If you're after a family vacation that includes outdoor adventure, there's arguably no better option than heading to Costa Rica in and around the area of Los Suenos. Let's look at what to bring, what to do, and a few pointers for building a great family trip to the tropical paradise.
While you will find amazing adventures, what you won't find in Costa Rica are big-box stores everywhere (a really good thing!). So certain products that the whole family will probably want, such as sunscreen, are best bought before you leave. Consider picking up insect repellant, sunglasses, sun hats, water bottles, band-aids, vitamins, medication, etc. at home to save both time and money in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica keeps things casual. Unless you're after upscale cultural experiences in the capital city of San Jose, shorts and t-shirts, or casual pants and light button-up shirts, are perfect for most anywhere.
Shoes are important. Flip-flops are no-brainers if you’ll be by the beach, but make sure they're sturdy, as replacing a cheap pair that tears will be a pain. For versatility, it's hard to beat closed-toe water shoes with good treads. They can go from the beach to hiking along rainforest trails and even stand in for sneakers just about anywhere. Most of the hikes in Costa Rica are moderate enough for all-terrain footwear, but bring hiking boots if you plan to take on tougher hikes.
If traveling in the green season from May to November, when the chances of rain are higher, you’ll want rain jackets and collapsible umbrellas that travel light. No matter the season it's always good to have a dry bag as some of your adventures are likely to get splashy and a soaked smartphone will dampen the trip. Bring two bathing suits for each member of the clan, as one can dry while wearing the other. And check if your hotel provides beach towels, as they take up serious space in your luggage and it will save you the hassle of finding places for your damp towels to dry.
This is especially true if you are thinking about a multi-generational trip that includes everyone from older adults to toddlers. Start with activities that have no physical restrictions, such as boat tours and rainforest rides in 4X4 vehicles. While all in the family might not be up for surf lessons or kitesurfing through the air, the beach is a wonderful place that all can enjoy as it offers a wide range of activities. And doing nearly nothing at all on an amazing tropical beach may be the best non-plan plan in the world.
Of course, just as all families are different, all kids are different, so different activities are better for different folks. But you won't find many kids who don’t enjoy zipline rides, appropriate for children ages six and up. Wildlife encounters are fun for all ages, and there’s almost nothing like the wonder in a child’s eyes when they get up-close (but not too close) to exotic animals such as scarlet macaws and capuchin monkeys. National parks such as Manuel Antonio are perfect for safe and diverse nature experiences. Or consider sailing off to Tortuga Island, as both the journey and the activities on the idyllic isle are perfect for the entire family.
With all of the amazing adventure tours Costa Rica has to offer, it’s not hard to create a family trip you’ll cherish for a lifetime.