Stunning landscapes and idyllic Costa Rica weather invite your family to get back to nature with rainforest animals, incredible seaside spots like Jaco Beach and canopy tours for all ages. But where to begin planning your kid-friendly vacation? Here are a few tips to assure an amazing family trip.
There are almost no furry friends in the world that get kids as excited as monkeys. And Costa Rica is one of the planet’s best places to meet some of these ever-curious creatures. You are almost guaranteed a day of monkey sightings with a trip to Manuel Antonio National Park, home to a massive monkey population. Kids can learn about the distinct calls of howler monkeys from a naturalist guide as they walk nature trails under troops in the treetops. Playful white-faced capuchin monkeys are apt to swing in for a look at your crew, while specialized monkey tours promise even more up-close interactions.
There’s a lot to think about when choosing accommodations that will serve your family well. Does the hotel offer connecting rooms? How big is the pool and are there designated areas for the little ones to splash? Is there a playground and does the on-site dining offer kids menus? Options like the Los Sueños Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort have Kids Clubs to immerse children in workshops and guided tours. As it’s your vacation too, a world-class 18-hole golf course is perfect for adults.
From building sandcastles to ocean activities, beach vacations give you a seemingly endless list of opportunities for kids to have fun. But which seaside spot? You’ll want to head to somewhere like Playa Jaco with calm waters that are perfect for swimming and waves that are just right for beginner surf lessons. Look for water activities the entire family can enjoy, such as stand-up paddleboarding and stable outrigger canoes. You’ll also want somewhere that’s close to shops and restaurants for picking up the inevitable incidentals and to make it easy at mealtimes.
This can be a tricky one. The more kids you have the more stuff you will need to bring. If you travel during the green season you’ll have to consider rain gear but otherwise you can leave the umbrellas at home and count on sunny skies. Keep footwear versatile and take waterproof shoes that are suited for beach, mountain and rainforest excursions. Kid-sized backpacks are equally useful both for the flight and during daily outings. You may come across mosquitos so be sure to carry insect repellant that’s safe for kids. Sunscreen often costs more in Costa Rica than in the United States so best to bring your own and use SPF of at least 30 as the tropical sun can be strong. For use at the beach, on river adventures or rainforest waterfall tours, a waterproof bag can keep your stuff safe while enjoying outdoor adventures.
One of the best planning tips is not to over-plan. An overzealous schedule can leave you with cranky kids and stressful situations. Allow for a decent amount of downtime, be it for naps or simply to laze in a hammock under a swaying palm tree. Things move a bit slower in the tropics and you'll enjoy the trip more if you’re in synch with the relaxed rhythm. So balance a day of whitewater rafting with some unstructured time in the sand. Follow a zip-line tour with an open-ended afternoon at the hotel pool and feel free to linger longer while dining on Costa Rican cuisine.
From beautiful beach destinations in and around Los Suenos, Costa Rica to nature retreats like Carara National Park, the verdant jewel of Central America is tailor-made for kid friendly vacations.