Costa Rica is a beautiful country that offers plenty of opportunities for family vacations. You can explore the rain forest, enjoy a snorkeling adventure or marvel at an active volcano during your trip, then retreat back to your beachfront hotel or eco-friendly lodge. The entire family will never forget a trip to this bucket list-worthy Central American country when you experience these best family vacation ideas in Costa Rica.
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Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, however, what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. This park is a top attraction in Costa Rica, home to white sand beaches, rain forest, mountains and plenty of wildlife, making it a great family vacation destination while visiting the country. Count as many Capuchin, howler and Squirrel monkeys you see while on a guided hike here. Or choose an adventure tour at the park, from snorkeling to zip lining. If you’d like to stay near the park, consider booking a stay at Hotel Si Como No.
Arenal Volcano National Park
Another Costa Rican national park to visit with your family is Arenal Volcano National Park. This national park offers plenty of fun things to do, however many people flock here for its healing natural hot spring. Spend the day soaking in the hot springs, or choose to explore the park through a different way, like hiking, rafting or a canopy tour. The Springs Resort and Spa is a great place to stay, even if it’s just for the day, as it has a hot water slide and man-made pools filled with the natural hot spring water. However, Arenal Paraiso Hotel is another great lodging option for families since it has 14 swimming pools and hosts its own zip line tour through the canopy.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Experience the Monteverde Cloud Forest through the Selvatura Adventure Park. This adventure park has suspended and hanging bridges that allow you to see the forest in a whole new light. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is home to hundreds of animal species and six ecological zones. Therefore all the animal lovers in the family will enjoy spending time here. This protected cloud forest has plenty to offer tourists besides just the adventure park. Take a hike, go horseback riding, or visit the sloth sanctuary or butterfly garden. Families wanting to stay in the area should consider El Establo, as this hotel is home to two swimming pools, restaurants and hosts a number of different tours through the reserve.
Outdoorsy families should take an excursion to Tortuguero National Park while in Costa Rica, which is only accessible by boat or plane. This untouched part of the country spans 77,000 acres and is teeming with wildlife. Ecotourism is exactly what is found here at this national park. All-inclusive, multi-day tours are offered in the park, which takes the guesswork out of planning for families and large groups.
The entire family will never forget the time they saw an active volcano in Costa Rica, and Rincón de la Vieja National Park is exactly where you can make that memory. There are actually two volcanoes in the park, along with hot springs, geysers, rivers, and hiking trails. There are a couple of adventure parks in the area that offers river rafting, horseback riding, and even waterfall rappelling. If you’re wanting an adventure, Rincón de la Vieja National Park is exactly the place to go.
River rafting is a popular activity among travelers to Costa Rica. There are actually a number of rivers to raft in the country. Taking the entire family rafting is a great way to bond as well as to experience the beauty of the country here. The Pacuare River is the longest river in the country and has plenty of guided rafting opportunities for beginners. The Sarapiqui River is another river to consider for a rafting trip in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s jungles are truly spectacular, however, you shouldn’t miss out on the coast while you’re here either. Surfing is a popular pastime in Costa Rica, and Tamarindo is a great town that offers plenty of surfing lessons for the entire family. Even if you don’t choose to surf, you can still visit the white sand beaches here, like Tamarindo Beach, Playa Avellanas and Playa Grande.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
View some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful waterfalls at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This self-guided park features a number of attractions that will keep the entire family entertained. Walk along the trails to view waterfalls or visit the open-air hummingbird garden or aviary. There are also wildlife habitats here where you can see sloths, jungle cats, and monkeys too. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a mix of a botanical garden and a zoo, and an entire day should be spent exploring everything it has to offer. If you get tired and hungry, take a rest at the on-site restaurant.
Canopy tours are so popular here that they deserve their own spot on this list. Now a number of places to experience a canopy tour have been mentioned already, such as Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the other national parks on this list. There are adventure parks too that specialize in canopy tours, such as Selvatura Adventure Park and Arenal Paraiso Canopy Tour. A canopy tour varies from walking along suspended and hanging bridges to riding through the trees on a zip line.