From the extraordinary biodiversity of its forests to the warmth and hospitality of locals, traveling Costa Rica with kids comes with endless adventures and pleasures. Whether hiking or ziplining, snorkeling or stand up paddleboarding, your family will never run out of exciting activities. What’s more, this Central American gem boasts palm-tree lined, white sand beaches where the kids can build sand castles while you enjoy a little R&R.
Costa Rica is also renowned for its whitewater rafting, offering waterscapes suitable for novices through experts. Because of past and current volcanic activity, the nation has bountiful rejuvenating hot springs, perfect for unwinding once the day’s adventures end.
Ready to learn more about traveling Costa Rica with kids? Read on for our ultimate travel guide.
The Perfect Family Adventure Getaway
Warm temperatures year-round and plenty of sunshine make Costa Rica the ideal spot for your next family trip. This also means an abundance of local produce including bananas, plantains, mangos, and avocados and a wealth of natural scenery and wildlife. A birdwatcher’s dream, Costa Rica also boasts excellent turtle watching, and don’t be surprised to catch glimpses of howler monkeys, sloths, and more in the nation’s pristine rainforest settings.
Traveling Costa Rica: When to Go
Dry Season: December through April. The Caribbean side also experiences a dry period from September through October.
Wet Season: May through October/November
Weather: Costa Rica boasts temperate weather throughout the year. The dry time is also peak season, especially during Spring Break and Christmas Break. Travel during these holiday times requires planning at least six months in advance to secure optimal accommodations.
During the wet season, you’ll encounter smaller crowds although most of the same activities are still available. Temperatures prove warm and days are punctuated by brief, albeit heavy, rain showers. Coastal regions experience rainfall year-round making the distinction between seasons less clear. The sea turtle season runs from mid-March through mid-August.
Costa Rica Family Vacation: FAQs
Capital: San José
Time: Costa Rica observes Central Standard time all year. Daylight savings time is not observed. (CST/UTC -6 hours).
Voltage: Costa Rica uses 110 v, 60 cycle electricity like the US.
Adapter: Plugs are generally the two-pronged flat types used in the US, Canada, and Mexico. If your device has a North American plug, it’s likely you won’t need an adapter in Costa Rica.
Visas for Costa Rica
If you hold a passport from the United States, you do not need an entry visa to visit Costa Rica. But you must have a current passport and a return ticket to depart the country within 90 days of arrival. For a stay longer than 90 days, US citizens need a residence permit.
Contact your nearest Costa Rican embassy or consulate for up-to-date visa information based on your nationality.
If you do need a visa, we recommend iVisa’s visa service for peace of mind.
Health & Vaccinations
Before every trip, make sure you and your family are up-to-date on routine immunizations including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. All visitors should have travel insurance that covers medical expenses. A vaccination for Hepatitis A is also recommended. Check with your doctor before travel.
There are two international airports in Costa Rica: Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) in Alajuela (a suburb of San José) and Daniel Oduber Quirós Airport (LIR) in Liberia. From SJO, downtown San José is a short taxi drive. Home to LIR, the second busiest international airport in Costa Rica, Liberia provides easy access to the northwestern Guanacaste region.
Flight time from New York to San José: approximately 5 hours 10 minutes
Flight time from New York to Liberia: approximately 5 hours 15 minutes
Currency in Costa Rica
The national currency of Costa Rica is known as the colón (₡) or colones (plural) and comes in both paper and coin forms. Paper bills range from ₡1,000 to ₡50,000 and coins from ₡5 to ₡500. Although the exchange rate fluctuates on a daily basis, it hovers around ₡500 to ₡550 per US dollar.
American dollars are readily accepted throughout the country, which proves a convenient alternative to exchanging money. But watch out for smaller operators, such as cab drivers and buses, who will likely charge an unfavorable rate. Similarly, airports have the worst exchange rates and are best avoided.
Fortunately, ATMs prove plentiful and easy to use. But remember that some banks, such as Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) and Banco Nacional, limit ATM withdrawal amounts for people with foreign ATM/debit cards to the equivalent of $100 per transaction or $200 per day. To avoid these limits, plan on bringing a little extra cash beforehand. Or, use ATMs from banks that don’t have these withdrawal limits.
Worth noting, Costa Rican bills are among the most beautiful paper currency in the world. Each bill depicts a different natural scene. For example, the ₡1,000 bill depicts the tropical dry forest complete with a white-tailed deer and iconic Guanacaste tree, and the ₡10,000 bill includes a sloth, orchids, and various birds representative of the rainforest.
What to Eat in Costa Rica
Costa Rican cuisine relies on fresh local ingredients and traditional recipes to craft hearty dishes. From a satisfying breakfast of gallo pinto to arreglados (Costa Rica’s yummy take on sandwiches), you’ll find plenty of meals that will appease picky eaters as well as power you and your family through a day’s worth of adventures. Check out our quick guide to what to order From Arreglados to Casado: What to Eat on a Family Trip to Costa Rica for more delectable details.
Safety in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a relatively safe country where the US government advises exercising normal precautions. Increased caution is advised in a few locations including the Central neighborhood in Limon, Liberia city, the Desamparados neighborhood in San Rafael, and the Pavas and Hospital neighborhoods in San José. As with any location that you’re visiting while at home or abroad, remain aware of your surroundings and stay vigilant. Don’t venture out after dark and use common sense. For more information on safety during your vacation, read on.
What to Wear
Although Costa Rica represents a small country, it boasts an astonishing 12 different life zones. Each of these life zones has its own microclimate, from the steamy jungles of the South Pacific to the arid beaches of Guanacaste and the misty cloud forests of the north.
As a result, you need to prepare for a variety of weather depending on the regions you visit. You should also pack with adventure in mind, which translates into items such as water shoes, hiking boots, waterproof sandals, and a flashlight or headlamp (if you plan on visiting remote areas). For more on what to bring, check out our ultimate pack-and-go checklist.
Adventure Awaits Your Family in Costa Rica
Want to find out more about traveling to Costa Rica with kids? Here are just a few of the things you can expect to see and do during a vacation to Costa Rica:
- Costa Rica Family Vacation: The Best Places to Visit with Kids
- Costa Rica with Kids: Arenal Volcano National Park & La Fortuna
- Costa Rica Family Adventure: Manuel Antonio National Park
- Costa Rica for Kids: 3 Books Your Kids Will Adore
- 8 Interesting Facts About Costa Rica
- Authentic Costa Rica: A Family Homestay Experience
An Adventure That’ll Make the World a Better Place
At Our Whole Village, we specialize in travel with a purpose. What does this mean for you and your family? We carefully consider the consequences our journeys have on local communities and the environment. We work hard to ensure that your next exhilarating, authentic, immersive journey with us has a positive impact, too.
How? By working with a variety of local charities and organizations that give back to local communities. We also carefully select the eco-friendly businesses and hotels with which we work to lessen our “footprint.” The result? A brighter future for these destinations. Check out these articles to read more about our “kind” approach to tourism.
Book a Family Holiday to Costa Rica
Just because you’ve settled down to have a family doesn’t mean your adventuring days are over. We’ve worked hard to craft our Costa Rica adventure so that it appeals to every member of your family.
When it comes to traveling with us, we take care of the logistics so that you can relax and focus on making lasting memories with your family. So, get ready for a life-changing adventure that you and your kids will cherish.
We partner with local companies to build the perfect all-inclusive experiences for curious, adventurous families. We take the hassle out of family travel so that you can sit back and get your relax on. Contact us now to discuss the perfect Costa Rica getaway for your family.
Ready for Your Costa Rica Family Adventure?
Ready for your own family getaway? Join us on a 9-day Costa Rica Family Vacation, an immersive, authentic way to experience this Central American nation’s stunning natural beauty and pure vida culture.
At Our Whole Village, we create transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for curious families just like yours.
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