2013 Costa Rica Adventure

Discussion in 'Adventures By Disney' started by Gonecruisin, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    Same here- usually we always get some local currency, but simply didn't need it in CR. Everything in most of the shops we were near was priced in USD.
     
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  3. Gonecruisin

    Gonecruisin novice

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    No need to exchange US dollars. They are accepted everywhere and prices are usually listed in US dollars. Rural places may be the exception. However if you want the full experience then by all means, exchange for colons. We did this both coming and going at the airport. It was convenient and not too pricey. I think the best deal is at an ATM. The local currency is very pretty. The kids might get a kick out them. It's also fun to pay thousands of colons for something.

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  4. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    We just arrived from our Costa Rica trip and it was AMAZING!!! It was exhilarating, fun, wet and itchy! I'll post a few add ons (tip wise) and maybe photos on Gonecruisin's post once I'm all settled. It's the rainy/wet season there and did not catch a glimpse of Arenal cloud-free. :)

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  5. tchrrx

    tchrrx <font color=red>Blame it on the plastic cow I ment

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    Yay! Thanks so much for sharing the picture. I can't wait to read any hints and tips that you have.
     
  6. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    Welcome back! Can't wait to see your pics and review! Based on this Arenal pic- It looked amazing! I think seeing the rain forest in rainy season was a highlight for me and the mood of this photo and the landscape in the foreground really shows that magical quality! Even if you missed the peak- that's still a lot of mountain, and it's beautiful

    Thanks for sharing!
     
  7. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Wow! What a fabulous, moody, intriguing picture! I, too, am really looking forward to your report and pictures! :thumbsup2

    Sayhello
     
  8. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    Thank you all! Unfortunately, that's probably the best photo I took on this trip. :rotfl: The conditions won't allow it and we were always on the move, most of the things we saw and did were stamped into memory. I usually end up taking a thousand photos on these trips but I only took a few hundred. Plus I used my waterproof point and shoot most of the time because of the rain and water activities.

    Our trip was during the wet season which made it different from Gonecruisin's experience. First of all, I didn't think it was terribly hot. It was hot and very humid but I thought it was tolerable. We did get rain every single day and it's funny how the kids were fascinated by the fact that it rained every day. We were lucky since when it did pour, we were already safe in our hotel rooms or on the coach.

    The trip is hectic due to the numerous hotel change. We arrived on the trip's day one which is simply arrival day. We did not have the regular welcome dinner in other ABD trips and just had time on our own. Since we took a red eye flight, we took it easy and just stayed in the hotel grounds the rest of the afternoon and made sure we got enough rest and prepared well for the one day stay in Tortuguero.

    It was a promising morning the day we left for Tortuguero. We had bright sunshine and blue skies. It was also a smooth uneventful 45 minute flight.

    We could see the strip of land where Laguna Lodge is located before landing.
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    This is the beach where turtle nesting takes place. You can even see their tracks from the plane!
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    Once we arrived, we had our second breakfast. We had a light breakfast before leaving the Marriott earlier. And since we were going to have a long morning, it was great to have the extra meal. After breakfast, we checked our rooms and met again for a boat ride to town. Gonecruisin walked to town (I thought that is quite a long walk from the lodge). A local guide Luis showed us around and told us how things changed in Tortuguero since 40 years ago. They are big on turtle conservation and this is where the biggest rookery is in the western hemisphere.

    It started raining while we were in town. We also saw the video on sea turtle conservancy as Gonecruisin and you have the option to adopt a turtle with a donation. We walked a few minutes in the beach area where the turtles nest. Here is a photo of a turtle track.
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    We saw several of the broken egg shells on the beach.
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    Afterwards, we got ready for our nature boat ride. By this time, the rain was pouring. I had my raincoat but opted to use the poncho they were handing out since I didn't want to get soaked. So out with my DSLR and got my P&S to work.

    According to our amazing ABD guide, Fico, we should see more animals since they love the rain and choose to come out as opposed to sunny days to avoid dehydration. I thought he was being optimistic. ;) Well, Gonecruisin saw more than we did. There was one boy who loves sloth and was on a mission to see one. We never did on this trip. :( I wanted to see one too! Anyway, it was still quite an experience. Most of us didn't mind the rain at all. Besides we were in a rain forest!

    Here is Fico's group. We were divided into two boats since we were a maximum 35 all in all.
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    We saw a number of basilisk also referred to as a Jesus Christ lizard due to its ability to walk on water. It's almost like a game of where is Waldo...
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    An iguana
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    A cayman, this one was about 4 feet long.
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    Another basilisk. This one we saw it catch a grasshopper near by.
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    A snake bird drying its wings. These birds dive in the water to catch fish.
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    A northern jacana, a family of waders. It's a small bird about 8 inches in height. We got really close to this bird and did not spook it. :)
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    A toucan
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    A white almond tree with typical buttress roots seen in swampy areas.
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    The river was very lush and full of life. It's a place I have never seen before!
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    We also saw spider monkeys but they were too far up on the trees swinging from branch to branch, it was quite difficult to photograph with my limited equipment. The rain eventually stopped on the way back to the lodge. Fico thought this activity should be done in two days which will give more opportunities to spot animals.

    The rest of the afternoon was on our own. A number of kids spent it on the pool and they bonded really well. From that time on, we only saw our DD at bedtime!:goodvibes We had a wonderful group and all the kids (which comprised half the group!) were all really good and funny.

    There was a tree frog garden in the lodge. We found this one hanging out...
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  9. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    I had to post the previous one already since I accidentally erased the first one I was working on. ;( Anyway, some additional tips.

    Bug spray - I don't know if they work but I ended up with lots of bug bites. If you are prone to bug bites, be prepared. When we went through the frog garden, our DD came out with numerous mosquito bites. Since the mosquitoes were biting me the whole afternoon, DH had hydrocortisone cream handy wherever we go. It works! DD's bites didn't get any worse the next day and mine were almost all gone by the end of the trip.

    That evening, we were scheduled to go on a hike to go see the turtles hatching their eggs. I love animals and watch a lot of animal documentary shows and I thought this experience is priceless. There were other people who were doing this activity and we were told earlier that we will know if we will be in the 8-10 pm group or 10-12 mn group. Everyone was hoping we could end up in the earlier walk and somehow, the guides manage to get us all on the earlier schedule!

    For the walk - we like moving around in sandals. For this trip, we made sure we had closed toe sandals but did not bring sneakers or closed walking shoes. It would be nice if you had a pair with you with socks just to avoid being bit by leaf cutter ants during the walk to the beach to see the turtle. We had a reminder call from ABD a couple of days before we left to let us know to bring flashlights. That is a must since it's pitch dark plus it helped me see the ants. I didn't get bit, thank goodness, but DH did. I just jump over the ant trail and they are quite easy to spot since they carry bits of leaves around.

    The turtle nesting is a very slow process. You see them laying the eggs, covering them with dirt and walk back to the sea. Our turtle dug a really deep nesting hole and took her a while to cover it up and had a difficult time getting out. You can't rush nature so just be aware. Our group (we were 9) were the last to finish and was all settled in our room before midnight. It was an amazing and priceless experience though!
     
  10. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    The next day, we got ready for our transfer to the next hotel in Arenal. You don't need a wake up call as the planes flying overhead is enough to wake you up. Three planes flew over and still did not wake our DD up though!

    The transfer involved a boat ride to get to the bus stop. Gonecruisin had a 2-hour boat ride and ours was just an hour (they said 45 minutes) since we had more rain. So the shortcut is dependent on the amount of rain the previous days, but we still encountered areas where the water was really shallow. The boat driver is very experienced and made it look easy going through the shallow canals and not getting us beached in the middle of nowhere. Again, the day started out sunny and nice!

    Here is a sculpture on the river on the way to the bus stop.
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    This was where we met the same bus we took the first day and our toilet stop. When they said deluxe, they weren't kidding.

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    These were the women's restroom stalls and they were quite clean!
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    After a long coach ride, we stopped for lunch. The food here was delicious!
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    We arrived at the Dole plantation in the early afternoon and spent a couple of hours there. Here is a picture of an ornamental pineapple, no bigger than a golf ball.
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    This is Michael, the plantation tour guide who is hilarious!!! You have to be there to understand why.:rotfl2: We all enjoyed his presentation on pineapple facts.
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    Pineapple harvesters
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    Pineapples everywhere!!!
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    Fico handing out fresh pineapple slices. I have eaten pineapples all my life but I never tasted them as sweet and juicy as these.They were just delicious!! Some of the kids ended up gnawing on what remained of the fruit Fico was holding.
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    The sorting area separating the good from bad...
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    And the stocking area, getting the pineapples ready for export
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    As a parting refreshment, we had fresh pineapple drinks before heading to our next hotel.
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    By the time we reached Hotel Arenal Manoa, the rain was pouring. We made a quick stop to our rooms and headed out for dinner. This day was pretty slow and it was great since I did not get to sleep the night before. The long bus ride was a good time to rest. It's a fun and exhilarating ziplining day the next day, so we got some decent shut eye and got ready for an exciting day!!!
     
  11. tchrrx

    tchrrx <font color=red>Blame it on the plastic cow I ment

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    I am loving your report!

    Here's my packing list so far:
    - bug spray
    - tennis shoes
    - ponchos & rain jackets
    - waterproof camera
    - hydrocortisone cream
    - flashlights

    What type of clothing did you wear? It seems that tennis shoes would be best most days, but I don't know if they're going to be wet all the time. (Our trip is in July)
     
  12. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    July is still rainy season. Your list is pretty good so far. Another thing, which I meant to mention later is bring an extra dry shoe/beach sandal. It would have been nice to change to a dry pair after the nature boat ride. Your feet and shoes will get soaking wet during the white water rafting as well. And since the area is very humid, it takes a while for wet things to dry up. You can just borrow the ponchos in Tortuguero. This is one trip where traveling light would be essential.

    We wore REI shirts or similar (Columbia, Kuhl,etc.,) for the activities. They are cool, has UV protection and easy to dry. We know we were doing the right thing since Fico was wearing the exact same outfits! We also wore REI shorts or pants.

    One other thing you might want to add to your list is the sunscreen.

    Sent from my iPad using DISBoards
     
  13. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    We are up for a really exciting and thrilling day today! The ziplining place was not far from the hotel. The picture I posted earlier of Arenal was taken when I got up for breakfast. I believe it was around 6 am. By the time we left for breakfast, this was how the volcano looked.

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    Each of our rooms have a huge sliding door which faces the volcano. It's an awesome view to wake up in the morning. The volcano ceased its pyroclastic flow in 2010.

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    This is the entrance to the ziplining place.
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    There are 8 ziplines we go through here and this is the map of the lines.
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    I asked about the GoPro deal with ziplining and here is the info for those interested in future trips. You may bring your own and attach it to your helmet. Clips are already ready on each helmet to attach a GoPro with a helmet strap, which you need to provide yourself if you were to bring your own GoPro. You may rent a GoPro unit for $45. At the end of the activity, you may view the microSD card (if you rented one) in their computer.

    We let the kids go ahead. Here they are all loaded on cable cars to take them up the ziplining platform. It's about a 15 minute ascent to where the ziplining starts.
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    Off they go!....
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    The rest of the group chatted while waiting and a few tried to settle their nerves.

    Here's a view from the cable cars.
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    We had a wonderful day ziplining! I believe we would have gone even if it rained though. Again, you can see how thick the forest is and it's an area where most of us got more bug bites. DD and I wore long pants to avoid getting more but they still went between my sandal straps and arms. :furious: They itch like crazy! We did frequent application of hydrocortisone cream and it really helped.

    This is one of two trial ziplining lines. It is nowhere near the magnitude of the real lines ahead!

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    Gonecruisin' has a similar photo as the one below. I couldn't orient myself until I got there though, of course. Anyway, this was taken from the platform above where we got off our cable cars. Two trial lines get you to the platform in the photo. If you look closely, you can see a line which the guide is holding at the bottom of the photo all the way through the thickness of the forest. This is the point of no return so people decide if they wish to continue or descend the platform. Once you go through the lines, that is the only wait to exit the area. This particular line is the highest, 700+ feet above sea level! You cannot appreciate it in the beginning but once you're in the middle of the line, you will see how high up you are. It's quite fast too and it's great to feel the wind on your face.
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    Only one child backed out on ziplining. A couple of adults went with a guide to go through the first one but did it on their own afterwards. The smaller kids had to go with a guide each time since they don't make it all the way to the other platform.

    More ziplining photos... This is my DD ziplining, as I held my breath!....

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    And DH coming in.

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    The 7th line is the longest at 2060 feet. You zipline for 45 seconds! I forgot which one is the fastest but you zipline at 40 mph!!

    I don't think anyone else took photos during the ziplining. Fico and one of the ziplining guides will take your photo on the last short zipline and you have the option to purchase it later (the ones the guide took, not the ones Fico took).

    We headed to La Fortuna for lunch. It's a small town not far from where we were. Fico gave suggestions for lunch and we opted for faster service since we wanted to check out the stores for souvenirs.

    Fico referred to this park as Central Park. There are stores and restaurants on the left and right side of the photo. The Arenal volcano is behind the church and you can see a glimpse of our bus at the bottom of the church.

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    We had lunch at that restaurant, which I guess is considered fast food. The dish I ordered though was so yummy! I believe they call it carne salsa. Yum!!

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    This would be the best place to buy local products and souvenirs. Most of us like the wooden folding table mats they used at the Hotel Manoa and saw many of us buy it. Gonecruisin has a photo of it in his post. It is simply heavy since it's made of wood. Costa Rica is known for its coffee as well. It's not the top industry though this time but it used to be the main economic resource for the country. This is also the best place to buy coffee bags for souvenirs or for your own use.

    When we arrived back to the hotel, we had the option to attend the Maleku art presentation. The Maleku is an ancient Costa Rican tribe and only 600 of them remain. They try to continue living their traditions and they have particular type of art made from gourds and wood. I forgot to take a photo of their work which you could see at the table behind. I did purchase a few products which I will photograph later and post. Here is Fico with three Malekus explaining some of their language and art. The woman is wearing their traditional costume.

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    This was just a busy day and I guess I had the hot springs in mind and how to do my art work and forgot to take photos of the Maleku art. Anyway, right after the are presentation, we got ready for the hot springs. We met at 5 pm and headed to the Hidalgo Hot Springs. It was about a 20 minute drive from the hotel. Our hotel as well had hot springs, mostly fed from the nearby volcanoes.

    Once you reach the reception area of the hot springs, it is about a hundred feet from the reception to get to the pools. Here is my first glimpse of the hot springs. Since this pool is closest to the source, it is the hottest among all the three pools.

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    As you go from left to right, the water gets cooler - but still warm. It also started to rain by the time we got in the water.

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    Our other guide, Lucy advised us not to stay in the hot springs too long and to dip in the small cold pool once in a while. Some got carried away in conversation and actually felt a little woozy after staying too long in the hottest pool.

    This is the waterfall which feeds the pools.
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    We spent about an hour in the hot springs and we had dinner at the Hidalgo Hot Springs afterwards. This was a really great day!
     
  14. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Wow! This really does seem to be a jam-packed trip!

    Those zip-lines seem really scary to me, though! :eek: My only time zip-lining was a "family" (ie, baby) zipline, and that was just about my tolerance level! ;)

    Looking forward to more!

    Sayhello
     
  15. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    Yes, the ziplines can be a bit daunting. It's really fun though and a great ice breaker!

    So on we go! We leave Arenal early morning for a long drive to Tenorio River where we will go for our white water rafting. The Hotel Manoa is our favorite hotel. DD describes it like a little village. It's very cozy and quiet. We got a lot of millipedes crawling on the floor and DD got a kick out of kicking them out the door. She says they are like elongated roly poly pillbugs! :)

    First thing I did when I woke up was check the Arenal volcano. It was even covered with heavier clouds so no chance of seeing the peak in this trip.

    We had the option to go floating and rafting. Floating is a mild activity, you still go on an inflated raft but you go through calm waters the whole time. Those who are physically challenged may do so. The group looked for wild life and went to the wild cat conservatory where they had mountain lions and ocelots in captivity. Most of the group went rafting. We first separated in floating and rafting groups in a restaurant where we also made a quick potty break. Our guides gave us snacks on the bus since the rafting is 2 hours long and lunch won't be till 230 pm. It was another 20 minute drive to the spot where we got on a truck to take us near the river.

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    We got on the truck and we drove another 20 minutes near the river. Once we reached this spot, we geared up and walked about 3 minutes to the river bank.

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    Whew! Finally we got on our respective rafts and paddled away. I believe Gonecruisin mentioned about lacking oars. All of us were provided oars, even the youngest children.

    This was so much fun!! I got super wet mostly from other people splashing water. I had no intention to get in the river, although some did and the rapids had major splash areas. I saw one boat topple over and our guide tried really hard to get us fall in the water. We managed to stay upright. There were a few minor mishaps but no major injury. It was really fun and we had lots of laughs!!!

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    These were just the photos I managed to take in between paddling. The company who provided the rafting activity had a photographer who took photos in strategic spots. The photos were awesome!! The photographer had a better camera than I did and he was facing us. The guides bought the photos and included them with the photos they took so we should get them online as well.

    There were a couple of areas that were too narrow and steep to go through so we had to get off the boat and walk past the area.

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    After the rafting, we had to climb a flight of stairs to get to the snack area. Our truck was waiting and it was a 40 minute bumpy ride to get back to our bus - which drove us back to the restaurant where we dropped off the floaters. We had lunch and headed our way to the next hotel.

    This was really a fun and exciting activity!! We thought the white water rafting in CR is better than the one in Southwest Splendors and Peru. The river water is also very clean and the temperature perfect.

    Of course, it was pouring on the way to Guanacaste. The rain is in patches though and by the time we got to Villas Sol, the rain has stopped. Lucy wanted to get there before sunset. Since I had to take care of our things, unpack the necessary items, I missed out on the sunset photo. :( My DD managed to take one with her iPhone...

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    I told myself, I'll take a photo the next day. I guess I was just too busy thinking of the next thing and really missed out on a number of photo ops.
     
  16. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    Our last day...the beach was a shuttle away from our hotel so it wasn't an early get up day. Once on the beach, we boarded a skiff which took us to our private catamaran. As you can see, it was a nice sunny day. We were already on the Pacific side of CR and this area is drier, but still gets rainfall in the wet season.

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    The skiff is off to pick up the rest of the group on the beach.

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    We saw more wildlife. These are two olive ridley turtles mating. The olive ridley is the smallest green sea turtle.

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    We also saw a couple of humpback whales!!!

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    We got really close to these whales! Unlike in Hawaii where they maintain a minimum distance to view the whales, we just went as close as possible. One whale dove and we saw its fluke. That made Fico so excited and started jumping up and down as he stood by the sail!

    We continued on to our snorkeling spot. It was about 3 miles from shore.

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    One of the crew threw a line and caught a small tuna (!) and was later released.

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    The water temperature was perfect! Here is a puffer fish.
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    There were lots of fish!
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    DD saw an eel and one guest saw an octopus. The water was very rich with marine life.

    There were also spotted dolphins and they approached our boats. They swam right in front of our boats which was an amazing sight!!

    Afternoon was on our own. The kids played and swam in the pool. We didn't like this hotel so much. It's an all-inclusive resort and it attracts a certain kind of crowd. I'll be a little wary if they hold contests called Macho Man as the men do squats while carrying their wives. :rotfl:

    All ABD guests had rooms facing the ocean.

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    This is a sticker on our balcony door and you can see the view from our room.
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    More spectacular views. The roofed area on the left of the photo is the restaurant where we had our meals.
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    I mentioned I was going to catch the sunset this day, right? Well, it rained so no spectacular sunset photo for me. :( It really poured just before our farewell dinner but it let up by the time we walked to dinner.

    So that's my trip report. Hope it'll help future CR ABD goers!! Over all, it was a really fun trip. The families we were with were all wonderful and game. Highly recommended!!! :cool1:
     
  17. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Thanks for posting your great Trip Report, tufbuf! I know you posted on Gonecruisin's thread, but if you could please post a link in the Trip Report Sticky to the part that's your report, that would be great. You could do something like post a link to Page 10 of this thread, and that your Report starts in Post #143. :thumbsup2

    The snorkeling sounds great! Especially the unexpected whales!

    Sayhello
     
  18. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    Thanks sayhello! Was it a problem adding on to Gonecruisin's report? I didn't want to start a new thread and thought adding it was still a 2013 Costa Rica adventure. Sorry if so. I'll add the sticky... Let me first figure it out... ;)

    Sent from my iPad using DISBoards
     
  19. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Not a problem at all! I just want to make sure that people searching for a Trip Report on Costa Rica realize that there are *2* current Trip Reports. I want to be sure they read both of them, because they are both great. :)

    Sayhello
     
  20. mmrunsdisney

    mmrunsdisney Earning My Ears

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    We went at the beginning of July. With respect to bug spray, I was given the heads up that you need stronger (more deet) bug spray. I live by a LL Bean retail store, but any other outdoor store will have it. We got 100% Deet and put extremely small amounts around our neck, wrists and ankles on the advice of the person at LL Bean (especially when we told him we were going to Costa Rica). We didn't have a problem with bugs - and my daughter is usually an attractive target for all bugs that bite. We didn't let either of our kids touch the bug spray/deet - just something to consider for anyone else going on this trip (which was awesome).
     
  21. Bobo912

    Bobo912 DIS Veteran

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    When we took the ABD in 2008, Arenal erupted everyday and we took a night time bus ride to a spot where we could see the glowing red lava flow. We were there at the end of July. I brought bug spray and never needed to use it. The rafting is on a different river now and it looks like you had better rapids. We didn't see the turtles or have the catamaran excursion. Those look like great improvements over the old itinerary.

    Great trip report, tufbuf!
     

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