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5 Family-Friendly Things To Do In Nature-Filled Costa Rica

Published Jan 19, 2016

One of the more affluent countries in Central America, Costa Rica has quietly become the go-to destination for families looking to get away from the North American winter for a few weeks. With a host of activities to satisfy both the child and adult in the family, Costa Rica is sure to appeal to all ages. A country rich in biodiversity from large, dense rainforests filled with exotic birds and animals to beautiful rivers and unique volcanoes, that isn’t even the half of it. Costa Rica also features gorgeous beaches along both coastlines, with each side vastly different from the other. On top of all this natural beauty, Costa Rica’s towns and cities are a throwback to a rich, dense history and are a must-see. To help plan your Costa Rica trip, we’ve laid out a simple itinerary for you.

Top 3 activities to book in San Jose (and vicinity)

1. There’s more than meets the eye in San Jose (2 days)

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San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, should not be judged by its exterior of outdated commercial buildings, decrepit infrastructure and potholed streets and crumbling sidewalks. Look deeper, get onto the ground level and there is Chepe, the city as referred to by locals. It is a cosmopolitan city that cannot be categorised. It falls somewhere between a modern North American city and a historic Central American capital. With skyscrapers, modern technology and the energy of a modern American city, San Jose retains its historical culture amongst its people, allowing the two to amalgamate with ease. There’s so much to do here from the night-markets to the galleries and museums. Your best bet is to just walk around the downtown area and see where it could take you: Museo Nacional, Museo Del Jade or dozens of street jugglers showing off their skills.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near National Museum (Museo Nacional) and also compare the prices with airbnbs near National Museum (Museo Nacional)

2. Seek out adventure and nature at Sarapiqui (2 days)

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This main city was once just a small port town hidden by its surroundings of a lush green forest and banana plantations. This area is growing rapidly and is quickly becoming a main destination for adventure-seeking tourists and nature enthusiasts, especially as it’s located at the junction of the Puerto Viejo River and Sarapiqui River. This area has so much to offer, especially in eco-tourism, from rafting down the river to casually boating. Bring a good camera as wildlife is abundant in this area. For birdwatchers, there’s no better place as there are a number of bird species that are native to this forest.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in San Jose and also compare the prices with airbnbs in San Jose

3. A sky-high experience at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (3 days)


It’s hard to paint a proper picture of this cloud forest. Literally located as high as the clouds, the scenic views on offer here coupled with the abundant nature are mesmerising. There are several ecosystems within the forest itself and there are several tours and activities for a family to do here. Tours of bat jungles, butterfly conservatories and cheese factories are all available here and can easily be booked through your place of accommodation or through a tour operator beforehand. But the main highlight everyone comes for is zip lining amongst the trees, as high as the clouds, sometimes so high up you can’t even look down to tours of the many coffee plantations. This is a must on any family’s itinerary in Costa Rica. Feel free to go for lengthy walks as the fresh air and beautiful scenery never seem to stop in this utopian paradise.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in San Jose and also compare the prices with airbnbs in San Jose

4. Climb a volcano and more in Arenal (3 days)

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Just a few hours’ drive from Monteverde is a sight that’ll stick with you for years to come: the impressive Arenal Volcano. Residing within the gargantuan Arenal Volcano National Park, the volcano is currently dormant, which allows one the opportunity to climb it. Its eruptions may have paused but it’s still a stunning sight at 1,670m high and is an arduous climb. Rising high above the rainforest, the volcano can be spotted from far away. With several rivers and lakes nearby, there’s a wealth of available activities apart from the volcano climb: white water rafting, waterfall rappelling, hiking and canopy tours. Don’t get too wrapped up in the activities though, or you’ll miss out on the wonderful town of La Fortuna with its small-town atmosphere, local events and sincerity of the people, which is just as impressive and charming as its main attraction.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Arenal Natura Ecological Park and also compare the prices with airbnbs near Arenal Natura Ecological Park

5. A relaxing finale in Manuel Antonio (2 days)

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To finish off your trip, lie on the soft, caramel-coloured sandy beaches of Manuel Antonio. One of the more placid waters in Costa Rica, go a little further out and it’s the perfect waves for surf lovers. The relaxing seaside town lies next to the beach full of restaurants, shops and massage parlours that’ll soothe your aching bodies after the adrenaline-filled activities in the other locations. The most bohemian part of Costa Rica, one will definitely find their inner peace here in Manuel Antonio. Your family will find themselves being nothing but content after a hectic journey through this beautiful country. There’s no better way to bond with your family than relaxing for a few days in Manuel Antonio.

See our full list of recommended Hotels near Manuel Antonio Beach and also compare the prices with airbnbs near Manuel Antonio Beach

Costa Rica is a family's perfect getaway

Whether your family loves hikes, the great outdoors, nature or just wants to lie on the beach for a vacation, Costa Rica has everything on offer. With comfortable drives on smooth roads between cities coupled with the warmth of the people, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better getaway for your next holiday.

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Dhruva Balram is a freelance journalist, essayist and travel photographer. His work specialises in societal critiques, cultural commentary, travel and editorial features. Dhruva has been featured...Read more

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