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See Why Costa Rica is Like No Place in the World
Costa Rica is like no place in the world. From almost every vantage point, rainforest vistas tumble into picture-perfect inlets and coves that punctuate the shoreline.
With activities including canopy zip-lining, kayaking through mangrove estuaries, catamaran cruises, rafting, horseback riding, sea kayaking, hiking, birding AND local wildlife featuring monkeys, tropical birds, iguanas and sloths, there is no place like Costa Rica.
1. Because Costa Rica is close to the equator, sunrise and sunset are at the same time every day. That's right 365 days a year!
2. It is the most bio-diverse country in the world with over 900,000 species of wildlife, 900 of them are birds. You're likely to catch a sighting in natural habitats, national parks, and volcanic areas.
3. Costa Rica's national anthem is played on every radio station daily at 7am.
4. It's the hummingbird capital of the world! There are over 50 species that call Costa Rica home.
5. Costa Rica is Spanish and translates to “rich coast.” Why? It's said that the country's founder, Christopher Columbus, believed the area was filled with precious metals.
Some of the top activities Costa Rica has to offer...
You want to visit Costa Rica! Awesome, we can help get you there. But one of the questions we’ll ask in helping you do so is what you’d like to see and do there. Relax? Explore nature? Seek adventure? All the above and more? Probably. There is just so much available, we’ll need to have a serious discussion on what your priorities are. To help we’ve put together a list of eight of the best activities to do during your visit. After reading let us know what’s on the top of yours!
8 Great Activities Costa Rica Has To Offer
1. Hiking – An activity that likely is top of mind when you think of Costa Rica and there certainly is no shortage of places to do so. Volcanoes, beaches, cloud forests – the choice is yours. Once that’s settled, think about the level of difficulty you’re comfortable with. These two things will help in the best recommendation. Additionally, it is suggested you consider guided hikes. Your expert leader will be able to provide general assistance and a trained eye to spot wildlife.
2. Surfing – Surfers from around the world frequent Costa Rica year-round because of its warm waters and waves. Choose your coast – Pacific or Caribbean, select your level of experience – beginner, intermediate, or advanced. We can even make some recommendations. If you’re in need of a lesson, they’re typically easy to find, even just by stepping foot on some beaches!
3. Snorkeling and Scuba – Wildlife sightings aren’t limited to land. There are 7,000+ marine species that can be found in Costa Rica’s surrounding waters. So, it is no surprise that it is on the top of the list for water activities. If you’re a snorkeler, think about if you’d like to do so by boat or shore. If a diver, we can help recommend dive sites. Just let us know your level of experience.
4. Whitewater Rafting – Costa Rica provides a stunning background for this adventure. There are a few areas that would be recommended if this is something you’d like to do. Beginner or advanced, let us know what intensity of rapids you’re comfortable with, and we can point you in the right direction. If the kiddos are up for the challenge, there are some options that are suitable for them too. It’s a great family activity!
5. Visit Waterfalls – Some of the most picturesque sights in Costa Rica can be found at its numerous waterfalls. After all, there’s something so magical about water cascading over a cliff to the pools below. There are plenty of options to choose from, just keep in mind a few things. Some falls will require a hike to access, entrance fees will vary, and some allow swimming while others do not. Also consider a guided tour if you won’t have access to a rental car during your stay.
6. Zip Lining – If you’ve Googled “excursions in Costa Rica” you’ve likely seen a picture of someone effortlessly flying over green canopy, rivers, and cliffs. It’s a very popular activity that can be found all over the country. You should expect a safety demo and a short hike. Then you’ll glide line by line, each getting a little longer than the one before. If you’re an adrenaline seeker this is a must do! If not, we wouldn’t recommend it. Do not invest money in something if you’re not 100% comfortable with.
7. Bird Watching – It isn’t unusual for people to travel to Costa Rica for this very reason. Some enthusiasts even build a whole itinerary around this activity. There is 900+ species and most often seen will likely be toucans, macaws, and hummingbirds. Because the country is so eco-diverse, make a couple of watching stops. Don’t forget your binoculars and camera!
8. Yoga – Yes, you read that right! Costa Rica is indeed a haven for yoga lovers. You could see or take a class quite literally anywhere – a resort, beach, volcano, or rainforest. If you’re a beginner, give it a try at least once. If you’re a wellness enthusiast and it’s your reason for travel, it belongs on your list. Think wellness retreat, group trip for your studio, location for instructor training or continuing education.
There you have it, some of the best that Costa Rica has to offer! Of course, there’s a ton more that isn’t listed, so if you have any questions let us know. If you’re ready to explore all that Costa Rica has to offer, please feel free to reach out!
23 Great Excursions & Tour Package Options For Costa Rica
The Monteverde Cloud Forest is the epicenter of cloud forest exploration and the pride and joy of ecotourism in Costa Rica. With over 400 unique bird species, Monteverde is an especially treasured destination for birding.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Hike Transfer to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve for a hike through the high elevation forest with professional naturalist guides! Trek through the misty forests’ dense vegetation and majestic trees. You will see giant prehistoric tree ferns, trees covered with blooming bromeliads, and many of the species of birds that call Monteverde home. Keep an eye out for the shy Resplendent Quetzal bird!
Monteverde Sky Tram & Trek Zipline Tour The tour starts with the Sky Tram, a ride on the cableway up to the platform where the Trek zip line adventure begins. This is one of the most extensive canopy tours in the country, with 2 very long cables and 11 cross-sectional zip lines. After zipping through the treetops, you will have time to unwind and enjoy the panoramic views from 2 observation decks. **Height and weight restrictions apply. Inquire for details.
Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica Jacó and the surrounding Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is peppered with spectacular national parks and beaches, offering a breadth of coastal experiences and wildlife viewing opportunities. A mountainous shoreline with strips of sandy beaches overlooking a sparkling expanse of blue are characteristics of the Central Pacific coast. The region is home to the popular surf town of Jacó, Playa Herradura, Carara Biological Reserve, and the Tarcoles River.
Tortuga Island Catamaran Cruise Early this morning you will transfer by ground to Puntarenas. Enjoy a snack-type breakfast en route before boarding a catamaran for a cruise through the Gulf of Nicoya to Tortuga Island. Just 12 nautical miles from Puntarenas, Isla Tortuga is a sanctuary of white sand beaches and turquoise waters, home tropical birds, and flora typical of the Costa Rican Central Pacific area. Spend the day swimming, snorkeling, or just relaxing under the shade of palm trees on this beautiful island. A tropical lunch will be served on the island.
Horseback Riding with Ocean Views & Waterfalls After your equipment and safety instructions, depart on your horseback journey to the waterfalls. Along the way you will see farms and get a closer look at nature as you ascend through the rainforest. You may be able to spot toucans, Scarlet Macaws, and White-faced capuchin monkeys. Upon arrival to the swimming area, your guide will set you up with fresh fruit and water, and you will have time to relax and enjoy the waterfalls.
Costa Rica’s south Caribbean coast Costa Rica’s south Caribbean coast is lined with perfectly imperfect beaches swaying palm trees. The clear, turquoise water welcomes swimmers, sunbathers, surfers, and snorkelers. This off the beaten path area managed to fly under the radar of Costa Rica’s tourism boom. It continues to remain a pristine beach and rainforest destination with a unique, Caribbean culture of its own.
Snorkel & Hike Cahuita National Park Cahuita National Park is a nature lover’s playground full of land and sea adventures. Start your adventure at the beach, climbing on board the boat for a ride out to the local coral reef. You will then have roughly 2 hours in two different parts of the national park to snorkel in the ocean, depending on the weather. After, fuel up with tropical fruit on the beach before heading out on a hike through the coastal rainforest. Since the park is home to an abundance of diverse wildlife, chances are good that you’ll spot monkeys, tropical birds, sloths, iguanas, poisonous dart frogs, and other interesting creatures.
Jaguar Rescue Center, Bri Bri Chocolate Tour, & Waterfall Hike Start with an educational visit to the Jaguar Animal Rescue Center, which serves as a refuge and rehabilitation center for many local animals, including wild cats, monkeys, snakes, and sloths. Then, witness organic chocolate made from scratch by a member of the Bri Bri indigenous tribe— from plant to plate! The Bri Bri have a long history of chocolate production in the Puerto Viejo area. Finally, head about 30 minutes outside of town to a breathtaking Puerto Viejo Waterfall for a hike and refreshing swim.
Pacuare River Whitewater Rafting: Class III-IV You’ll depart your Puerto Viejo hotel early in the morning for a drive to the Rios Tropicales Operations Center. Here you will enjoy a Costa Rican breakfast before heading to the put-in on the banks of the Pacuare River. Here, your guides will give you rafting & safety instructions. Then, you’ll begin to paddle 14 miles deep into the heart of one the primary rainforest. As you master the river’s wild rapids, you’ll pass through densely vegetated rainforest gorges and pristine waterfalls. After this adrenalinepacked adventure, you’ll return to the operations center to change and have lunch. Return to your hotel late in the afternoon.
Costa Ballena The stretch of South Pacific Costa Rica coastline from Dominical to Ojochal, known as the Costa Ballena, is Costa Rica’s up-and-coming beach and rainforest destination. The South Pacific Coast is more remote than other areas of the country, sitting just north of the Osa Peninsula. Pristine rainforest, miles of ocean views, and solitude are some of the South Pacific’s most magnificent features.
Marino Ballena National Park Sea Kayak & Snorkel This tour begins at low tide as the waves shift to one side of the Whale's Tail, which is a good spot for snorkeling. Paddling to this point will take between 30 to 45 minutes. The snorkeling portion of the tour will take between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours and will give you the opportunity to see a variety of fish and coral species, such as Giant Conch, starfish, Parrotfish Snapper, Damsels, eels, Moorish Idol, Surgeons and various types of coral species. Catch a wave and ride back into shore on your kayak. Then, enter a small mangrove forest in Ballena Marine Park where it is possible to spot sea birds, toucans, and some small reptiles.
Whale & Dolphin Combo Tour (seasonal) Board a boat from Punta Uvita Beach and visit the famous Punta Uvita Whale’s Tail, Ballena Island, Tres Hermanas Islets, and Ventana Sea Caves. During the tour, you will search for Humpback Whales (seasonally) and two different species of resident dolphins. The boat will pass near the caverns of Ventanas Beach where you can observe wonderful rocky formations and the amazing caverns that were carved out by the ocean over thousands of years. **Tours during the dry season (January – Feb) include a short session of snorkeling on the reefs of the Marino Ballena National Park
Half-Day Sportfishing Put your sport fishing skills to the test on this half day tour. The waters off the Osa Peninsula on the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica are rich in nutrients, and there is a great variety of fish such as mackerel, roosterfish, snapper, and tuna. The inshore fishing is done within a few miles off the shores of Bahia Ballena.
Manuel Antonio Located on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio remains one of the country’s best beach and rainforest locations. Manuel Antonio National Park is the main attraction of the region, with monkeys, tropical birds, and iguanas comprising a large portion of the wildlife population. From almost every vantage point, rainforest vistas tumble into picture-perfect inlets and coves that punctuate the shoreline.
Damas Island Estuary Boat Tour Explore one of Costa Rica’s most unique environments from the comfort of a boat! As you glide through the Damas Island Mangrove Estuary, you might spot curious families of monkeys as they migrate across the mangrove ecosystem in search of food and adventure. You might also see tropical seabirds, turtles, a range of reptiles, and maybe even a caiman or two! You will wind through acres of pristine Costa Rican estuary as guides explain why the mangrove eco-structure so vital to Costa Rica and the world. This tour will end with a relaxing yet rewarding meal.
Damas Island Mangrove by Kayak Paddle gently through the inland waterways of the Damas Island Estuary, one of the most unique eco-systems on the planet. This important ecological area is where the salt waters of the ocean meet the fresh waters of tropical rivers, creating a periodically submerged forest of hanging roots. On the banks, you might spot local inhabitants, like the Sally light foot crab, boa constrictors, silky anteaters, monkeys, lizards, seabirds, and sometimes even crocodiles!
Coastal Sea Kayaking Paddle your way around the Manuel Antonio coastline on this active kayaking tour. Beginning at the port of Quepos, you will start your adventure by paddling south. From a vantage point only possible in kayaks, you’ll catch awe-inspiring glimpses of Manuel Antonio’s breathtaking cliffs as we follow along the coastline. Depending on the tide, you may stop off for a snack at a secluded beach. Then, paddle close to tropical rock formations, where shorebirds are known to nest. This fun half-day on the water is a great way to explore the area and get moving!
Rainmaker Reserve Hike Located about 30 minutes from Manuel Antonio, this private rainforest reserve is a great place to experience local wildlife, like birds, butterflies, frogs, and lizards. Explore the Rainmaker trails with your guide, who will teach you about the history and biodiversity of the reserve and its inhabitants. After this, you'll have a chance to navigate the canopy bridge system and experience the rainforest from an elevated perspective.
Nocturnal Jungle Walk This unique guided adventure is 2 hours to be a part of one of the most fascinating ecosystems in the country – the nocturnal tropical wet forest. Get in contact with many of the nocturnal inhabitants of the Wildlife Refuge, such as the kinkajou, the armadillo, or various snakes! With more than 30 identified snake species, you’ll learn about which are dangerous and about their natural history. You’ll also have the chance to visit the Tropical Aquatic Gardens, which is home to a variety of frog and toad species.
Local Flavors Cooking Class Learn how to prepare classic Costa Rican dishes on this local food adventure! First, you’ll head to a farmers’ market in nearby Quepos to find the best ingredients for your dishes. Then, visit a nearby ranch to meet the culinary team and search the organic garden for some final ingredients. Finally, begin preparing your Costa Rican staples, following local recipes. You’ll cover everything from tortillas to “picadillo” (minced meat and veggies with spices).
Get in touch with Michelle Finney
Over the last 20 years, I have traveled all over America and parts of the world! I have always taken great pride in planning the perfect vacation for my family, and in 2021 I made the leap to start planning vacations for others too! In the last 10 years I have traveled to many wonderful domestic locations such as NYC, Hawaii, Niagara Falls, Colorado, Florida including Disney World & The Keys, and some beautiful beaches on both the East and West Coasts. I also visited San Juan, and St Thomas and St John in the USVI. Internationally, I travel frequently to the Riviera Maya, including Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, and Ireland! Additionally I have been to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. Later this year I have plans to visit some new and exciting destinations, starting with Punta Cana and Rome!! I love all things travel, and would love to help you get where ever your heart desires to take you!
Back by popular demand! The ultimate guide to ensure a stress free, hassle free and fun vacation in Costa Rica! Our Costa Rica guide shows popular locations and places to know, packing list, best times of year to visit for certain activities, local customs and sayings, and so much more. Download our guide today!
See Why Costa Rica is Like No Place in the World
Norman Travel Agent Near Me
Over the last 20 years, I have traveled all over America and parts of the world! I have always taken great pride in planning the perfect vacation for my family, and in 2021 I made the leap to start planning vacations for others too! In the last 10 years I have traveled to many wonderful domestic locations such as NYC, Hawaii, Niagara Falls, Colorado, Florida including Disney World & The Keys, and some beautiful beaches on both the East and West Coasts. I also visited San Juan, and St Thomas and St John in the USVI. Internationally, I travel frequently to the Riviera Maya, including Cancun,... Read More >>>
An expert destination wedding travel agent near me with five star luxury travel packages with a luxury travel company, Vincent Vacations.
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Michelle booked our Vegas vacation. We had a great time!!! We will use her to help plan all our future vacations. Thanks Michelle! -Lana Campman
Solo Trip to Costa Rica
Michelle was a great help! First international traveler and she was able to answer my questions and make traveling easy with step by step guide. She will be my agent for further destinations. -Destiny Howard
Family Getaway to Punta Cana
This was my families first abroad trip. We were nervous about traveling that far but Michelle made it easy for us with her detailed travel plans itinerary. She also checked in on us while we were there to make sure we had everything we needed. The resort that we stayed at was amazing and the perfect recommendation for us. Thanks Michelle, we are ready to travel the world with your help of course 🙂 -Charissa Penrod
Michelle was a huge help with our trip! She planned every detail of our vacation and gave us perfect instructions for everything we needed to have a relaxing, stress free week down to the most minute details. -Weston Foote
Dream Family Vacation to Punta Cana
Michelle is the best!! She is amazing! She was really friendly and easy to work with. We had the best time in Punta Cana. She was very detailed and patient, she answered all my questions as soon as possible. She helped us pick out resorts and provided a lot of options within our budget. When we were in the resort, she called checking on us to make sure everything is fine and reminded us to contact the transportation team. We traveled in a group with 8 adults and 2 toddlers and we were so satisfied with our dream trip thanks to Michelle. We would like to work with Michelle again on our next trips. Highly recommended!!!! -Quynhanh Pham
Honeymoon in Paradise
We had the absolute best time on our honeymoon!!!!! It was beautiful and having Michelle set everything up for us made it so easy for us to enjoy our honeymoon!!! The resort was simply beautiful! We would definitely book with Michelle again!!!! -Lillie Fuller
Birthday Trip to Mexico!
Michelle was wonderful! She was the first travel agent I’ve worked with and she made our trip to Mexico seamless. She prepped us for our departure. Told us exactly what to expect, what to pack, and what we needed while we were there. Michelle made sure we had the best time! I will for sure book our next trip with Michelle! -Kady Coleman
Dream Trip to Ireland
Update: We just returned from our 4th trip Michelle has planned for us! She worked so hard on a dream trip to Ireland for us & it was perfect! She listened to every hope & request we had & did not disappoint. She also planned an Alaskan cruise for us that was amazing! I highly recommend Michelle & Vincent Vacations. My first time out of the country went so smooth because of Michelle. She even gave us a detailed description of what to do & expect when we got to the Punta Cana airport. That was so helpful. She bent over backwards for us & answered so many of my questions I would have at all kinds of random times! Our honeymoon was a blast & have already had Michelle book our next dream trip! -Michelle Capehart
Stress Free Destination Bachelorette Party
Working with Michelle made planning my bachelorette trip very easy. We traveled with a large group which can be stressful. I was impressed by her timely responses, attention to detail and overall personality. We will be working with her in the future! -Toreasha Grandberry
20th wedding anniversary to Greece!
We used Michelle with Vincent Vacations to book a trip to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. She presented us with a multitude of options within our budget. We chose a cruise leaving from Athens, making various ports in Greece. Michelle took care of every detail, answered every question and was always readily available to help. We enjoyed a stress-free vacation at every stage. She went above and beyond!! -Nathan Newman
Sometimes when you watch movies you get a glimpse of far away places. I recall watching scenes of rolling green fields, gray stone walls, lively pubs with good music and company, ancient castles, and friendly people with an accent and a welcoming smile. I had a chance to visit Ireland recently, and what I experienced was all of that…and so much more.
Our journey started in Dublin, where sociable people bustle around the gray stone streets, lined with shops and restaurants and pubs. The city sits on the River Liffey, which divides the city North from the South. The first day in town, we walked the streets to see as much of the city as we could fit into one day. We visited the Guinness Brewery, only to learn we needed to make reservations days in advance! So we changed pace and broke for lunch and a perfect draft beer at a local pub, before visiting places like Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle and Trinity College.
The neighborhood of Temple Bar served for our next stroll, until we wandered into another local pub. They welcomed us in with hours of entertainment such as folk music and dancing. Once I grew weary from my long day of traveling, I enjoyed a quiet walk alone back to our hotel along the river, and never once felt unsafe as I navigated the dimly lit streets of Dublin. Everyone I encountered was welcoming and helpful.
The next day we traveled southwest toward the little town of Kilkenny. Free-roaming sheep and ponies dotted those idyllic rolling hills I’d previously only dreamed of visiting, everything already vibrant green in the early Spring. We visited The Lyrath Estate, which is a beautiful property that hosts a school of falconry on site. Here we learned a lot about the extremely intelligent species of bird, as well as how they are raised and kept. The hotel restaurant served us a delicious lunch of freshly steeped tea, homemade Irish soup, and sandwiches. The hotel manager escorted us around the property, excitedly spinning tales for us of this beautiful and historic property.
After lunch, we visited the Smithwick’s Experience in Kilkenny. The knowledgeable guide schooled us in the history of brewing, immersed us in the aromas and tastes of the draft ingredients, and the entire brewing process. Then we sampled the product! This was such a fun activity! I would definitely recommend this as a stop on any adventurous itinerary.
Later that evening I stole a few minutes to walk around the quaint town of Kilkenny alone, wandering into local shops, sampling homemade sweets, exploring the grounds of the Kilkenny castle, and capturing photos outside of a picturesque cathedral holding service on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
Within walking distance of our hotel, we dined at Kyteler’s Inn. This hidden gem has a dark, ghostly history with a humorous twist. (No spoilers, you’ll have to find out the story for yourself!) You can enjoy both spirits and spirits (if you know what I mean) when you visit this inn. They served us Irish coffee at the end of a superb meal, and then we enjoyed live music and plenty to drink. As we walked back to our hotel, another local pub drew us in with the temptation of more incredible music and dancing! Happy people welcomed us into their rich culture at each place we visited.
The next morning we continued our adventure from Kilkenny to Killarney, but not before making a brief stop to take photos of the majestic Rock of Cashel. Located about forty-five minutes south of Kilkenny, it sits regally distant atop a hillside. The 1981 movie Excalibur was filmed there! You can visit the Rock of Cashel for 8 euros per person, but this time we just admired her from afar.
Our route carried us alongside more rolling green fields scattered with livestock, old farm houses, and a sprinkle of antiquated stone structures, some that looked like they’d been there for hundreds of years. We stopped for a quick lunch and shopping in the cute little town of Kenmare, and as I walked back from the shops to the bus, a light rain began to fall from the sky. I pulled up the hood of my jacket to keep me dry and smiled at the realization that I was walking the streets of Ireland in the rain. It still feels surreal, like something out of a fairytale.
From Kenmare we continued on toward Killarney, taking part of the Ring of Kerry Route. Beautiful landscapes of hills and valleys, sprinkled with ancient rocks and herds of sheep, passed us by. We traveled along the coast and made a stop at Lady’s View. We even witnessed a rainbow cascading down from the mountains into a valley! Call me silly, but I wonder if there was truly a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. On our way into Killarney we stopped at the Torc Waterfall and Ross Castle, both worthy of your time.
In Killarney we strolled the streets in the rain, where little shops and cafes beckoned us in. One charming sweater shop, Aran Sweater Market, even offered to ship our souvenirs back home for us! And would you believe that my beautiful knitted Irish blanket was waiting on my doorstep when I made it back home? More mysterious alleyways and towering cathedrals rested among the stone streets, making this a memorable stop on our journey.
Following a welcoming reception at our hotel, we made our way to Harrows for dinner. Hearty choices like lamb chops and beef ribs filled our bellies while we enjoyed great company, with plenty of ale and wine to go around. We spent the evening reminiscing about all we had seen the last few days. I was quickly becoming great friends with all of my travel mates.
In the morning we ate a filling Irish breakfast of eggs, beans, and mushrooms, then set out for our next destination. We stopped at the lovely Great Southern Killarney Hotel. This historically rich hotel was built in 1854 as part of the city’s preparation for the Queen’s visit. The charming structure rests on six acres of beautiful gardens.
Next we visited the Aghadoe Valley, where the panoramic view of hills, valleys, lakes, and streams is breathtaking. It reminded me of an idyllic scene from a puzzle you would spend weeks assembling. The snow capped mountains in the distance were just a picturesque addition.
Then we moved on to the Killarney Brewing and Distilling Company. This brand new building is home to one of the most modern breweries in the country. They toured us through the warehouse, explaining the entire brewing and bottling process. The rooftop views boast an incredible panoramic view of the valley we had just visited earlier that morning. Once again, we were treated to a beer tasting. I even discovered a brew I enjoyed! What an enlightening experience!
From there we continued to the small town of Adare, where we visited the Woodlands property. Owned by several generations of the Fitzgerald family, I quickly felt like I belonged in such a majestic place! They served us a tasting platter, which was a robust sampling of the wonderful dishes served in their dining room. On the property is Mary’s Organic Garden, where they grow vegetables for their own hotel kitchen. Mary is the matriarch of the Fitzgerald family, as well as the interior decorator for all the rooms. A quaint area called the Treehouse harbored little huts where you can spend an afternoon immersed in lively music and dining at fancy food trucks. The whole family is integrated into the operations of this homestead, and I could feel that they put their heart and soul into everything they do.
From Adare, we rode over to Limerick, where we were treated to a guided tour of King John’s Castle. Situated on the River Shannon, this castle dates back to the year 1200, and is one of the best preserved castles in Europe today. Our tour guide was so pleasant and animated, I wanted to put him in my suitcase!
After checking into The Strand, which also sits on the River Shannon, we asked some locals where we should eat and were kindly pointed down the road to some local restaurants and pubs. Amazing food and friendly service seems to be the norm in Ireland, since I didn’t have a meal I didn’t love or service I wouldn’t brag about.
Making our way back toward Dublin, we stopped in Birr. We visited Birr Castle, another property with beautiful gardens, a science center and the home of The Great Telescope which was built in the 1840s. This beautifully preserved property is so rich with history, it makes you feel small in comparison.
Just up the road from there is Kelly’s, a bustling pub serving delicious food and surprise serenades from local Irishmen. The owner and his son treated us to sandwiches and drinks, and then we were treated to Irish folklore songs that made us smile from ear to ear. What an amazing treat!
On our final night in Dublin, we spent our evening at The Merry Ploughboy. The Irish Dancers, a mesmerizingly talented four part band, entertained us for hours with traditional Irish tunes, humor and stories. The food and stout were plentiful and the atmosphere was so entertaining! We rounded out our fun back in the Temple Bar area, where we listened to more Irish music and danced until they kicked us out!
What a wonderful week we had in Ireland. From the landscape, to the castles, to the people, Ireland is so rich in culture and history.
I truly believe that traveling to far away lands enriches your life. Getting to see and experience what the rest of the world has to offer makes you appreciate what you have that much more. Don’t live your life just seeing these places in movies, get out there and visit them in person! You won’t be sorry you did!
Everyone’s heard of a Disney cruise, right? Disney Cruise Line (DCL) has been sailing childrens’ dreams around the world since 1998! If you’re a parent, I’m sure your kids would love to meet their Disney favorites while also enjoying a poolside (in the middle of the ocean) vacation. And maybe you’ve even considered investing in the family experience.
…But what if I told you that this time you should leave the kids at home? Take the kiddos on your next Disney cruise, because the six reasons I’m about to give you will have you booking your and your spouse’s tickets right away!
Disney isn’t just for kids—they planned for grown-ups to come aboard!
Every Disney ship is equipped with several Adults Only areas, perfect for chilling in the hot tub with a tasty drink in your hand, or sunbathing on the deck while you read the latest Nicholas Sparks novel. Some of them even sit alongside a bar! With the amazing chair service provided to you by the incomparable Disney staff members, you’d never have to leave your seat!
In addition to private sundecks, pools, and hot tubs, they also offer Adults Only dining, several lounges and nightclubs, fitness areas, and spas! Grab a fancy bite to eat at one of their fine dining restaurants, such as Palo and Remy, or listen to a talented violinist serenade you while you sip on the Captain’s Mai Tai (which—trust me—is delicious).
These are all generally quiet and peaceful areas…with the exception of the nightclubs of course, where the music is good, but the beer is better! Participate in many dance parties, karaoke nights, and more adult-friendly activities onboard the ship. Take your pick, because DCL offers them all. Spend a quiet day sunbathing on the private deck with a book in one hand and a daiquiri in the other, calm yourself down jamming to the soft lull of a piano player’s melodies, or dance until your feet hurt while the bartender keeps the drinks comin’. The adventure is yours to decide!
Find peace and solace in dedicated private areas.
For those who prefer absolute serenity away from prying eyes, there are even places for you. Senses Spa & Salon boasts a private exercise room and several self-care services such as massages, acupuncture, and facials, but the pièce de résistance is by far the Rainforest Room. The interior design of the Rainforest Room depends on the ship you’re on, but on each of them you can expect to enjoy a selection of various saunas (did you know there were different types of saunas?!), followed by a few rounds in the geographically-themed showers (Cool Mist and Thunderstorm are lovely) with varying water temperatures, heated stone loungers (for soothing these old bones), and private (and I mean truly private) hot tubs. On the Disney Dream, you can expect these hot tubs to be located in an exterior room at the front of the ship, with an open window letting in the salty breeze and providing you with the most stunning views of your upcoming path through the ocean.
In addition to the spa, there is also an adults-only coffee cafe, an idyllic lounge offering specialty drinks and coffees for the most coffee-snobbish of travelers! For those who purchase the internet package and need to get some work done, the Cove Cafe is a delightful place to caffeinate in peace while you work (but quit working, you’re on vacation!).
PRO TIP:If you love the peace and quiet but aren’t a fan of other people sitting nearby, book a stateroom with a veranda. Sitting on the balcony, curled up with a good book and the ocean breeze singing your name is just the alone time your soul called for!
DCL designated a private beach, just for you.
In 1996, two years before their first ship (the Disney Magic) set sail, Disney’s cruise company purchased a private island in the Bahamas and named it Castaway Cay. They spent $25 million designing the island to be the perfect getaway for castaways (get it?!) of all ages. The path directly off the port leads you to the family-friendly beach, where the youngsters can play and swim to their hearts’ content. But the best part of the island—especially for us old folks—is tucked away on the opposite end of Castaway Cay, and is only accessible by a long walk or bike ride, or catching a tram across the island, courtesy of Disney!
Serenity Bay (aptly named) is Castaway Cay’s Adults-Only private beach, where the water is as clear as a chlorine pool and the silence is as valuable as a pirate’s gold!
And for those who want to take advantage of the Adults-Only goodies even though you brought your kiddos, you’re in luck! Castaway Cay boasts a KIDS-Only area called Scuttle’s Cove, which is manned and supervised by Disney’s own counselors. If you have little ones between 3 and 12 sailing with you, you can rest assured they will have a grand ol’ time playing in Scuttle’s Cove while you enjoy an idyllic beach just a few miles away. (And for those with older children, there’s also a teen beach where you can abandon them for a few hours! Ha!)
Want the true spa treatment? Book one of Serenity Bay’s open-air massage cabanas. The extra money you’ll dish out for this amenity is worth it—a Disney staff member will personally shuttle you from the tram to your cabana, where you’ll find a spacious room with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, a music system, snacks and cold drinks, sunscreen, a freshwater showering area, private hammocks, and a stocked mini fridge! The booking also comes with free snorkeling equipment AND a complimentary bike rental, which you can use to sport around the island, or just mosey a few yards down to the BBQ restaurant private to Serenity Bay. If you’re feeling too relaxed to do either, just press the call button inside your cabana and a concierge will present themselves shortly, ready to shuttle you over to Serenity Bay BBQ to eat to your belly’s content, then right back to your cabana, fat and happy! And yep, you can book an oceanside massage in your private cabana. This extra purchase is perfect for adult guests traveling in groups—the smallest cabana can comfortably seat up to 10 people. But if this sounds like the cabana of your dreams, book it ASAP—there are only four cabanas on Serenity Bay (out of the total 24 on the island), and usually around 3000+ guests disembarking onto Castaway Cay the same day you are. Snag your spot before they sell out!
Disney Cruise Line knows adults like to do fun things, too!
All Disney cruise expeditions offer a long list of excursions that guests can book prior to (and sometimes while on) their trip, but a lot of them are kid-oriented because, well, Disney is kid-oriented. But that doesn’t mean they forgot about us mature (ahem, “old”) pathfinders.
Each cruise line offers different adventures—from snorkeling tropical reefs in crystal clear waters, to touring historic sites in Ireland. From dining under the stars, to rum-tasting in foreign countries… there is something for every connoisseur of unique experiences. Expect to spend extra on these escapades, though!
There is no customer service team in the world like Disney’s top-of-the-line staff.
I personally have never been so well taken care of or catered to like I have been on a Disney cruise ship. All of their personnel is highly trained, kind, understanding, and friendly.
Your dinner seating time determines your catering staff, and they travel with you for the rest of your trip. Your waiters serve you at every single dinner (unless you choose to dine at one of the private restaurants), and they quickly learn your name, your preferences and your tastes. I’ve seen a waiter discover a guest likes a lot of ice in their water, and always brought an extra glass full of ice with each meal just for them. Remember—these waitstaff are servicing dozens of other guests at the same time as you. But they make a point to create a magical, warm experience for you no matter what.
The guest help desk team are some of the kindest, most patient humans on the planet, and will help you in whatever capacity they can.
You can also expect turndown service every single night from your mousekeeper (yep, I said it), who is also the same person throughout your trip and will take especially good care of you and your room.
But let’s be real: we’re all kids at heart!
The truth of the matter is I can spout facts about Disney’s Adults-Only features all day, but when we really look at it, we’re all going on a Disney cruise because it’s Disney. We all grew up fantasizing about Prince Charming coming along and marrying into royalty, flippin’ our mermaid fins with a crab for a best friend, pretending to be a beautiful native princess when the wind caught our hair just right… And don’t deny it—we all just want to be Elsa.
The beauty of a Disney Cruise Line adventure is that we can enjoy all of the lovely adult experiences they have to offer. But we also get to meet our childhood heroes, rewatch our favorite classics on a live stage (with phenomenally talented casts), wear silly mouse ears and for once, just for one week…we get to be a kid all over again. And that’s where the magic of Disney truly lives.
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