Costa Rica is known for its stunning natural beauty, including lush rainforests, towering volcanoes, and pristine beaches. There are over 910 miles of coastline along the Pacific and Caribbean. It has great temperatures year-round, with December and January being prime months to visit.
While a small country in Central America, it is one of the most biodiverse places in the world, with 6% of the earth's biodiversity.
The warm and welcoming culture of Costa Rica is part of the country’s Pura Vida laidback lifestyle. The translation is ‘pure life” and is used as hello, goodbye, you’re welcome, and no problem. Costa Ricans, or "Ticos," are known for their friendliness.
Families can experience amazing adventure activities, such as zip-lining through the jungle, hiking to hidden waterfalls, and exploring volcanic landscapes. There’s also surfing, white water rafting, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, horseback riding, rock climbing, and rappelling.
WILDLIFE IN THE WILD
Kids can get up close to exotic wildlife through activities like wildlife safaris, turtle nesting tours, and visits to animal rescue centers. More than 900 bird species, like macaws, parrots, and toucans, are found in Costa Rica. There are thousands of species of butterflies, jungle cats, and monkeys. Learning about conservation efforts and experiencing wildlife in their natural habitats is an incredible educational experience. Be sure to pick up a guidebook to Costa Rica’s wildlife before your trip.
Costa Rica places a strong emphasis on health and wellness. You'll find opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation, which can be important for parents looking to balance family adventure with some downtime. The climate also provides delicious fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy. The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the world’s original five Blue Zones, places with the healthiest, longest-living populations.
Here are some incredible adventures your family can have on a Costa Rican vacation.
VISIT A VOLCANO
The Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the most popular attractions in Costa Rica. This active volcano is in the northern part of the country, and a lush 30,000-acre rainforest surrounds it.
The volcano and surrounding region offer a mix of adventure and relaxation. Families can explore the volcano's hiking trails, soak in thermal hot springs, and enjoy activities like zip-lining.
The park is also home to some of Costa Rica’s most diverse wildlife, such as monkeys, jaguars, toucans, and tapirs (large mammals that look like pigs with trunks! There are multiple trails within the park for families to explore, ranging from easy walks through the rainforest to more strenuous hikes that reward you with stunning views of the volcano.
A hike to the 230-foot-high Fortuna River Waterfall is a highlight for its beautiful scenery and swimming in its crystal-clear waters.
ZIP-LINE THROUGH THE JUNGLE
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a tropical jungle with an ever-present mist, giving it its name. Located in the central part of the country, it’s home to 2.5% of the world's biodiversity. It’s a great place for nature-loving families. Explore walkways in the treetop canopy (the uppermost layer of the forest), visit butterfly gardens, and learn firsthand about the diverse ecosystem.
One of the most exciting ways to see the forest is through the zip-lining tours. With some of the longest zip lines in Costa Rica, you can make the most of the beautiful surroundings while soaring above the treetops with a bird's eye view of the canopy below.
You can also enjoy incredible views through the hanging suspension bridges, which extend through canyons and connect to the hiking trails, giving you the same canopy experience. It also offers 8 miles of trails that will make for a great day of hiking.
VISIT SEA TURTLES IN TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK
If your family is interested in turtles or turtle conservation, Tortuguero on the northern part of the Caribbean coast is the place to be.
It protects the most significant green sea turtle nesting site in the Western Hemisphere. It is the country's most important place for nesting sea turtles, especially between March and October.
The Tortuguero Channels represent the country’s second-largest wetland and are considered by many visitors as the Amazon of Costa Rica for the natural and high biodiversity it hosts. It’s an extensive network of rivers and canals that small boats pass through, as this is the only access available to explore this impressive park. 99% of the parkland is for conservation, and only 1% is for tourism. The marine area is 100% dedicated to conservation.
Tortuguero is also a magical place for bird watching, as you can find more than 400 species.
LEARN TO SURF
Costa Rica is a world-class surfing destination with year-round warm water temperatures. Nosara, located on the northwestern Pacific coast in the Nicoya Peninsula, is known as one of the best surf spots and a great place to learn to surf. It’s an excellent destination for families and yoga.
Guiones, its main beach over 4 miles long, has consistent waves for all experience levels, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced surfer. And there are plenty of surf schools if you’re looking to learn or improve your skills.
The Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, located just north of Nosara, is one of the world's most important sites for the olive ridley sea turtle. This site is one of few in the world to host the mass-nesting behavior known as arribadas, a phenomenon considered one of nature's most amazing wonders. Tours are only available with accredited guides from the region to protect the nesting process. You can also see howler monkeys, anteaters, and beautiful birds here.
SEE SLOTHS & MONKEYS IN THE WILD
One of the most popular activities for families visiting Costa Rica is to spot sloths in the wild. Sloths are a symbol of Costa Rica, and you can find them in many areas, especially in trees near rivers and wetlands.
Sloths are most active early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Some of the best spots to see sloths include Tortuguero National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Corcovado National Park, and the Sarapiqui area. There are also several sloth sanctuaries in the country you can visit.
While Sloth spotting, you’re also sure to see and hear the monkeys of Costa Rica. There are four types of monkeys: the spider, capuchin, squirrel, and the very boisterous howler. The howler monkey is the loudest mammal on the planet. You won’t miss them. And it’s an experience your family will never forget.
Please note that as you observe these animals in their natural habitats or responsibly run wildlife sanctuaries, it should always be done ethically and with respect for the animals and their environment.
VISIT COFFEE AND CACAO FARMS
The conditions in Costa Rica are ideal for producing quality coffee beans, also called el grano de oro or the golden grain. As the 13th largest coffee producer in the world, there are coffee farms across the county you can visit to learn about the different stages of coffee production, from harvesting to processing.
Most coffee farms are in mountainous regions and offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Touring a coffee farm is an educational and enjoyable experience for the entire family.
Costa Rica also produces some of the highest-quality chocolate in the world. You can visit one of the country's many cacao farms, learn how cacao beans grow, and see how they make delicious chocolate.
Both are great ways to experience the country’s culture and history.
HANG OUT IN SAN JOSE
San Jose is the largest city in Costa Rica and the capital city. It may not be as lush as the rainforests, but it has family-friendly attractions like the Children's Museum, National Museum, and Simon Bolivar Zoo.
It's also a convenient starting point for trips to other destinations like La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park. It features five waterfalls and the largest animal sanctuary in Costa Rica, including a Hummingbird Garden that attracts 26 different types of hummingbirds. The Peace Lodge is a unique place to stay in the mountain rainforest.
Costa Rica's natural beauty, adventure, educational opportunities, and family-friendly amenities make it an ideal vacation destination for families with kids. It provides a unique and enriching experience to make memories your whole family will cherish.
Pura Vida, Costa Rica Adventure Awaits!