10 Things to Do in Costa Rica With Kids

From volcanoes to waterfalls to cloud forests, your kids will be awed with every step they take in Costa Rica.

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Hop From Beach to Beach

You’ll find stunning beaches and sparkling water aplenty on both the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean coasts of Costa Rica. For soft, white sand and turquoise water, try Conchal Beach in Guanacaste on the west side or Manzanillo Beach on the east side of Costa Rica (don’t forget your snorkel gear). For surfing, take the kids to the Nosara beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula. Many national parks boast fantastic beach too, including Manuel Antonio National Park and Marino Ballena National Park.

Fly Over the Jungle on a Zip Line

You don’t want to leave Costa Rica without flying over the treetops at top speeds on a thrilling zip line adventure. Book a zip line tour with Sky Adventures on the edge of Arenal Volcano National Park where the adventure begins the moment the open-air gondola ascends into the trees to reach the starting point. Clip on and get ready for incredible bird’s eye views of the tropical rain forest down below and captivating Arenal Volcano off in the distance.

Take a Waterfall Hike

There are waterfalls all across lush Costa Rica, but a favorite to make time for is La Fortuna Waterfall, near Arenal Volcano. Wear your swimsuits and bring a towel because once you descend the 400+ steps to the base of this 250-foot waterfall, you and the kids will be ready to jump into the delightfully cool blue water. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the rocks by the waterfall.

Explore Manuel Antonio National Park

Costa Rica boasts 27 national parks and one not to miss is Manuel Antonio National Park, which is home to a wide variety of animals and birds. Book a tour with a guide when you arrive who will bring along a telescope to give you and the kids a better view of monkeys and sloths up high in the trees. Keep your eyes open for white-faced monkeys who swing and play in the evergreen trees on the edge of the soft sandy beaches.

Walk Across Hanging Bridges

Just like zip lines, you won’t want to leave Costa Rica without checking off a walk across hanging suspension bridges. A popular spot for hanging bridges is the Monteverde Cloud Forest where you can trek across walkways deep within the forest canopy, sometimes above the clouds. Book a tour with Sky Adventures, which provides naturalist guides to introduce guests to the local flora and fauna. Bring a jacket; the average temperature in the cloud forest is 65 degrees.

See Nesting Green Sea Turtles

The beaches of Tortuguero National Park on the east coast of Costa Rica are among the most important nesting sites for sea turtles. Four different species of sea turtles, including endangered green sea turtles, lay their eggs between March and October. Book a stay at Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, which offers multiple turtle nesting experiences, like a boutique turtle expedition that includes a one-hour boat ride to a quiet stretch of a beach in search of nesting or hatching turtles.

Explore Tropical Rain Forests

It’s hard to escape tropical rain forests in Costa Rica and one of the best ways to enjoy them is with a visit to an eco-park, like La Paz Waterfall Gardens, in the central Alajuela region. There you’ll find five waterfalls, hiking trails, a tropical rain forest, an aviary and multiple species of animals native to Costa Rica, like morpho butterflies and spider monkeys. Kids will love the Night Out with the Frogs Tour to get up-close with tree and leaf frogs when they are most active.

Be Awed by Volcanoes

Costa Rica is home to six active volcanoes, including Arenal Volcano and Poas Volcano, as well as more than 60 dormant volcanoes. Arenal Volcano is widely considered to be the most beautiful volcano in Costa Rica and can be seen across Arenal and La Fortuna whether hiking, rafting, horseback riding or simply lounging with the kids in your private splash pool at Mountain Paradise Hotel. Meantime, Poas Volcano in the Central Valley region is one of the most active, erupting most recently in April 2017.

Soak in Mineral Hot Springs

Plan an afternoon to soak in natural mineral springs that range in temperature from 83 to 103 degrees. Thanks to its large number of volcanoes, thermal hot springs warmed by volcanic activity can be found across Costa Rica. Two of the most popular spots for hot springs are Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa and The Springs Resort & Spa, both of which are near the base of Arenal Volcano. Book stay in a family suite or a day pass to enjoy multiple spring-fed pools, even water slides.

See Sloths at a Wildlife Sanctuary

You’ll find two-toed and three-toed sloths throughout Costa Rica, even hanging from telephone wires, but a great way for kids to learn more about these delightful creatures is at a wildlife sanctuary. The Club Rio Outdoor Center at The Springs Resort & Spa in Arenal offers hourly guided tours of the wildlife sanctuary with an expert naturalist. There you can visit with jungle cats, macaws, spider monkeys, and of course, sloths that have been rescued from poachers or donated by private animal preserves.

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