I recently wrote a post about our day trip to Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica. But, we actually spent a full week in and around Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast. There is so much to do in this beautiful country. And, here are some of my favorite things to do in Costa Rica with kids.
Visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens
While La Paz Waterfall Gardens has a hike to a beautiful waterfall, it has much more to offer. Among other activities, there is a butterfly sanctuary, an aviary, monkeys, snakes, frogs, and my personal favorites — four species of jungle cats. It also has two restaurants, one of which is right next to Trout Lake, where the restaurant gets it fresh fish from. This is easily a full-day activity with plenty to do for both adults and kids.
If you’re planning to do the waterfall hike, try it early in the day while you’ve got plenty of energy since it involves quite a bit of stairs. If you’re not up for a big hike though, there are viewing areas on the road. You can check it out on your way in and out of La Paz.
Get out on a boat
There are a number of options you’ve got if you want to take a boat out on the water. Calypso Cruises does a number of full-day excursions that will take you on an island excursion. It includes foods, drinks, and your basic water activities, like snorkeling. If Calypso isn’t convenient from your hotel location, check in with the concierge for similar options.
If you’re like me, and want to skip the crowds, chartering your own boat is a surprisingly affordable option. We ended up taking a crewed sailboat for about four hours to a private beach for $400. It was a perfect day and, for me, was a much better fit for a toddler than one of the larger boats.
Although Costa Rica has many cloud-covered days, make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen. While I spent plenty of time making sure Jimmy was well-protected from the sun, I completely forgot about my own skin. And, after a lovely nap on the deck, I returned to my hotel a nice, crisp red tone.
Relax at the beach or hotel pool
There is so much to do in Costa Rica with kids, it can be easy to over schedule. Don’t forget about what your hotel has to offer though, especially considering you are paying for it. We stayed at the beautiful Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort. The pools were amazing. I almost wish I could go back and just spend a few days exclusively at the pool. The Los Suenos Marriott also has an awesome kids club right next to the pool. They have plenty of activities including a swing set, jungle gym, and sandbox. Plus, if you want a few hours of adult time, they’ll watch kids older than six for a few hours.
Go zip-lining or take a canopy tour
Our hotel worked directly with TAM who arranges a whole host of excursions in Costa Rica and elsewhere. They set us up with an afternoon of zip-lining (for dad) and a canopy tour (for myself and Jimmy). While I would have loved to go zip-lining, I obviously couldn’t take Jimmy with me. The canopy tour ended up being a great option for us though. It wasn’t as thrilling, but we were able to relax in the tree tops right in the middle of the forest and it was absolutely beautiful.
Visit Manuel Antonio National Park
Check out my full review of the park and surrounding area here.
A few more things to know before you go
As you plan your trip to Costa Rica with kids, keep in mind a few more things to prepare and account for:
- It takes a while to get… everywhere. While the roads have improved in recent years, Costa Rica is still a difficult place to get around. Be wary of long drives and instead try to find a hotel that is central to the activities you want to do. If you’re planning to rent a car, make sure you’re going to have cell data to use for GPS as you drive around (most US providers offer service in Costa Rica for $10/day or less).
- Watch what you eat and drink. As with most international trips, make sure to stick with bottled water (unless the hotel or restaurant assures you they’ve got properly filtered water). For food, stick to fully cooked dishes and avoid street food — especially for kids.
- Bring plenty of bug spray and sunscreen. You don’t need to worry about anything dangerous. These are mostly just to prevent an uncomfortable skin situation.
Costa Rica with kids is a big YES in my book
This was one of my favorites family trips to date. Costa Rica with kids is great for the family, offering plenty of excitement and relaxation for the whole family.