Kids Come Too: Costa Rica
Where in the world can you recommit to valuing the most precious commodity any of us have – our time? I traveled to Santa Teresa in Costa Rica and found a place where the grumble of your tummy announced it was time to eat, where the swaths of color across the sky and darkening sand beneath your feet announced that the day had come to an end. Known for its laidback surfing community and dedication to sustainable living, this beach town has a variety of outdoor activities, organic juice spots, and fine dining options guaranteed to help even the most tightly-wound corporate drones to relax and turn off.
Located along the Nicoya peninsula, you won't find high-rise buildings or overpriced tourist traps, just unspoiled beaches and a dirt road lined with surf shops, bars, and restaurants. The stunning sunset is a crowd-puller, and it can seem as if the entire town has gathered on the beach to watch.
Where to Stay
I stayed at Latitude 10, where each of the five casitas (small guest houses) were designed with sustainability and low-tech relaxation in mind. Each is open to the air, without solid walls, doors, or glass windows, and free of TVs, WiFi, or even AC – the soft breeze is a reliable stand-in. No trees were cut down in the construction of this luxury boutique hotel, and conscious choices were made to limit the impact on the local environment, including the use of bamboo straws in drinks, biodegradable cleaning products, and a full recycling program.
The turndown service includes lighting candles leading to your room and your private porch, creating a restful retreat where the sound of ocean waves will lull you into a deep and restorative sleep. This tired mom slept for almost ten hours the first night!
Complimentary bikes are available, and you can bike into the town of Santa Teresa within five minutes. You can also choose to hire electric bikes, which come with chunky tires capable of traversing sand. All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are also an option. Whatever you choose, be sure to ask for helmets, especially if you’re bringing kids.
At the hotel, you’ll see howler monkeys in the trees and the friendly resident tiger heron drinking from the swimming pool. If you're lucky, you’ll even catch a glimpse of a Costa Rican anteater.
A spa, privately-arranged yoga sessions, complimentary cooking classes, board games, and boogie boards are all available for guests. Children are very welcome here, and the natural playground of the stunning beaches and wide-open ocean will provide more than enough options to entertain your whole crew.
How to Get There and Get Around
The nearest airport is Tambor, which is a 50-minute drive away and serves domestic flights from across the country. Kids and parents will love flying in the 9-seat Cessna Caravan from San José International Airport to Tambor.
Driving from San José is also an option, but includes a ferry ride and takes about 5.5 hours. Traveling from Liberia International Airport to Santa Teresa requires a similarly long drive.
Food: Costa Rican cuisine is diverse and features an abundance of fresh produce, making dietary restrictions fairly easy to accommodate. Kids will find plenty to eat on Costa Rican menus even if they only stick with the traditional rice and beans.
Tours: Costa Rica is the ideal destination for adventurous families. Choose from zip-lining, waterfall trips, motorboat tours, surfing lessons, ATV adventures, and more.
Safety: Car seats are often available in rental cars, but they may not be compliant with your home country’s safety guidelines, so bring your own if you are concerned or if you intend to take taxis. The water is generally safe to drink, but bottled water is supplied everywhere for the more cautious, and should always be used for babies.
Supplies: Big cities and beach towns will have small supermarkets where you can pick up essentials like diapers and snacks, but in more remote areas you’ll need to stock up before you go.
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