12 Family-Friendly Bucket List Activities in Costa Rica

by Erika Robertson
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If you’ve been daydreaming about your next family vacation destination, Costa Rica should be at the top of your list. This absolutely enchanting Central American gem is a sanctuary for nature enthusiasts, thrill-seekers, and beach bums alike. What makes it even better is that it’s a paradise for families, especially those with young kids!

Here are 12 unforgettable family-friendly bucket list activities in Costa Rica that will surely make your trip extraordinary!

waterfall in Costa Rica photo credit: DAPA Images via Canva.com
Photo credit: DAPA Images via Canva.com

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Family-Friendly Activities in Costa Rica

1. Learn to Surf in Tamarindo Beach

The waves in Tamarindo Beach are quite gentle, making it the ideal spot for your little surfers-in-training. You can enroll in family surf lessons on Tamarindo Beach and watch as your kids find their sea legs.

Be wary, though—the sun is incredibly strong in Costa Rica! UPF 50 swimwear for kids could help protect them from UV rays. You may also want to have the kids put on a generous amount of sunblock to avoid those sunburns.

2. Snorkel in the Crystal Clear Waters of Cahuita

If you and your kids really love the water, Cahuita National Park will definitely be a haven for the family! The calm, crystal-clear waters are perfect for family snorkeling adventures. And your kids will surely love the colorful coral reefs and the curious fish that they’ll see.

Don’t forget to bring along some waterproof cameras to capture the vivid marine life and your children’s delighted expressions!

3. Ride a Sailboat in Santa Teresa

ATV and boat rentals are becoming more popular. Also, on the scenic shorelines of Santa Teresa, you can rent a sailboat for you and your family to enjoy Costa Rica’s tropical scenery and crystal-blue waters. If you and the kids don’t know how to swim but still want to see the beauty of Costa Rica’s waters, this should definitely go to your family’s bucket list!

4. Go on a Coffee and Chocolate Tour in Monteverde

Costa Rica is renowned for its coffee, but it’s also gaining recognition for its delectable chocolate. You can take your family on a delicious adventure with a coffee and chocolate tour in Monteverde.

Your children will learn how coffee and chocolate are made—from coffee bean to cup and from cacao pod to the tastiest chocolate treats. This interactive experience is both educational and indulging, which is something both you and your kids will definitely love!

5. Zipline Through Costa Rica’s Forest Canopies

Arenal and Monteverde are the ziplining meccas of Costa Rica. In Arenal, the views of the looming volcano make your zipline adventure even more breathtaking.

Cloud Bridge Nature Reserve in Monteverde, on the other hand, offers a cloud forest ziplining canopy experience that feels like you’re soaring through the pages of a fairy tale. Safety is a top priority in these areas, so even your young adventurers can join in on the fun! But if they’re still scared to brave those zip lines, they can always walk through the suspended bridges instead, which still gives them a bird’s-eye view of the cloud forest.

6. Have a Family Mud Bath in Arenal

After days of exploration, Arenal Volcanic National Park provides your family with a perfect opportunity for a unique, relaxing experience. They offer volcanic mud baths that are not only fun to slather on but are also known to have rejuvenating effects on your skin.

You can let your kids indulge in some messy play and, at the same time, provide benefits to their skin! You and your family can also soak in the natural hot springs while enjoying the views of the volcano after your family mud bath to finish off the unique experience.

7. Go Turtle-Watching

In Tortuguero National Park, you’ll find a sanctuary for sea turtles. You’d see hundreds of turtles nesting on the sandy shores, and if you time your visit right (July to October), you might even catch a glimpse of the hatchlings making their grand entrance into the ocean.

If your family missed the sea turtle nesting season in Tortuguero, you don’t have to worry at all. You can instead head to Ostional, where you can witness mass turtle arribadas (arrivals) all year round. Your kids will be awestruck as they watch thousands of olive ridley turtles come ashore to lay their eggs—a truly magical and educational experience!

8. Get to See Monkeys and Sloths Up Close

Manuel Antonio National Park is a wildlife wonderland. Your family can explore its lush trails and might just run into adorable sloths hanging lazily in the trees or playful monkeys leaping from branch to branch. To make your family’s visit more educational, take a guided tour that points out these fascinating animals and offers insights into their behavior and habitat.

If you’re near the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, you can also go to Punta Leona, home to a lively community of capuchin monkeys and renowned for its pristine beaches and vibrant rainforests. You can take your family on a guided hike through the lush forest trails where these curious and friendly monkeys roam freely.

9. Go Whale-Watching in Marino Ballena National Park

Marino Ballena National Park is a fantastic place for whale watching, especially during humpback whale migration seasons. You can set out on a boat tour with your family to witness these majestic creatures breaching and tail-slapping in the warm waters. These will definitely let your kids have a fun time!

10. Explore the Waterfalls of Costa Rica

If your family is looking for a laid-back waterfall experience, La Paz Waterfall Gardens may be the right place for them. You can wander through spacious butterfly gardens, marvel at vibrant hummingbirds, and trek around the magnificent waterfalls easily. The kids will surely be in awe of the kaleidoscope of colors and the delicate dance of these gentle insects. Just tell your kids to be careful, though—it’s quite slippery, especially when you’re near the waterfalls!

For an adrenaline-packed family adventure, try waterfall rappelling near La Fortuna. As long as there’s guidance from expert instructors, your family can descend tropical waterfalls in the heart of the rainforest!

11. Get your Hands Dirty with Pottery

For a deeper cultural experience, your family could head over to Guaitil, a charming artisan village. Your family can interact with the local Chorotega indigenous people and observe their pottery-making process.

To complete the experience, you and your kids can get your hands dirty and make your own pottery. This provides you and the whole family with a unique cultural perspective and a memorable keepsake they’ll surely treasure.

12. Have a Glimpse of Pre-Columbian Life in San Jose

Before you bid Costa Rica farewell, you and your family can take a step back in time by exploring the Jade Museum and the Gold Museum in San Jose. These museums display intricate artifacts to get a glimpse of what life was like during the pre-Columbian times in Costa Rica. This will definitely give your kids a deeper appreciation of Costa Rica’s heritage—and maybe even a passion for history!

Enjoy Costa Rica with the Whole Family

Costa Rica isn’t just for adrenaline junkies; the whole family can definitely have a good time! Serene natural beauty, historical and cultural immersion, and family-friendly thrilling experiences—there’s definitely something for everybody!

So, what are you waiting for? Start preparing for your family’s next adventure with these family-friendly activities in Costa Rica, and may the spirit of Pura Vida fill your hearts with joy!

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