Avast ye adventure seekers, here be a family vacation in the Los Suenos, Costa Rica area that explores a crocodile habitat, monkey forest, hidden coastal coves and a scenic island that once sheltered true swashbucklers. Henry Morgan and Francis Drake are just a few of the famed privateers who plundered along Costa Rica’s Central Pacific shores in days of yore. Today your crew can discover the region’s rich pirate history.
Arrrr You Ready for a Pirate-Themed Adventure?
DAY 1: Drop Anchor in Privateer Paradise
A private transport meets you and your voyagers at the San José airport. This spacious and upscale ride, stocked with snacks and iced beverages, eases the family into the tempo of the tropics on a 90-minute cruise to your hideaway on the coast. Whether they’re watching a Pirates of the Caribbean flick or another familiar favorite, children are sure to get into the buccaneer spirit with an onboard multimedia system.
Behold your seaside sanctuary! Set on a lush expanse between Pacific waters and a rainforest reserve, the Los Sueños Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort offers a truly family-friendly experience. Check into connecting colonial-style guestrooms with balconies overlooking white-sand beaches. Then explore the green grounds. Older kids will revel in the massive Venetian-style pool while little ones can splash in the children’s pool. Anyone up for volleyball, miniature golf or a romp at the playground? The Tortuga Kids Club fills days with supervised activities such as souvenir crafting and puppet workshops. Mateys of all ages love La Iguana Experience, an on-site guided tour along nature trails with toucans, iguanas, scarlet macaws and monkeys — all without stepping foot off the secure and sprawling oasis.
DAY 2: American Crocodiles Amid Mangroves
Fuel up for the day with Marriott’s breakfast buffet of local dishes, American fare and international cuisine. Then you’re off to follow the footsteps of Peter Pan and Captain Hook with a trip to a wild crocodile habitat. Fear not landlubbers, this slow-moving boat trip down the Tárcoles River is easygoing enough for all (and nobody will be made to walk the plank!). As you glide past the mangrove-lined riverbanks, your brood has the chance to see mischievous monkeys and giant iguanas. With the help of a bilingual naturalist guide, kids can identify exotic birds such as warblers and bare-throated tiger herons.
Soon enough you’ll come across crocodiles, as the waterway is home to more than 2,000 American crocs. From the safety of a sun-shaded boat, the entire family gazes in wonder at the wild things that bask on the banks and slip into the water to hunt. It’s so inspiring that the kids might not realize the education they’re getting from the guide, who mentions that crocodiles are social creatures that prefer living together and communicate with each other using chirps, hisses and calls. This morning adventure is great for small children and wraps up around lunch — just in time for a nap. But naps aren’t only for little mates in these parts. Relaxation-loving adults simply call them “siestas.”
DAY 3: Outrigger Canoe to a Hidden Cove
Safe for all ages and more stable than a kayak, an outrigger canoe presents the perfect chance for the family to paddle off for an ocean adventure. This half-day outing begins in the morning with instruction from a seasoned steersperson who serves as a guide throughout the trip. Soon it’s off to explore the calm ocean waters beyond Playa Agujas. Your jaunt along the shore passes stunning natural beauty, from unspoiled beaches and rugged cliffs to rich rainforest where you can often spot monkeys swinging through the dense canopy. Tell the kids to keep one eye skyward as magnificent frigatebirds and majestic pelicans are apt to cross overhead. Imagine the pirates of old who paddled along these same shorelines as your clan sweeps past rocky reefs to a tranquil cove for a refreshing swim or snorkel. Wrapping up around lunchtime, this canoe adventure is perfect if you have little ones who take afternoon naps.
DAY 4: Monkey Tour for All Ages
Ye be boardin’ another boat for today’s adventure! This half-day morning excursion takes your band of buccaneers deep into a mangrove forest to set off in a shaded riverboat. With a bilingual guide as part of your hearty crew, the slow-moving craft cruises through lush wetlands populated by three-toed sloths and silky anteaters. Your guide educates on the brilliant butterflies, colorful kingfishers and splendid osprey that swoop through the air. The boat slows for the main attraction — monkeys! The guide calls to the treetops where a group of capuchin monkeys curiously watch their guests. These playful creatures rarely resist the chance to descend and greet visitors, often entering the boat for up-close and safe interaction. With smiles all around, your gang heads back and returns to civilization in time for lunch.
DAY 5: Cruise to a Swashbuckler's Sanctuary
Prepare thyselves for an island adventure! The final full day of your trip takes the family to a true pirate haven. Board a modern vessel and weigh anchor for a cruise across the Gulf of Nicoya to Tortuga Island, a onetime sanctuary for pirates who raided the mainland and brought their booty to the idyllic isle. Along the way, kids have the chance to spot amazing marine life such as sailfish, dolphins and humpback whales. Upon arrival on Tortuga’s white-sand beaches, you’ll find drinks and snacks to satisfy before the fun begins. Be it swimming, snorkeling or powering off on a banana-boat ride, the turquoise waters are irresistible to all ages. On land, you can explore nature trails, play volleyball or simply laze in a hammock under swaying palm trees. Your crew can even sing a pirate shanty that’s perfect for the trip, “Welcome to Tortuga” by Ye Banished Privateers.
DAY 6: Shove Off With Amazing Memories
Set a course for home on the last day of the adventure. But aye, ‘tis not over yet swabby! Savor traditional Costa Rican cuisine as the family gathers to recount experiences over a final breakfast in paradise. There’s still time to get in some beachcombing and a swim in the hotel pool. Then the private transport arrives to ferry the crew off in comfort and style, completing a family trip to a piratey vacation spot by Jaco Beach that your lads and lassies will cherish for a lifetime.