Get Unplugged in Costa Rica!

Featured Writer: Carol

Looking for a great family vacation? Want to reconnect with the family, while disconnecting the digital age? Then get off the power grid. Unplug yourself from all those digital necessities of our modern world ’cause they won’t work here!

So where exactly are you going? Definitely off the beaten path and into one of the least visited regions of Costa Rica. Almost to Panama, in fact. Our destination: The Osa Peninsula’s Golfo Dulce and the Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge.

What’s that? You think your kids are too young for a remote jungle adventure? Think again! Our boys were 6 and 11 when we went “off the grid” and into the jungle. And Playa Nicuesa has just what it takes to transform a family trip into an adventure packed experience the whole family will be talking about for years to come. Be prepared to experience jungle mysteries and adventures without the crowds. If adventure is your family’s preferred travel style, then this place has it all!

Our friends thought we were crazy, going “off the grid” with our boys. Do you think we were crazy? Perhaps we were. But just look at all the fun we had! Check out these daily highlights to whet your appetite for your own unplugged family jungle adventure.

Day 1 – Getting There is Half the Fun: As the saying goes, getting to Playa Nicuesa is half the fun! Why? Because it’s not so easy, but it sure is an adventure. For one thing, it’s only accessible by boat. No roads lead to Playa Nicuesa. Most travelers fly into Golfito on a very small plane. We opted to use a shuttle service from the Manual Antonio area to drive us to the dock where we met our boat for the transfer to the Lodge. Once on board, we were treated to a beautiful boat ride up the Golfo Dulce to the Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge.

Time to be wowed! Upon arrival, our bags were unloaded and brought straight to our cabin while we leisurely walked up to the main lodge. What a site to behold! The main lodge was spectacular; our cabin equally so. This was what I call “jungle luxury.” I never said we were roughing it, did I? Though off the grid, Playa Nicuesa is powered by locally generated electricity. You aren’t completely left in the dark at night, though it is advisable to have a flashlight on hand!

After settling into our 2-bedroom cabin, it was time to explore the grounds, and eat. Have kids, have hunger! My picky boys discovered a whole new attitude towards food here. From breakfast to dinner, and snacks in-between, the chefs amazed us with sumptuous meals created from the local environs. Our first meal was just the start of gastronomic bliss, after which it was back to our cabin for the evening. It’s amazing what you can hear when you turn off all those gadgets. We slumbered our first night away to the sounds of the jungle.

But I digress. Let’s get on with the adventures!

Day 2 – Our Jungle Adventures Begin: Awakened just after dawn to the sounds of howler monkeys, we were primed to take on our first full day at Playa Nicuesa. First on the agenda was a boat ride up the Golfo Dulce to the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary. A most incredible place not to be missed. Their mission: wildlife rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned, injured and displaced animals of southern Costa Rica. We had a most spectacular tour of the grounds where we met resident spider monkeys, parrots and sloths, a coatimundi too. To say we enjoyed our visit doesn’t do justice to how amazing this place was. Yep, that’s our boy shaking hands with a resident monkey!

  

Adventure complete. Time for our boatride back to the lodge, where we had kayaking, reading, and relaxation on the agenda. Oh, and food too! Did I mention how good the food was? Even for kids?

Next up – Jungle Critters by Cover of Night: What kid isn’t fascinated with critters? And what better way to find them than on a guided night critter hike? Our objective: to find as many critters as we could. Success achieved! Cockroaches, centipedes, crabs, and frogs, oh my! Snakes, spiders, lizards and birds too. They were all there. Could have done without those spiders, though!

 

Day 3 – Wake up with a Jungle Hike: By now, the boys knew adventure was just around the corner. This time it was an early morning hike through the Piedras Blancas National Forest. Why early? To see the most critters, of course! From tucans to scarlet macaws to monkeys, even baby bats asleep in a tree, our guides found them! Not to mention just how much fun and informative our guides made a “simple” walk in the jungle. Like, how aggressive toucans can be! “Duck and cover” became our youngest’s mantra whenever he heard the word, “toucan in a tree.” At the end of our hike, we were treated with a refreshing swim at the base of a waterfall. And once again, our guides made even a “simple” swim into a fun time.

  

Our hike complete, it was time to sit back and enjoy all that Playa Nicuesa offered. For one of us, it was a book and a hammock. The more energetic went kayaking along the shoreline and fishing off the boat dock. As for me … it was time for a relaxing massage under the jungle canopy, listening to the chatter of scarlet macaws high above in the trees. Sorry, no photos of that!

Day 4 – A’paddling We Will Go: OK, now we were totally spoiled by our adventures and our guides who totally rocked. Suffice it to say, we expected a lot from our morning kayak adventure. Did it deliver? A resounding yes! Our oldest was ecstatic that he got to paddle his own kayak. Our youngest loved the “ride-along with Dad” feature, splashing his hand in the water and searching for critters. Did we see any? Not at first, but with the expert knowledge of our guide, he soon found anacondas wrapped up in trees, birds hanging in branches, tiny crabs skittering along the shore. We wouldn’t have seen them without our guide! Our youngest was thrilled when his kayak “sat” just underneath a sleeping anaconda. Key word – sleeping! I kept my distance none-the-less.

After a fun, but tiring, kayak down-river to the Golfo Dulce, it was back to Playa Nicuesa for lunch and a restful afternoon. Sleep for some of us! But our adventures were not yet over for the day. Just when we thought our day couldn’t get better, it did.

Fishing For Fun: Though two of us were a bit skeptical, we all agreed on a late afternoon Golfo Dulce fishing trip. Once again, it was all about the guides. They knew exactly where to find the fish. And boy did we land fish! Three “dinner ready” tuna and two “equally-dinner-ready” red snappers. Even us nay-sayers had to admit, this fishing adventure was awesome!

 

Better yet – the fabulous chefs back at the lodge cooked our fresh catch and served it for dinner. And the boys ate fish! Red snapper and tuna, both! They even asked for more. It was certain to say … this trip was transforming our boys.

Day 5 – Our Last, But Not Least, Day: What a way to end our time at Playa Nicuesa. We decided to cram in an early morning boat tour of the Golfo Dulce, and wow, were we in for a treat. Within minutes of leaving the dock, we found ourselves in the midst of a pod of 100+ dolphins. Well, nobody counted but it seemed like that many! And boy, did they put on a show. For nearly an hour, we had front row seats to the most amazing,  impromptu, acrobatic wild dolphin show. Dolphins surrounded us, so close one could practically touch them. We were completely enthralled. Words can’t describe what we saw this morning. Other than it was probably THE highlight of an already awesome five days in the jungle.

 

Sadly, the time had begun to set on our Costa Rica jungle adventure. It was back to Playa Nicuesa for our final good-byes, then off to catch our flight back to civilization.

Would we do it all over again? Absolutely! It’s been two years since our Golfo Dulce adventures, and the boys keep asking to go back. What would they want to do again? Their response … everything! Except perhaps the snorkeling. Not everything was perfect, and snorkeling here just didn’t pan out for us.

Final thought: for some, Playa Nicuesa might be too wild. Others might find it not wild enough. For our family, it was just right!

Read more from this author at www.letsgetdealstoday.com

Check out Bucket List Publications Online Magazine for more great photos and articles from bucket list seekers. 

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77 thoughts on “Get Unplugged in Costa Rica!

  1. Costa Rica is wonderful. I went without having kids in tow; just a dozen friends. From the wonders of Mount Arenal to the white sand beaches of Manual Antonia — the little side road “sodas” that dot the rough terrain, the monkeys that swung through the trees, and the food! Oh, the Food!

    I can’t wait to go back.

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    • I’m from Nova Scotia and I’ve been to Quebec City several times. It may be a few years before I return now that I live on the other side of the continent, but I do love Quebec. I actually lived in northern Quebec for a bit; I was teaching in Shefferville.

      Have you been to Nova Scotia?

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  2. Wow. Looks like the fishing is awesome. My three best freinds just went to Crocodile Bay and had a blast there. Hope I get to go next year.

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    • Yes it is! And were were only in the bay. Our guides said the fish were bigger and better if you went out into the ocean for the full deep sea fishing experience. Our boys were new to deep sea fishing so we opted for the “junior” version.

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    • Yes, I have to say our kids do now expect a lot from the family vacation! But fortunate for us, we give them all kinds of experiences from very budget-minded to the “not-so-budget-minded” trips, including camping, and they love them all! Thankfully they don’t have to be “pampered”. Camping on the agenda this summer – meet us there!

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  3. Looks so beautiful there, Lesley. We are actually trying to figure out where to go in the near future (Costa Rica is definitely on my bucket list!) and you’ve just given us something to think about. We have two young kids as well -they are 5 and 2.5 years, old. We are expecting a third mid-summer too!….not sure what the medical facilities are like there… just in case! Would you know anything about this?Thanks so much for sharing this. I look forward to hearing your response 🙂

    http://faymeling.wordpress.com

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    • I don’t know much about the medical facilities, which was a bit of a concern going into the trip as my oldest developed an abscessed tooth just prior to the trip and had it extracted 3 days before our travel. And then our youngest had a bad allergic reaction to a bee sting while at Playa Nicuesa. Thankfully our hosts had great “jungle meds” and his reaction was much better the next day, so we did not need to find out! I am not sure I would bring kids your age to the Osa Peninsula where we were (I think you would want the youngest to be 5 for this adventure), but there are plenty of other great CR travel opportunities for families with younger kids. In fact, we are planning a second trip to CR with my niece, whose kids will be 4 and 1 at travel time. We are just sticking to the more populated areas! lol

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  4. Wowee at the fish! Wowee at the grinning boys! And I love the tree-house effect of that deck! My daughter and my dad have both been to Costa Rica, separately; and I still reap the benefits of shipments of Costa Rican coffeebeans! Those forest preserves and the tropical birds just seem like a part of heaven to me.

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  5. My husband and I are going to Costa Rica for our 2nd year wedding anniversary. We plan on staying at Latitude 10, the open air resort in St Theresa peninsula (or something like that, I forget). We can’t wait! Anyway, just wanted to say that your pics amped up my excitement even more!

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  6. I started going there about 15 years ago and really got hooked for a while. I had to put off other bucket list items as I decided to just really get to know that one country. Amazing place and people…

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    • Thanks. We decided that one way to bring up well rounded kids was to expose them to the world whenever we had the opportunity. Each year we try an “out of the ordinary” family trip – and it has worked.

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      • You are very lucky! I wish my kids were that adventurous. I can’t get them to go anywhere! I have to settle for me and my husband being the adventurous ones 🙂 Good luck and have fun on your next trip!
        Ashley

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  7. This is great info on travelling with kids off the grid. Glad to see it can be done successfully! I am curious how many adventures similar to this one you went on without the kids or if you just jumped right in and included them from the beginning.

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    • Thanks. I was actually a bit less adventurous before the kids. Sounds strange huh! But my oldest went through a life-threatening illness and it changed our perspectives. So once he was well enough, we just jumped right into it with the kids. Each year our goal is one – two “out of the box” trips, more if we can afford it. They’ve walked Normandy D-Day beaches and St. Michel in France, explored castle ruins in Scotland and Roman ruins in England, climbed Mayan ruins in Belize, camped 5 days on a raft trip, hiked several great National Parks. Oh, and yes, we have suffered a trip to Universal Studios and Disney in Orlando. But interestingly – neither of my boys rank that trip in our top 5!

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  8. I stayed in this exact place for my honeymoon, among 2 other eco-tourist hot spots in Costa Rica. While this one is considerably more rustic than the other 2 places we stayed, it was our favourite in a lot of ways as the staff and other guests made it such a positive experience. A favourite memory was a private dinner of a fish we caught with Pedro, our guide. I really can’t wait to go back here.

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  9. I just want to book a flight to go there! Just a question: isn’t it a destination quite expensive? I heard that it has been a fashionable destination for a few years and prices have gone up. Is that true? I mean, in comparison to Mexico or South America. Thanks for the post anyway.

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    • HI, sorry for my delayed response. Been “out” a bit lately. Yes, it can be expensive. Or not. A lot depends on how you travel and what your expectations are. We are four people, so budget is always an issue for us. If you get off the beaten path, you can still find decent deals here. But I do agree, the more touristy areas have really gone up in price. And honestly, we did both the touristy area (Arenal and Manual Antonio) and the not so touristy area (Osa Peninsula) and we much preferred the not-so- touristy areas. There are ways to mak a trip to Costa Rica more budget friendly, but you will need to be a bit more adventurous, and not everyone is. Hope this helps!

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      • Thank a lot. I’ll try to find the cheapest way to travel there, as I’d love to go there, but also in so many other places, that I can’t ruin me in only one destination!

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  10. Thanks for liking my blog-I found this page through the link, and your experience in Osa sounds awesome! I was in the area last April, unfortunately for only a few days, as I was on a tight budget and the area around Drake Bay is pretty expensive. But after I crossed from Golfito to Puerto Jimenez, I lucked out and found a guy who owned a hostel/treehouse for $10 a night! If you and your family would be into that for your next trip, it was called Bolita. It was an interesting experience to cook our food with random German strangers with fresh stream water and no electricity. Anyway, great blog!

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  11. This blog about is in my opinion is one of the most complete that I have read about Costa Rica, Osa Region… in my opinion one best unexplored areas in the world.

    Most of the Hotels in here are very affordable and that is very good news for the traveler…
    I want also suggest that it might be a good idea to publish information about what not to do when you are in Costa Rica like for example not to venture into the Jungle or a Volcano summit without a guide and in case you do to have plan in case of an emergency …I have see some expats trying to do this without measuring the consequences or their safety…Just because you are the Indiana Jones of the Midwest it does not mean you can be one in Costa Rica…many tourist died every year here because of their imprudence or lack of information.
    Once again great blog keep the good work I will recommend it to my friends and visitors.
    http://www.casandaluciapts.com

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