San Jose and the Central Valley is the perfect place to start a vacation in Costa Rica. Your family will be wowed by not only the activities on offer, but the spectacular landscapes around you. Here, your family can go horseback riding, kayaking, white water rafting down the Pacuare River and waterfall rappelling. For excitement in the jungle, walk across the hanging bridges and over volcano lava flow. On the way, you’ll have a chance to see plant life like laurel, palms, orchids, ferns, figs and bromeliads. Kids will love trying to spot some of the 850-bird species, including the endangered and elusive quetzal. Once on top of the lava flow, you’ll have stunning views of the Arenal lake. Once you've soaked in some spectacular views, head to the nearby mineral hot springs, they’re like nature’s water park for children. Or embark on a sunset raft safari to observe how the jungle changes from day to night. Catch a peek of owls, sloths, crocodiles, bats and howler monkeys in their natural habitat.
If your kids prefer their views of the rainforest at a bit of a faster pace, then you must try the highest and best canopy tour of Costa Rica. Following an open-air gondola ride through the jungle, zipline through 1.7 miles of terrain, sure to blow your kids away.
For even more wildlife viewing opportunities, Manuel Antonio National Park is bursting with animals including sloth, monkeys and iguana. There are plenty of trails snaking through the reserve that are manageable for younger children. The excellent guides here will surely make the jungle come alive for your children. They’ll also point out the creatures quietly hiding in the tree tops that may be harder to find. These trails lead down to warm pacific waters and white sandy beaches, a great spot for a relaxing picnic after all of your family's fun-filled jungle trekking.
On the Nicoya Peninsula, you’ll find some of the brightest blue waters, and the wildest beaches, it’s a secluded, stunning gem. The Pacific coast is home to warm waters, fantastic marine life including schools of dolphins, and great surf, even for beginners. A lot of surf schools will cater to families and younger children, so everyone can be included.
Another highlight while here is the sea turtle nesting season. From September to November, tens of thousands of sea turtles come to shore to lay their eggs. We recommend Ostional Beach for some of the best viewing in the country.
And though fantastic wildlife viewing is pretty much guaranteed for your family, visiting a wildlife sanctuary will make sure of it. At centers like the SIBU Sanctuary and Refuge for injured and orphaned animals, you’ll find rehabilitated howler monkeys, coatis, racoon, opossums and porcupines that your children can get an up-close view of.
More incredible nature and wildlife lie ahead in where National Geographic described as the “most biologically intense place on earth”, the Osa Peninsula. The main attraction here is Corcovado National Park. It’s home to rare and endangered species like jaguar, puma, scarlet macaw, tapir and poison dart frogs. For sea life, the Caño Island Biological Reserve has excellent snorkeling filled with Triggerfish, Needlefish, Parrotfish, Angelfish, puffers, barracudas, rays, sea turtles and white tip reef sharks. We highly recommend going on a dolphin tour, your family will have a 90% chance of seeing a pod.
Costa Rica has it all for a safe, adventurous vacation. Perfect for nature and wildlife loving families, there will never be a dull moment during your stay.