Discover vibrant Costa Rica with your family

Travel to Costa Rica on this tailored family tour and encounter a country bursting with natural beauty, charm and opportunities for adventure. Spot wildlife in some of the country’s most abundant national parks, take in mind-blowing views of Arenal Volcano, discover a wealth of family fun in the cloudforests of Monteverde and so much more.


Start
San Jose, Costa Rica
Finish
San Jose, Costa Rica
Country
Costa Rica
Style
Comfort
Theme
Family, Wildlife
Code
QCFS
Physical rating
Ages
Min 5
Group size
Min 3, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Dive into the heart of one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries, travelling along rivers, through dense rainforest, past towering volcanoes and to blissful beaches on a journey that will awaken your inner nature-lover

  • Glide through the waterways of Tortuguero NP, seek out monkeys and turtles by foot and boat, and drift off to sleep surrounded by the sounds of wildlife

  • Get active on an incredible range of outdoor pursuits, from battling rapids while whitewater rafting to climbing up to volcanic craters, safariing for crocs, and hiking through jungle

  • Enjoy up-close encounters with Costa Rica’s endless wildlife, then enjoy plenty of time to let off some steam in thermal springs and swimming pools – like the one that sits in the magnificent shadow of the steaming Arenal volcano

  • End this adventure by hitting Manuel Antonio NP, where the evergreen forest grows right up to the long, white beaches and irresistible water

Is this trip right for you?

  • Make sure you pack some sturdy and comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking around cities, towns, and through forests and jungle on this trip.

  • There are a few days of long travel on this trip as you’ll be covering a lot of Costa Rican ground. These drives are along smooth roads in new and comfortable vehicles, and are great for games, chats and scenery spotting. You’ll also make interesting stops along the way to break up those longer drives.

  • Is it hot in here? Well you’re in tropical Central America so it can get really hot and humid. Carry plenty of water because hydration is key, especially when you’re walking a lot. There’ll also be plenty of chances for cooling swims!

  • It’s a good idea to try and brush up on as many Spanish words as you can. While locals are really friendly, they’re also shy, so knowing some local lingo is a great way to break the ice and show you care about them and their culture.

  • 2018 TRIP CHANGES: we will be changing this itinerary in 2018 please see Important notes for more details

Itinerary

Welcome to Costa Rica.

You can arrive at any time today as there are no activities planned. Please note your welcome meeting with be on Day 2 at 7:30am.

San Jose sits in the heart of the country in the lush, wide Central Valley, and has a comfortable subtropical climate. With over half the country's population living within its limits, it’s a bustling city with lively markets, intriguing museums and a dynamic atmosphere. It’s also easy to navigate – laid out in a grid pattern, the avenidas run east to west and the callés run north to south. After the meeting tonight, perhaps get to know the rest of the group and head out for your first taste of the local ‘tico’ food.
Accommodation
  • Tryp Sabana or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Kick off this Costa Rican adventure with a hearty breakfast, followed by a welcome meeting at 7:30am before heading off on an exploration of the Poás Volcano National Park. In the park you’ll discover untouched nature, an active volcano, and have the chance to breathe fresh, cool mountain air. At the top of this volcano, 2,700 metres above sea level, you can step to the edge of a platform and look down on a smoking sleeping giant – steam can pour out around a sulphuric, bubbling, green cater lake.

You can also take a gentle hike to the other side of dense green cloud forest, along a meandering trail to a second, inactive crater. The crystal blue Botos Lagoon is surrounded by bird-filled trees, and if you’ve got extra sharp eyesight you might catch a glimpse of a hummingbird. Back down the volcano you’ll take a tour of the city to get a feel for San Jose itself – you may pass areas like the Plaza de la Culture and the Mercado Central, which are great places to get a sense of real Costa Rican daily life.

You’ll also make a stop at the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum to explore its glittering collection. Gold had an important function in the indigenous social hierarchy, and it was of course a big reason why the Spanish were attracted to the area.
Accommodation
  • Tryp Sabana or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Jose - Poas Volcano National Park (half-day tour)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say goodbye to San Jose early this morning and head out into the Costa Rican wilderness with a short flight over stunning vegetation to Tortuguero National Park (approximately 30 minutes).

This is one of Costa Rica's most popular eco-tourism destinations, with the canals and rivers here a study in rainforest, freshwater and marine biology. You’ll travel by boat along Los Canales, which form a long highway (100 kilometres) through dense rainforest. As you motor along the river, every now and then you’ll see a clearing in the thick-forested banks, where settlers eke out an existence from slash-and-burn agriculture and fishing. Everyone fishes here – an iridescent flash will mark the flight of a kingfisher, while anhinga and several species of heron can be seen perching in the shadows along the water’s edge, waiting to strike.

Arrive at the lodge and have a typical breakfast before starting your day of activities. You’ll go on excursions by boat and on foot, soaking up Mother Nature's most flamboyant floral and faunal displays, using the experienced eyes of the boatman or guide to spot wildlife. Just some of the other animals you might see today are tree frogs, sloths, caimans, crocodiles, iguanas, spider monkeys and white faced capuchins. Later in the afternoon, take time to relax, enjoy the pool, or walk along a beach where turtles lay their eggs. Tonight you’ll fall asleep to the unearthly cry of the howler monkey.
Accommodation
  • Pachira Lodge or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tortuguero National Park - Canals boat trip
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast, wave goodbye to the tree-swinging howler monkeys and transfer by boat back to the port (approximately 2 hours) – keeping your eyes open for more animals and birdlife that line the waterways. Then you’ll cross through another region rich in biodiversity and beloved by birdwatchers – Sarapiqui – on to the Arenal area. Pass through virgin forests, as well as palm, banana, papaya and pineapple plantations, on a long drive to the home of the storybook Arenal Volcano (approximately 4.5 hours), which shoots up to 1,633 metres in a perfect cone.

The scenery is made up of primary cloud forest and rainforest, and this is a land of rivers, lakes and, thanks to the volcano’s inner workings, a number of thermal springs where hot, lava-heated water gushes to the surface. These springs have been turned into a number of thermal pools and waterfalls, often surrounded by dense foliage, offering ideal place to relax.

Your accommodation for the next two nights is blessed with something you won’t get in many other places in the world – the chance to relax by a pool with a view of a towering volcano! There is time to relax and play here on arrival, before visiting the volcanic thermal pools at the Ecotermales Hot Springs, where you can enjoy a healthy and relaxing soak before dinner.
Accommodation
  • Arenal Paraiso Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Arenal - Ecotermales Hot Springs
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll get out and explore the lush, tropical surrounds of this idyllic location with the family. For many, one of the highlights of this trip is the exhilarating fun of battling the gushing rapids of the Balsa River. The level of rafting here is very suitable for families (Class 2 to 3), but please note that the minimum age is 8 years old. After a safety briefing and getting you kitted out with a snazzy orange vest, you’ll get wet and wild as you work as a team to make your way through increasingly challenging rapids with names like ‘Magnetic Rock’, ‘Congo Loco’ and ‘Dredges’.

Along the way, you’ll also have opportunities to spot fantastic wildlife such as sloths and Toucans – if you’re not too busy getting wet that is! When you finish and return to the hotel, there may be time for additional activities like saddling-up for a horse ride or exploring the forest trails.

If you’re worn out from the day’s action, then not much can beat chilling by the pool and gazing up at the much-loved famous volcano – it isn’t spewing lava every day and night like it used to, but it is still rumbling and puffing out plumes of gas.
Accommodation
  • Arenal Paraiso Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Whitewater Rafting
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Departing Arenal, descend to the Pan-American Highway, which you’ll follow southward across the flat coastal plain. Your journey takes you along a coastline of fine sand beaches, separated by the occasional area of mangrove and endless plantations of African palm.

This region is very rich in flora and fauna and is home to a biological reserve, a national marine park and much more. En-route, you’ll make a detour to take part in a jungle crocodile safari (approximately 3.5 hours), which gives you the opportunity to check out American crocodiles in their natural environment, as well as more than a hundred species of bird.

Your journey ends near Quepos, a sport-fishing centre and the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park (approximately 1.5 hours). The Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon first documented this area in 1519 during his (unsuccessful) search for the Fountain of Youth. Your accommodation is near the Pacific Ocean and the tropical forest, and part of the property has been officially declared a Wildlife Reserve thanks to its biodiversity in plant species and fauna, such as spider monkeys, sloths, coati, and armadillos. Soak up some rays and relish the spoils of this unique beach setting.
Accommodation
  • Punta Leona Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - Jungle Crocodile Safari
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Manuel Antonio National Park stands a few kilometres south of Quepos on the shores of the Pacific. Incorporating 12 small islands scattered just off a coast where migrating whales can sometimes be seen, the park is home to hundreds of mammal and bird species in a region of lagoons and fertile mangrove swamps.

During your time in the region, you’ll enjoy a three-hour guided walk along the trails within the park and have plenty of time to relax on one of the idyllic palm-lined bays. The turquoise seas are perfect for swimming, kayaking, sailing or fishing. It would be easy to spend your whole time here in, or by, the water, where lush rainforests sprawl gently towards the sand and white-faced capuchin monkeys peer cheekily from the treetops. This is a great spot for a family holiday, with fully equipped apartments, swimming pools, water sports and many activities for both children and adults.
Accommodation
  • Punta Leona Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - entrance
  • Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, leave the accommodation and retrace your steps northward along the coastal road to San Jose (approximately 2-4 hours). Your Costa Rican adventure comes to an end on arrival, and there is no accommodation included tonight.

If you’re flying out today, with the mandatory airport check-in time, we suggest that you only book your onward flight after midday. If you wish to stay longer, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability) – please enquire at the time of booking.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Transport

Minibus, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights), Lodge (1 night)

Included activities

  • San Jose - Poas Volcano National Park (half-day tour)
  • Tortuguero National Park - Canals boat trip
  • Arenal - Ecotermales Hot Springs
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - Jungle Crocodile Safari
  • Manuel Antonio National Park - entrance
  • Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Costa Rica Family Adventure trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Travel lightly with Intrepid. We’ve offset the main sources of carbon emissions from this trip on your behalf, including transport, accommodation & waste. Read more

Important notes

Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 5.
A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 14 years and under at the time of travel.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2018:
From 1 January 2018 this trip will be a 9 day itinerary. We have removed Tortuguero National Park from the itinerary and added in Monteverde.
The new itinerary is outlined below:
1 San Jose (arrival day)
2 San Jose
3 Arenal Volcano National Park
4 Arenal Volcano National Park
5 Monteverde
6 Monteverde
7 Manuel Antonio National Park
8 Manuel Antonio National Park
9 San Jose (departure day)

This trip will become a "teenage" trip from 1st January 2018 for children aged 10 years +

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.