Note: The majority of this blog post, as well as the Kauai post, is being written in May of 2013! I've been a terrible blogger! It will not be as detailed as the previous Borneo post, or future posts. I apologize, but hope you enjoy, anyway!
You're probably thinking -- "Costa Rica? Really? Didn't you just go to Borneo?" Well, at least that's what I'd be thinking if I were you! And I know that it must sound extravagant -- after all, Borneo was a "trip of a lifetime". Let me explain...
A few months before (winter 2011) our trip to Borneo (April 2011), I began looking into summer camp options for our children. (Around here, at least, camps are often a bit cheaper if they're booked prior to certain early winter dates.) At the time, we didn't have anything planned for the summer of 2011 aside from a few brief family visits, so I thought the kids could do two weeks of summer camp. Well, it turns out that summer camp is expensive! Day camps around here run about $350/week/child. Multiply that times two children times two weeks, and you're budgeting about $1500! Camp is fun, but surely, we thought, we could provide an even more enriching experience with a $1500 budget...
... So, I began searching. Kayak has a very cool "explore" tool: you plug in your (flexible) travel dates, budget, and other "requirements", then Kayak pulls up a world map with pinpoints on every destination available, honoring your constraints. I plugged in "summer", "under $300", and sure enough one of the destinations that came up was "San Jose, Costa Rica" for roughly $250 round trip on Spirit Airlines. Unfortunately, my husband would not be able to join us on this trip because due to a lack of further vacation time, but I speak Spanish, had been to Costa Rica once before (for our honeymoon), and so I knew I could handle it. I booked the tickets and started planning a 10-day trip that would keep our total budget (including the $750 I spent on airfare) as close to $1500 as possible.
We spent three days at a small property located about an hour from Arenal called Biothermales - $45/night in a small, beautiful "casita" which included a mini kitchenette, followed by three days at a farm called Finca Rio Perla - $30/night in their Posada, which was basic, but perfectly clean and really just lovely, and three days at Korrigan Lodge - $100 a night in a beautiful detached room on stunning grounds, including a fantastic breakfast . . . all steps from the gorgeous Punta Uva beach! We used Interbus, a shared van service offering scheduled pick-ups for transportation between destinations. The entire 10-day trip cost under $2000. I was pretty proud! ;-)