July 6, 2023
After twelve amazing days together in Belize and Costa Rica, it is with heavy hearts that the group must say their goodbyes. Our final moments together were nothing short of beautiful. With faces full of joyful tears to commemorate an unbelievably incredible trip, the group reminisced on memories that will no doubt last a lifetime. While this goodbye was extremely tough for the group, it is a testimony to the remarkable friendships that were created during our time together.
To pick back up where we left off, the group had a blast celebrating the good old U.S.A with a Fourth of July surfing extravaganza at Uvita Beach. While traveling to Uvita, the group stopped at their favorite local lunch spot, Bazookas, located in San Isidro. To kick off our patriotic celebration, the group enjoyed the most delectable milkshakes and smoothies with flavors ranging from chocolate, pineapple, and banana to strawberry and blackberry. Jake was the first to try the blackberry smoothie and was not disappointed as they slurped it down sip by sip. During our time in Buenaventura, unfortunately, a not-so-friendly spider decided to bite our dear Carson. However, being the trooper that he is, Carson did not let his bite define the rest of his trip. We suited up after lunch and headed to El Hospital to get it all checked out. While the painful bite was a challenge during our time in El Brujo, Carson, A.K.A Spider-Man, continued to bring laughter and joy to the rest of the group. With a quick check-up and a stop to the local pharmacy, the group was off again; heading to El Tecal, located in Uvita, Costa Rica.
Once we arrived at El Tecal, the group suited up and headed over to meet our surfing instructors! On this very special day together, the group was able to hang 10 and ride the waves on the highest tide Uvita has seen in months! It’s hard to imagine that Hannah, Mimi, and Ella were just beginners on our first day in Uvita, as they were quick to master their newly learned surfing skills. The three girls conquered every wave they approached and helped others feel comfortable in the massive waves that rolled ahead of us. During a much-needed water break, Piper discovered the most beautiful Sand Dollars within the coarse black sand that she soon shared with the rest of the group! After an awesome night of surfing, the group headed back to El Tecal and jumped straight into the cool blue pool to wash away the sand that still covered everyone head to toe. As we hung out in the pool, Ben cracked jokes that had everyone laughing till our stomachs hurt. This was not an uncommon occurrence, as Ben was an absolute joy maker throughout the trip. Dinner followed our very amusing time in the pool, where the group feasted on a little comfort food of chicken fingers, burgers, quesadillas, or pasta followed by some surprise desserts. With happy tummies and big smiles, the group had Moonup and headed to sleep! We began the next day of our adventure with an early wake-up and brisk walk to meet our surfing instructors at La Playa Uvita! Despite the early morning, the group was excited and energized by the beautiful scenic beach that lie ahead. Gemma made serious progress on the second day of surfing as she tackled the choppy tide like a champ! After another unimaginable surfing session, it was time to head back to the hotel and get packed up for our last day together. Before packing up and boarding the bus, however, the group had to re-fuel with some much-needed eggs, waffles, rice, and the freshest fruit you could ever imagine.
Once again we loaded up and headed to our last activity of the trip, Ziplining through the treetops of Los Sueños! The minute we arrived, we watched in awe and excitement as three monkeys swiped fruit from the tables around us. Seeing monkeys was the last big bucket list item that the group was ecstatic to check off. Being up in the trees was an experience like no other. Out of 10 separate zip lines at Adventure Park, zip line 6 allowed students to take on an upside-down Spider-Man pose, which really got the heart racing! Sarah showed off her Bravery as she was one of the first to let loose hundreds of feet in the air. Our experience zip-lining was truly unforgettable! After zip-lining we had some emotional moments on the bus as we listened to our favorite tunes. All in all, the reality of our short time left together had become evident. With a little Taylor Swift and A LOT of tears, this spectacular group huddled together to take in every last moment of each other’s company. As the tears began to dry up, our road trip led us to an unexpected stop at Crocodile Bridge. The group hopped off the bus eager to see the colossal crocodiles that waded in the rapids below. Cole couldn’t wait to see a crocodile up close and her smile spread from ear to ear when she saw one. After a heart-racing glimpse of Costa Rica’s largest Crocodiles, the group headed to what some would describe as the Bucees of Costa Rica. Including a massive souvenir shop, a restaurant, and a coffee and ice cream bar, El Jardin has everything you could ever need. Turner, who had been talking about souvenirs for the majority of the trip, was especially enthusiastic as his eyes lit up the moment he entered the store. With some retail shopping and fun new totes and toys, the group once again boarded our charming little bus on our way to the Adventure Inn.
Before reaching our final destination at the Adventure Inn, we had to make a pit stop at the local Walmart for not so rare “emergency” bathroom break. While we were there, the group was surprised with amusing matching space t-shirts, a must-buy for our final banquet. The shirts were extremely fitting for a group that was so “out of this world”. With matching t-shirts and hungry bellies, we rolled into the Adventure Inn singing our hearts out on our final bus ride. During dinner, we feasted on Pizza, pasta, and delicious chicken sandwiches. Will and MK kept the group cracking up as they continually made jokes about their love for all things “space camp”. We finished dinner with a surprise cake to celebrate a truly once and a lifetime trip together. On a very large cake-inducing sugar high, the group burnt our energy out by jumping into the pool and playing some hilarious games of telephone in the hot tub. After showering off our adventurous day, the group settled down for our final Moonup together (we never wanted it to end). HUGE shoutout to our LODs, Carson and Sarah, who facilitated a very meaningful conversation full of vulnerability and love for our group. By the end of the trip, the group was feeling more connected than we have ever felt before.
On our final night, the kids couldn’t bare to be separated or go to bed and miss out on their last few moments of the trip together. Nevertheless, we all stayed up talking, laughing, and reminiscing on what has truly been the best two weeks of our lives. Liam and I are so grateful we had the opportunity to lead such an unbelievable group of kids, and cannot wait to see what great things they accomplish next.
It’s not goodbye, just a see you later!
Ava & Liam
July 5, 2023
What an amazing couple of days we have had in Buenaventura, a stunning oasis in Costa Rican paradise. As we arrived the group was greeted by Harlow, our travel guide during our time in Costa Rica as well as the owner of Buenaventura. To reach the beautifully remote property, the group crossed a small bridge that stretched far and wide over the white-water rapids below. Here, Jake showed off his bravery as he took his first steps over the rushing water, each step with more excitement than the one before. As we settled into Buenaventura, the group was split into teams to mix fertilizer and plant seeds to harvest Cacao beans. The group was even able to taste the fruit that encases cacao seeds! Turner absolutely loved trying a new fruit and continued to go back for seconds. Many of the kids got excited at the fact that they tasted like green apple jolly ranchers. After volunteering in the garden for the majority of the afternoon, the group headed to the lodge to relax before our enriching chocolate making class. During class later that evening, Ella and Carson were quick to help the group crack open all the extra cacao seeds laying around. They are always quick to offer a helping hand and assist those around themselves with smiles on their faces! After an awesome chocolate making class, the group was treated to an unbelievably delicious pasta dinner with delectable garlic bread. A Moonup full of deep conversation, laughter, and pure joy followed dinner; a testament to the amazing bonds the group created during our time together. Our first night in Buenaventura was a dream.
The next morning started early with breakfast, followed by a forty-five minute hike to the local village of El Brujo. Upon arrival we enjoyed snacks of fresh fruit, cookies, and juice to fuel up for the afternoon activities ahead. After our snack, we proceeded to paint the interior of the local church, as well as digging a trench for newly built bathrooms at the soccer fields. Hannah and Gemma teamed up and made great progress on the trench together! Of course, we had to finish up the day’s hard work with an intense round of soccer! Piper and Will were absolute ballers and were serious competitors throughout the game. While returning back to El Brujo, the group wandered across a natural spring and couldn’t help but jump right on in to escape the Costa Rican heat! MK and Ben were especially excited and immediately submerged themselves in the ice-cold waters. Our day in El Brujo was more than we could ever have asked for. The kids had a blast immersing themselves in El Brujo’s culture as they learned new skills from the environment around us. As we returned to Buenaventura hot and tired, the group couldn’t help but take advantage of the cold showers and some much-needed rest and relaxation. Cole was so excited to teach the group some new card games that the group has not been able to stop playing since! Cole always has creative ways to keep the group entertained. For dinner, the group headed to Harlow’s house to cook Papusas, a delicacy of his homeland, El Salvador. Sarah was a great sous chef as she filled her corn meal dough with handfuls of fresh monetary jack cheese, making a yummy cheese Papusas. The Papusas were a crowd favorite and were served with unbelievably tasty veggies, beans, and rice!
We woke up the next morning full of anticipation for the Blue Clay Avatar Waterfall adventure, an awesome way to kick off our Fourth of July celebration! In order to reach the waterfall, the group hiked another 45 minutes up the mountainside. While the hike was steep, and at times very challenging, the morale of the group remained high. The waterfall was a perfect reward for the challenging hike the group had just accomplished. The kids were able to take time to cool off and relax as they played in the water and covered themselves head-to-toe in the magical blue clay. Mimi presented herself as the artist of the group as she painted fun designs on herself and those around her! These designs included many American flags, U.S.A, and stars to shout out our land of the free and celebrate America’s birthday! Our final day in Buenaventura created memories that will for sure last a lifetime.
We are looking forward to soaking up our last few days together in Costa Rica surfing in Uvita and Ziplining through the treetops of Los sueños!
Ava & Liam
July 2, 2023
The past two days have been nothing short of amazing! After a long travel day from Belize to Costa Rica, the group settled down in our hotel, ate an awesome dinner, and headed to bed. Our early 5:30am wake up was a bit of a challenge for the group but the anticipation for the day’s activities was quick to wake everyone up. Before heading off for our first activity, the group enjoyed a breakfast of Pancakes, French Toast, or Eggs & Bacon accompanied by the most unbelievable fresh juice and fruit. Turner was especially excited about trying Guava for the first time! After fueling up on breakfast, we packed into the bus and were off! Ella and Gemma helped keep the energy high on our bus ride by singing their hearts out to their favorite artists Shawn Mendez and Taylor Swift. We started off our rafting journey by paddling to our first stop of the night, the Rios Rafting Eco Lodge, located on the river bank of the Pacuare. With some of the most beautiful rapids in Costa Rica, the river offers a deeper look into the country’s luscious ecosystems. Mimi took the lead in her boat and ensured that no one fell out of her raft as she paddled like a pro!
Once we arrived at the Lodge, we unpacked and settled down for a delicious lunch of breaded chicken and fresh sautéed veggies. The kitchen crew at the lodge prepared delicious brownies for dessert that brought a huge smile to Ben’s face as he scarfed his down bite by bite! After an amazing lunch and smiles on everyone’s faces, the group ventured out for some exploration. After just a short hike up, the group made it to one of the lodge’s most beautiful natural pools. Carson wasted no time in being one of the first to jump into the crystal blue water and encouraging everyone else to do the same. This is not a rare occurrence, as Carson is always motivating others to try new things. MK, Cole, and Will took advantage of the pool’s natural clay and painted themselves and others with the coolest designs! After spending the afternoon swimming around, the group hiked back down for some much needed afternoon slumber. The sound of the beautiful river below made for an amazing natural sound machine.
The group arose for a delicious snack of chips and dip before doing some more exploration of the river lodge. Our pre-dinner exploration included crossing a bridge stretching over the rapids, playing never-ending rounds of UNO, and catching up on some rest in the hammocks. Jake is always particularly excited about UNO and seems like he could play forever! After an awesome dinner of steak tacos and coffee flan for dessert, the group headed to the river overlook for Moonup and an intense game of mafia. We had an incredible day on the river. After the sun had set, it was time for bed to rest up for our exciting second day of rafting ahead.
This morning we woke up and enjoyed a wonderful riverbank breakfast of french toast, eggs, and fruit before suiting up and boarding the rafts. Sarah helped all the girls prepare for the rafting trip ahead by doing the best french braids the group has ever seen! We couldn’t forget to have our first happy birthday sing along for Hannah who turned 15 today! This was one of many happy birthday sing-a-longs! We enjoyed celebrating Hannah all day while rafting and made sure to sing loud and proud for our river guides during our lunch break that we enjoyed. The outfitters set up a tasty waterfront lunch of fresh sandwiches, wraps, fruit, and cookies! We hopped back into our rafts and totally crushed four level four rapids on our way to the end! After an epic day of rafting, we changed and got on the bus for our ride to our next destination. Our bus ride consisted of some rain, awe-inspiring views, and so much laughter. The group has gotten so close these past couple of days and it has been a joy to see the deep rooted relationships forming. We stopped for ice cream along the way and Piper was so excited to get a vanilla cone with chocolate syrup. After our long bus ride, we arrived at our hotel and got settled in before we took a short walk to Wok n Roll, a delicious Japanese restaurant. The group enjoyed a spread of sushi, fried rice, kung pao, teriyaki, and sweet n sour chicken!
We ended our night with a big birthday celebration for Hannah that of course included ice cream and cake!
We have LOVED getting to know this group, they have been so amazing! We are looking forward to all the adventures to come in Costa Rica!
Ava and Liam
June 30, 2023
Hi Moondance Families!
We have had an amazing first week scuba diving in Long Caye, Belize. It’s crazy how quickly the past few days have gone bye, time surely goes fast when you’re having fun! Last Friday, on day one, we met our group in the Belize airport and gathered our things before setting sail on our Belizean adventure. We packed our bags into the car and ventured to meet our diving outfitters docked in Belize City. Once we boarded the vessel we took a two hour boat ride to Long Caye, an island oasis located two hours off the coast. Although we faced the challenges that came with a choppy current, the group kept morale high by playing group games while listening to some of their favorite tunes. After arriving at Calypso Beach Resort, the group settled in and was introduced to the locals of Long Caye. The group made a very special connection to the resort chef, Marta, who kept the group well fed with her amazing meals cooked with love. Within just a few moments of being on the island, the group had clicked, and was eager to get changed and jump right into the crystal clear waters of Long Caye. We wrapped up the travel day with a dip in the ocean, a warm homemade dinner, and our first Moonup together before heading off to bed with dreams of the adventure to come.
We began day one of Scuba diving with a nutritious breakfast of eggs, sausage, fresh tortillas, and orange juice! After enjoying our first breakfast on the island together, the LODs (Leaders of the Day) Turner and Hannah, helped clean up and got prepped on the daily schedule. Turner and Hannah were chosen as the group’s first LODs as a result of their unbelievable energy and kindness towards the group on the first day! After suiting up with sunscreen and bathing suits, we headed to Hurrican Dive Center to learn the ins and outs of assembling and disassembling scuba gear. Although they were nervous, MK and Mimi showed off their new scuba skills by being the first ones of the group to set their gear up correctly on the first try. A quick lunch break and some island exploration came next and allowed the kids to get a glimpse of our next few days in paradise.
The following day, the group boarded the Hurrican boat bright and early to spend the day completing their first 3 open water certification dives! The first two dives consisted of mastering shallow water skills, and practicing different emergency air assents. Liam and I were in awe of the group’s ability to apply all of their previous knowledge from the PADI curriculum, and quickly learn all of the skills covered. In between dives, the group headed back to Long Caye for some rest and relaxation. Whether it was enjoying Marta’s amazing lunch of thick crust pizza, hanging out in the Enos, or snorkeling in the corals surrounding the island, the kids had a blast. Cole and Ben especially enjoyed spending their down time hanging out in the Hammocks or soaking in the beautiful Belizean rays on the dock. Returning to the ocean for the last afternoon dive of the day, we encountered a very curious Black Tip shark that circled the group before returning back home to dark depths of the sea.
Day four of Scuba was the group’s first “deep” dive at a depth of 40ft, taking the group into an environment unlike any other. From seeing Nurse Sharks, Reef Sharks, Sea Turtles, Lobsters, Stingrays, Trigger Fish, and so much more; there was never a dull moment on a dive. Piper was quick to spot a Lion Fish on our dive while helping another student re-adjust their BCD vest! This is not uncommon, as Piper is always quick to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it. After our dive the group headed back to the island to hydrate, re-apply sunscreen, and snack on some of Marta’s famous cinnamon sugar donuts! The moment the group tasted the delicious sweet treat, Sarah was beaming ear to ear with excitement. After refueling for our afternoon dive ahead, the group headed to the dock for another round of snorkeling. Ella and Carson didn’t have to think twice before running and jumping into the cool blue waters ahead. While up on the dock, Gemma also took advantage of all of the water-activities and went straight for her goggles and snorkel! Our final dive for the day was full of incredible sights. During our last dive of the trip, the group encountered three large reef sharks that decided to stick around for a bit as we explored the coral caves of Angel Fish Wall. After a heart-racing last dive, the group returned once again to lay out and soak up the sun! During this time, Will passed the day by exploring and finding the largest Hermit crabs on the island. This always made the group laugh as they started collecting Hermit crab families as we walked along the beach. This laughter carried throughout another amazing dinner and Moonup, and the group was off to bed for a beautiful day of fishing to come!
We woke up ready to attack the day after an exciting week of diving. The group headed to Hurrican dive center one last time to log their dives and finish their certification paperwork. After the group completed their paperwork, we said our goodbyes to our diving instructors, and got ready for fishing. In three separate groups, the kids got to see a different side of the ocean, and spent a few hours fishing in the beautiful waters of Belize. There were a lot of highlights on this day as every time there was a bite on the line, a new surprise was waiting. Jake caught two of Belize’s most sacred species of fish, one being a beautiful blue parrot fish, found only off the coast of Long Caye. While they were catch and release species, it was still amazing to get to see so close up. Our day of fishing was more than we could have asked for, and was a perfect last day on the island. The group caught sharks and dozens of species of fish that left smiles on everyone’s faces. We finished up our last night with a very special Moonup on the dock, reminiscing and reflecting on the amazing six days we have spent together so far.
After a two hour boat ride back to the mainland, we are on the way to the Belize airport. We are so excited for everything to come in Costa Rica and cannot wait for what the rest of our trip has in store. Onto the next and Pura Vida!!
Ava & Liam
Hello mother and father (and whoever else)!!!! I’m having so much fun and I have so many stories to tell. I can’t wait to tell, but knowing me if you ask about something I’m going to forget. I would also like to tell you that now I’m a certified mermaid and I will be forever! Miss y’all so much so much and see y’all soon (tell ea,Alice,Gabe,Emily, and beau I say hey) Love all of y’all!!
Hi mom, dad, Charlie, Jacob, and everyone else! This Moondance has been so amazing and I am having so much fun! Scuba diving was incredible and I made new friends! I love and miss you guys soooooo much and hope everything is well! Tell all the pets I love them and I can’t wait to see you soon!
Hi mom and dad and siblings and everyone else!! I’m having such a fun time and I’m so happy to be here!!! I miss y’all and I’m excited to tell y’all about everything!! I was a literal pro at scuba diving. If possible will y’all un cancel my old green light card so I’ll try it and if you get a notif then don’t be alarmed. I love y’all so much and I’ll see y’all soon!!!
IM A SCUBA DIVER MEHHHH! hey mom and dad i miss y’all and I hope Alaska was fun! I am having the best time ever this is awesome! My group is so fun and i can’t wait to fill y’all in on all my adventures! I mean seriously I never want to leave! Lava ewww soo much!!!
Hi Mom, Dad, Stella, Dutch. I am having soooooo much fun at camp and I am so exited to see y’all! I have the funniest group ever! Bye.
Hi Megan and Dad, can’t wait to see y’all again! I’m having the best time.👍
Hey mom, dad, hays, and possibly Buchanan! I am having the best time ever!!! I really love my group and I am having soooooo much fun! I am a pro scuba diver!🤿 Miss y’all so much! Love you!
Hi mom and Spalding. I’m having so much fun. Miss y’all, see y’all soon.
Hi mom and dad, I, having a lot of fun on the trip. I’m finally scuba certified and I’m excited to see Costa Rica. Hope y’all are having fun in Belize and Costa Rica. See y’all soon. Love you.
Hi mom and dad I’m having lots of fun! I got Rachel Guatemalan and Belizean snow globes. Love u and give Rachel and tucker a hug for me
Yooo I’m having a super duper fun time!! I can’t wait to tell you about it. Love youuuu
Hey guys! I’m having the best time and made some cute friends aka gem gem. I have so many cool pics to show u. I’m also really good at fishing. I caught a shark and held it! I’ve had lots of shark encounters. 😎Love you see u soon!
Hey!! I am having so much fun and have made some amazing cutie friends aka Han Ban and LL😍. I had so much fun scuba diving!! I know how worried you were. Also nobody else knew the PADI so we were all confused together. I have had multiple shark encounters. Love you!
June 23, 2023
Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Belize! The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!