How to Experience a New Vacation Destination While Still Relaxing
Sometimes we take ski vacation over winter break, but Costa Rica had long been on our “have to go” list and friends had been talking so highly about it lately, we felt we couldn’t wait any longer. When we looked and saw how beautiful the Villa Vientos on the Cacique Peninsula and that it was available, it was an easy decision.
Our main goal for joining a travel club like Inspirato was that we wanted to expose our daughter, Laina, and our family to different adventures that would otherwise be outside of our comfort zones. We like to travel a certain way. We work hard and, when it comes time for vacation, we like to be pampered. But we also like to explore new places.
Usually our vacations are very relaxing and we don’t do a lot of action-type activities, but this week was very active. Costa Rica is probably the only destination we’ve been to where there is so much stuff to do it’s hard to choose. Thankfully we had help from a destination concierge to come up with an itinerary that covered all the bases, but had relaxing days too.
Even the relaxing days were adventurous though. Rather than going to touristy beaches, we explored these secret beaches that were five minutes away. We’d drive down a dirt road and then hike down and soon pop out onto this hidden beach. We’d never have found them on our own. Like she did with every place she recommended, she even plugged the GPS coordinates of these beaches into our Waze mobile app after the GPS that came with our rental car didn’t work very well.
Other days we did all of the activities Costa Rica is famous for: zip lining, an ATV tour, snorkeling and a wildlife riverboat cruise. Even the drive to the riverboat tour ended up being interesting. We had a guide with us in addition to a driver, and he taught us so much about the plants and animals we saw along the way, stopping for a closer look at things we totally would have missed without him. He took us to this small town square that looked pretty normal, but then he told us to look up in the trees; there were all of these giant lizards. Someone threw out some watermelon and all of a sudden the trees came alive with these creatures crawling out to the watermelon.
On the river tour, we pretty much saw anything that you could think of that would live here—howler monkeys, alligators, tons of birds. The kids really loved this, saying it was like a Disney safari trip, but better because it was real.
Heading back to the house from the cruise, our guide promised us a Costa Rican-style lunch. We didn’t understand what that was until we got to the top of this road in the jungle and there was an open-air kitchen with some small picnic tables. Two women were back in the kitchen cooking on a wood-burning, open-flame stove. We all kind of looked at each other and knew we were thinking the same thing: “Ummm, what’s this going to taste like?” It was totally out of our comfort zone. But the lunch—there in the middle of nowhere—ended up being amazing.
Another day, we had a half day of snorkeling off of a catamaran. I don’t know what was better, the snorkeling or the lunch on the boat. Even with all of the stuff we managed to squeeze into our active days, we were always back at the house between 3 and 6 p.m. The kids would jump into the infinity pool and the adults would enjoy cocktails on the deck overlooking the harbor and the mountains beyond and watch the sun set. It was perfect.