For Carson's 14th Country, my dad (aka Carson’s best friend), Carson and I decided to go and live the “Pura Vida” lifestyle in Costa Rica and it was so worth it!
How we got to Costa Rica with Kids
American Airlines had a deal that I seen on Cheap DFW to Liberia, Costa Rica non stop for $200 RT so we booked it immediately. My father lives in Charlotte, NC and Delta Airlines luckily had a deal for $300 Round Trip with a short layover in Atlanta so we were ready to go!!
Entry into Costa Rica during COVID with kids
Costa Rica has been open to tourist for some time during the pandemic. Before we traveled, I made sure to check the requirements weekly on the US Embassy website, since the rules can change frequently.
This is what was required for our entry into Costa Rica:
1. A Negative COVID Test is NOT required. We took one anyway since we were going to be around my dad, my dad took one also, just for us to be safe.
2. Travel Health Insurance with COVID Coverage is REQUIRED. The insurance MUST cover a minimum of $50,000 worth of care and $2000 of extended lodging in the event that you get sick while in the country. I used Seven Corners.
3. 48 Hours before your flight, you must fill out an online health pass on the Costa Rican Governments website. You must also upload your travel insurance documents on this website. You are required to do this step for each passenger INCLUDING minors.
4. After filling out your health pass, you will receive a barcode via email.
5. PRINT OR SCREENTSHOT the barcode. This will be required for entry into the country.
6. Mask are required.
7. There is NO CURFEW in the country.
Entering Costa Rica with Kids
After we exited the plane, we were immediately greeted by airport workers requesting to see our barcodes. Then we went down a hallway that led us to customs. There was literally NO ONE in line so we were escorted to an official. They asked for our passport and for our barcodes, then we were free to exit. We didn’t have any bags #TEAMCARRYON so we didn’t have to wait for our luggage but we waited about 10 minutes for my dads flight to arrive. We exited the airport and we were greeted by our driver from Jacamar Tours.
Where we stayed in Costa Rica with Kids
Since we were in Costa Rica for almost 7 days, we decided to split our time into two parts of the country. The first half of our trip we stayed at the Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa. This hotel is in the La Fortuna Arenal area. So it gave us some amazing rain forest vibes. After our Private Shuttle pickup from the airport, we had a ride of about 2.5 hours to the La Fortuna Area. The ride wasn’t that bad, but I recommend of you have motion sickness, to take your medicine because riding through the hills can make you a little nauseous due to all the twisting and turning. The second part of our trip we drove 2 hours to our next hotel which was in Playa Flamingo right on the beach. The hotel is called Bahia Del Sol Resort, and it allowed us to see one of the beaches of Costa Rica.
Our stay at the Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa
Tabacon is a five-star resort and hot springs located in Costa Rica at the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano in the heart of the tropical rainforest. Due to the pandemic and the lack of tourist in the country, the resort was holding an amazing deal on rooms to bring tourist back to visit. Our room was more than 50% off of the normal price and included BREAKFAST and entry to their Hot Springs!!
Upon your arrival at the hotel, you must go through the security gate to enter. Before entering the lobby, you are greeted by staff, whom are wearing mask. There is a hand sanitizer station before entering the lobby. Once in the lobby, you see the glass up at the check in counter to limit the exposure of the COVID-19 Virus. Each check in station has a hand sanitizer station for your use. Each guest checking in receive a complimentary lemon ginger welcome drink (it was amazing) and a wristband which is used to open your room door.
After checking in, you are escorted by golf cart to your room. The staff unloads your luggage and walks you through all the features of your room before leaving.
We booked the Orchid Room which features 2 queen beds, a bathroom, fridge, coffee pot, table, seating area, TV, a rain shower, closet and more. I was so in awe with their attention to detail. They had a robe and slippers for each of us, including a smaller one for Carson.
The best part of the room was the view of the Arenal Volcano. It was completely BREATHTAKING! The windows open fully to give you that open air feel.
The Tabacon Resort has 2 main restaurants and several bars that serve food as well. The Tucanes restaurant is where we ate our Included Buffet Breakfast. Breakfast consisted of some Costa Rican favorites like eggs, beans and rice, as well as some American options like Pancakes, waffles, omelets, etc. The food was “okay” but did the job. This dining option also serves a formal dinner. Due to the pandemic, you must make a reservation for breakfast with the front desk. You can either keep the same time everyday, or switch up times if you need to.
The other main restaurant is called Ave Restaurant. This is located in the Hot Springs area and also serves buffet style lunch and dinner. It was really pricey, and the food was disgusting. I was shocked at the fact that this restaurant had no kid options outside of ice cream.
The bars at the hotel and hot springs also serve food which was a much more cost efficient. The food was way better than the food at the main restaurants. We had pizza, chicken sandwich, portabella sandwich, fries and more. Carson even wanted a pizza the very next day because it was just that good.
The hotel does have a fitness center with all the equipment you will need. Due to the pandemic, guest are required to make a reservation for the gym, and it can only be an hour. The gym had sanitizer as well as lysol wipes for the equipment which was great.
The Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa also has a hot spring included for guest, or you can buy a day pass if you are not staying at the resort. There are five main springs sources of highly mineralized water that is heated underground by the Arenal Volcano’s magma. Thousands of gallons of this perfect water naturally emanate every minute. There are over 20 pools at the springs so there is plenty of space to social distance.
Water temperature ranges from 72-105 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature is posted on a sign outside of each of the pools. Carson doesn’t even like cold pools anymore after being exposed to the hot springs.
The springs also has an Adults only area called the Shangri-La Gardens. It’s the perfect place to relax in the beauty of the rainforest.
The Hot springs was one of the highlights of our trip.
The hotel also offers guest a “Plant a Tree Activity”. Guest are allowed to head to the resorts garden to plant their very own tree. It’s a great way to do something to help the environment and ecosystem of Costa Rica. It also fun to imagine coming back in a few years to see how much your tree has grown.
Upon departing, the hotel gave Carson a stuffed animal sloth to remember his stay in Costa Rica.
Tabacon Resort has announced that it will proved COVID testing for those who need it to entry back into their country.
Bahia Del Sol Resort
For our second hotel, we decided to head back near the area of the airport. We stayed a four star resort on Potrero Beach in the Guanacaste area called Bahia Del Sol. It was a downgrade in a sense from Tabacon but still had its charm. Once we arrived, we were required to wash our hands before checking in. There were also mask reminders and hand sanitizing stations everywhere. Our room had two beds, a couch, a desk, fridge, coffee pot, and shower. Each room has a hammock out in front for you to relax.
Bahia Del Sol has a restaurant and bar on the property. The food was AMAZING!!! Breakfast is included for guest. You have the options of Huevos Rancheros, A Traditional Costa Rican Breakfast, Pancakes, or an American Breakfast. Lunch and dinner are really good and cheap as well.
The hotel has Happy Hour every night at the bar. Drinks are two for the price of one (Price ranges from $5-$10) . The drink of choice in Costa Rica is Guaro Sour
The hotel has a pool, and beach front access as well. The sand on Potrero Beach has a blackish tint to it. Its different from the white sandy beaches that we are used to, but the sunset are gorgeous.
Although the food was good and the happy hour was amazing, I will choose somewhere a little more touristy and modern to stay the next time I visit.
What activities did we do in Costa Rica with Kids
1. Rio Celeste Waterfall: Upon searching activities that I wanted to do, I kept seeing this beautiful turquoise tint waterfall that people were hiking to. I found a tour company using AirBnB Experiences that included this hike for $70 per a person (Carson was Free) lunch included. Other companies were charging $120-150 per a person.