Exploring Costa Rica

Written by Rhonda Brooks.

After spending four relaxing days sipping Costa Rican mojitos by the pool at the Westin Playa Conchal in Guanacaste, we were off to Arenal. The Westin arranged a private transfer for our journey to Arenal Springs Resort. The transfer took about 4.5 hours because there was a lot of construction on the highways and roads, which should be completed in 2014 after which the transfer should only take about 3 hours.

Arenal Springs Resort is a great authentic Costa Rican resort surrounded by exotic gardens and in an ideal location to enjoy all the activities Arenal has to offer. The resort is located 5 miles from the quaint town of La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano National Park. It’s a perfect resort for families, couples, and single travelers. All 87 Junior Suites have great views of the volcano. It’s one of the few resorts that has its own hot springs that are not open to the public. The hot springs have four different temperatures of pools ranging from 93° to 104° degrees (100% natural and rich in mineral salts), a Jacuzzi with hydro massage, two pools of cold water, and one for children. All with a beautiful view of Arenal Volcano.

One activity we enjoyed while in Arenal was the Sky Tram and Sky Trek tour. The adventure started with taking the Sky Tram up the rainforest covered mountain in the Arenal Reserve to an observation deck with awesome views of the volcano and Lake Arenal. The adventure continued with a two-hour guided hike thru the rainforest and hanging bridges. Each bridge is 5 to 100 meters long and you are truly in the tree tops. If you’re lucky enough, you will be able to spot a yellow baby python and many exotic birds. We ended the adventure with zip lining thru the mountain range. We flew along the cables at speeds of 40mph and with distances of up to 2,500 feet and heights of 524 feet. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the views will take your breath away.

We also hiked the 450 stairs to La Fortuna Waterfall and the beauty was worth the 450 stairs. A great swimming hole is located at the base of the 70-meter waterfall and it is surrounded by a lush tropical rainforest, protected by a local conservation project. Other tour options in combination with seeing the waterfall are repelling down the waterfall or horseback riding to the waterfall. All are great choices.

After enjoying the waterfall, don’t miss the Rainforest Chocolate tour, which is located 5 minutes from the waterfall. You will discover the ancient secrets of chocolate. It’s a hands-on program to learn the aspects of cocoa and making chocolate with a history lesson. Tasting the traditional chocolate drink of Costa Rica and the chocolate was my favorite part.

Our private transfer from Arenal to the San Jose airport was arranged by Arenal Springs Resort. The driver promptly picked us up and we made the 3-hour journey to the San Jose airport. We traveled through the cloud forest and the driver stopped several times so we could take pictures of monkeys and sloths in the trees. It was a perfect ending to our family trip (Pura Vida). It’s important to have an afternoon flight out of San Jose or you will have to overnight in San Jose the night before your flight.

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