Costa Rica Family Vacation: The Best Hikes with Kids
A Costa Rica family vacation is easy when you know where to go, what to do and where to hike!
We field a lot of inquiries from parents who dream of an adventure family Costa Rica vacation but are apprehensive about how much they can do with kids in tow. Yet luckily for them, as for all families, Costa Rica is a fantastic destination for adventurers great and small, with the country offering an abundance of family-friendly activities that hit the spot with young and older alike. We often suggest to guests to let their children design their Costa Rica family adventure, a sure-fire way to elicit excitement even from the broodiest teenager! With a flurry of options and safe guidance from our experienced staff, you can all create an itinerary that’s guaranteed to be rewarding fun and totally unforgettable.
Aside from the exhilarating activities you can all partake in, Costa Rica also offers plenty of family-friendly hikes, whether your children are young, a little older, active or not so much. From our vast experience, we find that children love to hike in Costa Rica, especially as the country’s many nature reserves and national parks are brimming with unique wildlife, from monkeys to toucans and a million and one species of insects, frogs and tiny creatures that are unique, colorful and enticing.
Here are the best hikes you can do with kids on Costa Rica family vacations:
Manuel Antonio National Park – Great for first-time visitors
The country’s premier nature reserve is arguably the most popular option for traveling families, as it offers a wide array of hiking trails suitable for everyone and an absolute abundance of wildlife.
On a guided walk, you’ll get the most out of your visit and will enjoy seeing your kids’ eyes sparkle as they discover creatures they never even knew existed. As the prime national park in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio boasts well-kept trails and, given the fact it frames the Pacific coast, also offers multiple chances for swims and frolics in pristine beaches. If you happen to be visiting in the hottest months, this is a fabulous choice, as it gives you all a chance to cool off in between walks.
Tenorio Volcano National Park – Great for adventurous families
The hike to the spellbinding Rio Celeste waterfall is one of the most coveted activities for adventurous families and we think that this is a suitable walk for kids of all ages. The Tenorio Volcano National Park, in the province of Alajuela, is home to one of Costa Rica’s most photographed highlights, the iridescent Rio Celeste Waterfall.
A gorgeous hike here will see you cross hot springs, stunning viewpoints and end in a waterfall lookout and a striking azure lagoon that’s a feast for the eyes. The trail is through pristine wilderness so you’ll have to take extra care with smaller kids, yet the trail is well maintained and well signposted. You couldn’t get lost here even if you tried! The trail is only about a mile long and it takes 45 minutes to reach the waterfall. From there, you can take steps down to the lagoon and continue the hike along the river’s edge. The great thing about hiking to the Rio Celeste Waterfall is that it’s a one-way trail so at any time you wish to turn back you’re free to do so and know exactly how long you’ll have to get back to the entrance.
Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park – Great for families with kids of varying ages
Take a jungle hike with a naturalist guide who makes the forest come to life and you’ll discover the most rewarding family hiking destination of all. Luscious rain forests, hanging bridges and even a chance for a cable-car ride or, perhaps, an exhilarating zip line, and you’ve got yourself a glorious walk with enough options to suit kids of all ages. Keep it slow and safe for littlies by taking all the walking trails, or challenge older kids to the most exhilarating activities. Plan to spend at least three hours here and do note that a full trail walk covers about two miles. There are facilities at the entrance, including lavatories and a charming eatery.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park– Great for families with younger kids
La Paz is ideal for families visiting with young children as it boasts short trails, loads of wildlife (including rescued jaguars!) and plenty of waterfalls that are super easy to reach on foot. Yes…even for the youngest tots! Fantastic and very safe trails and plenty of viewing platforms serve up five magnificent waterfalls within close proximity to one another, along with animal exhibits and even a toucan feeding show that lets kids get up close and personal with Costa Rica’s most beloved big bird. If you’ve yet to experience a Costa Rica family vacation, La Paz is quite perfect, as it’ll give you a chance to test your kids’ stamina without stretching them to over-tiredness.
Then check out our exceptional Family Favorite Adventure Vacation or ask us how to best design your tailor-made itinerary to include all the destinations and activities you love most. Build your own itinerary and create the most unforgettable memories of all with a Costa Rica family vacation.