Adventures by Disney

Costa Rica: San Jose and Tortuguero

Day 1

Our adventure in Costa Rica began in San Jose. We (my husband, my two girls: ages 11 and 13, and myself) had a direct flight from Washington/Dulles to San Jose and lucked out with great Economy Plus seating on United.  Row 7 is highly recommended on this flight… seriously, I could stretch my legs straight out in front and not even reach the bulkhead in front.  And totally unexpected for a bulkhead seat: I could still stow my bag in front of my under the business class seat in front of me.

Since it was spring break the line for immigration when we arrived at the airport in San Jose was crazy.  It took us about an hour to finally get to the front of the line, but after that point it everything went pretty smoothly.  We were met at the baggage claim by someone holding a sign with our name and Disney listed.  He helped gather our checked luggage onto a cart and took us to our driver.  The ride from the airport to the hotel, the Costa Rica Marriott San Jose, was short.

Upon arriving at the hotel we were greeted by our ABD Guides, Mike and Fico.  They welcomed us and gave is a brief overview of what to expect, especially for the next day.  From then we had free time to get settled in our room, and in our case finally grab some lunch, since we hadn’t eaten on the plane and by that point we were pretty hungry.

The hotel has classic colonial styling to it.  Our room was fine, but we were a little crammed with 4 of us in one room with 2 full-sized beds, and the door to the tiny private balcony was a little quirky and hard to close after we opened it.  We ate lunch in “The Kitchen” which was one of the hotel restaurants.  It was super expensive for a family of 4 (~$40 for a steak casado), but the food was good quality.


day1-1 day1-2After lunch we had a little more daylight to explore the hotel.  The ABD itinerary mentions that the hotel is set on a 30-acre coffee plantation, but we didn’t find too much to explore around the grounds.  It seemed that most of the grounds were filled by a driving range.  The temperature wasn’t quite warm enough in the late afternoon to draw the kids into the pool, but it looked like there was a nice swimming area.  It got dark around 6pm, so we ended up back in our room playing a few rounds of family Heads Up and getting out daybags packed for the next morning.

Day 2

We were off to an early start what Disney calls Day 2, but in reality this was the first day of the tour.  We packed an overnight bag to come with us to Tortuguero, and then the rest of our stuff was packed in our regular suitcases and sent on to the next destination.  We loaded up on the bus with the other families in our group and headed back to the airport.  At the airport we were handed colorful boarding passes without seat assignments.  We had to go through regular airport security, but then headed to a gate that involved walking onto the tarmac to board the plane.  The plane was a small open-cockpit aircraft and we needed 2 of them to accommodate our group of about 35.

The flight to Tortuguero was short and it was interesting to see the park from above.


When we arrived we simply walked off the plane–there is no gate or even airport building on the arrival side.  We then loaded onto a boat and headed to our hotel.  There are no roads in Tortuguero (which is a national park), all transportation in and out of the park is by small plane or boat, and getting around the park is done by boat through the various waterways.

Our lodging for the night was the Laguna Lodge.  We were greeted with a welcome drink upon arrival and the first wildlife we noticed were bats hanging out around the common area where our bags had been set out.  We grabbed our cameras, loaded up with suncreeen, and were split into 2 groups to head out for a boat safari.

We lucked out with a very sunny day, which is rare for this part of the country, since it is, after all, the rain forest.  I had my newest camera with me, the small-yet-powerful Fuji X-T20, set up with the 100-400mm lens.  I was very happy with my choice to carry along the mega-zoom lens since I was able to get great views of the animals in the top of the trees that others weren’t able to see.



After our real life jungle cruise, we headed back to the hotel for lunch and got settled in our rooms.  The hotel is set up with a campus style, with about 5-6 rooms in each row-style building.  In front of the building is a long porch with rocking chairs.  The rooms are not air conditioned, but there was a ceiling fan and our guides told us that Disney also provided an extra fans specially for our rooms for added circulation.  Our family was especially fond of the 3-bed layout with the twin bed on either side of the parents’ bed.



After lunch we got back on the boat and headed to the town (which is a loose term, since there are no cars it was just a couple blocks of pedestrian zone with shops and buildings meetings the very basic needs for the local inhabitants).  We stopped at the Sea Turtle Conservancy and watched a video about the history of the area and its significance for the turtles.  This would probably be more interesting if we had come during the nesting period, but we did not.  The kids lost interest in the video and were ready to move on pretty quickly.  We then had some time to explore the nearby shops.  The guides bought everyone a young coconut drink, and we did a little shopping.  Since it was so hot, the ice cream shop was very popular (and very reasonably priced).

After we got back to the hotel, the kids all went to the pool to play, and we explored the beach a little.  Due to the surf and sharks the water is off-limits, but the resort is right on the beach, so there is easy access for walking.

That evening our ABD guides hosted a welcome dinner at the hotel in a building by the pool.  There was live Afro-Caribbean music and the kids enjoyed some games like musical chairs and limbo.  The kids all sat together and the adults mingled with other adults.  Our group was quick to pick up this dynamic and the kids had already started to get to know each other.

My biggest highlight after dark was getting to see a tree frog.  Fico, one of our guides, helped me find one right on the resort property.  Since they come out after dark, we had to track it by sound and then find it with a flashlight.


This trip report continues here.


This trip review is from our Adventures by Disney Costa Rica trip.  I book my ABD trips through Archer Luxury Travel.  My camera for this trip was the Fuji X-T20 with with the 100-400mm lens for wildlife and the 18-55mm kit lens for around town.

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