Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- The Best of Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Top Spots for WIldlife
- Costa Rica’s Most Beautiful Beaches
- Costa Rica’s Best Beaches for Wildlife
- Best Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
- Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- Adrenaline Rush
Catering to kids takes some forethought. Here I offer suggestions that combine educational and fun options sure to keep children (and parents) enthralled.
Birds and Butterflies
In San José, more than 30 species flit about in Spirogyra Butterfly Garden.
A visit to The Butterfly Farm, in the Central Highlands, includes a tour through the gardens and laboratory, where young tykes can learn about each stage of a butterfly’s life cycle.
Visit Finca Hatched to Fly Free, a breeding program for endangered green and scarlet macaws; reservations are a must.
In Guanacaste, the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens features three habitats filled with hundreds of tropical butterflies.
The Central Pacific region is home to Fincas Naturales Butterfly Garden. Explore a butterfly garden, a crocodile and caiman lagoon, and poison-dart-frog exhibits.
Fincas and Pueblos
San José’s Pueblo Antiguo and Parque de Diversiones is a Costa Rican Disney, with locales that dramatize the events of Costa Rican history.
Tayutic: The Hacienda Experience, in the Central Highlands, is a fun learning experience about the production and processing of coffee, macadamia, and sugarcane.
Sample fruit and learn about chocolate production at Finca la Isla Botanical Garden, on the Caribbean Coast.
Parks and Reserves
Travel to the Caribbean Coast to ride the Rainforest Aerial Tram, an educational trip through the forest canopy. Or take an open-air tram through the canopy at Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure Park before checking out the butterfly, snake, and frog exhibits.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve in Guanacaste protects hundreds of species of mammals, birds, and amphibians and reptiles. Kids helped create the Bosque Eterno de Los Niños, the largest private reserve in Central America. There’s a Children’s Nature Center, a self-guided interpretative trail, an arboretum, and a visitors center.
The highlight at Selvatura is exploring the canopy along treetop walkways and suspended bridges, and you’ll be bugged out by the incredible Jewels of the Rainforest insect exhibit.
On the Nicoya Peninsula, at El Viejo Wildland Refuge and Wetlands (http://www.elviejowetlands.com/), you can ride in amphibious vehicles and take a boat or a zip-line canopy tour. Viewing turtles nesting at night at Marino Las Baulas National Park is well worth keeping the kids up late.
Safaris and Tours
Take a dolphin safari into Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge on the Cariibean Coast.
Visit the Northern Zone’s Arenal Rainforest Reserve for phenomenal volcano views enjoyed from an aerial Sky Tram.
Africa Mía, a private wildlife reserve in Guanacaste, features elands, camels, ostriches, zebras, antelopes, giraffes, and warthogs.
Tempisque Safari Ecological Adventure is a working cattle ranch, animal rescue, and breeding center on the Nicoya Peninsula. Take a guided tour on a cart pulled by water buffalo.
The catamaran journey to Isla Tortuga thrills, and once you arrive you get to snorkel and kayak.
A guided canoe or boat trip through Tortuguero National Park gets you up close and personal with crocodiles, caimans, river otters, and—if you’re lucky—manatees.
At the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, in the Central Highlands, you can hike to the waterfalls and view snake, frog, butterfly, and bird exhibits.
Guanacaste is home to The Bat Jungle, where kids can watch bats flit, feed, and mate. Saving and raising big cats is the mission at Las Pumas Rescue Center, where ocelots, jaguars, cougars, margays, jaguarundis, and “tiger” cats are on view.
Parque Reptilandia, in the Central Pacific region, is one of the best-laid-out parks in the country, with turtles, crocodiles, and snakes. At the Parque Natural de la Cultura Agropecuaria, at Panaca, a horse-drawn carriage ride delivers you to a fascinating farm facility with dog exhibitions, a petting zoo, and dozens of farm animals.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition