If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, you’ll know that this small country is probably one of, if not the, most family-friendly vacation spots in Latin America. The ubiquity of high quality, kid-friendly tours of this country’s stunning natural charms make it an easy, obvious choice for many families.
While the options are seemingly endless (and are really only limited by your family’s budget and time), here is a list of a few great, family-friendly travel experiences you can have in Costa Rica:
Playing Tarzan in the Cloud Forest
Taking one of the many canopy tours in the jungle is an experience that neither you, nor your kids, are likely to forget anytime soon. While there are many of these type of tours in Costa Rica, the ones in the Monteverde cloud forest are the most well-known, and most highly recommended. They start with a climb up to the tree canopy, where you and your family can transverse the tree-tops on suspension bridges and pathways, spotting flora and fauna that aren’t usually visible from below.
The best part of these tours, in my humble opinion, are the zip-lines. The canopy tour companies in Monteverde offer some of the longest and highest cables in the world, allowing you zip through the clouds at thrilling speeds, while marveling at the animals grazing far below. Definitely one of the highlights of any trip to Costa Rica!
Hanging out with baby sloths…in diapers. ‘Nuff said.
A few years ago, the furry residents of Avarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica gained overnight star-status when a video of rescued baby sloths in “onesies” went viral.
These little guys are susceptible to mange, because they lack the antibodies that would normally be available in their mother’s milk. Contraction of this infection may require them to be shaved, slathered in ointment and wrapped in “onesies” to prevent them from picking at the medication. Coupled with their tendency to cuddle stuffed animals in order to mimic contact with their mothers, these little sloths give the word “adorable” a whole new meaning.
The Sloth Sanctuary is located in Cahuita, near Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean side of the country. I recommend that you pay them a visit, and experience this paroxysm of cuteness first-hand. There is even a family-friendly hotel on site, which you can use as a base to explore nearby Cahuita National Park – a highly recommended day trip.
Stalking Creepy-Crawlies on a Night Hike
As more than 60% of Costa Rica’s wildlife is nocturnal, many of the country’s coolest animals can only be seen in darkness with the assistance of an experienced guide.
We took a night hike in Monteverde with an excellent guide, who pointed out a tarantula, an armadillo, a coati, and rare tree frogs. I doubt we would have been able to see these animals without the help of our guide’s sharp eye. Other tourists I’ve spoken to have reported seeing even rarer animals on these night hikes, like the jaguar and the queztal. A large part of the fun is “hunting” out the animals with your flashlight, never knowing what you’re going to see next.
These tours are offered throughout Costa Rica, but like the canopy tours, the ones in Monteverde are among the most recommended.
Hang Ten with the Kiddies
Costa Rica is renowned as one of the world’s premiere surf destinations, and has waves for surfers (and would-be surfers) of all levels of experience. Many surf companies on the Pacific side offer surf classes and camp programs that are specifically geared towards “little rippers”, i.e. kids. These programs emphasis safety, and are structured so as to allow families to take lessons together.
If surfing is not your family’s thing, most surf companies also offer stand-up paddle-boarding tours, which allow you and your family to explore Costa Rica’s secluded beaches, caves and coves without having to pound the breaks. Popular surf spots where family-friendly lessons/tours are offered include Santa Theresa, Guanacaste, and Nosarara, among others.
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