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Last year when I heard the announcement that British Airways were starting a direct flight to San Jose, Costa Rica, I knew that I had to be on that flight. So I booked myself & the boyfriend on the inaugural flight on the 27th April. I would never have got David (the BF) to Costa Rica unless there was a direct flight – so not only was it great news for my clients but also for me.

I booked the flights so we had 10 nights in Costa Rica – not long enough but better than nothing. The flight from Gatwick was fantastic- the service was excellent & the film choice was great. We were very excited when we got to Gatwick – well I was, David was still not too happy about the length of the flight. I can fall asleep during take-off but David just finds it hard to get any sleep. I keep telling him the more he flies the easier it will be!!
After 17 years of selling & travelling to Costa Rica this trip was going to be pure holiday – no hotel inspections (well that was the plan & I largely kept to it!) , picking some of my favourite places to take David. We started off with 2 nights at the wonderful Xandari Plantation y Spa Hotel, a short drive from San Jose Airport. I absolutely love this hotel & so do my clients. We have several clients that return to Costa Rica & this property is always a “must stay” hotel – it is that good.

The next day we had the tour to Poas Volcano & La Paz Waterfall Gardens – one of my recommended tours. After a hot & active day we got back to the hotel & headed to the hotels spa. We had one of the private jalapas to enjoy the open air Jacuzzi with stunning views of the Central Valley.


Our next stop was Pacuare Lodge. I have not been here for several years & as David really wanted to do some white water rafting, this was the place to go. Pacuare Lodge is a stunning property & one that I would highly recommend to our clients that want somewhere amazing to stay & like the adventure of getting to & from the lodge via the white water rapids. The accommodation, service, food & choice of tours are superb. David did the zip lines & I of course felt it my duty to try out the spa. David came back all hot & sweaty after his adventure & I was all relaxed & calm after my foot massage. We were treated like royalty & given the out of this world Jaguar Villa for out 2 night stay. All I could keep saying was wow, it was beautiful. Apart from being huge it was next to the river, we had our own spring water swimming pool, indoor & outdoor showers, an outdoor bath- big enough for 2 & our own private bridge to a treetop platform to watch the river – we actually had breakfast served here on our 1st morning, it was very romantic.

On our last night they even sat us in a candle lit garden & had the fire pit burning. We did not want to leave & suggested to Wilmann- the manger- that we could stow away in the villa, he didn’t discourage us. Pura vida. Pacuare Lodge does push the budget but you really do get what you pay for – it is a very special place.

So we did have to leave & raft out!! Last time I visited I only rafted in – I was too scared to raft out on the grade 3 & 4 rapids. This time I did it & without incident- I managed to stay inside the raft – a huge relief, but have to admit to having my eyes tightly closed when we went into the grade 3 & 4 rapids. Our guide was very amusing with his shouts of “Mayday mayday” & “oh my God” as we approached each scary set of rapids– this is when I knew to close my eyes. We did stop en route for a lovely picnic lunch on the riverbank & then a bit later a swim in a gorgeous ravine. I can now say I have conquered one of the wildest and most scenic rivers in the world. Watch out Bear Grylls!!

Douglas, our old friend & driver, met us at the put out point on the river to transfer us to Arenal. I absolutely love the Arenal Volcano area – it is an area I always like to include on my own trips & of course for my clients. There is an array of hotels to choose from but as this was my holiday I had to stay at my personal favourite – the Kioro Hotel. I especially like this hotel because it has its own hot springs- which is for hotel guest use only, & are free. I think it is magic water as it seems to cure all sorts of ailments- sunburn, mosquito bites, relieves aches & pains etc. The hotel is located right in front of the volcano & I recommend sleeping with the curtains open so if you wake at 5am- which is normal as we are still on UK time – you usually get a perfect view without any clouds covering the volcano. We were really lucky as we had clear views for most of both days.

So whilst at Arenal, & as I had tried my hand at rafting again – I thought I may as well continue with the adventure theme & do the Sky Trek canopy zip lines. I possibly may not have done it again ( I did it on a previous trip years ago), if David had not wanted to do it – dam the man! I do have to say that this time I actually enjoyed it.. We had a lovely day, the views from 650 feet up were fabulous & even though I was flying along at 60 miles an hour I managed to appreciate the views- the half a mile zip line especially gave me a lot of time to appreciate the view of the lake, volcano & jungle below. I think I would consider doing it again – I can hardly believe it myself!

What else did we do at Arenal? – We had our 4×4 delivered so drove to the Sky trek & had planned to drive into La Fortuna for dinner for the 2nd night – but after our adrenaline rush & then a special volcanic mud facial at the hotels spa, we fell asleep & woke up at 11pm. The morning we were leaving to self-drive to Manuel Antonio we had an early breakfast- missed dinner remember – & then had a last visit to the hot springs. We then left to self-drive the approx. 5 hours to Manuel Antonio. David did a great job driving whilst I navigated – mmh we had sat nav, GPS as they call it, so I actually had nothing to do – perfect. It was a good journey & as we reached higher ground we had a 40 minute rain storm.

I think David thought I had been lying about Costa Rica being a tropical rain forest & that it would rain – this was his 1st time seeing the heavy rain. Of course it didn’t last as we drove down to sea level again. To break the journey we stopped at Tarcoles river to walk along the bridge so David could see the crocodiles – as most people when they see these huge creatures, he was fascinated. We then made another stop at Villa Caletas Hotel– a steep drive up to the hotel we call the “stairway to heaven” as you feel like you are in the sky. A quick inspection followed by a light lunch & we continued to drive to Manuel Antonio.

Our last 4 nights were at another of my favourite hotels – the El Parador Hotel. My very good friend Allan arranged for us to have a gorgeous ocean view suite – spoilt again. I always enjoy my time at the hotel & we enjoyed the swimming pools, ate amazing food & watched the Real Madrid Vs Manchester City football match – that was not my idea but I did enjoy my refreshing gin & tonicas with cucumber, so not a total waste of time for me! During our stay in the area we did a bit of shopping & visited the very hot National Park to see the deer, monkeys, ant eaters etc. before cooling down in one ocean at one of the beautiful beaches in the National Park. Before we knew it, it was our last night in Costa Rica.

The hotel candle lit & put bubbles in our balcony Jacuzzi for us that night– it was lovely as we relaxed & watched a thunder & lightning storm come in over the ocean. My oldest (not in age of course) Costa Rican friend, Walter- who is our wonderful ground agent- joined us for the last day & night so we had a great goodbye dinner at the hotel & he then drove us to San Jose airport the next day. The departure time of the BA flight is great as we can travel straight from Manuel Antonio to the airport & not need to have another night in the city.

With a very heavy heart we left Costa Rica. We had an amazing time & I was so pleased that David also loved it. Costa Rica is a very special, hugely diverse small country, but also the Ticos – Costa Ricans – are the nicest, most hospitable & welcoming people you can meet. I have been working at Worldwide Holidays for 17 years this year, selling & travelling myself to Costa Rica & I have to say that no-one ever comes back disappointed, with many of my clients returning – several of them multiple times. That just says it all.

The new British Airways direct flights are great & for clients that do not live near London we have more good news- Air France will start flying to San Jose in November 2016 – & they will offer connections from various regional airports via Paris CDG.

If you are reading this & have never been to Costa Rica with us, or want to go back please just give me a call on 01202 23 23 35 or email me on We can discuss your interests & preferences so that I can design the perfect trip for you.

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