See our Advertiser Disclosure here.
Before my family’s recent trip to Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, the resort’s concierge sent me a link to excursions I could book with the resort. Through the resort’s preferred tour companies, most excursions cost at least $200 or more per person. Since my family of five was looking at doing two excursions during our 5-night stay, that was going to cost us at least $2000 or more. Our “free” vacation using miles and points was no longer going to be that free.
So, I started looking at other options. I looked at TripAdvisor reviews to see if recent travelers recommended any outside tour companies. Thankfully, I found some recommendations that were reliable and less expensive.
Costa Rica Best Trips for Airport Transportation and Beach Excursion
Some of you may remember that my family decided not to rent a car on our trip (after much debate). So, we needed round-trip airport transportation. Based on recommendations from previous guests, we decided to use Costa Rica Best Trips. For $120, we got round-trip airport transportation in a private van plus a stop at Walmart before heading to the resort (only $100 without the extra Walmart trip). Our drivers were on time on both ends, and everything went smoothly.
We also used Costa Rica Best Trips for an all-day beach excursion. Andre picked us up at the Andaz at 9:00 a.m. He had a cooler full of waters and fruit in the van. He drove us over some dirt roads to our first stop, Playa Penca.
This beach was deserted and beautiful! It doesn’t have any services (restaurants, chairs, etc.) so we just stayed for 30 minutes and moved onto the next beach.
Our next stop was Playa Flamingo. This beach was closer to some resorts, but still very empty on a Monday morning. We stayed here almost an hour playing in the waves. Playa Flamingo is a gorgeous beach! We only saw one restaurant there.
Next, we headed to Playa Brasilito for lunch. We ate at a beach-side fish market cafe. The fish was very fresh! And of course the views were fantastic.
Our last stop was Playa Tamarindo. My boys had surfing lessons for two hours here. This beach was a lot busier with bars, restaurants, shops and people.
While the kids had a fantastic time in the waves at Playa Tamarindo, it was my least favorite of the four beaches we visited. After having been to deserted, quiet beaches earlier in the day, Playa Tamarindo was noticeably more congested. The sand was so hot that even wearing flip-flops, my feet got burned due to the sand that entered the top of the shoe while walking.
On our way back, we stopped at a big souvenir shop and had ice cream. We returned to the resort around 5:00 p.m. It was a fantastic day. I’m so glad we got to see some beaches down the coast since the beaches at the resort are off a bay and not the open ocean. The cost of this beach day was $295 for my family of five, which included two hours of surfing lessons for my boys.
Witch’s Rock Canopy Tour
My husband and kids wanted to go zip lining. After all, that’s a big thing in Costa Rica! After looking on TripAdvisor, we decided to use Witch’s Rock Canopy Tour. It’s located just 10 minutes from the Andaz resort and offers free pick-up.
We decided to splurge an extra $10 per person for a private zip lining session ($85 per person instead of $75). My family had two private guides with them the entire way. They all loved it!
The tour had 11 zip lines of different lengths and heights, plus some hanging bridges and ladders along the way. My kids said it was a good thing I decided to hang back at the resort for a spa day because I would have freaked out at the heights.
The guides were very friendly, and my family felt safe. My daughter had to ride tandem on a few of the longer zip lines due to her lower weight.
At the end, they saw some photos of celebrities who had gone on the zip line. They were surprised at how many big celebrities had been there, like Jimmy Kimmel, Jason Alexander and Steven Tyler.
For $80, we purchased all of my family’s photos and videos from their zip lining excursion. They were back at the resort before noon.
Mountain Biking at the Andaz
On our last day, my husband splurged on one excursion through the resort. The Andaz has motorized mountain bikes, and since he’s such a huge cycling fan, he couldn’t resist.
His 2-hour excursion cost $90. With a guide, he glided down hills and easily powered up hills with the bike’s motor. The peninsula is huge, so he saw scenery and wildlife not visible from the resorts and roads. Next time, he said he’d try to convince our sons to go.
I’m glad we ventured out of the resort to see more of Costa Rica. For my family, having two whole days at the resort and two days of adventuring off-site was the right balance. I’m thankful we found some reliable tour companies that didn’t break our budget.
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.