Costa Rica Family Adventure Vacations – The Best Kid-friendly Activities
Family vacations and thrilling adventures don’t usually go hand-in-hand…unless you visit Costa Rica. The eco-adventure capital of the world is a sensational playground and the array of adrenalin-pumping outdoor sports means adults, and their thrill-seeking kids, can have the absolute adventure of a lifetime, without compromising on ANY of the fun.
Check out this awesome slide-show and see why, when it comes to family adventure vacations, Costa Rica does it better!
From exhilarating canopy ziplines to safe and exciting whitewater rafting, volcano climbing, horseback riding, snorkeling, surfing, ATV riding, hot springs, hanging bridges tours and the crowd fave, wildlife-spotting hikes: if you’re an active family and love the great outdoors, Costa Rica will well and truly get you hooked.
Here are just some of the best kid-friendly activities in Costa Rica!
Zipline, hike, hanging bridges and aerial tram – Arenal Volcano National Park
The most famous park in all of Costa Rica offers the ultimate introduction to Costa Rica family adventures: kids love nothing more than to squeal with delight at the almost two-mile-long zipline course (and so will you) and to discover the astonishing beauty of the Arenal rainforest. Here, you can soar up high and soak up spectacular views of the park’s namesake lake and volcano, both on foot across ethereal hanging bridges and on open-air gondolas.
If you’re planning your first-ever visit to Costa Rica, we suggest you start with a full-day of outdoor fun in Arenal. The ziplines are super safe and kids (ages 6 to 12) have the option of ziplining with a local guide if they’d feel more comfortable in company.
Canyoning – La Fortuna Waterfalls
Canyoning is the ideal adrenalin rush for the whole family and in La Fortuna, the base-point for waterfall adventures, is where you’ll find the most incredible gorge trail that’ll see you all rappelling alongside waterfalls up to 200ft deep. Refreshing (yes, you will get drenched!), soul-reviving and totally addictive, canyoning is an incredible way to immerse yourself in nature and conquer sensational waterfalls and rock walls.
As with the zipline, kids can be guided down with an instructor, leaving you worry-free to also enjoy the thrill of a lifetime.
Craving a bigger thrill for your active family? Then you need to learn all about our unique canyoneering tours!
Whitewater Rafting – Various destinations
You may have heard that Costa Rica is world-renowned for whitewater sports, with the rafting and kayaking rated among the best in the world. This is due to the country being blessed with over a dozen major rivers, creating a maze of river-based activities that suit all ages. Here you’ll find Class II rapids that are ideal for beginners and families with young children, all the way to rapids Class IV and V for families with thrill-seeking teens.
Whitewater rafting rewards in a multitude of ways: not only does it offer amazing thrills but it also gives you a chance to travel down a river that’s immersed in pristine rainforests and, in Costa Rica, you know that those forests are chock-full of wildlife. On a tour (which can be half-day, full day and even multi-day) you can make plenty of rest stops to enjoy refreshing swims.
For families with kids aged 8 and above who are trying out rafting for the very first time, we’d usually recommend the Balsa or Savegre River, both offering mild Class II and III rapids and both framed by luscious rainforest packed with wildlife. If you have slightly older kids and want to experience even bigger thrills, then hone in on the Sarapiqui, Tenorio and Pacuare rivers, the last one offering outstanding overnight rafting trips thanks to its impressive length.
Wildlife-spotting Hike – Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio is a small and compact national park that tumbles into the Pacific and offers perhaps the best and easiest chances to spot a lot of unique exotic wildlife in Costa Rica, including sloths, monkeys, toucans, iguanas and much more. A guided hike is your best bet to get the most out of your visit, as local naturalists guides are champions at spotting elusive animals.
For the highest chances of seeing the greatest variety of wildlife, we suggest you plan your visit early in the morning, a time when the forest is cool and animals are more active. And don’t forget to pack your bathers! Manuel Antonio is home to some of the most idyllic beaches in the country and you’ll want to extend your visit to enjoy a glorious swim in the Pacific. For those with more time, the Corcovado and the Tortuguero national parks offer the kind of immersive wildlife experiences that’ll blow you away.
Surfing – Various Destinations
Water-based sports in Costa Rica aren’t just limited to rivers – this magnificent country is also renowned worldwide for its wicked surfing beaches. Although many are seriously world-class and unsuitable for families with small kids, there are plenty more which are in protected coves that are perfect for beginner surfing lessons.
Private surfing lessons can be enjoyed on one of Manuel Antonio’s calmest beaches and this is the best option if you’d love to squeeze even more adventures out of your visit. With a professional and experienced guide at hand, families can enjoy a group surf lesson together, in one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches.
If you have time to explore further check out Playa Samara, in the Guanacaste Province (northern Pacific coast), which also boasts gentle waves and is considered one of the best family-friendly beaches in the country. A myriad of surfing schools offers beginner lessons for kids and adults alike, and you’ll find a nearby calm river where you can also enjoy stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking.
Snorkeling, Isla Tortuga – Nicoya Peninsula
The magic of Costa Rica’s underwater world isn’t just the domain of SCUBA divers: snorkelers can also tap into this incredible ecosystem. The most family-friendly snorkeling destination is Isla Tortuga (just off the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula) an island framed by turquoise waters inhabited by sea turtles, rays, dolphins and a flurry of colorful fish like angelfish, morays, porcupine fish and so much more. An Isla Tortuga day-trip usually includes a morning snorkeling stint and a free afternoon to enjoy the picturesque sandy beaches, where you can rent kayaks, enjoy a banana-boat ride or simply kick back and relax.
Costa Rica family adventures are easy and relaxed yet filled with an abundance of active pursuits no matter how young your kids may be. This is, by far, the best and most convenient family adventure destination on earth: the local culture is family-oriented and if it seems like all the best activities are aimed specifically at young and old alike, that’s because they truly are.
Who we are & what we do: Named one of the world’s best adventure travel companies in the world by National Geographic, we are Costa Rica’s leading company for all-inclusive adventure vacations. We’ve been at this gig since 1995 and have planned countless unforgettable itineraries for couples, family and single travelers alike.
During COVID-times, we’re running private bespoke tours for adventure-seeking families, which leaves us the freedom to plan a trip suited specifically to YOUR desires and budget.
Want to know more? Then check out our most popular itinerary ideas for family adventure vacations and call us to know more!