Part 1 of our Adventures by Disney report, picked the perfect “teen centric” trip to Costa Rica, and Part 2 had us on planes and boats in search of sea turtles and pineapples. Our final installment finally brings us to the reason the girls chose this adventure – ziplining through the Costa Rica cloud forest!
The morning dawned rainy, so the three of us donned ponchos. We were not smart enough to actually bring our own raincoats which hung on hooks at home, so we had to use the ponchos Adventures by Disney gave us as a welcome gift upon arrival. We got suited up with our harnessed and helmets, then took the sky tram to the top of the forest!
We had two short “practice” zips before we had to commit. Those two short ones were still near the main building, and if you wanted to opt out there was a way to get back to the base. If you went on the third one, the only way to get back was to keep on zipping!
Some of the kids were small (light) enough that they had what they called a “taxi” where one of the ziplining guys would ride with them, to give enough weight to get them all the way across. My youngest was offered this and she was happy to have a buddy. She had been getting nervous about this the last few days. She went ahead of me, and by the time I got to that landing, she had already moved on with her taxi. I was thrilled to hear she had a huge smile on her face when she landed!
It was raining during our first few runs and as completely incredible as the experience was, you could only go so long before the rain started to hurt your eyeballs and you just had to close your eyes. So it felt like an extra special treat when on the first really long zipline, the rain let up and the mist lifted as I started my run, and I got an astonishing view of Lake Arenal with the volcano behind it. I only wish I had photos, but I had nowhere to keep my camera. I’ll never forget it though – I’m just sad I can’t share with you! Everyone in our group absolutely loved this activity – ziplining in a rainforest with a volcano as your backdrop – so, so cool!
By the time we all finished we were starving, and next on the agenda was a trip into the town of LaFortuna for lunch on our own. Our guide Ronald pointed out a few restaurants he recommended as we pulled into a parking spot, and many of us headed for one of them. We had about an hour and a half before we needed to be back. My kids and I sat down at a table, took a quick look at the menu, and the time, and decided we didn’t want to spend our brief time here in a restaurant – we wanted to shop! So we got up and went to the grocery store for coffee and candy. Then we wandered up and down the streets. My 13 year old bought a Pura Vida tank top and we all got some ice cream and some snacks for “lunch.”
Back at the hotel we were treated to an activity with the Maleku, the native people of Costa Rica. We painted tiny gourds they had already drawn toucans, butterflies, humming birds or frogs on while they talked about some of their history and traditions. This was a low key activity but really fascinating to hear about their culture.
An Adventures by Disney trip is never boring – once this activity was over it was time to grab our bathing suits and head to the Hot Springs! There was a light rain which almost made the hot water feel even more special.
We had a lovely time soaking in the waters, and enjoyed dinner at a restaurant right there at the springs. It was late when we got back, and we had no trouble falling asleep!
Late nights somehow lead to early mornings, and practically as soon as we woke up it was time to leave for our next destination, with just a quick stop to do some white water rafting on the way! We rode almost 5 miles of Class III rapids, with 3 or 4 to a raft, plus a guide. We had a blast!
At some point during the day, we passed from the Caribbean side to the Pacific side of Costa Rica, which means a major climate change. Instead of rain, we had hot sunshine in Guanacaste. The hotel we stayed at on this side is brand new. It was again late afternoon when we arrived (though still light!) and we got our rooms and a few minutes to change clothes. It was adult/junior adventurer dinner night! The kids went one way, and the adults went another. Frankie drew the kid straw, while Ronald got to be with the adults. We ate on the beach, with our own personal grill chefs. Fantastic food! The kids also watched “Frozen” during dinner, and afterwards joined us on the beach for s’mores, and Disney Photographer David Roark took the teen photographers to the water to do some light work. I think they did a really cool job!
The next day was our final full day – such an amazing week and we can’t believe it’s nearing the end! But what an end! We boarded a huge catamaran and sailed for about 40 minutes to a private beach. But on the way, guess what? Sea turtles! We saw 4 sea turtles swimming in the water! I saw my sea turtles after all!!
We anchored just off a private beach and we had the opportunity to snorkel, paddle board, or just float in the water. Some of us swam over to the beach and explored a cave over there. We did some snorkeling too, and the kids tried to see how many of them they could get on a paddle board!
We had an open bar on the catamaran, and lunch was served too. Their guacamole was almost as good as mine!
It was about noon when we got back, and the kids had swimming on their brains. A few of us lounged by the pool while the kids swam.
That night was our Farewell Dinner. The food was out of this world, and after we ate, we each were asked to share our favorite memory of the trip with the group. The most common answers were ziplining and white water rafting, but one teenage boy said the all you can eat buffets were the best part and some mentioned the guides.
It was a very emotional evening. So many memories made, so many friendships made, wondering when and how we can be together again. And the hardest thing of all – which Adventures by Disney trip to do next??
A few final notes:
Adventures by Disney trips are not cheap. However, in my opinion, they are totally worth the money. The tour price includes all your hotels, most meals (varies by trip), all published activities (without waiting in lines!), gratuities for covered meals, local tour guides, and luggage handling from stop to stop (this alone is priceless!). [Gratuities for your ABD guides are not covered, but if yours are like mine, you will not be able to give them enough money to show your appreciation for all they have done.] I challenge you to put together the same trip for less money, and even if you could save a few dollars, you would have the stress of figuring out where to be each step of the way.
We love meeting new friends on Adventures by Disney trips. Thanks to Facebook (for me) and Instragram (for my kids), we can easily keep in touch with our new adventurer friends!