Kayaking Costa Rica

Our Guide to the Perfect Costa Rica Family Vacation

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Published on: September 29th, 2017

Last updated: July 28th, 2023

With a wealth of adventure and warmth of spirit, Costa Rica is a land of dramatic volcanoes and pristine wilderness.

Reams of sandy coastline also make for the perfect Costa Rica family vacation.

the Cloud Forests
Discover lava fields
in Arenal
A jungle adventure
at Pacuare Reserve
Family hiking Patagonia

For an active family holiday

Explore the Central Cloud Forests

Set out on an adventure through this rolling landscape that’s blanketed in forest to trek or horseback ride to waterfalls and through national parks. Then, for a panoramic view of the wilderness, venture across a towering canopy suspension bridge.


Venture into rural Turrialba

Tucked into the Central Valley region, Turrialba encompasses mountains and farmland with lush green coffee plantations, making it an especially scenic spot for horseback riding, hiking and cycling, as well as the chance to visit the sugar and macadamia farms.

Turrialba Volcano with smoke
Arenal Safari, Costa Rica

For a family adventure holiday

Discover caves and lava fields in Arenal

Arenal is Costa Rica’s biggest draw for outdoor activities, with ziplining, whitewater rafting and horseback riding through the mountains, as well as the chance to hike through the rainforest and lava fields of Arenal National Park. Close by, venture into Venado Caverns for what is known as the best caving in Costa Rica.


Breakfast in the jungle canopy at Pacuare Reserve

For a treetop rainforest stay, head to Pacuare Jungle Lodge, and have breakfast or lunch in The Nest, which in its lofty setting above the jungle canopy can only be reached by zip lining in. Go on canopy tours, hiking, fishing and whitewater rafting, then cool of in one of the rainforest waterfalls.

Family at hidden waterfall near Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica
Girl and tarsier

Holidays for families with young children

Play in the waves at Dominical

Stay in the peaceful coastal town of Dominical for quiet stretches of beach, waterfalls to visit, and dolphin and whale watching, which is sure to captivate the entire family.

Beach, Dominical, Costa Rica

See monkeys and toucans in Manuel Antonio

Along this rainforest-enveloped coastline, families have easy access to both the sandy shores and wilderness where the family can set out on guided nature walks and mangrove boat tours to spot wildlife like toucans and monkeys. While staying at the family-friendly hotel Si Como No, guests can visit the Manuel Antonio Nature Park and Wildlife Refuge, which has a butterfly garden and reptile exhibits.

Monkey, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
baby turtles at the beach of Tortuguero National Park

For a family nature holiday

Seek out rainforest creatures and marine life on the Osa Peninsula

This secluded peninsula in the south-west of Costa Rica has been named the “most biologically diverse place on Earth” by National Geographic, due to the primary rainforest of Corcovado National Park. As well as exploring the park’s nature trails in search of wildlife, head out to sea on dolphin and whale watching boat tours, or dive in to discover the colourful underwater world around the coral reefs of Isla del Cano.

Tourists walking in Corcovado National Park beach and forest, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

See baby turtles hatch on the Nicoya Peninsula

Along the peaceful sandy coastline, Ostional National Wildlife Refuge  is the setting for ‘Arribadas’ when hundreds of thousands of sea turtles arrive on the shores to lay their eggs in the black sand. Once hatched, the baby turtles race across the sand to reach the ocean. Visit between June and December for the chance to see this wildlife phenomenon.

baby turtles at the beach of Tortuguero National Park

Spot turtles and wetland life in Tortuguero

With a name that translates to ‘Land of the Turtles’, Tortuguero is a well known spot for watching turtle nesting, but with 19,000 acres of rainforest, wetland and caribbean shores with waterways weaving their way through, the pristine region offers so much more in wildlife exploration, with tours on food and by boat.

newly hatched turtle enters ocean
Baby turtle in Costa Rica
A child strokes a tortoise

For a cultural family exploration

Experience tribal life in Rio Celeste

Discover the indigenous culture of Costa Rica by visiting the Maleku tribe in Rio Celeste. To preserve their traditions and culture, the tribe invite visitors into the Maleku Cultural Reserve for an insight into their language and way of life. Plus, in this wilderness setting, there’s plenty of wildlife exploration on offer too.

Waterfall, Rio Celeste, Costa Rica

Visit the ancient city ruins of Turrialba

This mountainous region isn’t only for outdoor exploration, but it’s also the setting for the archaeological site Guayabo. The pre-Columbian ruins of this ancient city lie in the shadows of Turrialba volcano surrounded by the encroaching rainforest, with stone statues of crocodile and jaguar gods to speak your children’s imagination. Take a tour of the ruins to have storied brought to life by the knowledgeable guides.

Guayabo archeological site, Turrialba, Costa Rica

Talk to one of our expert travel designers and start creating your once-in-a-lifetime family adventure to Costa Rica.