From lush jungles and underrated snorkeling spots to world-class surfing and the Gulf of Nicoya’s scarcely inhabited islands, Costa Rica has plenty of reasons for being one of Central America’s most popular destinations. This wide variety of options for entertainment, adventure and relaxation is what also makes Costa Rica a top choice for family vacations.
Seeking jungle adventures that bring you up close with the country’s exotic wildlife like sloths and howler monkeys? Hoping for private surf lessons? Need some alone time while the kids mingle and play video games or camp on the beach? The best family resorts in Costa Rica can arrange all of the above and help plan a custom family vacation to suit your needs. Here are 10 of our favorite family resorts in Costa Rica.
Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort
Located on Playitas Beach in Manuel Antonio, Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort offers custom family adventures that are sure to thrill guests of all ages. That’s not a difficult task with Manuel Antonio National Park right next door, and so families just need to call the front desk to request free transportation to the nearest zip-line tour.
Guests can schedule a hiking tour of the Nauyaca Waterfalls, surfing lessons for the kids and even a night walk through the jungle to search for glowing tree frogs. Parents can also sneak away for free beachfront exercise and sunset yoga, while the kids enjoy a tortilla making class.
Hotel Pura Vida
On the edge of Puerto Viejo, Hotel Pura Vida is set between Playa Cocles and Playa Negra, an area that is well known for surfing. This hotel only has 10 rooms, so reservations may be hard to come by, but once you’re checked in the activities are plentiful.
Go snorkeling or diving in the Caribbean waters, or guests can join a dolphin-watching boat tour or even take a sailboat excursion to the Bocas del Toro islands in Panama. Canopy and hiking tours are available for the local jungles, or families can simply spend a day checking out Puerto Viejo on bike, scooter or horse.
Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica
At all-inclusive Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica, families can spend the day trying water sports like snorkeling and kite surfing on Playa El Jobo or nearby Rajada Beach, or the resort can arrange tours for scuba diving and stand-up paddle boarding.
Children ages 3-12 are welcome at the Explorer’s Club, which offers a weekly campout on the beach, in addition to daily activities designed to get them out of the resort and experiencing nature. At the Core Zone Teens Club, teenagers can play beach sports and attend the weekly bonfire.
Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
In addition to the luxury and quality synonymous with the brand, guests at Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo can expect to have the challenges of entertaining children met with ease. The resort’s Kids for All Seasons program features a variety of activities, including birdwatching and hiking, that are never the same from day to day. If they need a short break from the resort’s tennis or surfing lessons, older kids can pop into the Tuanis Teen Center for a little PlayStation and Xbox action.
But a family vacation is about family, and so this resort invites adults and kids to take cooking and chocolate-making classes, and there is even a family salsa-dancing class.
Young children will likely be elated upon seeing a giant swimming pool shaped like a sea turtle, but that’s just the beginning of the adventure at Pachira Lodge in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Just five minutes from Tortuguero National Park, Pachira Lodge offers families the opportunity to not only enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica, but also learn about the region’s efforts in saving the green sea turtles, leatherback and Hawksbill turtles that call nearby Playa Tortuguero home.
Pachira Lodge offers an optional canopy tour that features four suspension bridges, seven zip lines and one “Tarzan swing,” and the experience is suitable for children ages five and up. The entire family will also love the hotel’s “Morning Tour,” which takes guests through the Tortuguero National Park’s canals at dawn for the perfect sunrise view.
Located on Tambor Beach, Barceló Tambor has no shortage of events and activities for all ages. Two massive pools are connected by a waterfall, and a basketball hoop and volleyball net will keep kids entertained. The children’s pool is a splash pad paradise with five different types of jet sprays, and the Barcy Club organizes activities for guests ages 4-12.
Less than a mile away, guests can hit the links at Los Delfines Golf and Country Club, an 18-hole course that boasts Costa Rica’s largest population of scarlet macaws. (The golf is also good.) Barceló Tambor is a fitness buff’s resort, as it also has a soccer field, volleyball court and even archery.
Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort
Not far from Jaco Beach and Carara National Park, Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort is one of the best family resorts in Costa Rica, and an ideal spot for parents who want their children to have a fun vacation, while also having some free time for themselves. The staff at the resort’s Tortuga Kids Club is ready to entertain young guests with arts and crafts while parents head off to the Sibö Rainforest Spa & Retreat or La Iguana Golf Club.
When the family is reunited, the lazy river takes everyone through the resort’s gardens and back to the large outdoor pool, where parents can also grab a frozen margarita at the swim-up bar.
One of the most exciting aspects of staying at Hacienda AltaGracia is simply arriving, as the resort offers private airplane service from the international airport. Once checked in to the suites or casitas, families have plenty of options.
Helicopter tours of Chirripo National Park. Hiking the Namu Waterfalls. Visit a local family farm or make cheese on a sustainable home farm. Gear up and hit bike trails of all challenge levels with a private guide.
Lost Iguana Resort & Spa
Adventure is at the heart of any stay at Lost Iguana Resort & Spa, where guests are greeted each morning by an incredible view of the Arenal Volcano. Activities range from early morning tours of the rain forest’s hanging bridges to white water rafting excursions for all experience levels in the Rio Arenal.
Kayak tours are available on Lake Arenal, or guests can stay dry and take the sky tram canopy tour and then make a return trip via two zip lines. Anyone up to a physical challenge can climb the La Fortuna Waterfall before enjoying a dip in the nearby river, or they can simply skip all the climbing and relax in Tabacón’s mineral river.
Crocodile Bay Resort
With a bevy of vacation packages geared toward fishing and exploration, Crocodile Bay Resort is a celebration of Costa Rica’s ecosystem and the “rugged individualism and extreme self-reliance” that it inspires. Families can start with the standard all-inclusive vacation package, adding custom adventures as they go, or book one of the multi-day fishing expeditions or six-day Eco Adventure Package, which focuses on everything the Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce have to offer.
Bigger kids will especially love the resort’s 30 eco-adventure tours that include hiking and zip-lining in the Corcovado National Park and Osa Peninsula Matapalo Rainforests, or snorkeling and paddle boarding in Golfo Dulce. The entire family can unwind throughout the day at the resort’s pool, which is surrounded by trees packed with scarlet macaws.