Are you looking for things to do in Cost Rica with kids? There are so many family friendly activities from National Parks, Canopy Tours, and Chocolate Tours to Hot Springs. Your family will love vacationing in this beautiful, tropical country.
I recently visited Costa Rica and experienced a lot of what the country has to offer using a family focused tour operator. In the past, I may have thought about using my amazing travel expertise and knowledge on where to stay, however, Costa Rica is a country I knew nothing about and bringing my family there without knowing what places would be accessible to us was a little scary.
Will you need a stroller? Where do you find formula? Do your children have allergies? Do they have any disabilities? When do they wake up and go to bed? Are they potty trained? These are all questions we don’t often get asked when we travel.
When is the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has many different climate zones and tremendous biodiversity due to its volcanic peaks, coastlines on both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, and its location on a land bridge connecting North and South America.
It is a Central American country located just north of the equator. It only has two seasons: a dry season from mid-November to late April, and a wet season from May to early November.
The dry season falls during the winter holidays and spring break for families in the United States and Canada.
The wet season conveniently coincides with summer school vacation in the United States and Canada. Mornings are typically dry, with rain falling later in the afternoon or evenings.
Even during the rainy season, the roads in Costa Rica are generally paved, so getting around isn’t too difficult. Lower rates, fewer crowds, and more comfortable temperatures are available during the “green season.”
How to Prepare for a Trip to Costa Rica with Kids
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that someone has prepared all of that for you in advance? Costa Rica Family Holidays can do that and so much more so that your family holiday can be more relaxed and enjoyable. Owners Emilio and Stephanie Sheely are a 100% Costa Rican family who love their country (it really shows too) and specialize in the creation of crafted family holidays.
They have visited the locations ahead of time and hand-picked their suppliers.
To find a list of accessible, family-friendly places, visit The Costa Rican Accessible Tourism Network.
Is It Safe to Take a Family Vacation in Costa Rica with Kids?
It’s perfectly normal for parents to be concerned about their young children’s safety when traveling with them. However, Costa Rica is an ideal destination for family vacations because it is a safe, exhilarating tropical playground that will leave a lasting impression on younger visitors.
Costa Rica also has clean water and food. So go ahead and enjoy all the tropical fruit and salads you want. Also, healthcare services are available throughout the country.
The roads between tourist destinations are mostly paved, but they can be windy and narrow going up and down mountain passes. San Jose, the capital, is frequently congested. If you are used to driving in foreign countries, rent a car and drive. Otherwise, we recommend that you leave the driving to the pros.
Where to Stay in Costa Rica with Kids
Costa Rica is not a particularly inexpensive destination when compared to its Central American neighbors, but it does provide a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Depending on your budget, you can choose from basic guesthouses to four and five-star hotels. There are some great places as well that families might consider.
I stayed at two hotels that offered a variety of kid-friendly activities, however, I probably would not have known about them had it not been for Stephanie from Costa Rica Family Holidays. Since they have visited these places themselves and scouted out perfect family-friendly destinations in Costa Rica, I trust them to make these choices for us.
I stayed at Villas del Rio located in San Rafael, Escazú. Villas del Rio is minutes away from schools, shopping centers, local businesses, parks, and clinics and has all the amenities you would expect and more. It’s the perfect place to stay solo, or with the family. They offer both suites and apartments – all accessible.
Villas del Rio: A Family-Friendly Hotel in Costa Rica
These are all accessible and family-friendly destinations. Of course, when you’re looking for a place to stay with your family you have to consider these things.
The hotel has two pools, a relaxing jacuzzi, and even a playground for children.
All of the rooms are air-conditioned and include an iron, an ironing board, a hair dryer, organic bath products, a safe, a telephone, a work desk, a seating area, a high definition tv, and complimentary wifi. You will need all these conveniences for a comfortable stay.
Breakfast is included. The on-site restaurant and cafe, Sarapiquí, is influenced by local ingredients and offers you a wonderful breakfast every day with fresh fruit, various breads, and of course their traditional cuisine which incorporates rice and beans.
fun facts: 1) Villas del Rio has water and energy-saving programs. 2) They are pet friendly and have a special spot in the garden for pets. The hotel even offers a walking service if you need it.
They can arrange a shuttle for you to pick you up from the airport, just call 48 hours ahead.
Arenal Paraiso Resort: a Family Friendly Hotel in Costa Rica
The accommodations are surrounded by lush tropical gardens and walking paths, and guests will enjoy using the hotel’s swimming pools and hot springs. It also offers family-friendly activities like Canopy and Horseback Riding.
They offer different rooms and villas to choose from. We stayed in the Superior Room which has one bedroom with 2 queen beds.
It also has a porch with 2 chairs and beautiful views of the surrounding tropical gardens. It’s also very close to the hot springs.
There are thermal mineral waters for everyone, which vary in temperature. They are 100% natural and spring from a natural underground river from the Arenal Volcano and carry minerals which benefit the skin in different ways. The 7 river pools have waterfalls and the relaxing hydromassage which also provide amazing views of the Arenal Volcano.
The water’s color is due to the fact that it is completely natural and the presence of minerals like PH – Alkalinity – Calcium – Magnesium – Chloride – Sulfate – Silicon – Iron – Sodium – Potassium – Magnesium – Phosphate
The hot springs are a great place to escape and relax.
Plant a Tree at Arenal Paraiso Resort
One of my favorite activities while staying at Arenal Paraiso Resort was planting a tree to offset the CO2 used while we were there.
This activity blew me away. I love how Costa Rica has so much respect for its country by being so eco-conscious.
Things to do in Costa Rica with Kids
There are so many things to do with young kids in Costa Rica. The awesome climate attracts families to visit the National Parks, Coffee Tours, and Ziplining.
Table of contents
- When is the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica?
- How to Prepare for a Trip to Costa Rica with Kids
- Is It Safe to Take a Family Vacation in Costa Rica with Kids?
- Where to Stay in Costa Rica with Kids
- Things to do in Costa Rica with Kids
- Espiritu Santo Coffee Tour en Naranjo
- Hiking and Hanging Bridges
- Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridge Park
- Zip Lining
- Volcanoes and Hotsprings
- Sarchi Artisan Village in Sarchí, Alajuela
- Corso Lecheria Tour
- Horse Back Riding
- Visiting Cloudforest
- Kayak into the Night in a Bio-luminescent Bay
- Hiking and Swimming at a Waterfall
- White Water Rafting
- Surfing on the Longest Wave in the World
- Taking a Night Walk to See Creepy Crawlies
- Exploring the Jungle in Search of Wildlife: A Family-Friendly Activity
- Surfing: Lessons for Kids
- Espiritu Santo Coffee Tour en Naranjo
Espiritu Santo Coffee Tour en Naranjo
You will learn the process from plantation to brewing. Coffee plantation is a great activity for the whole family that you can experience in a natural and welcoming environment.
I picked coffee beans and learned about the coffee process from plantation to brewing. I left with a few bags of coffee and chocolate-covered coffee beans. Jose was awesome at giving us a tour.
You can read more about my coffee tour here.
Hiking and Hanging Bridges
Hiking the hanging bridges in Arenal and Monteverde is a must-do adventure for anyone visiting Costa Rica. Here you will see iconic views, an array of wild animals ranging from vipers to sloths, and a true sense of Costa Rica’s jungles.
Monteverde has cloud forests, while Arenal has regular forests, so I recommend doing both. They are suitable for people of all ages and do not necessitate much of an adventurous spirit!
Here you can cross 15 bridges, 6 of them hanging bridges. When you get to the end, you can see the breathtaking view of the Arenal Volcano. Put your walking shoes on and get your camera ready for some beautiful images; some of the lush tropical gardens and trails and some of the wildlife.
You can read more about my experience here.
Zip lining in Costa Rica: a Family-Friendly Activity
This is where I faced my fear of heights and wouldn’t have done it any other way. The team at Ecoglide Arenal Park was the best at helping me feel comfortable.
It has 13 cables and 15 platforms, most of which are located in the trees so you are up close and personal with the nature, flora and fauna of the rainforest. Zip lining is definitely an experience.
fun facts: 1) Coffee beans look like cranberries. 2) The lower the elevation, the smoother the taste. 3) Coffee grounds are great for anti-inflammatory purposes.
Here you can appreciate the beauty and nature of Costa Rica while crossing 15 bridges, 6 of them hanging bridges. When you get to the end, you can see the breathtaking view of the Arenal Volcano.
Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridge Park is not just a park, but a place where you can be in direct contact with nature, including a Mistico night walk and a guided bird tour. It’s one of the best things to do in Costa Rica with kids.
Mistico Park provides a high level of accessibility to appeal to a wide variety of guests. The trails have no stairs, they have protective railings, and the surface material is anti-slip concrete. Mistico Park offers a main trail, an accessible trail (visit 6 fixed bridges, optional 2 hanging bridges), and a bird observation trail. Check out the 5 accessible tourism experiences to enjoy at Mistico Park.
fun fact: The Arenal Volcano has the third most geometrically perfect volcano cone shape in the world.
Arenal Volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is responsible for the geothermal activity in La Fortuna. The volcano is the reason why there are so many natural hot springs there in the area. This is a great family-friendly activity.
If you want to get really close to nature, are feeling adventurous, and enjoy a little adrenaline rush, the canopy Ecoglide Arenal Park is the place to be. It is located about 2 miles west of the Catholic Church in La Fortuna de San Carlos.
It has 13 cables and 15 platforms, most of which are located in the trees so you are up close and personal with the nature, flora, and fauna of the rainforest. Ziplining is definitely an experience that is one of the things to do with kids in Costa Rica.
The Zip Line course is divided into 3 sections.
- The first consists of 8 wires and 9 platforms with a length of 600 feet, and an average height of 80 feet, which immerses you fully into the rainforest.
- During the second section, you will swing like Tarzan with the Tarzan Swing.
- The third section is made of 5 cables and 6 platforms with lengths ranging from 300 feet to over 1,400 feet.
You can read more about my experience here.
Volcanoes and Hotsprings
At Parque Nacional Volcán Poas, you will enjoy peering into a volcano’s crater (which is wheelchair accessible, so it is also stroller accessible). Other volcanic activity, such as bubbling mud pots, can be seen in the Pailas Sector of Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja or in Las Hornillas near Volcán Miravalles.
Finally, here’s a geothermal activity that everyone will enjoy: natural hot springs. There are soaking springs near Miravalles (Ro Perdido, Termales El Guayacán) and Rincón de la Vieja (Canyon de la Vieja, Hot Springs Ro Negro), but the most elaborate thermal pools are near La Fortuna, including fancy setups like The Springs or Eco Termales.
All this action and adventure might seem like a little too much for little legs that tire quickly, but Costa Rica is kid-friendly and is sure to captivate the imagination of children of all ages. These are really fun things to do with kids in Cost Rica.
Sarchi Artisan Village in Sarchí, Alajuela
I visited the Sarchi Artisan Village in Sarchí, Alajuela, best known for the vibrant, bright-colored oxcarts that are handcrafted and sold all over the country.
You can read more about my experience here.
Corso Lecheria Tour
I have a slight cow obsession after doing the Corso Lecheria Tour. These cutie pies had me at “moo.” I also really enjoyed the strawberry ice cream and cheese.
You can read more about my experience here
Corso Lecheria Tour Playground
Horse Back Riding
Another popular activity available across the country is horseback riding. It’s a fantastic way to see more of the jungle, climb volcanoes, and explore beaches. Children as young as four can often ride tame horses on their own.
The national park also provides opportunities to ride horses up Arenal Volcano. Keep in mind that there is no shade, so bring sunscreen with you.
Step into the misty canopy of one of Costa Rica’s cloud forest reserves, of which there are several throughout the country.
The Monteverde Cloudforest is one of the best places to see the eye-catching quetzal. You can also walk over hanging bridges in this 26,000-acre biozone, some as high as 2,400 feet, where you’re likely to see birds and possibly howler monkeys.
Kayak into the Night in a Bio-luminescent Bay
A night kayak or boat tour to Tambor Beach and Tortuga Island is an unforgettable experience. The moonless night is quiet and dark as you lower yourself into the calm night waters of Golfo Nicoya.
The magic, however, begins as you begin to stir the waters with your hands. A million tiny neon lights explode into brilliant blue and green sparks.
Bio-luminescent algae thrive in the gulf, where fresh and saltwater mix and mingle. These algae are responsible for the brief flash of light that occurs when you stir the water.
Hiking and Swimming at a Waterfall
Beautiful waterfalls can be found all over Costa Rica. Hiking to one and jumping in to cool off seems to be a right of passage! The La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the most accessible to families. This is not a hike, but rather a walk down 500 stairs (which, yes, you must climb back up!) to a beautiful waterfall and small swimming hole.
This is an excellent half-day outing for families with children of all ages. You may have to drag the little ones back up, but it is worth the try!
White Water Rafting
White water rafting is a popular tourist attraction in some parts of the country. While not suitable for young children, there are mellow rivers where families can travel in slower-moving boats. Day trips are available from Arenal and La Fortuna, which are frequently referred to as the “gateway” to adventure activities.
The Penas Blancas River is a slower-moving river ideal for families seeking fun on the water with little adrenaline. If you are near Sarapiqui, there are more challenging rapids as well as multi-day tours that would be ideal for families with teenagers.
Surfing on the Longest Wave in the World
Costa Rica is a surfer’s paradise from the Caribbean to the Pacific! However, only one beach, Playa Pavones, is known for having the world’s longest wave. Costa Rica’s water is warm and shark-free all year, so yo won’t need wet suits.
Hermosa Beach, Avellanas Playa Negra, Playa Grande, and Playa Viejo are also popular surfing beaches. Tamarindo’s beach is popular with families and first-time surfers.
Taking a Night Walk to See Creepy Crawlies
A night walk is the best thing to do in Costa Rica. These are available in the majority of areas. You can go for night walks in Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. This is where you can see the elusive red-eyed tree frog, which is synonymous with the country.
You will also see tarantulas, a wide variety of frogs, sleeping toucans, sloths, and much more. This is something you should definitely do in at least one of your destinations.
Exploring the Jungle in Search of Wildlife: A Family-Friendly Activity
Walking through the jungle in search of wild animals is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica for all adventurers, big and small. This does not have to be frightening or difficult; instead, it can be as simple as a guided walk through the Curi Cancha Wildlife Preserve in search of the beautiful quetzal bird or sleeping sloths.
Spending time in the Oso Peninsula trekking through the jungle is the perfect choice for adventure lovers.
Surfing: Lessons for Kids
Most surf schools teach children as young as five years old. Safari Surf in Nosara, Matos Surf Shop in Tamarindo or Playa Grande, and One Love Surf School in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca are among the beautiful beaches that cater specifically to families.
Alternatively, you can skip the lessons and rent a boogie board on Playa Sámara’s beach, and your kids will be riding the waves on their bellies in no time.
Costa Rica is an amazing place to visit with the family. I just recommend that you get a family-focused tour operator so you don’t run into any surprises.
For more info on booking a family vacation contact Costa Rica Family Holidays.