Book Review: Costa Rica Family Guide Book

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Thinking of traveling to Costa Rica? If you've not yet made plans, get ready to. Marina Villatoro, the Travel Experta, has penned an excellent guidebook for family travel to Costa Rica. It's chock full of great tips, enticing photos, and details that you want to know before you head somewhere with your kids. Marina has written many other family travel guidebooks (Belize, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras). Obviously, she IS the travel experta and brings her extensive knowledge of the region to your fingertips. When you dig into this guide, you'll be both inspired and ready to plan your travels! We highly recommend it to our Wandering Educators.


We caught up with Marina to ask about her Costa Rica Family Guide Book, inspiration, background and experience, top travel tips, and more. Here's what she had to say...


Marina Villatoro



WE: Please tell us about your book, Costa Rica Family Guide Book...

MV: Traveling to Costa Rica is a huge adventure. However, it's not the same when you have younger kids. I found that the majority of the guide books I bought to travel here, or any Central American country, never tell you about the kid friendly tours and hotels.

Not only did my family and I live in Costa Rica for 7 years, but we traveled the whole country. All the hotels, tours and sites have been tested by us and I can guarantee that they are all super kid friendly (all ages) and perfect for families.





WE: What inspires your writing?

MV: When I traveled around Costa Rica I realized how MANY families are loving this country with their kids and I am constantly getting questions via my website about things to do with kids in Costa Rica because there simply isn't much info out there.

With plenty of travel experience with my own family in this country, I decided to write a guide book that I would use for my own family travels. 


WE: You obviously know Costa Rica well - what is your background and experience there?

MV: Costa Rica is like my home, my family and I lived there for seven years. My oldest son was born there and had the opportunity to see the whole country with us by the time he was five years old.

I call Costa Rica nature's playground. There is soooo much to do and see with your kids here. But the best part, without a doubt, is the nonstop wildlife encounters!






WE: How can travelers truly get inside Costa Rica and experience life like locals?

MV: Stay away from the all inclusives! You want to stay in the small villages in the boutique hotels that are locally owned. This is what Costa Rica is best known for, for the small, adorable truly unique lodging experiences. Some will have you staying in the middle of the jungle on a river, others overlooking active volcanoes while you soak in hot springs and others on the beach with white-faced monkeys as your friends. 


WE: What are your top family travel suggestions for Costa Rica?

MV: Most families that come to Costa Rica usually have between 7 - 10 days to enjoy the country. Costa Rica is known as a multi-destination country. You want to at least experience 2 - 3 locations during your visit.
The best route would be:

1. Arenal (the active volcano and rain forest)
2. Monteverde - the cloud forest
3. Manuel Antonio - national forest, beach and #1 place for wildlife encounters


Monteverde cloud forest

Monteverde cloud forest



WE: Do you have any budget travel tips for Costa Rica?

MV: Yes - 2 main budget tips:

1. It's easy to get caught up in tours. However, what most people don't know that you can simply go to most of the national parks on your own and simply pay the entrance fee. You will usually see what the tour guide will show you for a fraction of the price.

2. Eat locally - Costa Rica has absolutely delicious local eateries called SODAS - you can literally get a HUGE meal that includes either chicken, beef, fish or vegetarian with a salad, rice, beans and plantains. Plus, a fresh tropical juice and a dessert for less than $8 per person.


Costa Rica beach


WE: What would visitors be most surprised to learn about Costa Rica?

MV: How absolutely friendly and kid loving Ticos (Costa Ricans) are! Every time I talk to people who traveled there, especially families, we all rave about them!


WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

MV: Costa Rica is sometimes called the Disney of Central America. The reason being is that it's the least corrupt country, probably in Latin America, there is no army and relatively safe! This is also why it's such a popular place to visit.

You can avoid traveling with a lot of people if you visit off season - May, June, September, October and November. The weather is still great and you get the country to yourself!

Arenal volcano

Arenal volcano



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