10 Reasons You Should Take a Family Trip to Costa Rica

Costa Rica's lush rainforests, biodiverse wildlife reserves and tropical beaches offer something for travelers of every age and interest.

Adventure seekers have plenty to choose from, whether it’s ziplining through a cloud forest, rafting a wild river or snorkeling in a pristine coral reef. Teens will love the fine sand and world-famous surf of the Central American nation’s palm-fringed beaches, while younger kids will be eager to hunt for sloths and monkeys in one of the country’s many wildlife preserves. Travelers of all ages will be eager to hike Arenal Volcano, to explore the rugged terrain and possibly catch a lava flow in action.

Here are 10 top attractions and activities that will make a family trip to Costa Rica a vacation that everyone remembers forever.

Arenal Volcano

Photo: iStock

1. Volcanoes. Of Costa Rica’s active volcanos, the most active and accessible is Volcán Arenal, which looms majestically over the town of La Fortuna. Hike the Arenal 1968 trail to see the lava flows and formations left behind by the dramatic 1968 eruption that gives the trail its name. After your hike, try soaking in one of the natural hot springs in the area. They offer an ideal way to relax after exploring Arenal.

2. Ziplining. No family trip to Costa Rica would be complete without a zipline adventure, and Costa Rica offers a wide variety of jungle tours. Some of them feature Tarzan swings, bungee jumping and other thrills.

3. Cloud Forest. These dense, vine-draped, high-elevation jungles are an otherworldly experience for nature lovers. The most popular and accessible is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, while Tenorio Volcano National Park features a cloud forest and a volcano.

4. Monkeys. Depending on where you stay, you may wake to the call of howler monkeys pealing from the nearby jungle. But the best places to get up close and personal with these entertaining animals are in Manuel Antonio State Park and Corcovado State Park, which are home to howlers, white-faced capuchin monkeys and squirrel monkeys.

Two-toed sloth

Photo: Sabena Jane Blackbird/Alamy

5. Wildlife-Spotting. It’s impossible not to see exotic wildlife during a family trip to Costa Rica, but take a guided hike or boat trip for the best views of sloths, crocodiles, nesting turtles and whales.

6. Surfing and Surf Lessons. There’s a reason tiny Costa Rica is one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world, and the surf camps of Nosara, Tamarindo, Montezuma and Golfito are the perfect place to experience the joys of riding Costa Rica’s glorious waves.

White-water rafting

Photo: Steve Bly/Alamy

7. River Rafting. Whether your crew opts for a whitewater trip down the Savegre River or the Rio Balsa, or a peaceful float tour on the Corobicí or the Peñas Blancas, a guided trip down one of Costa Rica’s jungle-shrouded rivers is a must.

8. Coffee and Cacao Plantations. A tour of a coffee or chocolate plantation is educational and fun for the whole family—and the chance to taste the results of all that hard work is too sweet to pass up.

9. Kayaking, Paddleboarding and Canoeing. Costa Rica’s many bays, lakes, rivers and mangrove lagoons are perfect for paddling, and they offer lots of opportunities to spot scarlet macaws and other exotic birds, too.

10. Fabulous Beaches. A family trip to Costa Rica is all about beach time, and Costa Rica’s coastlines have it all: sun-soaked sands, calm coves for swimming, coral reefs for snorkeling, and body surfing hotspots.

Plan your family trip to Costa Rica with AAA. Call 877-396-7159, visit your local branch or get in touch with a AAA Travel Counselor.

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David Kallas, AAA Travel Counselor, Murray, Utah

I'm all about once-in-a-lifetime trips to destinations such as the Cook Islands, Australia or an African safari. I love to plan trips that my clients return from not regretting anything.

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