Playa Hermosa's beach is one of the most picturesque in the country.

Journey to Costa Rica

AAA President's Adventure...Travel with John Tomlin and his son Greg on an adventure of a lifetime.

By John Tomlin

A few months ago, I shared with you the story of my journey to Costa Rica with my son Blake. It's a family tradition I have. As each of my three children graduate from high school, we select a destination and travel together. Blake and I took on Costa Rica, and our adventure was spectacular.

We rafted the crashing waters of the Pacuare River, navigating through its winding and jagged shores. Monkeys, sloths and other wildlife peeked out of the jungle as we passed.

There was ziplining, hiking and a host of other adventures, each creating a wonderful and exciting experience—building memories that Blake and I will share for a lifetime.

Reminiscing with my family recently, we realized that there were probably many others who would love to experience this type of adventure and journey, but who may not have access to the experienced and savvy travel planners I work with every day.

John with his son Greg.

From that conversation, the 2011 President's Adventure travel offering was born—and you're invited. Later this year, Greg (my other son, who missed out last time!) and I will be hosting a small group of members to share some of the experiences from my past trip. These travelers won't have to worry about planning an experience where each day brings new and exciting adventures. We've already done it for you, and I'm thrilled to offer this unique opportunity. The trip also allows you to choose some experiences that will round out this magical journey.

We'll fly into Costa Rica to begin our stay at the beautiful Intercontinental San Jose hotel. At the Doka Coffee Plantation that evening, we'll have a chance to meet and get to know our fellow travelers at a welcome party.

The next morning, fortified by a hearty breakfast, we'll head to the Poas Volcano. Nestled in the heart of the Poas Volcano National Park, it is considered to be one of the most breathtaking sites in the country, and it's one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica.

Ocelots are one of the wild cats found in the country.

Later in the day, we'll make our way to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, located on the slopes of the volcano. This magical nature park area is rich in diverse plants and wildlife, with an altitude that permits clouds and rainforest to co-exist. It's home to five of Costa Rica's most striking waterfalls and the largest butterfly observatory in the world. This flower-heavy country boasts more than 1,000 species of these winged beauties. We'll see many hummingbirds, some frolicking just inches away from you, in the hummingbird gardens.

After lunch, we'll head to La Fortuna and the luxurious Springs Resort and Spa. After a day of fresh air and hiking, you can just relax or seek comfort in one of the 18 hot springs on its luxurious grounds.

At my welcome dinner that evening, we'll have a chance to share stories of the day while feasting on a sumptuous meal.

For the next two days, you'll have the freedom to choose from a variety of adventures, allowing you to personalize your experience.

Hike the Arenal Volcano—Boasting one of nature's most awe-inspiring displays of beauty, the Arenal Volcano is among Costa Rica's most active, erupting almost constantly. You'll be treated to its fiery rumblings, a healthy dose of fireworks, and puffs of steam shooting into the cloud-filled air.

Explore the Fortuna Waterfall on Horseback—Make your way through some of the most spectacular scenery in Costa Rica, ending at the famed Fortuna Waterfall. Surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, this 230-foot ribbon of water cascades into a frothing pool of crystal-blue water. You'll hike downstream a bit to explore the more serene pools, perfect for a cooling dip.

Treetop Suspended Bridges Walk—These walkways are perfect to experience the canopy of the rainforests. Several spectacular suspension bridges connect trails laden with beautiful flora and fauna, including birds and other wildlife. A naturalist guides you through the fascinating ecosystem, sharing the history of the region.

A colorful Keel bill toucan.

Canopy, Zipline Tour—As one of Blake's and my favorite experiences on our original journey, this adrenaline-packed adventure immerses you in the rainforest. From viewing platforms and cables, you'll combine the thrill of the zipline and the perspective of the treetop canopy. Professional guides ensure your safety with the highest quality equipment and training.

Penas Blancas River Safari—Explore this scenic river and see and hear monkeys, caimans, iguanas, crocodiles, sloths and dozens of species of birds. This unique safari lets you truly embrace the peace and beauty of the forest.

Wind down in the afternoon to hike the tails, or hop aboard a sightseeing truck at the Observatory Lodge for great views and a discussion with a vulcanologist. The evening begins as we gather for dinner at the Lost Iguana. Over a luxurious meal, we'll enjoy the dramatic views of the Arenal Volcano at night.

On day four of our journey, you'll get a chance to choose from one of the adventures listed previously, or a few others:

The Arenal Volcano is one of the most active in the country.

Whitewater Rafting on the La Balsa River—As one of the most exhilarating experiences in Costa Rica, whitewater rafting is often considered a "must-do" on a trip to this scenic country. An experienced river guide hosts this dramatic journey through the swirling waters of the La Balsa. Hang on to your hats. It's an adventure that will leave you reeling, laughing and soaked in fun. A swim in the serene pools of the river lets you catch your breath after this spectacular adventure.

Waterfall Canyoneering or ATV Tour—Imagine rappelling down a cascading waterfall into unspoiled canyons, lush with tropical vegetation. This adventure will leave you breathless—and begging for more. You'll have the chance to rappel both waterfalls and dry rock face. Experienced guides ensure your safety and provide fascinating insights into the region. The ATV tour lets you explore some off-the-beaten-track areas only accessible aboard these rugged vehicles. You'll maneuver through local plantations and wildlife areas, perfect for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike.

Treetop suspended bridges let you view the spectacular canopy of the rainforest.

On day five, we'll head toward the Pacific coast, stopping at Costa Rica's 800-acre Los Angeles Cloud Forest. The hills are covered with a thick cloud forest, the calls of howler monkeys emanating from its shroud. Ocelots, jaguars, bellbirds and trogons call this mysterious region home. We'll lunch at the El Silencio Restaurant at the Villa Blanca Resort, which boasts incredible views of the region.

And then it's onto Herradura. You'll have a chance to settle into the Los Suenos Ocean and Golf Resort before gathering for dinner.

The next day, it's your choice of activity again. You can choose any of these unique adventures:


After a busy morning, the afternoon provides a bit of a respite, letting you explore the beautiful Los Suenos. Our spectacular day is capped off with a starlit dinner atop the mountain at Villas Caletas, providing 360-degree views of the rainforest and Pacific Ocean.

Our last full day will be spent enjoying an island cruise to Punta Coral. Accessible only by boat, this region is split into two fascinating areas: a picturesque beach on one side and a valley filled with flowering plants, rock formations and caves on the other. You'll have the chance to hike, kayak, swim or just relax on the beach. Troops of monkeys, yellow-naped Amazon parrots, hummingbirds and butterflies will keep you company during your visit. Punta Coral's delicate eco-system is part of the last 2 percent of Tropical Dry Forest remaining in the world today. A Farewell Beach BBQ completes this exquisite journey.

Back to Top

You're Invited! 2011 President's Adventure to Costa Rica

Join AAA President & CEO John Tomlin and his son Greg

Limited Availability! Book Today.

*Rates are per person based on double occupancy, land only and subject to change. Other restrictions may apply.

Back to Top