Costa Rica family travel advice


Age advice

Amy Hope from our leading family vacation supplier, Activities Abroad:“Personally, I would wait until the children are around eight as with such a special vacation like this I would want my children to really be able to participate in every activity and remember the wonderful adventures we have.”

Ease of travel tips

Daniel Pawlyn from our leading family vacations supplier, Intrepid Travel: “It is really easy to travel when you get there. And even in two weeks, you feel as if you have had a real vacation. All the hotels had pools, except for the one in San José. The rooms are big and really comfortable, and the properties still have a lot of character, a lot of them built out of natural materials and really well done in an eco way. “

Itinerary tips

Natasha Preston from our supplier, Exodus Travels: “Tortuguero was very special for me… for the sheer diversity of life there from howler monkeys to tiny little lizards, hummingbirds to toucan… there’s such a colourful array of life there, and having to do everything by traveling around by boat, it’s very tranquil, very peaceful and nice. The zip lining at Arenal is another non-wildlife related highlight, it’s such an adrenaline rush. It’s the first time I’d ever done it, and one of the lines is 200m above the jungle.”

Best activities for teenagers

Daniel Pawlyn, from Intrepid Travel: “I would say zip wiring, which was incredible. We went on one course at Monteverde that had about 30 zip wires and the final one is a kilometre across the tree levels. The white water rafting, too. The river temperature was warm so you could go for a swim. And then of course the green turtle watching. The wildlife side of things here is amazing for teenagers and, in fact, there are quite a lot of late teens over there volunteering on projects. My kids also loved a hot springs waterpark near Arenal Volcano, which they thought was just the best thing ever.”

Packing tips

Natasha Preston from our supplier, Exodus Travels: “Bring a waterproof camera, binoculars, insect repellent – but if you find you’ve forgotten something or run out of insect repellent, usually you’ll break your journeys up with a stop so you can do a bit of shopping for the bits and pieces you need. And obviously it’s rainforest, so even though it’s hot with tropical temperatures, take waterproofs. In the cloud forest it’s a good idea to take a waterproof jacket, but I also used my fleece a couple of nights, after about 8pm. It’s not cold, but especially when it’s been so hot during the day, you notice the drop in temperature more… I was impressed at how well the national parks were all geared up with very good trails. I did take my walking boots, but I didn’t have to wear them all the time.”

Accommodation tips

Natasha Preston, from our supplier Exodus, shares her Costa Rica travel advice: “All the lodges are lovely and comfortable, even the more rustic ecolodges are absolutely fine. There’s a safe in your room and a comfortable bed and showers – it’s all en suite, so there’s no real roughing it in terms of accommodation. It’s all very well equipped. I was amazed that we were staying in places that had no mobile phone signal but had WiFi – I could Skype home and show my family where I was staying! Even in the middle of the jungle, you have Internet. It’s quite surreal, really!”

Budgeting tips

Daniel Pawlyn from our supplier, Intrepid Travel: “if you were on a budget you might not relish a trip to Costa Rica. You might think Central America is relatively cheap, whereas, in fact Costa Rica is the same price for eating out as here in the UK. We met some Costa Ricans who said they went to New York to go shopping because it was cheaper! So, it is not a cheap country to travel in.”

Tips from our family travelers in Costa Rica


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful xxx travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Prepare for a wide temp variation - cooler and wetter in the forests, and very warm and dry on the beaches. It’s safe to drink the water so take a bottle and refill. The food is lovely, not spicy, plenty of fruits and variety with something for every palate. ..Binoculars are handy but the guide carries some you can borrow... Go on the catamaran cruise at Quepos - we saw dolphins and could snorkel on a small reef with tropical fish. The boat had a slide which the children loved! You will meet bugs - check the floors for ants, millipedes, spiders etc in the hotels - (they do not bother you) and we didn't see any snakes.” – Sophie Headland

“Take lots of underwear - not many laundry opportunities. Expect to spend a lot on extras - food and activities.” – Jennie Walmsley

“Invest in Rainforest Publications field guides, they are great value and incredibly useful. Visit the hummingbird garden at the Selvatura Adventure Park, Monteverde...There is also a forest trail and reptile and amphibian exhibits where our guide Juan Carlos was very knowledgeable. The chocolate farm in Arenal is educational and great fun. Take quick drying clothes and enough socks as it is difficult to get things dry in the humid climate. Take a waterproof coat as it can rain spectacularly, although we only got wet twice in the rainy season. Take enough cash as all the additional tours prefer dollars to credit cards. Take a torch as it gets dark early.” – Rosalind Dekker

“Tortuguero National Park: beautiful accommodation in the middle of the rainforest with howler monkeys and loads of birdlife very close. Boat trip really quiet and special. Zip wiring incredible, quite physically demanding but worth it is really long. I think there were 18 zip wires running across a valley with the rainforest beneath you. Amazing.” – Helen Shard

“Bring a really strong insect repellent - ours was sold in a metal canister as it dissolves plastic, and seemed to be more effective than other people's! Definitely do the optional kayaking at Tortugero - you get a much more intimate wildlife experience than from the boat-ride, though that was good too. Don't worry about any of the activities - my family are not all fit and sporty but we all did all of them and thoroughly enjoyed them.” – Hilary Mackintosh
Photo credits: [Age advice: fredsharples] [Itinerary advice: Roy Luck] [Packing: Roy Luck] [Budget: Marissa Strniste] [Tip1: FrontierOfficial] [Tip2: Roy Luck]
Written by Catherine Mack
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