Costa Rica
Destination Rest of the World

Guide to Family Holidays in Costa Rica

Posted on
April 20, 2023

Costa Rica is a beautiful country rich in natural wonders, from incredible wildlife species to the exceptionally stunning scenery of cloud forests, majestic volcanoes, and gorgeous beaches. It’s an ideal destination for families with curious kids keen on discovering the great outdoors and enjoying fun adventures. Here’s a guide to family holidays in Costa Rica.

The Best Places to Stay in Costa Rica for Families

Costa Rica is home to many family-friendly destinations offering unique charms. Such diversity makes it a great vacation spot for families. If you’re wondering where to base yourself in the country, here are the best places to stay in Costa Rica for families.

  • San Jose – San Jose is perfect for those who want to discover Costa Rica’s culture. It’s a great place to go sightseeing and visit tourist sites like the National Theatre of Costa Rica, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum and Museo del Jade. San Jose offers several accommodation options, from major international chain hotels to family-friendly guest houses.
  • Manuel Antonio – if you’re visiting Costa Rica for fun days at the beach, stay in Manuel Antonio. It’s home to some of the country’s most beautiful white sandy beaches. You can stay at beach resorts, cabins, country lodges and hotels. Some have direct access to the beach.
  • La Fortuna – for thrill-seeking families, La Fortuna is a great base. It lies at the foot of Arenal volcano, offering opportunities for outdoor adventures, from hiking to mountain biking. The area has family-friendly country lodges, inns, boutique hotels, and mountain cabins.
  • Monteverde – if you’re visiting Costa Rica for ecotourism, stay in Monteverde, home to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, considered one of the world’s best ecotourism destinations. There’s an impressive diversity of accommodations here, and if you don’t mind splurging, consider staying in luxury eco-resorts with facilities geared towards families.

The Best Things to Do in Costa Rica with Family

Costa Rica is a playground for families who love adventures. It’s one of the world’s most ecologically diverse countries, and most tourism activities involve nature and wildlife. Here are some of the best things to do in Costa Rica with family.

Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash
  • Whitewater rafting – white water rafting is popular in Costa Rica, especially for adventurous families with older kids. It’s a fantastic way to bond with the kids and experience the thrill of descending through impressive rapids. The best places to enjoy rafting in Costa Rica are the Penas Blancas River, Sarapiqui River, and Rio Balsa.
  • Surfing – Costa Rica is one of the world’s most popular spots for surfing. The waves of Costa Rica are best suited for kids and beginners, making it an ideal place to learn surfing.
  • Zip-lining – Costa Rica is home to lush rainforests and cloud forests with vast swathes of tree-clad hills. If you have older kids seeking thrill and adventure, let them try zip-lining, where they zip across the valley at a fast speed, offering a fun and exhilarating experience.
  • Horseback riding – exploring Costa Rica’s stunning coast on a horse is another fun activity to enjoy with the family. Take in the incredible ocean views while seated on the back of a horse. This activity is more suitable for older kids and is safe even for beginners. You can also venture into the lush verdant landscapes around La Fortuna with the stunning volcanoes in the backdrop.
  • Kayaking – Kayaking in the mangroves of Costa Rica is a fun activity for families. The best place to enjoy kayaking is at the mangrove estuary at the Esquinas River. You will kayak along with the current to make pedalling easier. Aside from kayaking on the main river, you can explore small tributaries amidst the lush mangrove trees.

How to Get Around Costa Rica 

The best way to get around Costa Rica is on a public bus. It’s reliable, inexpensive, and frequently runs around major cities like San Jose. While there are companies offering car rentals, driving may not be ideal as the roads are tricky to navigate. Instead, hire a car with a driver to take you around. Get in touch with some excellent companies that offer luxury holidays to Costa Rica, this helps with areas such as arranging for a private vehicle to drive you around. It’s the perfect option for those who want to take the stress out of planning their family holiday in the country. 

If you need to travel from one city to another, your best bet is to take domestic flights. Flights throughout Costa Rica are cheap, quick, and convenient. You can easily book flights online and get to your destination fast. Depending on where you’re going, fares should not go beyond $100, and cheaper when you book in advance.

Costa Rica
Photo by Jose Acevedo from Pexels

Wildlife to See in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a paradise for wildlife lovers. Thus, one of the best things to do on your family holiday is to spot animals in the wild. Here are some of the most incredible wildlife species to see in Costa Rica.

  • Coatimundis – these are diurnal mammals related to raccoons but with much longer snouts and adorable long tails. You’ll find them everywhere in Costa Rica and moves very quickly, so have your camera handy.
  • Colourful hummingbirds – you’ll find hummingbirds around Costa Rica, and your kids will enjoy listening to them throughout the day. 
  • Crocodiles – crocodiles in Costa Rica are massive, with some growing up to 30 feet in length. 
  • White-faced capuchin monkeys – the white-faced capuchins are medium-sized monkeys that mostly dwell in Costa Rica’s national parks, such as Manuel Antonio, Tortuguero, and Palo Verde.

What to Pack for Costa Rica

When planning your trip to Costa Rica, it’s worth knowing what to pack for your trip. Costa Rica has various micro-climates, so you cannot just bring shorts and flip-flops. Here’s a list of essential things to pack for Costa Rica:

  • lightweight dry fast clothes
  • comfortable sandals or flip-flops
  • hiking shoes/trail running shoes 
  • sunglasses
  • swimwear
  • sunscreen
  • battery pack
  • waterproof phone case
  • rain jacket
  • insulated water bottle
1 Comment
  1. Reply


    May 10, 2023

    The biodiversity in Costa Rica is amazing – the highest in the world I believe. My son is going next year with school for 4 weeks and needless to say, his mum and I are considerably jealous. They’ll get to do community work building local centres, shower blocks etc, tour the jungles and go PADI scuba diving. Help the world, have an amazing holiday and get to have an amazing time!

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Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog