8 Fun Things To Do With Kids In Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the land of waterfalls, volcanoes, abundant wildlife and beautiful landscapes, making it the perfect place to immerse your kids in nature and outdoor fun. We spent spent two months exploring Costa Rica with two kids under six, and found some of the best things to do with kids in Costa Rica.

Check out La Paz Waterfall Gardens

La Paz Waterfall Gardens Costa Rica

La Paz Waterfall Gardens Costa Rica

The La Paz Waterfall Gardens are a fantastic way to see Costa Rica’s wildlife and lush rainforest up close. There are over ten animal exhibits, where you can see monkeys, snakes, frogs, birds of every color and size imaginable and jungle cats. Don’t miss the lovely butterfly and hummingbird gardens, where you can have hummingbirds eating out of your hand.

The waterfall walkway leads through lush dense rainforest, and delivers amazing views of waterfalls. You can even stand underneath one of the waterfalls, close enough to get soaked from the spray landing on your face. Make sure you bring a rain jacket.

Soak up the sun on the beaches of Guanacaste Province

Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica

Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s amazing Pacific coast offers some of the longest stretches of beach imaginable. While best known for surfing, many of the beaches are great for little ones during low tide or days when the swells are mild. Playa Longasta, just south of the famous Playa Tamarindo, is a great family alternative, as is Playa Samara.

Visit the rainforest canopy

Monteverde Cloud Forest Aerial Tram by toomim on Flickr

Photo by toomin

Costa Rica is one of the few places in the world that makes it easy to get a unique view of the rainforest canopy. If you have older kids, or your risk tolerance is high, many zip lining companies in Costa Rica are kid friendly. If zip-lining’s not your thing,  the treetop canopy sky walk through the Monteverde Cloud Forest lets you walk on bridges suspended in the treetops. For those with little kids, the rainforest aerial tram lets you have the same great views from the relative safety of an enclosed gondola.

Peer into a volcano

Poas Volcano in Costa Rica

Poas Volcano in Costa Rica

Kids love volcanos. We checked out the Poás volcano (an easy afternoon trip from San Jose) and the famous Arenal volcano. While we were there, Arenal was quiet, but visitors often hear deep rumbles and the lucky ones see trickles of lava coming from the cone at night.

Cloudy Day at the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Cloudy Day at the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Soak in the hot springs


Tabacon Hot Springs Resort Waterfall Costa Rica

Waterfall at Tabacon Hot Springs Flickr Creative Commons (c) jurvetson

The Tabacon Hot Springs Resort has over nine pools and three cascading thermal waterfalls. Daily admission for adults is fairly steep at $60, but admission is included with a night’s stay at the luxurious Tabacon Grand Spa, where we splurged for a three night stay. It was expensive, but well worth it. For the budget minded, check out the private Eco Termales Hot Springs or the more developed Baldi Hot Springs.

Spend a weekend in the city square

Catching the kids train in Parque Central Heredia Costa Rica

Catching the kids train in Parque Central Heredia Costa Rica

Almost every city and small town in Costa Rica has a parque central, or city square, flanked by a prominent Catholic church. You’ll see some great architecture, and on weekends most city squares are transformed into a family friendly playground. Our little ones alternated between playing on the bouncy castle, watching the clowns, and chasing pigeons around the square in Parque Central in Heredia.

Watch an endangered leatherback turtle lay her eggs

Leatherback Turtle Costa Rica

Leatherback Turtle Flickr Creative Commons (c) USFWS/Southeast

From Junuary to April, endanged leatherback turtles come back to Costa Rica to lay their eggs on the beach where they were hatched. The Las Baulos National Park (Parque Marino las Baulas) offers an opportunity to tag along with their wildlife officers to watch the leatherbacks. The Las Baulos National Park is located in Playa Grande, on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. The cost is $25 per person, and kids are free.

Check out the wildlife

Howler Monkey in Costa Rica

Howler Monkey Flickr Creative Commons (c) puroticorico

Costa Rica’s abundance of wildlife is well known. A troupe of howler monkeys visited the trees just outside our balcony in Tamarindo every morning. Every day, we found fabulous (well, the kids thought they were fabulous, anyway) insects in the walkway by our condo. We were even lucky enough to see a sloth hanging from a tree on the road to La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Just don’t lick the blue frogs.

Blue Poison Dart Frogs Costa Rica

Poison Dart Frogs Flickr Creative Commons (c) cliff1066

Do you have something to add to our list? Another great tip for kids in Costa Rica? Please add your tips in the comments below , we’d love to hear from you!


10 Responses

  1. Amanda Espinoza

    Thank you so much for this post! I have heard of a few traveling families going to Costa Rica and I have always wondered what exactly this is to do there. I lean towards urban trips, so I am not familiar with Costa Rica. We will be traveling with young ones in the next year or two. It looks like a great place to homeschool too.

    • Charles Kosman

      Amanda, Costa Ricans love kids. To be honest, most of the developing nations do. When we were in the Philippines with our son (he was two years old) I’m not sure if a rock star would get more attention. It was ridiculous how out of the way some people would go to amuse him. When we left this one hotel complex after being there for less than a week I counted 17 different people that stopped us and said goodbye to him by name!

      You don’t hear it enough on all these family blogs but people treat you better (with less fear and more trust at a minimum) when you travel with kids. That’s a huge plus. Though it is common to fear for their safety, most people respect you more if you’re traveling with a family.

      Costa Rica was great and I encourage everyone to check it out but to be perfectly honest we found it too hot most of the time. Of course we spent the majority of our time in the warmest areas and I know there are some people that thrive on the heat. Good luck with wherever you choose to go!

  2. Mary @ The World Is A Book

    Great suggestions! We have been planning to go to Costa Rica for awhile now for a vacation and hoping it’ll be in a few months. We’ve got our eye on a treehouse. We’d love to see all that wildlife and Arenal at night and especially the leatherbacks. Cool pictures! Thanks for the tips. They will surely come in handy.

    • Micki Kosman

      Hi Mary,

      Of everything we did, I loved watching the leatherbacks the most. It was such a cool adventure to run down a beach only by moonlight and come across the ancient scene of a leatherback laying her eggs. The next time we go, I’d absolutely love to see baby turtles, and try our hand at volunteering.

      I love your treehouse idea, btw. I’ll add that to my to do list for our next visit to CR!

  3. Rocío Carvajal

    I am costarican and have 2 kids. The best places for them to go while you are in San Jose would be the children´s museum and the Inbio parque.

  4. Mary

    Where else did you stay, besides the hot springs? I would like to go and stay a month with my kids, but would like to rent a house or apartment for that long.

    • Charles Kosman

      Mary, we spent a few months in Costa Rica on that particular trip. Some time in San Jose, a month in Tamarindo in a rented condo overlooking the beach and the rest of the time exploring the country. You can see all our posts about Costa Rica here.


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