Costa Rica Family Vacation


It was the first time my entire family had gone on a big vacation together for a few years and I was excited. I was working my first internship in New York at the time, and I was beyond ready to take a break for something fun. The vacation was full of surprises from the start. Originally, I was going to be the only one in the family not going, due to my internship, but I managed to get my vacation approved by the time we got around to purchasing tickets. However, we left my grandma out of the loop about me coming, and just let her find out I would be part of it when she landed in Costa Rice and saw me there waiting for everyone. The trip only got more exciting from there.

When we got to the house we were staying at, I was beyond blown away. We used VRBO to find this house and it was somehow even better in person than it looked online. There were 7 of us on this trip, so the house had 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a huge living room (which was needed because we are a hardcore gaming family), and that was only the inside. Heading to the backyard, there was a grill for us to cook out on, a big lawn, a good-sized pool, and about 30 feet away was the beach. You really can’t ask for more than that. As amazing as this house was though, it was time to get out and start doing some exploring.

My family is the type that expends more energy on vacation than in every day life because we don’t want to miss anything, so naturally we were up around 7 am on the first to walk up and down the beach and see what was around. How else are you going to scout out all of the nearby restaurants? After soaking up the morning sun, we went on to our first excursion – snorkeling off the coast. Before throwing on the snorkels, though, we all kayaked out to a nearby island with our guide. This island felt like it was from a post-apocalyptic movie. The tide had been low for so long that 90% of the island was covered with dried up shells and coral that had been bleached by the sun, giving the island a cool, white coat. There were old rusted over boat engines sitting in tide pools. To add on to the ominous feeling of this place, we found some sea stars that looked like they were from another planet – their bodies were only about the size of a quarter, but they had long spiny legs that were up to 6 inches long, and they were all black. After spending some time here, we finally got in the water for snorkeling and saw almost every animal you could think of outside of dolphins, sharks, and whales. There was a plethora of fish, sea urchins, sea horses, and our guide even managed to get an octopus to latch onto his harm for a bit. After a hour or so in the water, we hit the road home and wrapped up pretty quickly to prepare for a big next day.

This day was by far my favorite day of the trip, but it’s hard not to be when it was filled with amazing activities from start to finish. The day started with a bumpy horseback ride up a mountain, leading us to the first of our 12 zip lines we going to take down through the forest. This was my first time zip lining, so I was pretty excited to say the least. You always hear about zip lining through the Costa Rican forests, but hearing stories just doesn’t do it justice. One second you’re flying through canopy, getting a quick glimpse at a monkey hanging out on a nearby branch, and then the next second you exit the tree and are a couple hundred feet above the forest, just alone in the sky. Once we exited off the last line, we still weren’t back down to the bottom, so naturally we took a water slide the rest of the way to the bottom where we had yet another amazing meal. One of the most memorable moments for me happened at this lunch. We had other travelers at our table, and one woman was telling us that this was her one international trip for the year and that she tries travelling internationally once and domestically twice every year. How amazing is that? She just plans the trips herself, and puts up the itinerary on Facebook for whoever wants to join her. That’s how you live a fun life.

After lunch, we still were only about halfway done with the day. Our next stop was trekking though the jungle and across a suspension bridge to a natural hot spring that was about the size of a high school basketball gym. About 30 minutes into being at the spring, it turned into a scene that you only see in movies. Here we were, hanging out in a natural hot spring in the forests of Costa Rica, and then it started raining. Not enough to ruin the day, but just enough of a sprinkle to give it a gorgeous misty look. Right as that started, monkeys began howling in the distance and swinging through the trees above us. It was unreal, and a moment I will never forget.

Our last day was another multi-excursion day that started off with surf lessons. Surprisingly, we were actually good as a group who had never been before. According to the instructor, we lucked out and got some pretty calm waves, so I’m sure that contributed to our success. Him pushing our boards out in front of the waves when we paddled too slow definitely didn’t make it harder either, but I like to believe that I would have done just as well on my own. After refueling with a delicious meal of rice, beans, fresh fish, and grilled plantains, we went on to our last excursion, which was a riverboat tour. I felt like I was back at Disneyland riding the Riverboat ride. Luckily, there weren’t any indigenous tribes waving spears at us on this one. We also got one last experience with nature on this trip, passing by different kinds of monkeys and some alligators floating along the surface of the water. 

After the boat tour, we went home, enjoyed one last sunset, and played some games before we all had to head out to the real world the next morning. This vacation was amazing, and I love that in this day and age we are able to not only look back on trips like this and remember what it was like, but we can actually feel like we are reliving these amazing moments through high quality photos and videos. Not many people know, but this was actually the first “travel video” I made that launched me into what is now Quentin Wolfe Films. I just wanted to capture the memories and have something for my family to remember too, and it was something that I quickly loved doing. That’s what life is all about: finding a passion in an unexpected place and chasing it. If you made it this far, thank you for reading. Stay around for more to come!