Monday, 19 December 2016

Playa Grande, Costa Rica

I had the pleasure to plan a grand family vacation. It was grand in size because there were four families and together there were sixteen of us, ranging from age 8 to middle-aged adults. We all agreed to go to Playa Grande (Grand Beach), on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, for a week.

Playa Grande, Costa Rica
I did a few things right as the designated family vacation planner and would like to share my experience with you:
  1. Chose a destination that can be reached by non-stop flights from Toronto. We flew to Liberia International Airport in Costa Rica. It was simple and straightforward. Liberia airport was easy to navigate as it is not as busy as San Jose International Airport.
  2. Found a villa (Villas Costa Grande) that can house sixteen people from Home Away. We had to stay in two houses, each was fully furnished with five appliances, and offered enough beds for everyone. The gated villa has a swimming pool, and is a 3-minute walk to the beach.
  3. Booked airport pick-up and drop-off before leaving home. I did the arrangements by e-mail. Upon arrival in Liberia, our driver welcomed us with a big sign with my name on it. Then we piled into two shuttle vans and went directly to our rented villa...Worry-free!
  4. Booked grocery shopping and delivery to the villa before leaving home. It was fantastic that this service was available. I e-mailed the list of grocery items to the property manager. She was on site when we arrived with a long bill but the fridge and freezer were full and ready for our meal preparations. Again...worry-free!
  5. Chose Costa Rica which has sights and activities suitable for our various age groups. We were within walking distance to Grand Beach, and Marino Las Baulas National Park. We could also book excursions to visit an estuary, try out zip lining, hiking, hot springs. etc.
How did we do?
  • We had the villa and its swimming pool to ourselves the entire week. Just luck that the other three houses were vacant during our stay. Our rented houses were spacious and the beds were comfortable.
  • The beach was grand for everyone, and the pool was a big hit with the children. A maintenance worker came to clean the pool daily.
  • The natural settings and bio-diversity in Costa Rica were wonderful. We had different birds visiting us every morning. We were all fascinated by the pelicans, fish, birds, iguanas, howler monkeys, alligators, crabs, butterflies, dragonflies, to name a few. Click to enlarge the pictures below.
Bird on our balcony
Birds by the pool

  • We loved the plants and trees around our place, too. The children saw papaya trees, mango trees, lime trees and various flower plants. Tropical fruits such as pineapples, rambutans were sweet and delicious.

Sweet rambutans
  • We all went to visit the estuary by boat. The mangrove jungle, the narrow waterways, and wildlife kept all of us entertained for several hours.

Heron at the estuary
Howler monkey
Alligator in the river - Can you see it?
Idyllic fishing boats
  • The teenagers and some of the adults went on a tour that included hiking, horseback riding, zip lining and visiting a hot spring bath. They really enjoyed their excursion.
  • During our stay we only had to go to a local store for small grocery items as our fridge and freezer were fully stocked upon request. By cooking our own meals, we saved a lot of money and had a lot of fun family meal time. The available appliances made dish washing and laundry a breeze.
  • We collected shells on the beach and watched a few spectacular sunsets.
Shell on Playa Grande

It was a “grand” family vacation for all of us. We shared a special time and still talk about it. As the children described in one word: “Awesome”!


  1. Sounds like a grand way to spend time with family. What a gorgeous spot. Just looked it up to see if we might anchor there but it may not have enough protection so we might need to head a bit further north to Culebra Bay. We will check out of the country at Playa del Cocos

    1. Hi Lisa - The bio-diversity in Costa Rica is amazing. Plus volcanoes, rain forest, cloud forest, and beaches to explore. I hope you and the Captain have a wonderful time. I look forward to hearing your thoughts after you explore Costa Rica.