Self-drive family vacation thru the jungles of North Central CR
Costa Rica | Jun 6 - Jun 14, 2024

Nicole W.
Flagami, FL | Reviewed on Jun 16, 2024

Self-driving was an excellent option for our family of 4 to see so much North Central Costa Rica had to offer.
Our family's favorite activity was Tubing the Rio Celeste. Our guides stayed with us to make it fun and safe. They stopped at great spots for swimming and rope swinging. This made it so magical for my kids.
A close second favorite was a cooking class at Maquenque Eco Lodge. We walked through their organic garden selecting our ingredients and then cooked with the chef. Andres was a fantastic guide in several of our activities there.
We wanted to see unique animals in nature and a great guide and eco lodge is necessary to achieve this. Our guide Andy at Forest Alive walked us through Monteverde preserve and pointed out amazing flora and fauna, the most exciting moment was watching the male and female Resplendent Quetzal return/leave the nest.
We had delicious food at all our eco lodges. I appreciated the locations that were selected for us because they matched our values and preferences perfectly.
Final Tip: self- drive is safe for families who will use a map app at all times, drive during daytime only, pay close attention to an ever-changing road system, and rent a 4x4 vehicle which is necessary in the mountains.

Hotel Reviews
Maquenque Ecolodge
Boca Tapada

An immersive jungle experience! The staff at Maquenque make an already impressive location become a top-rated experience. Staff are friendly, multilingual, and helpful. They organized a cooking class with a chef. This was our favorite activity here! My kids helped collect scallions, eggs, herbs, corn, cocao pods, and more to use in our meal. The chef and Andres guided us through making yuca mash, patacones, corn tortillas with scrambled eggs, and several recipes from the chocolate we made from grinding the seeds. It was all delicious and we have already made the yuca mash at home. A note: the treehouses are a fantastic experience but keep in mind your temperature inside is the same as outside. For us, the rain and high humidity kept all our clothes wet the whole time. It's a good place to bring quick dry clothes or use the laundry service if you stay a few days.

Authenticity & Character
Unique lodging, staff who truly know their individual crafts
It is fantastic and so unique with the ferry to the island. However it is quite a hike from the airport that may deter some.
Andres was exceptional for activities. Henry was a fantastic waiter.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Cleanliness was excellent. Beds were comfy. However a stronger fan would have been preferable in the treehouse due to hot temps that made us sweat all night. Also there was a plague of May beetles that dive bombed our food at the restaurant and tried to get into every nook and cranny of our treehouse to get to our light on. Thousands of beetles kept swarming the screen until lights were off.
Casitas Tenorio
Upala, Alajuela

The Casita has everything you can want and need: strong fan kept us comfortable, drying racks are so helpful to dry out wet clothes from rainforest activities, book of local menus and activities, and a great breakfast. Nana was so wonderful to accommodate allergy food needs. She is gluten-free herself and had an array of recipes options for pancakes day with homemade jam, juices, and honey. The trail on the property was also a nice family activity. We even had a sloth living in the tree in front of our Casita. So special!

Authenticity & Character
Easy to access in Bijuagua
Nana was so kind and helpful for food allergy needs
Cleanliness & Comfort
The strong fans and drying racks were so appreciated and I hadn't thought that would be important until everything was soaked from rainforest activities
Los Pinos - Cabañas & Jardines
Monteverde Costa Rica

We loved this Casita! It had everything we needed for our family of 4 to stay and cook. The kitchen allowed us to visit a supermercado and cook our own meals. My kids loved having their own rooms and bathrooms after several days of being in the same car and room at other lodging. The property has a nice set of trails and a little playground for kids. It is located close to everything you want in Monteverde. The staff was helpful when we locked ourselves out of our room (twice!).

Authenticity & Character
Everything is close by
Cleanliness & Comfort
Poas Volcano Lodge
Vara Blanca

This is a hidden gem! The hotel is fancy and sparkling clean. The food is delicious and staff is wonderful. There is a game room which is great for families to have down time outside of the room if weather is wet and cold outside. I hear the view is amazing but we had fog and rain that prevented a view. The space heaters in the room helped us dry our boots. The fireplaces in the library and restaurant kept us warm. My husband and I hope to return.

Authenticity & Character
Cleanliness & Comfort
Local specialist: Bryan Leon
Bryan Leon
Local specialist in Cartago, Costa Rica | Replied on Jun 17, 2024

Hola Nicole!

Thank you for the wonderful review!

We're thrilled to hear that self-driving allowed your family to explore so much of Costa Rica. It sounds like you had amazing experiences tubing the Rio Celeste, cooking at Maquenque Eco Lodge, and exploring Monteverde.

We're glad the eco lodges matched your preferences and that you enjoyed the delicious food. Your tips for a safe trip are very helpful. Thank you again for sharing your experience!

Have a great day!
Bryan Leon,
Serendipity Adventures 🦀