We arrive in Arenal in the late afternoon. We are greeted in the lobby of Mountain Paradise Hotel with fruity beverages and damp towels, refreshing after a long drive from Tamarindo. Our luggage is loaded onto a golf cart and we go up the hill to our villa. It’s peaceful here. The cooler mountain air is refreshing after a few days on the beach. We settle into our villa. I love that we’re not stuffed into a hotel with the sounds of foot steps up and down the hall and doors shutting. I hear only the sounds of wildlife and my own pack of creatures.
For convenience, we eat dinner at the hotel restaurant, Arenal Koita. Since it’s my birthday, we indulge on patacones (a local appetizer of plantain chips with bean dip) and we go all out on the fruity drinks. The service is outstanding the food is stellar. Back at the villa, I enjoy a cold glass of wine courtesy of Sarah – a family travel blog and then relax in my little mountain house.
The fiesta continues! Today we start David’s birthday with a delicious breakfast at the hotel. It’s the usual Costa Rican fare with plenty of Gallo Pinto, veggies and fruit. I enjoy bottomless coffee and conversation- one of the many benefits of leaving the kids devices out of our vacation!
A van arrives after breakfast to take us out to our next adventure…ziplining. David and I are both a little timid about soaring 300ft in the air above the rainforest canopy, but also excited to share this new experience with our kids. I have no problem expressing my fear in front of the kids, I think it’s powerful for them to see vulnerability in their parents.
After the first “warmup” ride, I’m quickly reassured by the detail-oriented crew who checks my gear each time they send me soaring. I actually start to enjoy myself! The kids seem to have no fear and love every second of the experience. While we wait between rides, we enjoy the sights and sounds of unique creatures and plants.
We are delivered in La Fortuna to refuel at a soda for la comida tipical– rice, beans, veggies, plantains. We stroll around town and enjoy views of the volcano. The afternoon calls for some pool time and blended beverages. For dinner we enjoy Nene’s. They treat David well and sing to him with a giant flaming candle. We all get dessert of course!
With nothing scheduled (how refreshing!) we take our time at breakfast and discuss options for the day. The resort offers some outings, but they come with a high price tag. We opt for a shuttle to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park for a self-guided tour. I’m surprised by the entrance fee while I imagine a standard hiking trail and some rustic rope bridges. However, the beautiful park is well maintained with gardens and a paved trail connecting a variety of bridges- totally worth the price of admission. We spend about 2.5 hours meandering through the rainforest. You can defintely move faster, but we stop frequently to watch leaf-cutter ants, listen to the humming of unkown creatures and Kayla stares desperately into the trees in hopes of spotting a sloth. The adventure is complete with a nice afternoon downpour and we hop in the hotel shuttle back to La Fortuna.
David’s Google search turns up a cute little restaurant called Organico Fortuna. I’m quite pleased to find a place that resonates so deeply with my values! The food is amazing, Kayla loves her pitaya smoothie, but even more, we enjoy the colorful decor that illustrates the philosophy here…food is the best medicine! Plates are passsed around a battle ensues over who will finish each dish. I’m in love and consider never leaving.
David takes the kids to the pool in the afternoon while I enjoy a siesta. We lounge around the resort in the evening and skip dinner because everyone is still satisfied from the late lunch.
We spend our last mountain morning at the pool, of course…then we’re off to Manuel Antonio!