Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Best place to Eat on Your Costa Rica Vacation

When you are on vacation one of the most important things is where it is to eat. It turns out that taking a vacation to Costa Rica not too many come for the cuisine. If you come to Costa Rica for the cuisine it is because you want to load your family up on rice and beans. Dont worry in all the student travel trips we run I can see the importance in the students trying the local food and in some cases even learning how to make it. But what I am talking about here is a vacation, a family vacation. In this case you have to do a little investigation to get hyped up about the Costa Rican food.

The area of San Carlos which is where the Arenal Volcano is comes from a long history of cattle farming and unfortunately this is the reason why years ago Costa Rica lost most of its rainforest. Well with the rainforest making a comeback and the tourist coming to visit there has been a need for some of that cattle still in the San Carlos area which is to offer good meat to eat at a nice place near the Arenal Volcano.

If you visit the Arenal Volcano on your family vacation make sure the restaurant Don Rufino's is on your list. There specialty is meat and coming from the San Carlos area they dont have to travel far. There are many five star hotels in the area but when it comes to some of the best food you will find in Costa Rica Don Rufino's is hard to beat.
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Arenal Volcano Hotels on Vacation

When you are on vacation there are a few very important things. The hotel you stay in is always up there. In Costa Rica the Arenal volcano is an area that is general peace and quite and nature all around. If you stay in the town of La Fortuna you will probably hear the tour buses driving by at 5am. Our company has found a hotel that works very well with our student groups and family vacations.

The name of the hotel is called Casa Luna Lodge. This is located just outside of the town of La Fortuna on the road that goes near La Fortuan falls which is a must do in the area. I like this place for student travel trips because it is small the check-in is easy and they have great meal packages. Also being not near the center of town does not offer the kids too many options of getting in trouble at night except for your normal complaint of being too loud in the pool which I can deal with. For a family vacation it works well because it is a very nice place at an offordable budget. The rooms have excellent balconys with views of the volcano, a fancy place to eat, and rooms that can fit a family of four.

When looking for a place to stay in the Arenal volcano area depending on how much money you want to spend my opinion would be to always try and be in a quiet area (better chances of hearing the eruptions), a place that has a view of the volcano, and a place that is not very large. Remember Arenal is one of the most popular places in all the country and when big tour groups roll in a big hotel can get pretty crowded.

Family Vacation Costa Rica

When you talk about a small business it is often the word of mouth that keeps it running. We have a family with us from the Ocala FL area. David Eddy who is a buddy from high school and an almost Costa Rican expert himself decided to come down on a family vacation to Costa Rica with his extended family of a group of 10. Instead of trying to do it himself David contacted us and allowed us to do the planning. They already had their hotels booked but we were able to find an itin that looks like it will fit perfectly. We put them with one of our naturalist guides we call wiki-Jheudy (his real name is just Jheudy) and they arrived on day one and made the trip to the Tabacon Resort.

Costa Rica Zipline

With just 2 full days in the country they ziplined 700ft above the rainforest, rafting one of the top 5 rivers on the planet, ate lunch on the side of one of the 10 most active volcanos in the world, and celebrated a birthday bash at one of Costa Rica's best places to eat.

Jheudy their guide who happens to live in the Arenal volcano area made the comment that this group had one of the clearest days of the year for the volcano. We hope you all enjoy the rest of your family vacation as there is much more fun to come.

If your interested in planning the perfect family vacation give us a call on Vonage at US: 352 694 3462 and let us handle the hassle for you. Our site is or email

Transportation on Vacation to Costa Rica

When traveling to Costa Rica you will notice that you have to spend some time in on the roads to get from one natural beauty to the next. A vacation should be spent in comfort and that is why our company puts just as much attention into transportation as we do the hotels we pick for our clients. My personal favorite is the Toyota Coaster which is a 29 passenger van. There are a few different types of Coasters and in my opinion there are a few factors that you want to take into consideration.

The first factor is the most simple and is how modern the van is. If the van has been touring wet rafters around Costa Rica for 10 years the chances are its got some funk on the inside. I always look for a van that is no older than 3 years. With a student group or a family vacation the vibe of the trip starts with the arrival of the airport and getting into the van.

The second factor on the Coaster is the high roof. There are some Coasters with low roofs and some with high and believe me the high roof makes all the difference in the world. Although the leg room is the same and the length of the bus the feeling of more area in and around makes a huge difference.

Another reason why I consider the Coaster bus a perfect fit for family vacation and student travel is that the windows are very large all around. This allows for the windows to be open and get some fresh air (keep in mind that the coaster has very cold A/C which is another huge plus). Another reason for the benefit of the large windows is that it opens up opportunities to see wildlife. In a country where you want to be able to take all the scenery in the more window the better. Some of the bigger fancier buses are difficult to see out of which defeats the purpose of taking a Costa Rica Vacation or a student travel trip with the idea of seeing as much as possible.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hotels in Dominical Costa Rica

If you are on a family vacation or a student travel trip Dominical can be a great spot in the southern Pacific of Costa Rica. I will say it does not fit what every family is looking for. If you want the large 5-star resort then Dominical is not the spot. There are a number of different hotels in Dominical and depending on what you want will be the difference in finding the right place.

Student travel hotels in Dominical are abviously less expensive, but still very clean and safe. In our experience the student group needs to be in a hotel that does not give them the liberty to walk around town or even walk to the beach. It is best when dealing with student groups to make everything just that a group activity from going to town to going to the beach. This is why we use Villas Rio Mar which has a great pool and none of the rooms are spread too far out. It is located about a 10 minute walk from town and the beach keeping the group together on the property and a large place eat for meeting areas.

Before using this hotel we worked with Diuwalk which is closer to the center of town and a nice clean hotel and great for the college student or surfer. We found for our student groups it was just too close to the town and beach. You must always be extra careful when traveling to coastal areas with large groups as the beaches often have strong riptides.

During a family vacation you might be looking for something a little more upscale and if this is the case there are a few different areas you can look at in the Dominical area. One of our favorites and easiest to access is called Cuna del Angel which in our opinion has some of the best food in the country. It is a very small hotel and is part of the "Small Distinctive Hotels of Costa Rica Group" which make up some of the nicest hotels under 50 rooms I believe it is or maybe less. If you want smaller and not as easy access you can look into the 6 bedroom Bed and Breakfast of the Necochea Inn whihc is located in the hills of Escalares. We have taken a number of Costa Rica family vacations to the small Inn up in the hills and it is surely isolated so bring what you need because it is a 4 km bumpy road back down to the bottom.

Last but not least this option would not work for a student travel trip to Costa Rica but always a good option for a family vacation to Costa Rica and that is renting a home. There are now many homes in the area and my favorite happens to be called Casa Bel-Mar which is located in the hills of Escalares and is a 6 bedroom, infinite pool, and amazing views of the ocean and surrounded by jungle. If you really wanted to top off your family vacation to Costa Rica you can hire a cook. Hopefully you will hire us for your guiding and adventure tours at Hope you enjoyed the blog and it was useful and safe travels where ever they may take you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Satisfied Feeling at the End of Tour

During a student travel trip I experienced one of those feelings of accomplishment after a group left in June of 2010. Our company which is a small family run operation started a project in a rural village where we bring student groups to the village for two days. The village is called Sitio de Mata and is located in the Turrialba area next to the world famous Pacuare River. The village is made up of mostly single mother homes and very simple living conditions. There is very little work in the area. River rafting and agriculture are two of the main sources of income but dealing with homes of single moms their river rafting skills are a bit out of the question and agriculture working in the fields is very intense work and only happens during seasons. To put it simple the ladies and their families live extremely simple. We take our student groups to Sitio de Mata where they give us room and board. They also include local and culture activities treating us with 5-star service at a bit more humble environment. The views and scenery in the area are some of the best around and this experience can be apart of a family vacation to Costa Rica also.
The feeling I experienced happened when a student group was leaving for the airport on the last day. I always ask the students what their favorite part of the trip was. Many students resond ziplining, rafting, and even the homestays experience is the favorite among many. I have heard many students say that which is a good feeling inside. The answer I had not heard yet was from a father who said his favorite part of the trip was being able to watch his daughter see the families of the village living very simple by very happy. He said she was turning 16 and talking about which car she was going to get a week before and to visit this village and see some of the mom’s walk 2 km with a baby every morning really put things in perspective. He mentioned this was an experience that he would have never been able to show her daughter without taking her on a student travel trips to Costa Rica with Costa Rican Resource.
If you are interested in making this two day village homestay part of your itinerary then just let us know and we will include it in your family vacation to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Rainy Season

We are proud to say that we have one of the most crowded office on the planet. The tropical rainforest which we like to call our office is home to thousands of species of plants and animals. Whats all the fuss about a rainy forest? If you come on a student travel trip or a family vacation to Costa Rica with us chances are you will find out first-hand what the rainforest is. If you do not then keep on reading and maybe our webpage can help explain the basic information on the tropical rainforest.
To be a rainforest it must be an area that receives around 80 inches of rain per year. This does not mean it will all fall on you during your family vacation. There is a dry and rainy season in Costa Rica and there are some parts of the rainy season that receive more rain than others. In Costa Rica if you want to plan a vacation and be 100% you will be in the sun for the whole time then good luck. Atleast that is one promise we can not make. The rain is what makes this place so beautiful and there is nothing better then a day of rafting through the rainforest and then sitting in your jungle eco-lodge and listening to the heavy intense rains of the jungle as they hit the thousands of different species of plants. This is the dream machine you have always dreamed of and comes completely free on a family vacation to Costa Rica.
The rainy months of Costa Rica from from May – mid December and the dry months run from mid-December – May. Like we said before there is always a chance of rain and you can even run into a week of no rain during the rainy season. The heavy rains come from October and September so if you plan your family vacation during these months you better enjoy the rain because you will get plenty of it.
The Costa Rican rainforest is worth visiting on a student travel trip or a family vacation to Costa Rica because it can be very educational. You can teach your kids about so many things in the rainforest and how the eco-system works. The rainforest is filled with plants and animals that all have their special story (which our guides will inform you on) and this is why you should vacation to the rainforest.

Which Costa Rica Hotel Room?

Dealing with student trips and family vacation one main concern is always the hotels. The uses our services with the idea that we know each hotel and if something goes wrong in the hotel it is partly our fault. When booking hotels we have to be very sure of the service and conditions of the hotel. This requires that we visit hotels on a regular basis. With the extreme rains in Costa Rica hotels really have to do continual maintence on their rooms. Please do not let the webpage be your judge of rooms.

Teacher who travel with school groups on student travel trips are not too concerned about the luxury of the hotel. Yes they want to place to be clean but also very important are two areas that our company looks at in a student travel trip and that is location of rooms and location of hotel. We want to make it easy on the teacher and ourselves. We look for hotels that make up its own compound where walking about around town is not an option. When we are finished with the day activities the kids can play at the hotel pool instead of being in the center of town that might lend itself to temptations for the kids. We also look at the location of the rooms. Nobody is on their honeymoon and there is no need to have rooms spread out. We look to have all the rooms in the same area where teachers, guides, and hotel employees are always nearby for any reason a student might need us.

During a family vacation to Costa Rica the hotel rooms can make or break a trip. We can say as a company we are not perfect. We have had times (not many) when a hotel was not what our clients expected. Our response to this is to act immediately and find a hotel that fills their expectation and make it work no questions asked. Our policy is to send every client home satisfied no matter the cost. With family vacations we are always looking for hotels that will be cozy for the parents but might also offer activities for the kids such as a water slide or things of such. This is not a mega cruise and it is quite hard to find the type of programs that take the kids for the day and drop them off at night but that is what we are for. We promise to keep everyone active during the day so there is not that much energy at night.

When picking a hotel for a family vacation there are so many aspects to take into account even within the same hotel. Just because you are being sent to a 4 or 5 star resort does not mean you are getting a great room. You might have the luxury of a 4 star room but you might have a 1 star view. For us the views are the best part. You are comnig to Costa Rica on your vacation to see the things you do not normally see. We know of an amazing hotel in the Arenal area that has 24 rooms and 23 of them have wonderful views of the volcano. There is one room (that cost the same as the others) that has a view of a tropical tree but to some it might just look like an oak tree covering the volcano. Unless you are a botnist you probably do not want to spend your family vacation in Costa Rica looking at this tree while everyone else in the hotel talks about the great view of the erupting volcano from their rooms.

With all this said as a booking agency and tour operator we do everything within our power to give you the best option at the best price. If you take your next vacation to Costa Rica you will have picked a excellent country and just make sure you get an excellent room.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meet Costa Rica's 1st female President

Read These Facts You Wont Believe It

Living in Costa Rica has brought our attention to caring for the environment. Visiting rural villages and seeing smiles and laughs constantly has brought our attention to the idea of living simple and being happy with what you have. The environment is not only our office down here but it is a resource for so many different things that we have to protect and use correctly. An interesting question you can ask yourself is about the recession we were in. Yes, there was the fault of maybe good or bad politics but we can not always point fingers. If we as humans (not just Americans Im talking about the whole planet) lived more simple we would not be having the financial crisis we have today. Our aim is to fix the crisis so we can go back to living the way we were living. If we want to leave something for further generations lets leave simpler habits of living and let mother Earth take care of the rest. Take a look at these everday facts and see that living simpler is the best business on Earth.

If every sporting fan picked up and properly disposed of just one piece of litter per year, more than 1,480 tons (185 garbage trucks) would be removed from trails, beaches, rivers, forest, and other fragile ecosystems.

Dont take an ATM receipt. If everyone in the United States left their receipt in the machine, it would save a roll of paper more than two billion feet long, enough to circle the equator 15 times.

The average family around the world has 127 items in their home. An average US home has beween 2,000 - 5,000 items. Our planet makes 1.5 billion tons of household waste every year which is 3 times as much as the total weight of every person on the planet.

If every coffee drinker in North America made just one less cup of coffee per day we would save enough water over the course of a year to provide 2 gallons of water to the 1.2 million people who do not have access to water.

Schools use more than $6 billion dollars in energy with $1.5 billion wasted on A/C or heat running while nobody is in the classroom. If this was controlled schools could save enough money in one year to hire 30,000 more teachers for one year (these are jobs Americans can use).

Use e-tickets when traveling by air. As much as $3 billion dollars could be saved by the airlines each year (which is money they could use to hire more people at the front desk so and find pilots that dont fly drunk). If everyone used e-tickets we would save enough paper in one year to give all of India boarding passes (India is a pretty populated place).

These simple facts where taken from "the green book" which is the New York Times Besteseller written by Elizabeth Roger and Thomas M. Kostigen

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Costa Rican Roads

Working in the tourist industry I can see we know quite a few of the roads. In a country the size of West Virginia I can assure you though that there are always new roads and it would be almost impossible for somebody to know all the roads of Costa Rica with all the hills and mountains.

The roads in Costa Rica is what gives a student travel trip or a Costa Rica vacation that extra bit of adventure. Roads that look as if they lead to nowhere can open up to some of the best scenery you can imagine. In the last few years Costa Rica has done an incredible job of fixing up roads all over the country from the long coastal straight roads to the high mountainous roads it seems all are better than what they use to be.

Just like any place on Earth mother nature can takes its toll on a road. With detours needed you can see in the picture above that arriving to the river for a day of rafting we had to have the clients hike 1 km which is not that bad and like I said added to the adventure because a road was out. It is best that on a Costa Rica vacation or a student travel trip to Costa Rica you dont let any of this bother you and you just roll with the bumps in the road. I often tell clients that people that work in the coffee fields or sugarcane might have to walk 10 km each way to then work in the hot sun for 10 hours. This is nothing compared to hiking a bit to enjoy a sunny day rafting in one of the most beautiful rivers in the world.

The famous Caldera highway just opened up in 2010 and literally cuts about an hour off your time driving from San Jose to the Pacific coast. For a Costa Rica vacation or a student travel trip this can really help out in the different activities we do. It turns out that they had to close the road to continue working on it because rocks were falling in the lanes. I heard comments from Ticos talking about how bad a road it is and that this would never happen in the USA. Well I have news for them. Driving on roads in the USA I know plenty of places that have signs that say "Warning Falling Rocks". Although I agree the road might need a little extra work it is still an extraordinary accomplishment for a developing country to have such a nice road out to the beach.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Planting Trees Eco-Project

With our student travel programs or even a family vacation it is not about coming down and planting 50,000 trees and instantly feeling more oxygen in the air. What we try to do is educate our guest on the importance of being involved in eco-projects. One project that we do is take our groups to a reserve that 11 years ago was cow pasture. This reserve is called Ecocentro Danaus which is located near the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Over the past 11 years the area has grown to be beautiful jungle being a passage many different animials species.

The project starts by most importantly educating the kids in the importance of saving trees. We give the kids different statistics on different areas that they can relate to in their everyday lives. We let them know things they can do on a daily basis that can make a big difference. We also emphasize that very small things can make the big difference. We then allow everyone to get their hands dirty as we plant some trees and make it more of a symbolic moment of doing small things.

Small things make a Big Eco-Difference

Dealing in eco-tourism we feel the responsibility to show our clients just where we are in protecting the environment. We feel priviledged to having student travel groups and family vacations which we feel we can hopefully make a lasting impact on them. The idea is that they take some of the ideas and information they learn down here and pass it on to their family and friends back home. Most of our clients come from the US which is home to myself (Proud to be an American) but is also an area that has developed a style of living that mother Earth might not be ready for. This is the fault of nobody and society has left US citizens victims from a young age of how to live on this planet. We hope that with a few simple practices on our tours that our groups will go back and not completely change their style of living but just do small simple things that make a big difference. I will be honest I did not pay much attention to the environment, recycling, and things of such until I moved down to Costa Rica 9 years ago where I began doing Costa Rica Vacations and student travel groups and being in nature 24-7 that I realized we are here to live with Earth as a part of it and not to destroy it. Take a look at some of these stats and see that little things can make a big difference:

-The average home on Earth has 123 items in their home and the number of items in the average US home is 5,000.

- Coffee drinkers use about a 1/3 of the tap water in most American Homes. If every coffee drinker cut back on making one cup less in the morning over the course of a year this would save enough water to give 2 gallons of water to 1.2billion people on the planet who dont have water.

- (I like this one since a lot of teachers have been fired this year) Schools waste $1.5 billion in wasted heated and A/C per year. If this was controlled by the teachers it would be enough to hire 30,000 more teachers for one year of classes.

- If everyone decided to only use e-tickets for airplane tickets the airline industry could save as much as $3 billion dollars annually by eliminating paper tickets all together. With paper saved you would have enough to provide boarding passes for all of India.

The list goes on of simple steps that can be taken to make a big difference. The key word here that it is SIMPLE.

A Book on Costa Rican Wildlife

I have been in book stores and souvenir shops almost everyday for the last 9 years. Just yesterday I came across a new book on wildlife of Costa Rica which really caught my eye. First of all when a guide is looking for a book the most important in my opinion is the size. If it is a big book chances are you will leave it at the house and not bring it on the tour just because it is a pain to travel with. The book I came across was The Wildlife of Costa Rica "A Field Guide". This book is was put together by four different experts in the field of wildlife. They did a small description on your most popular animals of Costa Rica and made it into a book small enought to pop in and out of your bag with ease. The book has two animals on each page making the description a half of page each which is just enough to give the basic information on the animal. If you are looking for some more info just look it up but when on tour there is no need to be walking around with a set of Encyclpedias now that internet is almost available at every hotel.

This blog can be just a quick book review for students that plan on coming on a student travel trip or even great for families enjoying a family vacation in Costa Rica and want to make it a little more educational.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rafting Water Levels Costa Rica

Dealing with adventure sports the first priority should always be safety. When it comes to whitewater rafting there are a list of things that a guide must take into consideration before a trip. Not only do the clients have to be physically fit to take on the challenge.

Maybe one of the most important consideration is how Mother Nature is behaving during the day of your river trip. Costa Rica is a place that is filled with mountains and rain which means the rafting is great. During the rainy season Costa Rica can get a lot of rain and fill up the rivers very fast. Unfortunately due to deforistation the rain enters the rivers faster and this also means the rivers drain faster. This can be dangerous to a river trip because what we call a head of water can fill up a river very quickly. The guide and company must take into consideration not only the weather conditions where the river trip begins but also the weather conditions farther up stream which could be a heavy rain miles away but still filling the river.

When the river becomes high the water runs faster, waves are bigger, and hydrolic holes are stronger. All of this can make the river at a point where a company has to cancel the trip or take their clients to a different river. For all companies dealing with adventure tourism these are basic issues that should be looked at before every trip from rafting to canyoneering and waterfall rappeling. Be sure your company is putting saftey first as in our case it is always the number one concern of our clients. Dealing with student travel trips and family vacations to Costa Rica safety first is a no-brainer for our company.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chirripo Costa Rica (I'm Speachless)

You have got to be kidding me. With all the natural beauties this country has I never thought things like the Arenal volcano, Pacuare River, and Manuel Antonio could be topped. Sure enough last week we took off to hike Costa Rica's highest point which is Chirripo National Park and we had some of the most beautiful weather you can imagine. This without a doubt is the pearl of this small country filled with natural beauties. I saw a lady crying at the top saying Ive only felt this feeling one other time in her life and that was when she became a mother. I guess you can look at that as the hike to the top can be about as painful as giving birth but Im pretty sure she was not talking about the hike but the feeling a joy and satisfaction of arriving to a point in her life of a place and moment so beautiful in time.

Dealing with student travel in Costa Rica I can say this is an amazing area to challenge a student and make it part of a leadership trip. I will surely be offering this adventure for student groups in the future and hopefully even some family vacations we can convince into doing this amazing adventure. It is a heck of a hike of almost 40km up hill starting at 1,000mts and making it to the summit of 3,820mts.

I love this place and with a country filled with so many natural beauties and a country that is so small its most beautiful and largest natural beauty is its most hidden. Enjoy the hike and cherish the moment because there are few places on Earth like Costa Rica's Chirripo.
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rafting Pacuare River Costa Rica

If you come to Costa Rica and you are up for a little adventure then pleae make the trip to the Pacuare River. This is something we try to convince all of our tours from student travel trips to family vacations to take part in one of the best adventures on the planet. National Geographic has this rated as one of the top 5 rivers on the planet for rafting.

Pacuare River Costa Rica

The name Pacuare comes from the nearby Cabecar Indians who live in the reserve that runs along the river which is virging rainforest from start to finish. "Pacua" means the bird Macaw and "re" means river in the Cabecar language.

The river is also filled with canyons and waterfalls from start to finish. It is a 3 hour run which will take you the best 18 miles ever traveled in your life. In our opinion this is the best tour of the trip because the river is such a scenic and peaceful place to be. Peaceful until you make it to the class IV's which will get the adrenaline pumping. So if you get the chance to travel on a student trip to Costa Rica or a family vacation and you are up for some adventure be sure to include the Pacuare River in Costa Rica.

Family Adventure Planning Speciailist
Costa Rican Resource