Family Vacations in Costa Rica – How to Plan Extreme Adventures with Kids
When it comes to offering extreme adventures, Costa Rica is unsurpassed, the country serving up a plethora of outstanding outdoor activities for kids of all ages and their thrill-seeking parents. This makes our little corner of paradise absolutely perfect for intrepid families who wish to do more than soak up rays on a glorious stretch of tropical beach.
Although, because this is Costa Rica, you can do plenty of that too.
At Costa Rica Rios, however, we’re in the business of creating extreme adventures in Costa Rica and we’re often asked what the age limits are for our most popular adrenaline-packed activities. Alongside soft highlights like hiking, snorkeling, gentle horseback riding and tamer canopy tours, we also offer thrilling sports like whitewater rafting and kayaking, mountain biking and canyoneering, among others.
So…how old should your children be to partake in our tours and what should you do if you have children of varying ages?
Here’s all you need to know about planning safe and exhilarating extreme adventures in Costa Rica!
Where you go determines the intensity of activities
Not all zip line canopy tours in Costa Rica are created equal and, for that matter, neither are whitewater rafting rivers. If you’ve ever wondered why Costa Rica is such a popular and phenomenal destination for adventure family vacations, it’s because the country offers a head-spinning array of activities – not only in terms of types but also when it comes to hard-core intensity.
Whilst your 6-year-old may not want (nor would be allowed) to raft Class V rapids down the Pacuare River, there are plenty of softer options on other rivers that suit them just fine.
When planning a bespoke family vacation in Costa Rica, know that for every truly extreme outdoor sport offered, there is always a softer option that’s perfect for younger children or older kids who are a little hesitant about trying adrenaline-packed adventures.
Knowing the most suitable destinations in Costa Rica for your family is the trick to planning a fabulous adventure vacation and that’s why we offer our knowledge and expertise during our tour booking process. Simply tell us what you and your family want to do, how old (and intrepid) your children are and we’ll find the best Costa Rica spots (and sports) for you all to discover together.
Pushing your kids out of their comfort zones can be an extraordinary experience
Although we realize that parents know their children best, we also know from experience that, sometimes, fearless kids would like to push themselves a little more. A parent with a fear of heights, for example, may rate canopy tours far too daring for their 10-year-old child when, in reality, the tour and the child may be a perfect match.
Giving children the opportunity to try new and exciting adventures in complete safety and with a professional guide at hand, means they can test their abilities and courage, and discover things about themselves they may otherwise never know. From our combined decades of experience, we can attest that adventure-seeking kids who head to Costa Rica on family vacations manage to surprise their parents, each and every day.
The trick to letting go of the reigns just a tad? This next point…
Trust the expertise of your tour guides – they really do know what they’re doing!
It may be unnerving to place your family’s travel plans in the hands of strangers but, when it comes to professional and experienced adventure guides in Costa Rica, you really do need to let go of their reigns. From transfer plans to eco-lodge booking, inclusion of daily activities and the offer of a wonderfully balanced itinerary: these are just a few of the priceless benefits of planning your family vacation with us.
Aside from the logistics, our expert guides also know how to test the abilities of children for various activities. We can swiftly ascertain if that river rapid, that waterfall hike or that snorkeling excursion is perfect for your child or if it may be too challenging.
When you’re in expert hands, you can ALL let go and have the time of your lives
How do we get children to do the craziest things in Costa Rica? Simple. We simply ask them if they would love to have a go.
Our tactic really is very simple – just ask each child if he/she would like to try something daring and fun, even if it may seem a little scary. If they say YES, PLEAAAAASE! and we know we can let them try it safely, then we know we’re about to create a lifelong memory for them. At times, it’s the parents that need a little more coaxing to join them (seriously!) and, when we succeed, we see the overwhelming excitement in the children’s eyes.
Enjoying this kind of adventure-filled vacation is one of the most empowering and bonding experiences families can have. How do we know this? Because we’ve seen it happen with our own eyes.
We know how to solve age-disparity issues – you just need to ask!
Some families we’ve hosted have told us that they waited a couple of years to book their Costa Rica extreme adventures vacation, because they thought their children’s age gap was simply too great. They assumed one of them would have to compromise BIG time in order for the other to have a great time. Maybe this would be true in another country but it certainly isn’t in Costa Rica.
At Costa Rica Rios, we constantly host families with children of varying ages which means we’re apt at planning hybrid tours that combine super-fun activities that are enjoyable for every member of the family. On whitewater rafting trips, for example, we may have the younger child in a kayak with a guide (or bypass a rapid altogether) whilst the older one rafts hard-core rapids, and then swap places so everyone gets to paddle in stretches we think are suitable for their age.
One child wants to go rafting but the other doesn’t? NO problem!! There’s always an array of fantastic alternatives, no matter where in Costa Rica you are vacationing. From wildlife spotting to zip lining, enjoying a swim under a waterfall or exploring a national park nearby – flexibility and variety are the most revered aspects of our bespoke family tours so don’t let differing ages and/or desires put you off planning a family vacation in Costa Rica.
This really is the country that offers something for everyone. Yes…grandparents included!
Don’t just focus on BIG ticket items – for kids, it’s the little discoveries that really impress
At the end of family tours, children are always keen to tell us what their favorite highlight has been. The answers can be very surprising for all of us adults and are a beautiful reminder that the little things can matter as much as the big things. If not more.
From visiting a butterfly garden to seeing a flurry of scurrying carbs on the beach, spotting a crazy colorful frog in the forest, playing a game of football with local kids, learning all about chocolate making or enjoying a home stay with a local family for a night – these are the kind of highlights children constantly comment on. And so they should!
Visiting famous national parks and doing cool stuff is, well, cool…but seeing how families in other countries live, discovering animals when they least expect it and experiencing anything foreign to them can really blow their mind!
By all means, plan the ‘popular’ stuff on your family vacation in Costa Rica but don’t forget to also include plenty of free time for last-minute, local experiences.
Not so fast! Slow it down when traveling with kids
Adults may be able to buckle up and head off on a whirlwind adventure all over Costa Rica just as soon as they get off the plane but children need a little more down time – even the most active ones!
Depending on where in the country you wish to go, transfers can be slow and tedious, especially at the height of dry season (Jan-April) when the heat can be stifling. If you aren’t sure what kind of pace you should keep…ask us! Most of the time, having a balanced itinerary and including a few hours of rest in the middle of the day is just what children need. Look into amazing eco-lodges that offer activities within their property, so if the kids want to do something, they can, but they (and you) also have the option to unwind (on a hammock in a terrace, perhaps?) if they need to.
Family life can be insanely hectic back home and heading off on a family adventure in Costa Rica is your chance to unplug, unwind and come home totally revitalized.
A once-in-a-lifetime adventure in paradise? That’s what a Costa Rica extreme adventures family vacation memories are made of!