A multi-generation family vacation in Costa Rica has everyone relaxed and fully immersed in Pura Vida.
Our latest What a Trip comes from Daron Walker. You may not have met Daron, but we can pretty much bet you’ve heard him. A music director, composer and producer based in Minneapolis, Daron has created the soundtracks to some of your favorite tv ads (and none of the annoying ones—his taste is far too good for that, no matter what the client demands). He’s also a really fun, adventurous guy. We caught up with him shortly after a family trip to Central America.
KU Where did you go?
DW We went to Jaco Beach, Costa Rica.
KU Why did you choose this spot?
DW My dad is really ill right now and his doctor suggested the trip. Going to Costa Rica was a sort of bucket-list thing for him. He and his wife looked into it and figured it would be a cool and easy trip, so it was set. Grandma really wanted a place where the kids could run out the door and onto the beach and found some condos in Jaco that let them do just that. Jaco turned out to be more of a party/surfing town than we’d prefer, but it was a great way to ease our kids, George (8) and Henry (11) into travel outside the US. The kids also got to spend quality time with their grandparents who live in Texas.
KU What were some highlights of the trip?
DW There were a lot of highlights to our trip, but here are some of the biggies: First, exploring Manuel Antonio National Park. I would definitely recommend hiring a private guide. They are amazing and knowledgeable and without Pablo I wouldn’t have seen anything. The park is filled with rainforest animals and insects and also has a really nice swimming beach. We would definitely look into staying in this area when we go back for a more eco-jungle-y hotel experience.
We also really had a great time on Discovery Horseback Tours. We rode through the forest and our guide pointed out the surrounding flora—so cool. Bromeliads fill the trees. The ride ends at a tiny waterfall where you cover yourself in volcanic mud. It feels great.
Henry and I took surfing lessons on Jaco beach. Henry picked it up super easy, me….not so much. If you’re into such things, this is a great place to go learn, or just spend the days surfing. We’ll definitely surf again. And like pretty much everyone else who goes to Costa Rica, we zip-lined through the forest. One day we took a boat cruise from Puntarenas to Tortuga Island. It’s about 1 ½ hours each way, but it’s a gorgeous trip and they offer fresh fruit and cocktails to keep you happy along the way. Once you arrive on the island, they take you snorkeling while the crew prepares an amazing meal. The kids played on the beach, caught crabs and snails etc. while parents drank cocktails and slept on lounge chairs under protective umbrellas. Another highlight for us was eating at Tico (local food) restaurants. It’s mostly rice and beans with seafood. It’s our kind of food— simple, delicious and really fresh.
KU Any other tips?
DW The locals speak some to perfect English, but they are very willing to help you speak Spanish. My rusty Spanish got us by, but I had my kids speaking and ordering in Spanish, it was great.
In all, Costa Rica is a fantastic place for families. I can’t really offer any specific tips, just maybe this bit of advice: You are in a different country with different expectations… stay mellow and Pura Vida!!
P.S. Grandpaw had a fantastic time!