My first scouting trip to Costa Rica about 20 years ago wasn’t what you would call an unqualified success. Among other things, I ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere on the road to Monteverde Cloud Forest. Fortunately, a farmer had a few gallons to spare – and the native ingenuity to turn a banana leaf into a funnel so he could get the fuel into my tank.

Misadventures aside, I fell in love with Costa Rica, and ultimately our guests did too. For most of the last two decades it has been a top selling destination for Classic Journeys. Because of its proximity to the U.S. and a climate that’s mild all year, the country makes for an easy getaway in just about any season. Families really love all of the activities it offers. And the people of Costa Rica just do a better and better job of preserving their amazing eco-system and enhancing their tourism infrastructure.


So why did we decide near the end of 2014 to rethink our itinerary – when we could have just as easily left well enough alone? Our philosophy at Classic Journeys has always been that we want our trips to be exactly the kind of trips we’d like to take ourselves. And my family and I had one very special (and slightly different) experience that last time we went to Costa Rica. We’d been even busier than usual at home. So we decided to streamline things a bit and go to just two of our favorite parts of the country, rather than three as we had in the past. We spent a few days at a resort near the foot of Arenal Volcano – walks on hardened lava flows, hot springs, ziplining and forest canopy walks. And then we went straight to Manuel Antonio Park – Howler monkeys, amazing Pacific beaches, river-rafting and kayaking.

Arenal Volcano

In the middle of the week, we had one of those “aha” moments. “Wait,” my wife and I marveled to each other, “we can do Costa Rica, but only re-pack and unpack once!” With a single transfer between two great boutique resorts, we also spent less time in transit from place to place. On top of that, we scheduled a slightly earlier flight back home on our last day. Some guests had told us that they’d rather end soon enough on the last day to fly right out, rather than spending an extra night in San Jose. The fact is, we still had a great final day…AND made it to the airport with time to spare.

Back at home, we experimented by turning our own experience into a revised itinerary to test how it would work. We brainstormed with our local guides and hoteliers, and everybody agreed that a 6-day, 5-night trip would work beautifully. By simplifying the in-country logistics a bit, we were actually able to reduce our costs – savings that we pass along to guests. And we can continue to offer all included activities at no extra cost. So, unlike other companies, the options we offer such as ziplining and whitewater rafting don’t up the price of the trip. The whole trip fits very comfortably into a week, though if you’re looking for a longer vacation, you can also pair it up with the Galápagos or add an extension to Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica.

Just like that, the new itineraries for both our luxury eco-adventure and our Family Journey came together. They take effect with departures in March. We’ll keep on asking every guest what they think of our Costa Rica trip, and we’ll factor their comments in just like always. We’re also thinking that we should just go back ourselves again as soon as humanly possible to enjoy the trip again. Field research that includes counting butterflies and kayaking in a mangrove lagoon is really tough work, but we’re happy to make that sacrifice for you!

Read more about Costa Rica:

First-hand account of a family’s Classic Journey to Costa Rica

Guides Favorite Moments