I’ve always loved traveling, speaking Spanish, and had a strong desire to live abroad and work internationally. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in Costa Rica for 13 years and have fallen in love with the nature, spectacular scenery, the peaceful lifestyle and Pura Vida way of life.
The nature here is one of my favorite aspects of Costa Rica and I never get tired of seeing the beautiful green forests that cover this country. I love hiking and getting out into nature and experiencing the beautiful plants, trees, and flowers. Of course, I love the beaches too and the sunsets here are incredible! The Blue Morpho butterflies are my absolute favorite and I really do get so excited every time I spot one. I even named my blue car Morphie!
Shay's favorite thing to do...
When I’m not helping people plan their vacations, I love exploring new restaurants with friends, going to my indoor cycling and yoga classes, listening to podcasts and watching netflix! I also really enjoy traveling abroad and working remotely in places throughout Costa Rica, South America, and Southern California which is where I am originally from.
Top tip when traveling...
Learn a few words of Spanish and practice with the locals! Costa Ricans are so warm and friendly and love it when you give Spanish a try. Also, I really suggest trying some of the delicious exotic fruits here in Costa Rica. The produce is so delicious and it’s always fun checking out new foods!
I have a special interest in all things wellness related and definitely enjoy checking out all of the beautiful Spas in Costa Rica. I think it’s so important to come back from vacation feeling refreshed and energized. Costa Rica is the perfect place to do just that because you can be adventurous and active, but then also relax in the most peaceful and gorgeous natural settings. It’s all about balance!
Recent Traveler Stories
We just returned from a flawless vacation. I'd like to personally thank Shay for all of her help. She chose exactly the right itinerary and exactly the right accommodations for us. Costa Rica on its own is a dream... but the details along the way made it even more so.
For people considering a trip using Costa Rican Vacations here's some details of our Christmas trip.We are a family of five (oldest 20, then 13, then 11). We are not "outdoorsy" types so we knew this would be an "active" vacation likely a little out of our comfort zone.For our first stop, we stayed three nights at an all-inclusive - the Westin Playa Conchal. We have absolutely nothing negative to say about the hotel or the staff. I read on some of the reviews to make dinner reservations ahead of time and this is the only thing we did on our own as Marriot Rewards members - called Marriot directly to book. The restaurants are very small and book up fast. The buffets are great so it’s not entirely necessary to eat in the restaurants… but you’re paying for it and might as well if you can. We ate lunch and dinner once at Spirula Trattoria - (Italian). The food was fabulous. I recommend the Gnocchi. We ate at Bamboo and though I’d read mixed reviews, we all enjoyed our meal immensely and they have some fun drinks on their menu. Everyone recommended the Fried Ice cream so we all ordered it. And we all loved it. One night we ate at Faisanela which is in the “adults only” section of the resort but kids can eat at the restaurant. This was the most crowded restaurant we went to and service was very slow (but food great and staff super friendly). During our stay in Guanacaste we did ATV through Monkey Jungle in Tamarindo. Travel to and from was a breeze (picked up promptly) and Monkey Jungle staff is amazing. We were the only family there at the time so we got a lot of attention and got to do a lot of extras (Tarzan swing, additional scenic route, saw monkeys) and were treated to lovely Pineapple for a snack.Another day we went to Diamante with the Adventure Pass - we did all five ziplines (AMAZING - I still can't believe we did this!), went to the animal sanctuary and got pictures. Pictures in Costa Rica are done so differently. It's not a price gauge whatsoever - some of the places we went charged only $25 for the whole lot of pictures.Then we moved our trip to Arenal. Arenal is about 3 1/2 hour bus ride from Guanacaste. Take Dramamine if you get car sick, because it is a VERY windy trip. Beautiful views along the way into the rain forest and along the lake. We stayed at the Royal Corin (two rooms). We had the suites 209 and 210... amazing and beautiful and views of the pool and volcano. Arenal is an entirely different feel from Guanacaste - drizzly and a little cool and very lush. It wasn’t cold in December, but it was very foggy and rainy. We did not get to see the full volcano (outside our balcony).The hotel itself is amazing. We had a very customized check-in (welcome drinks and a presentation of sorts about how to get around the hotel and where everything is). The pool area is beautiful and the pool bar had the best staff (Jose!) in the whole hotel. You can order meals from the pool area or you can eat in the downstairs restaurant (forget the name of it - food was great and every server and host was friendly and happy). We also ate at the restaurant on the top level (Lava?) and it’s a “must see” because it’s beautiful, but we could have skipped this meal honestly. It was our least favorite the whole trip. (NOT a kid-friendly menu - but then you have to be at least 12 to eat there.)The next day we went on the Waterfall Rappel Tour through Pure Trek. This was the most outside of our comfort zone excursion on the whole trip and it was one of our favorites. (We had originally made reservations for only three of us because two thought they would be scared and they scrambled to fit the other two in at the last minute which we were very appreciative of!) The description says that it’s moderate as far as activity level - I would say moderate to high. There is a lot of hiking and the grounds are wet, slippery, and muddy and you get filthy. Additionally, there are NO bathrooms once you get started so go before. There really isn’t time to think before you jump because right as you get up to the ledge is the only time you see how far down you’re going. So, there’s little time to be afraid. Some of the jumps were very simple and some were scary (but cool).One other note - if you have a younger child, they will just use the pulley and lower your child down so that they do not have to actually do the jump. In fact, on a few jumps they did that for my daughters though they really didn’t want them to. So, if you have an adventurous one you may need to ask that they don’t use the pulley. I am an anxious person and I didn’t feel unsafe at any point on this excursion.On Christmas Day (everything is open on Christmas there - I didn’t know this, but they don’t really celebrate Christmas - Additionally, Christmas/our winter is their “summer” from school), we went white water rafting with DeSafio. Kevin was our guide. The ride is about an hour to get there with one vehicle change. The bugs are bad here but it is somewhat useless to apply bug spray because you get soaked. We did the class II and III. We didn’t have much experience white water rafting, but we lucked out and got the best guide there. He was so much fun and so engaged. He clearly loves his job. He really made this excursion amazing for us and I can’t say enough nice things about him. (Thank you, Kevin!) All of the guides do their best to make this fun - splashing you when you go by, yelling and laughing with the guests. The rapids aren’t threatening and may be tame for some, but they were just enough for us. We loved it. And there's a photographer on a kayak going along the rapids. You think he doesn’t get many pictures and then you get back and find that you have some amazing pictures as mementos. You get to see them at lunch on his iPad and then he emails them to you within 48 hours - all very professional - and, again, much cheaper than US. This was a highlight of our trip and one we will always remember. I can’t recommend this or Monkey Jungle highly enough.I do not have a single negative thing to say about our trip. It went off flawlessly - every travel arrangement, every accommodation, every pick-up and drop-off, every meal, every excursion, EVERYTHING. We have done some fun trips as a family - this one was the very best. We all loved Costa Rica - beautiful people, safe and comforting vibe, wonderful food. It was humbling to see how this country has preserved their environment and respects it in a way Americans don’t. The beaches, mountains, jungles are the highlights and are not the backdrop at all. They are conservationists and do their best to show you how abundant their country’s resources are - we were all impressed by this and it really brought home to us how much we have lost in our area of the US due to deforestation and pollution.I wouldn’t have been able to arrange this vacation on my own - I would have missed something in this beautifully planned itinerary. Some things, I’m sure, were hidden gems or not so well known by internet searches or blindly picking places. The only thing we decided we would change is that we would start at the rain forest and end at the beach. The rain forest is a long drive, as I’ve mentioned, and is a very “active” portion of the trip. So, I would get both the drive and the pace of that out of the way before settling into the Guanacaste area - and from the Liberia airport it’s only 45 minutes. It’s a personal preference but we would have liked a day or two to wind back down from all the fun and adventure before leaving.We will be back!
Flawless Christmas Vacation - Traci P. from USA Date of exterience: Dec, 2019
Thank you Shay T. For scheduling a fantastic 5 days at the Tamarindo Diria Hotel and sunset tour on the Panache catamaran tour. Shay and the team at Costa Rican Vacations provided support throughout our booking and stay. We enjoyed staff at the resort and the clean accommodations. We will take a second trip to Costa Rica to see more of this beautiful country and hope to have Shay as our attendant.