Traveling with Kids
Last Updated: Feb 28, 2012
Costa Rica is the ultimate family-friendly vacation destination, offering plenty of hands-on activities designed to grab your family’s interest. Turtles, monkeys and toucans are always crowd-pleasers, and your kids will be fascinated by amazing leaf-cutter ants, huge stag beetles, and curious coatimundis, too. And when it comes to more active pursuits, breathe easy knowing that your children are well taken care of: guides will accompany young ones on canopy tours, wait patiently during rainforest hikes, and engage your children at every opportunity.
In addition, many Costa Rican hotels offer discounts for families traveling with children. Mid-range and upscale hotels often have onsite playgrounds, in-room cribs, and most restaurants have kid menus. At every chance, Costa Rica makes it easy to travel with children and strives to keep your young ones happy at every moment.
As the adventure capital of Costa Rica, Arenal offers your family everything from cave spelunking to lava viewing. If you’re an active family, consider taking a horseback ride to Arenal Volcano National Park, going whitewater rafting on the Class II-III Balsa River or Class III-IV on the Toro River, or taking a mountain bike tour around the volcano. For a more relaxed visit, take a safari float at Cano Negro or search for birds and wildlife in the private reserves around Arenal Volcano. Make sure to book a lava tour for the evening: even the kids won’t mind waiting around for red-hot boulders to explode out of the volcanic cone.
Manuel Antonio’s white-sand beaches and gentle waves are ideal for families seeking sun, fun and relaxation. Wile the day away building sandcastles, splashing in the turquoise waters or meandering along Manuel Antonio National Park trails, where you can spot spider monkeys, sloths, colorful frogs, and even iguanas. Kids love a dolphin and whale watching tour, which often combines snorkeling with marine wildlife watching. And if your family is up for a fun challenge, consider booking a surf lesson for everyone: with small waves, the protected Manuel Antonio beaches are a great place to test out your board skills.
Monteverde’s high-montane cloud forest is a natural paradise, ideal for engaging even the most active children. Incredible animal exhibits, including a frog pond and serpentarium, captivate young minds while educating them on Costa Rican habitats and wildlife. Cloud forest hikes connect exhibits to the great outdoors, and the whole family will enjoy spotting animals in the wild. As a special treat, visit the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, a special area dedicated to children around the world. Here, things are geared toward the younger generation and your kids will get the VIP treatment during day hikes and night tours. If you’re feeling adventurous, book a canopy tour, Monteverde’s most famous activity. Flying high above the ground, swinging through the trees, and rappelling down through a giant strangler fig will give your kids something to talk about for years to come.
As Costa Rica’s top turtle nesting destination, Tortuguero offers plenty of intriguing nature and exciting activities. Evening turtle tours will give your family the chance to see giant leatherback, hawksbill, loggerhead and green sea turtles (March-October). Off the beach, enjoy a shallow-bottomed boat or kayak tour through the canals of Tortuguero National Park. A naturalist guide will point out the wildlife all around, which may include iguanas, sloths, monkeys, and even the occasional manatee. For the angling family, half- and full-day sport fishing excursions are available to Barra del Colorado, where the tarpon fishing is world-renowned.
- Dec. 24 Christmas Eve
- Dec. 25 Christmas Day
- Dec. 26 National Horse Parade
- Jan. 1 New Year's Celebrations