it was a wonderful holiday which was brilliantly organised, thank you for all your help, I look forward to using Stubborn Mule again.

Sarjantson Family (with children aged 6 and 9)

Travelled Easter 2019
Hi Lee – We had the most wonderful holiday thank you. It exceeded our expectations. Thank you for your help – it really was a holiday of a lifetime, which has made us want to go somewhere else as exciting next year! It is my 40th next year so any excuse! We would definitely come back to Stubborn Mule.

Only a couple of points that could have been better.

We weren’t informed that someone was coming to our hotel in San Jose – we thought we were getting an info pack when we arrived… Confirmation of the time that was coming would have been helpful as it would have been good to speak to someone.

The Tortuguero lodge was amazing – so remote and different. It was quite a journey and on the way back due to traffic took nearly 6 hours to get to where we met our next driver to take us to La Fortuna. I wouldn’t recommend this part for anyone with children younger than ours.

The zip lining was a bit extreme for our children, it was the eldest who was most scared but is soooooooooo high up. I would maybe recommend families look at it closer before committing.

The wildlife everywhere was amazing and I would highly recommend Costa Rica for families with younger children. The transfers were all great, on time and clean, professional and it was great having a pool everywhere we stayed as it meant the kids could still get some chill/pool time, especially in the first week when it was quite full on.

If we were to go the same time next year – where would you recommend climate wise?

Stevenson Family (with children aged 9, 11 and 13)

Travelled Easter 2019
Dear Liddy  – We had a fantastic time – every part of the holiday was fantastic (except the 24 hour delay in Toronto which wasn’t anything to do with Stubborn Mule, but who were really prompt and helpful in sorting out impact in Costa Rica). Self drive worked really well and we loved all the hotels and the different types of accommodation and different places to stay.

The trips were also excellent – so – thank you Stubborn Mule. And Costa Rica is an amazing destination for families – our kids (and us) never stopped being mesmerised by the wildlife.

I think a favourite park probably had to be Manuel Antonio, and we all loved the white water rafting particularly for activities. We’re haven’t quite got round to sorting our photos out yet but will send a few on when we have!

Banham Family (with children aged 7, 7 and 10)

Travelled Easter 2019
Dear Lee – Our trip was lovely, although the jet lag coming back has hit the whole family! We met a lot of other Stubborn Mule families! All the transfers and trips went really smoothly. Villas Kalimba worked very well without a car, as did Arenal Oasis, as we could walk for food and to other locations/activities. The apartments at Casitas Tenorio are designed beautifully. However we would suggest that staying there, or in Bijagua without a hire car shouldn’t be recommended.

Eley Family (with children aged 7 and 9)

Travelled Christmas 2018
We really had the most awesome holiday. I was worried about the travelling and keeping all members of the family happy, but I really didn’t have to worry Costa Rica has something for everyone and we all had a ball and lots of memories banked. I can’t wait to start planning our next adventure.

Charlwood Family (with two children aged 11)

Travelled Christmas 2018
Liddy, now that we are back and settled, just a quick email to say we had a fabulous time, thank you. Some short comments, if it helps…We found going straight on to El Mangroove the day we arrived tiring, but absolutely the right thing for us. Of course, we don’t know what (if anything) we missed going to the north of the Nicoya peninsula rather than the south, but as we found the coast where we were simply stunning, we can’t imagine we lost out.

El Mangroove was great. The setting was lovely and the beaches / coast accessible from the hotel amazing. Our only slight criticism was that the food on site was not brilliant in the evening, but that seems common at this sort of hotel and was readily solved by having the hotel recommend us a fabulous seafood place just down the coast.

Arenal was also great. A different sort of hotel but the casita was exactly right for us and the view of the volcano breathtaking.

It was brilliant having Max to take us into La Fortuna in the evenings, again allowing us a much wider choice of food than the hotel offered.

Thank you for pre-booking the trips when we booked the holiday. This made everything simple and they were great choices. For reference, we added two things we would recommend to others: (i) a night walk at Ecocentre Danaus – not cheap, but very interesting and we were able to book with only a couple of hours’ notice; and (ii) a walk on Arenal Volcano – $12/head (kids free) and simply arrive, pay and go, so a good fill in  / very flexible if people want options.

– the Parador Hotel was what we needed for the one night stop over, although the food here was the worst we encountered by a margin – in particular, the tenderloin beef was anything but!

– Drake Bay Resort was great.  I think you noted that it was less luxurious by some measures than, say, El Mangroove, but it was lovely and, as you also predicted I think, perfect for what we wanted.  Food here was excellent: local and hearty.

All in all, therefore, a great trip, thank you, and we look forward to travelling with you again.

Bennett Family (with children aged 7 & 9)

Travelled Summer 2018
Hi Liddy – We had a great time thank you. Meet and greet was great (although it would have been good to know the name of the local agent as I was looking for Stubborn Mule) you probably told us but I missed that. Everything was super smooth thank you – very well organized and communicated… all the tours and guides were amazing, knowledgeable and good value. Highlights for the girls – zip wiring, tubing, hot springs and all the animals…. i.e. everything.

Stenner Family (with children aged 12 & 13)

Travelled Summer 2018
We had a wonderful time in Costa Rica. It has been brilliant to hear the children chattering away to friends and family about it. To hear their perspective but also to know that everything we hoped for from this family holiday became their reality. We stayed in some lovely accommodation – our favourite was probably casitas Tenorio – because of the ethos and the setting. We really enjoyed our Fortuna hotel too and the activities were great…. We had a wonderful time in Tortuguero. The hotel was nice. The veggie food offering was unimpressive but we got by! To see the turtles was magical. We got to see four laying eggs on one night. The kids were wowed.

Scammell Family (with children aged 7 & 10)

Travelled Summer 2018
Hi Liddy – the trip was amazing. The best bits were:
1. the zip lining
2. the resort on the river
3. seeing the turtle lay her eggs in the beach with my daughter
4. having the car made things so easy!

Things that we’d change:

1. not having the car for the second leg

2. I don’t think we realised how remote and truly basic the second hotel was but actually once we got into watching the birds it was amazing!

Hubbard Family (with children aged 14 & 21)

Travelled Summer 2018
We had a lovely holiday despite the amount of rain! The highlights of our holiday were Isla Chiquita, particularly the bioluminescent tour but not the snorkelling as the water is not clear enough. We loved our hotel in Bijagua, we enjoyed the tubing and the guide for the tubing took us horse riding in the river and to a farm to milk the cows, which was amazing!

We enjoyed the thermals at La Fortuna and were exhilarated by the white water rafting.  We were told the wrong time for the Sky Adventures tour, but luckily they were able to fit us in.  We loved the rainforest walk and the zip lining- although it did get quite scary when the lightning hit our cable!

We enjoyed Sarapiquis and the chocolate tour but the torrential rain stopped our night hike… We were unlucky with the weather in Puerto Viejo, we spent two nights in the Cristal House but upgraded to the Beach house, which we loved! I loved the yoga. We also loved the sloth sanctuary and the nightlife in Puerto Viejo…

We did love our holiday, it was a real adventure and we did love driving ourselves.

Richardson (two adults)

Travelled March 2018
Hi Charlotte – the trip was fantastic thanks, we loved Costa Rica and the itinerary you put together was perfect. A couple of days at each location was just about right, and 4 days at the end by the beach was a fitting end. It is difficult to pick highlights because everything was excellent.

We went to Manual Antonia first and the National Park was great, but it was also nice to get a bit of beach (and sun) in early, which set the trip up nicely. The Costa Verde hotel was fantastic (in fact all the hotels were excellent and exceeded our expectations), but the Costa Verde hotel was in a perfect location to be able to walk to the beach.

The second location we went to was Monte Verde where we enjoyed the zip wiring and cloud forest, (although unfortunately there was no cloud that day). We did see sloths, amongst many other species; in fact we saw lots of animals the whole trip. The Trapp Family Lodge was also very nice, it was quite chilly in Monte Verde and we were pleased we packed a fleece! That particular drive up to Monte Verde from the main highway was brutal even for the 4 wheel drive, you definitely need a decent off terrain vehicle as the roads can be are quite atrocious. We did tend to find that the journeys took a fair bit longer than we thought they might.

The Sky Adventures day was fun – it was a full day and you don’t actually finish until after 1600hrs. We saw plenty of howler monkeys and even some sloths; in fact we saw sloths at every location, less Nosara. The zip-lines were fun, and very safe. One advice is to try and get to the front of the zip-line group as we had 50 in ours, so there could have been a lot of waiting around.

The drive around Arenal Lake to La Fortuna was very picturesque, and we fitted in a hot springs spa afternoon when we arrived. In hindsight we probably should have gone to the La Fortuna waterfall as well, although the heavens did open that afternoon! The bungalow at Lomas del Volcan was nice. The white water rafting experience was fantastic. I think Tracey was a bit apprehensive before hand, but the group were very professional. This excursion also lasted a full day and included a trip around an Eco farm and afternoon lunch which I don’t think we were expecting.

Our final four days were spent at Nosara at the Lagarta Lodge which was an absolutely fantastic hotel…..it had a great pool! We loved it in Nosara, the whole area was stunning and there were several beaches you could walk to. The surfing area at Guiones Beach was quite lively in the evenings, and the La Luna restaurant on the Pelada Beach is highly recommended.

We finished (and started) in San Jose at the Buena Vista Hotel. The hotel was nice and a perfect place if you have to overnight because of your flights. But we didn’t really do much during our two nights there.

So all in all it was a fantastic trip. We have recommended Costa Rica and yourselves to all our friends.

Grigg Family (with children aged 5 and 7)

Travelled Easter 2018
Dear Liddy – The trip was superb, we all had such a wonderful time… We will never forget our brilliant Costa Rican holiday! Here is a quick account and some photos of our trip.

Villa San Ignacio was a good place to start the trip and after such a long flight we were deeply grateful that it wasn’t too far from the airport. it was great that all the connections worked and there was a driver waiting for us at the airport – very seamless. The hotel itself was friendly and accommodating.

The trip to La Paz waterfalls was lovely and a great way to start the holiday proper. it is a lovely place and wonderful to see hummingbirds, frogs and butterflies in such an amazing environment (and take a first seek at a sloth!).

The car was perfect for our needs and a comfortable reliable drive. When we got to Costa Verde – it had been a longer drive than expected but all without hiccup and without getting swallowed by the crocs at Tacorles –  we couldn’t believe the amazing surroundings. We had a really magical time here amongst the rainforest, with the beach so near, monkeys in the surroundings, amazing views from the breakfast, (and of course the random discarded aeroplanes…). It was by far our favourite hotel, I don’t think I’ll forget it in a hurry.

Manuel Antonio park was amazing. We opted for a tour guide in the end which slowed our trip down a bit but was well worth it – as they pointed out things that we just wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Casa Luna was an amazing location, but was probably our least favourite hotel. There was something a bit lacking about the service there in terms of the food and service – we found the menu and breakfast a bit tired and the room the least enjoyable of the four places we stayed. The pool and jacuzzis were brilliant – as was the trail in the grounds – we had a brilliant experience trekking it as the heavens opened –  and the location was superb.

Some of our favourite day trips were from here – the zip lining at Eco-glide was a truly memorable experience and we were so glad we were able to find one that B could take part in because we all loved it! The Tarzan swing was scary but we all braved it! We visited the Eco-termales hot springs which was a bit pricey but a brilliant experience. And the rafting day trip was fantastic with a really great tour company and very friendly hosts in the family that we visited. In addition, we toured the chocolate plantation at the next door rainforest chocolate place. Very educational and yummy chocolate.

Final stop was Villas Kalimba. You weren’t wrong about the amazing food that Roberto cooks. Wow. such a culinary treat and welcome break from Costa Rican cuisine or pizza! Kalimba has such a wonderful family vibe and it was like staying with grandparents! Roberto and team made us feel so at home, and with such beautiful beaches at Samara – a brilliant and relaxing conclusion to a wonderful trip!

We had a three hour delay in Toronto on the way back because of unseasonal snow blizzards! but other than that the whole trip sailed by far too quickly and we miss it all already!

Thank you to Stubborn Mule for arranging the experience of a lifetime for our family. We will never forget our brilliant Costa Rican holiday!

Atkins Family (with children aged 12, 17 and 18)

Travelled Summer 2017
Dear Liddy – We returned safely yesterday from the most wonderful trip to Costa Rica. Every stop was different, exciting and packed with wonderful adventures. Thank you to your & your team for putting together such a fantastic itinerary.

Thank you especially for organising the various tours – these were all brilliant.  In their different ways the whale watching (we saw a baby humpback!), the raft trip (loads and loads of animals) and Sky Adventures (a brilliant tour guide and great adrenaline rush) were all real highlights.  For the second and third of these we ended up with another family who were also customers of yours which was fun.   I would definitely recommend all three of these trips to anyone else going. We’re also really grateful for your recommendations as I’m not sure we would have found these ourselves.

Logistically things worked really well.  Our driver for the first week or so was great although think it was good I could speak some Spanish. With hindsight we could have hired a car although not sure how we’d have done the Tortuguero section of the trip.  Interbus also worked really well – no issues at all.  Selfishly it was great not having to drive at all!

In terms of the different places we stayed we would 100% recommend Rafikis beach camp and Casa Luna in La Fortuna (although we didn’t really eat there as felt a bit ‘corporate’ and there were so many options in the town).  We would also definitely recommend Playa Negra guesthouse in Cahuita (the place we booked direct) – fantastic place to stay and wonderful owners / hosts, who took us out on tours of the national park and the area. I know you prefer Puerto Viejo and we did go there one day, but Cahuita was really great for us.

I’ve got mixed views about the whole Tortuguero element of our trip.  The Aninga Lodge itself was wonderful – in terms of the cabins, the pool and facilities and the staff – and we loved the tours of the canals (even if the actual turtle watching was something of an anticlimax). But we did feel a bit like we were on a package holiday and were not too impressed with the guides.  It wasn’t so much the whole getting in and out by bus and boat (which was fun even if a bit painfully inefficient in terms of the transfer at the port!), but the meals at the restaurant in Guapiles, the way you had to follow their exact time schedules and the guides who at times appeared somewhat disinterested were all very different to what we experienced anywhere else in Costa Rica.  Maybe this just showed us we are not great at package holidays or being told what to do!!

Villas Gaia was a good place to stay (very friendly staff and nice food) but not really at the same level as some of the other places, but we loved the Uvita area – to be honest more so than Manuel Antonio although I think I had over high expectations based on what it was like 20 years ago when there were a lot less people (and probably not helped by the fact it rained a lot when we were exploring the park).

At Cerro Lodge we saw scarlet macaws which were amazing, but the restaurant wasn’t great. E wasn’t taken with the open air bathrooms there!!  Similarly Sarapiquis – whilst interesting to go to did feel like a stopping point rather than somewhere we really wanted to be – probably the only place were we found ourselves looking for something to do to fill time.

The hotel in San Jose was convenient but as expected San Jose wasn’t really the best place we visited!

In terms of recommendations of other places

– Playa Negra in Cahuita – brilliant

– Sobre Las Olas Restaurante in Cahuita (and lots of other good places there too)

– we went to the Paradise hot springs in Arenal – can’t compare it vs all the others but was very quiet and great fun

– we found a fantastic Argentinian  restaurant called Aqui Es very close to the hotel in San Jose.  Great food and fantastic people

– the Jaguar Rescue Centre outside Puerto Viejo is really special – E’s top recommendation for the whole great trip

Loads more we could say – please do let me know if any specific questions, but overall fantastic!  We will definitely recommend you (in fact S gave your details to a friend from school yesterday)

Hetherington Family (with one child aged 11)

Travelled Summer 2017
Hi Liddy – Thank you for all your help and support in organising our time in Costa Rica – we had a fantastic time and a truly memorable holiday.  I think it really was our best one ever! I will have a proper look at photos, and Ellie is definitely planning to enter your competition – we’ve got a lot of sloth photos to sort through this weekend!!!

Thank you especially for organising the various tours – these were all brilliant.  In their different ways the whale watching (we saw a baby humpback!), the raft trip (loads and loads of animals) and Sky Adventures (a brilliant tour guide and great adrenaline rush) were all real highlights.  For the second and third of these we ended up with another family who were also customers of yours which was fun.   I would definitely recommend all three of these trips to anyone else going. We’re also really grateful for your recommendations as I’m not sure we would have found these ourselves.

Logistically things worked really well.  Our driver for the first week or so was great although think it was good I could speak some Spanish. With hindsight we could have hired a car although not sure how we’d have done the Tortuguero section of the trip.  Interbus also worked really well – no issues at all.  Selfishly it was great not having to drive at all!

In terms of the different places we stayed we would 100% recommend Rafikis beach camp and Casa Luna in La Fortuna (although we didn’t really eat there as felt a bit ‘corporate’ and there were so many options in the town).  We would also definitely recommend Playa Negra guesthouse in Cahuita (the place we booked direct) – fantastic place to stay and wonderful owners / hosts, who took us out on tours of the national park and the area. I know you prefer Puerto Viejo and we did go there one day, but Cahuita was really great for us.

I’ve got mixed views about the whole Tortuguero element of our trip.  The Aninga Lodge itself was wonderful – in terms of the cabins, the pool and facilities and the staff – and we loved the tours of the canals (even if the actual turtle watching was something of an anticlimax). But we did feel a bit like we were on a package holiday and were not too impressed with the guides.  It wasn’t so much the whole getting in and out by bus and boat (which was fun even if a bit painfully inefficient in terms of the transfer at the port!), but the meals at the restaurant in Guapiles, the way you had to follow their exact time schedules and the guides who at times appeared somewhat disinterested were all very different to what we experienced anywhere else in Costa Rica.  Maybe this just showed us we are not great at package holidays or being told what to do!!

Villas Gaia was a good place to stay (very friendly staff and nice food) but not really at the same level as some of the other places, but we loved the Uvita area – to be honest more so than Manuel Antonio although I think I had over high expectations based on what it was like 20 years ago when there were a lot less people (and probably not helped by the fact it rained a lot when we were exploring the park).

At Cerro Lodge we saw scarlet macaws which were amazing, but the restaurant wasn’t great. E wasn’t taken with the open air bathrooms there!!  Similarly Sarapiquis – whilst interesting to go to did feel like a stopping point rather than somewhere we really wanted to be – probably the only place were we found ourselves looking for something to do to fill time.

The hotel in San Jose was convenient but as expected San Jose wasn’t really the best place we visited!

In terms of recommendations of other places

– Playa Negra in Cahuita – brilliant

– Sobre Las Olas Restaurante in Cahuita (and lots of other good places there too)

– we went to the Paradise hot springs in Arenal – can’t compare it vs all the others but was very quiet and great fun

– we found a fantastic Argentinian  restaurant called Aqui Es very close to the hotel in San Jose.  Great food and fantastic people

– the Jaguar Rescue Centre outside Puerto Viejo is really special – E’s top recommendation for the whole great trip

Loads more we could say – please do let me know if any specific questions, but overall fantastic!  We will definitely recommend you (in fact S gave your details to a friend from school yesterday)

Hayes Family (with kids aged 5, 7 and 9)

Travelled Summer 2017
Just wanted to let you know that we are home from our Costa Rican adventure safe and sound. We had a fantastic time and everything worked out really well. Thanks so much for your help in organising such a superb trip!

There are a few reflections or hints that we felt we picked up along the way, which might be helpful to share with fellow travellers.

Driving. The driving was fine and we liked the freedom that it gave us. The hire care was great, automatic definitely a massive help and sat nav essential, which was for the most part very accurate. Good to get your driving done as early in the day as possible to avoid driving in heavy rains which can be tricky. We also tried to do as little as possible at night – poorly lit roads, huge potholes, and oncoming bikes with no lights, possibly carrying a couple of people or even a large dog on one occasion. We opted to pay the full cover insuance. The basic insurance had an excess of $1500 for damage to your car and $600 for damage to another vehicle. The top insurance was an additional $295. Money well spent for peace of mind during our trip we thought.

Manuel Antonio. Costa Verde was a really fun place to stay with some interesting and tasty restaurants – which really did have as many monkeys as people! We weren’t quite prepared for Manuel Antonio park – as you drive up with about 500m to the park you are shepherded off the road  – and immediately set upon for parking fees and money for a private guide. After the very swanky La Paz waterfall this was a bit of a shock. Our guide led us through a few back alleys and dirty streets on our way in to the park and we began to feel pretty uneasy and wondering if we were walking into some kind of trouble. Once inside however we soon realised that our guides knowledge, telescope and skill at spotting the wildlife were indispensable. It was $90 to have the guide with just our family for a couple of hours, and after what had initially seemed a bit unsettling turned out to be a great day and money well spent.

Ziplining. Both the guided walk and zip lining were excellent. The zip lining was very professional, and we felt well-looked after and safe throughout. Very good with the kids, and they said they would actually have been happy to take kids from as young as 4 years.

Treehouses. Was a really fun place to stay, homely, welcoming and with a great breakfast. The night walk here was excellent. On balance however as there is so much cool stuff to do in the area, it may be better to stay somewhere a bit more low budget close to the action and spend any saving on an additional activity. It was probably a bit over priced. The raft tour that day was wonderful, not too long and great to stop off at the traditional farm.

Tabacon Spa. We stumbled across this after our lovely morning rafting on the river. We were keen to get the geothermal experience. We pitched up pretty scruffy, with our swimmers -expecting to pay a modest fee for a swim in some naturally heated warm water. Turned out it was a 5-star resort with beautiful gardens and numerous pools with waterfalls, and also a slide which the kids really enjoyed. For the family it was $238 for the afternoon, which included an all you can eat buffet which was superb. Price was a bit of a shock but for a decadent once-in-a-life time experience, it was worth it and we all have great memories of our afternoon there – including seeing a Jesus Christ lizard skipping across the top of a waterfall!

Finca Sura. Great wee place to stay full of character and charm. No English spoken here so be prepared, we felt we really let ourselves down with our lack of Spanish. It doesn’t come up on the sat nav. We took some screen shots of the area on Google maps when we had Wifi. This was invaluable. It’s the same turn off as ‘Chilamatic Rainforest Eco Retreat’ which was on the sat nav – so putting that in might be your best bet.

Turtles. This is definitely one place where we feel there should have been a bit more direction. We were to meet our connecting bus at a restaurant called El Cebo in a town called Guapiles. Again nothing coming up on the sat nav and Guapiles turned out to be a pretty big place. When we finally found it (almost an hour late) it was only because our guide saw us from the side of the road and waved us down. Not only is the restaurant not in the sat nav, it has no sign and is hidden about 100m behind large green gates and a lot of foliage?! Felt pretty bad about making the walk of shame down the bus past all the other tourists we had kept waiting and had to endure a slow hand clap as the bus finally got moving! Tip: Put the Santa Clara Cervicentro (petrol station) into the sat nav. It is set back from the road on the right about 300m beyond that, large green gate. After this minor stress – hotel, pools and activities were great. With regards the turtles, you just have to make a choice and take your chance. We had the earlier 8-10pm slot and it was still the latest night of our hols by far. It was a quiet evening for turtles on the beach that night and kids did well hanging about in the dunes for an hour. It looked like we might be out of luck and then just as time was running out we got about 1 minute with a turtle and saw the eggs being laid. All considered we were glad to have been able to have had the experience.

La Diosa. On first appearances looked a bit shabby compared to some of the other hotels but it was actually a lovely quiet spot for relaxing, great breakfasts and having a pool to ourselves. We would really recommend the pizza restaurant just down from the police station beside the beach in Cahuita. The rip tides throughout Costa Rica were very strong but Punta Uva was a super beach with waves that were great fun without feeling dangerous and no rips. Nothing sign posted and may need to ask locals to get the best access. We did both the Jaguar Rescue Santuary and the Sloth Rescue Santuary. The Jaguar centre was better by far, definitely worth doing if in that area.

The drive back to San Jose took about 3 hours and then almost as long again to get from one side of the city to the other! If there was a way of by passing the city to get back to Villa san Ignacio that would be worth finding out.

Hopefully some of this might be of some use to some of your other clients.

We thought Costa Rica was a great destination! The wildlife super abundant and we probably saw more in some of the grounds of the hotels than in the national parks. The climate was great with sunny mornings and then the excitement of tropical storms in the evenings. Temperature just perfect for being out and about. It was also a great time to go as nothing felt too crowded, often in the hotels we had the pools to ourselves and ample opportunity to ask questions to our guides. So thanks again for your help and enthusiasm for our trip.

Laird Family (with children aged 11 and 17)

Travelled Summer 2017
Hi Liddy – We just got back today and have to say had the most wonderful holiday ever. The transfers, hotels, trips were amazing and we all loved every minute. Thanks for your recommendations and putting the itinerary together for us. It truly was a holiday of a life time but we all want more. We loved seeing the animals, had a brilliant time rafting and loved the Sky Adventure tour/zip line at Monteverde too. We did a night walk and the hot springs too. Utterly amazing – a big thank you from all of us. Thanks again, will be in touch about next year!

Family N (with children aged 12 and 14)

Travelled Summer 2017
Hi Kelly – We had a great time, thank you, and the various places we visited were fantastic. Having a car really made a difference – driving is relatively easy and gives real flexibility around things like finding launderettes to do service washes, and eating in places other than your hotel.

We could write reams of comment about iguanas, monkeys, snakes, sunsets, butterflies… but more on the minor changes that we would suggest below:

1) Arrival – we were quite jet-lagged, and were not capable of much on both the first day. We had been booked to see the volcano, but didn’t actually happen. I don’t think that we would have been able to do this with the kids, as they were exhausted. Other families might do better, but it would have been ambitious for a first day. Preferably day one just to travel to your first destination, such as Tortuguero.

2) Costa Rica is fantastic – San Jose, not so much – there is v little to do other than visit the former prison complex. Would recommend not spending any time there if that works for people’s itineraries.

3) One night stays – this didn’t really add much value – white water rafting was good, but there are many other places you can do this in CR, and a single night stay just meant more packing / unpacking.

4) Arenal – great place to go, canyoneering was a fantastic activity, would really recommend doing. We did this with Mistico. The horse riding included a trip to a waterfall – worth going to that even if not going horse riding.

5) Monteverde – drive there is genuinely challenging – worth checking with people how comfortable they are with this. We were ok, but ended up with a puncture, and certain times felt that it was the steepest roads we had ever driven up…

Worth booking the night hike on the second night there, rather than the first, as it was slightly tight for time. Point out that it is possible/likely to rain the whole time. It rained for our entire two-hour hike, which I think is quite normal, and I don’t think we’d have chosen to do it if we’d realised.

Sky bridges / zip wires were great. I suggest you recommend to people they do the zip wire, or offer it as an option, rather than wait for people to discover that the zip wire exists.

6) Manuel Antonio
Hotel was great – really comfortable room, and being able to cook basic meals / having a fridge made a significant difference cost wise. Could consider suggesting that people might want to make their own breakfast rather than pay (how much?) for the hotel’s breakfast. It was nice though 🙂

Activities – additionally we enjoyed surfing lessons, and did paddle boarding in the mangroves – this was a great opportunity to spot wildlife.

Thank you again!

Healy Family (with children aged 8, 13 and 15)

Travelled Christmas 2016/7
Our first day relaxing in San Jose was a lovely introduction to the country.  The local guide, Felipe came to our hotel to welcome us and give us our full travel itinerary for the 2 weeks.  He offered to take us into San Jose and show us around.  We took a local bus with Felipe giving us useful insights into the city and the people.  We walked around the local clothes and food markets and had our first taste of Costa Rican coffee !  We then went to the Museo De Los Ninos which was great fun – lots of varied exhibits and art installation and hands on activities particularly good for the youngest – but strangely enjoyed by the teenagers too !  

We met our driver Pablo early the next morning and headed off in a comfy minibus to Arenal National Park.  It’s a beautiful drive and we arrived in time for lunch in La Fortuna.  As he did throughout his time with us – Pablo recommended a great local restaurant the Rainforest Cafe for lunch and we had our first Casado (local dish with rice, beans).  The hotel Lomas De Volcan was fabulous.  We had two lodges which were very spacious and nicely furnished, small terraces and in beautiful landscaped gardens.  Weather wasn’t great during some of our time there but there was a nice pool and hot tub that was popular !  We had an evening walk in the rainforest and saw poisonous frogs, rare sighting of a sloth and lots of other beasties.  We walked a beautiful trail through the national park to the lava grounds of the volcano with far reaching views.  A visit to the volcanic hot springs for the children was very popular – 20 different pools and one so hot you could barely get in without jumping out again.  There was various water slides and a swim up bar !  The safari float was a highlight of the trip.  We had a very knowledgable guide – Steve – who took us on a safari tour down the river in an inflatable dinghy – we saw iguanas, monkeys, alligators !  To top it all off we had an amazing morning zip wiring with Go Adventure – great company and awesome fun.  Finale was an abseil down from a height that gave me palpitations – for myself never mind our 8 year old – who of course went down without blinking….

We moved on with our adventure to the Cloud Forests in Monteverde saying at the Cloud Forest Lodge – super hotel.  The canopy walks through the Rainforest were incredible – we learned that it really does rain a lot in the rainforests !  We also visited a local snake farm in Santa Elena which was fascinating and had a vast range of snakes, turtles, spiders…. When we visited the Children’s Eternal Rainforest this trumped all wildlife throughout the trip when on our walk with another encyclopaedic guide – we actually saw a tarantula in it’s burrow – unusual to see during the day, but the local guide knew where to look.  We got some great photographs – but I was very wary of burrows on our walk after that sighting !

The last stage of our trip was the beach !  We stayed at a fairly remote resort called the Tango Mar near Tambor on the Peninsula of Nicoya.  It was a beautiful journey there on the ferry from the mainland and the hotel was a revelation.  We had beautiful accommodation with sea views and steps down onto an empty beach.  We were blessed with incredible sunshine for five days over Christmas.  The boys played golf, we all played tennis and I had a facial and massage.  We lazed by the pool and had the odd cheeky cocktail at the swim up bar.  Children were on the milkshakes !  There were lots of trips available through the hotel – but this was our chill out time after all the activities of the first week and we used it well.  We came back with enviable tans!

We could not recommend Costa Rica enough to people wanting a real adventure – we saw and did so much it seems hardly possible looking back – but we did it.  The children were blown away by everything.  It’s rare to think a holiday can exceed all expectations but this one really did.

Thanks again for all your organisation and advice Libby – it was spot on.  I haven’t told the family yet – but I am already thinking about 2018 for our next adventure…

Kohler Family (with two children aged 10 and 13)

Travelled Summer 2016
Many thanks for arranging a fantastic holiday. It was a well spaced out and enjoyable holiday. We would like to make special mention of Pablo our driver who was most thoughtful, great fun and very reliable. Please extend our thanks to him.

Burton Family (with three kids aged 6, 12 and 14)

Travelled Easter 2016
We had a wonderful time in Costa Rica, thanks so much for all of your help with the planning. It was wonderful to be scooped up by Kelly during the planning process as we had got completely stuck in trying to work out where to go and just didn’t know where to start. I can’t tell you the relief that we all felt when Kelly took charge and started to suggest how best to go about planning the whole thing! The suggestions were all spot on.

We loved Arenal and all of the activities here. H particularly enjoyed walking over the lava fields and has been boasting about this to anyone who will listen. The girls loved the horse ride here as well and the views were amazing.

Monteverde was very impressive and although it rained a bit when we were there we loved the zip wire. The Belmar Lodge was AMAZING, far swankier than the usual places that we stay. Lovely staff too, who arranged a birthday cake for M, which was greatly appreciated.

The beach was also wonderful. We loved Manuel Antonio – this was definitely the right choice for our family and we loved the kayaking and the walks in the park. Saw masses of wildlife each day, which was great.

Thanks so much for everything. We are looking at Thailand for next Easter so will be in touch again soon!

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