Costa Rica is a land of adventure, filled with pristine white sand beaches and incredible wildlife.
In this country, there is something around every corner - coffee plantations, cloud forests, rainforests and volcanoes. With all this to discover, Costa Rica is a great place for a family vacation.
To help you explore this Latin American wonder in complete luxury, our experts have rounded up the best family friendly lodges in Costa Rica.
1) Active adventure in the cloud forests
Costa Rica is a natural wonder, with at least six cloud forest zones concentrated in the central highlands and the central south of the country. The cloud forests are a mystical landscape waiting to be discovered; the area’s 100 percent humidity levels means that it is always shrouded in clouds and mist. Full of wildlife watching and adventure travel opportunities, the cloud forests are home to some of the best family friendly lodges in Costa Rica.
The zen El Silencio lodge is an exceptional place for all the family to experience the rural Costa Rican “pura vida.” There are 16 luxury private villas here, in a 500-acre private reserve located next to Juan Castro Blanco National Park. El Silencio is a positive impact property, striving to exist in harmony alongside its delicate biodiverse surroundings. It is a great spot for families, as there are plenty of activities on offer. Volcano tours, arts and crafts, horseback riding, river rafting, mountain biking and canopy zip-lining will all keep kids entertained for days.
2) Family luxury in Arenal
This region of Costa Rica is perfectly placed for little explorers. Arenal is the closest area to a (now) dormant volcano surrounded by rich rainforest, diverse wildlife and activities for adventurers. The wealth of biological diversity in Arenal makes it a great place for nature enthusiasts who can hike amongst coffee plantations and old lava fields deep in the rainforest, trek to the emerald lagoon atop the dormant Chato volcano or bathe in thermal hot springs.
The Royal Corin, spectacularly set at the foot of the volcano, is a great choice for families. This hotel has a resort-style feel; extensive spa facilities, a large pool area and a sky bar means there is something for all the family. High standards of comfort and service matched with an extensive menu of local excursions lend themselves to those travelling with children. Although the hotel has a largely Western feel, horseback riding tours, hikes to Arenal volcano and trips to the Venado Caves and Penas Blancas River ensure guests are immersed in authentic Costa Rica.
3) Stay in the treetops at Pacuare Reserve
The magnificent Pacuare Reserve comprises 25,000 acres of primary, virgin rainforest. Stretching from the Talamanca Cordillera to the eastern Caribbean lowlands, it is an incredible landscape punctuated by the winding Pacuare River. Cascading waterfalls encircled by lush rainforest are sure to enchant the younger members of any family. Pacuare’s remote nature makes it a must-visit for nature lovers, thrill-seekers and those looking to escape to the wilderness.
Pacuare Lodge offers unrivalled seclusion in 740 acres of primary rainforest, so the whole family can spend heaps of uninterrupted time together. This lodge is simply but elegantly furnished and is a true ecological wonder. Home to toucans, howler monkeys and a large variety of birds, you’ll be truly at one with nature during your stay here. Some luxury garden bungalows and riverside suites also come with their own private infinity plunge pools, so you don’t have to travel too far for a cooling dip. A pioneer of ecotourism, this lodge offers many excursions that benefit the local community and environment, from hiking nature trails to visiting the indigenous Cabercar tribe.
4) Entertain young children in Manuel Antonio
If you’re deciding between a beach vacation or a wilderness escape, then Manuel Antonio is the answer. Located between a teeming national park and white coral beaches, Manuel Antonio has it all. Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest in Costa Rica, but is still brimming with tons of endemic wildlife. The woods here are marked with expedition trails, and dolphins and whales can even be spotted swimming in the bays between the area’s 12 islands.
Staying at family-friendly Si Como No is a hassle-free way to explore this diverse region. This lodge’s 58 rooms are set into the hillside, giving the impression that they are part of the tropical forest surroundings. Si Como No offers an unrivalled amount of activities for families to enjoy; it houses a well-appointed spa, two restaurants, a butterfly garden, wildlife centre and a 45-seater cinema. The hotel’s prime location on the fringes of Manuel Antonio National Park also facilitates numerous local excursions and adventure expeditions.
5) Best lodges for a family nature holiday
Corcovado and the Osa Peninsula
Named the “most biologically diverse place on Earth” by National Geographic, the Osa Peninsula is a unique and extraordinary region. The lush primary rainforest of Corcovado National Park brings with it a plethora of wildlife and the the largest variety of tree species on the planet. Travellers can spend their time here enjoying water sports, hiking off the beaten path trails and hand-line pier fishing.
Nestled in the tranquil waters of Golfo Dulce, Playa Cativo Eco Lodge is a feel-good lodge for families. Only accessible by boat, this secluded property is set among 1,000 acres of private rainforest. The lodge does its utmost to protect its surrounding environment and was built using indigenous wood salvaged from an old lodge and fallen-tree program. With its own pristine, sandy beach on its doorstep, this lodge is a natural playground for both kids and adults alike, thanks to the wealth of local excursions on offer.
Nicoya Peninsula is renowned as a hotspot for watching ‘Arribadas.’ Meaning arrival in Spanish, this is a unique nesting phenomenon where thousands of sea turtles descend on the shores to lay their eggs on black sand. Once they’ve hatched, the turtles scurry across the sand to reach the ocean. To catch a glimpse of this awe-inspiring event, visit between June and December.
Offering stunning ocean views, eco-lodge Lagarta Lodge is a great place for families to unwind and relax. The Jungle Suites offer idyllic views of unspoiled nature, Panorama Suites have sweeping ocean views and aptly named Flor Blanca Suites overlook the surrounding lush rainforest. A haven for families, this lodge has four beautiful beaches nearby. There is plenty to keep all ages happy, including boat trips, kayaking, turtle tours, surfing and hiking.
Tortuguero, meaning ‘Land of the Turtles,’ is unsurprisingly well-known for turtle spotting. This region offers much more, though, with 19,000 acres of rainforest, wetland and caribbean shores to discover. Located right on the water, Manatus is an idyllic family-friendly hideaway. This lodge puts a focus on guests discovering the surrounding nature, with visitors able to step straight from the hotel’s private jetty onto their motorboats. Families can discover the national park alongside naturalist guides or kayak through the surrounding canals. Taking a dip in the hotel’s outdoor pool or strolling through the property’s beautiful gardens are perfect ways to spend an afternoon of family down time.
6) Cultural immersion in Rio Celeste
Off the typical tourist trail, Rio Celeste offers much in the way of authentic Costa Rican culture. Here, the Maleku tribe preserves their local traditions by encouraging visitors to observe their customs and way of life. The charming Hotel Rio Celeste resort offers a Maleku indigenous tribe village visit, alongside many other excursions. Guests can spend their time here relaxing by the expansive pool, exploring the nearby park or visiting the Rio Celeste waterfall and Arenal volcano.
Our favourite Costa Rica family vacations...
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