|One of the many amazing viewpoints in Costa Rica|
Tip: Consider heading to Costa Rica in the rainy season. It is less wet then you would think and you will get the benefits of; less tourists, cheaper food and resort stays, and even the possibility of cheap flights.
Nearly any activity, in any area of the country, will bring friendly faces and assistance when needed. After living in this small country in Central America, about the size of West Virginia, and touring around for five years, we've found that a few spots are just too great to be missed. I also asked my kids which places they enjoyed the most. So without further adieu here are mine and my children's picks for the best spots in Costa Rica for kids:
|Tranquil, secluded Punta Uva|
All the beaches of Costa Rica are beautiful but many carry a very dangerous undertow or a questionable cleanliness level -- especially the ones on the Pacific side and closest to San Jose. The beach area we felt was the best is the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca area on the Caribbean side of the country. It is about a 5 hour drive from San Jose but well worth it. The drive is amazing taking you through Brauillo Carillo national park (think something out of Jurassic Park) and finally winding down to the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. There are many beaches in this area but Punta Uva is by far the best. Gorgeous, tranquil waters with almost pink sand and a level of seclusion that you will find in very few beaches on Earth. The town has a real Caribbean vibe with many eating and lodging options to fit even the pickiest eaters or sleepers. Also close to the Panama border crossing, Bri Bri indigenous tribe, and a wealth of adventure sporting options.
|Baby sloths at the sanctuary, what a great cause to support|
Las musas (ecomusas) water park in San Ramon is the winner in this category. This little known water park among tourists, is a favorite with locals. Get there early so you can grab a picnic table and bench, otherwise bring your own chairs. There is a restaurant on site with some local fare (think arroz con pollo, gallo pinto, empanadas). Also for use are restrooms and changing rooms, very helpful with small children in tow. The park offers not only 2 beautiful pools (1 large, 1 kiddie pool) complete with a huge water slide but also a beautiful 300 foot waterfall with a pool of clean water for swimming. The pool water is pristine as it is recycled via waterfall water over 12 times per day. No chlorine, no salt!
|Hiking in ecomusas|
|Eucalyptus tree in reforested Sabana Park|
La Sabana park in San Jose is beautiful and has something for everyone. It is a great stop when you have a night or 2 in San Jose. A huge pond (albeit a bit merky) is a fun spot to fish or just watch the ducks play. The new National Stadium was just built on the park grounds and it is also home to baseball fields, a public pool, soccer fields, playgrounds, roller skating rink and speed course, tennis and basketball courts. On the far end of the park is also the National Art museum, which is free on Sundays. This park is a great spot to break up the hectic city pace.
|Sunday in the park|
Don't miss....Sundays in the park. There are pony rides, kites to fly, soccer and baseball games to watch and numerous vendors of culinary delight and bootleg DVD's! What more could you want:)
|Crater at Volcan Irazu National Park|
Orosi valley from the Central Valley is possibly one of the most beautiful and entertaining drives you can take in Costa Rica. We did this trip with an overnight in Orosi before returning home but it could easily be done as just a day trip. Leave nice and early in the morning because your first stop should be Irazu volcano. The earlier you get there the better the views will be. As the tallest volcano in the country at over 9,000 feet, you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans from the top. That is on a perfectly clear day (so 1-2 times a year). The volcano is about 1 1/2 hours from San Jose to the summit. When you come down the volcano you will be brought directly into the old capital of Cartago. There you can visit the Santiago Apostol Parish ruins (destroyed by strong earthquakes that leveled the whole town) the Basilica de Los Angeles (beautiful architecture with a square in front to run around on), and some local botanical gardens.
|Ruins of Ujurras|
Next you can head down through some beautiful countryside to the town of Ujurras where there are also some beautiful ruins alongside a small river. If you are so inclined you can also stop at one of the numerous hot spring pools.
From here head over to the small town of Cachi to marvel at the huge dam (over 90% of the electric in Costa Rica is generated from renewable sources such as hydroelectric and geothermal) and finally head over to the town of Orosi. Perched on the Reventazon river and complete with stunning vistas and walking bridges over the river, this is a town worth visiting and exploring.
|Under a giant fern in Monteverde|
First settled by Quakers in the 1950's, Monteverde is hands down one of our favorite spots in Costa Rica. In the past couple of years the roads have been greatly improved although still not paved all the way. From San Jose it is roughly a 4 hour drive and upon arrival you will find options galore for lodging either in town or just outside. If you are lucky, you can even get a beautiful sunset view of the Nicoya peninsula. As one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica, recently voted one of the 7 wonders of the country, this cloud forest is rich in biodiversity and there are no shortages of parks to fill any hiker's level.
|It may rain a lot in the cloud forest but that is all part of the fun|
We hiked in the mornings before the clouds settled in, and explored one of the many museums in the afternoon. Santa Elena and Monteverde both have excellent nature preserves with well marked paths. Aside from all the hiking and exploring there is also a frog museum, a bug museum, the cheese factory that can be toured, and much more. Children will not be able to say they are bored ever as there are activities to suit toddlers to teens.
|Frog pond is loads of fun!|
Don't miss....The frog pond in town. Go during the day for a tour of the many frog species in Costa Rica and for the same price you can return in the evening. They keep the room dark so the frogs are all very active and noisy. You will get a flashlight and can walk around tracking them down one by one. It was a highlight for my boys.
Well there you have it, our top 5 best family destinations in Costa Rica! Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below!
FOLLOW BOHEMIAN TRAVELERS HERE:
Curious about the best spots in the world to visit with kids? Read on.....
Chiang Mai, northern Thailand - Barbara - The Drop Out Diaries
Brisbane, Australia - Tracy - OurTravelLifestyle
Central Australia - Jarrad Page - Wandering Photographer
South Australia - Amy Page - Livin On The Road
Vancouver, B.C. Canada-Jess Farrugia - With 2 Kids In Tow
Kingston, Ontario, Canada-Jennifer Miller- EdventureProject.com
Seattle, WA, USA- Keryn Means- Walkingon Travels
Sunset Coast, Michigan, USA - Jessie Voigts - WanderingEducators.com
Boston, USA - Justin Mussler - Great Family Escape
New York City, USA - Diya Luke - A Minor Diversion
Washington, D.C. U.S.A. -Susan Verbeeck- Grow In Grace Life
Lake Chapala, Mexico - Alisa - Living Outside of the Box
Antigua, Guatemala -Lainie Liberti - Raising Miro
Ambergris Caye, Belize - A King's Life
London, UK -- Theodora Sutcliffe -- Travels with a Nine Year Old