Family Vacation in Costa Rica

Our Family Adventure in Costa Rica

Post by Leslie Sickler, Dreams and Destinations Costa Rica Specialist

Family Vacation Costa Rica

In college I had the amazing experience of working at a Mayan archaeological site for 4 months in the jungles of Belize. I slept in a hammock in a thatched hut listening to the sounds of howler monkeys and jaguars at night. During the day we had visits from Coati and watched flocks of parakeets fly across the sky. It was truly an experience I will never forget.  When my husband sold his company a few years ago one of our wishes was to be able to travel more as a family before the kids got much older.  We wanted to take advantage of the fact they still like to travel with us.   We chose a family vacation in Costa Rica because I wanted to share this type of experience with my kids, in a place that is still wild and untamed in ways, yet has many of the conveniences that make every day life while traveling with kids easy. I also had my husband’s #1 vacation wish to keep in mind, too: to be able to surf. Costa Rica fits the bill on all of those levels. 

The trip I created for our 6 week family vacation in Costa Rica gave my girls, who were 9 and 11 at the time, a little taste of everything. We were able to experience….

  • Volcanoes
  • Waterfalls
  • Cloud forests
  • Hot Springs
  • Gorgeous beaches 
  • Surfing
  • Hiking the Corcovado National Park in the Osa Peninsula where 2.5% of the world’s Biodiversity can be found

Not to mention the exotic wildlife my girls had a chance to enjoy.  Here is a list of some of the wildlife we saw IN their natural habitats! 

  • Howler monkeys
  • Spider monkeys
  • Squirrel monkeys
  • Capuchin monkeys
  • Coati
  • Anteaters
  • Sloth
  • Ocelot (thanks to our night camera!)
  • Tayra
  • Kinkajou
  • So, so many birds (Resplendent Quetzal, Scarlet Macaw, Keel Billed Toucan and more)
  • Butterflies
  • Lizards
  • Toads
  • Frogs

Our list of incredible wildlife encounters from our family vacation in Costa Rica goes on and on with so many incredible creatures.  It truly was the highlight of our trip and the perfect experience for two young nature lovers.   All of this while we enjoyed getting to know the kind and gentle people of this incredible country.  

Of course the best part of any family vacation are those family experiences that you just can’t anticipate, but help make lifetime memories.  We listened to a band in a little restaurant overlooking the beach in Dominical that had a drummer who toured with Van Halen and listened to a band member from Grand Funk Railroad with an incredible electric violinist that toured with Jimmy Buffet. We ate fine French food in a dining room with all glass walls with classical music blaring while hummingbirds fed at the feeders outside and danced to the music. You just never know what, or WHO, you will run into on your family vacation in Costa Rica!

Lodging in Costa Rica 


This is one of the most common questions I get about our Costa Rica adventure.  We stayed in a variety of lodging types ranging from

  1. A lodge where they gave you a machete’ upon arrival in case of bad critters getting into your room
  2. A tree house lodge
  3. Eco lodges that manage to bring the outdoors in (without the need for a machete) while allowing you to very comfortably enjoy your surroundings.
  4. A mountain lodge where we were the only Americans, our own little secret place that puts hot water bottles in your bed at night because it gets so cold in the cloud forests.

Each and every one had it’s own unique personality and vibe.  We opted for an eco-adventure experience on our family vacation to Costa Rica, but truly the destination offers accommodation options for every taste from rustic mountain hideaways to luxury lodges and even all-inclusive beach resorts. 

What Makes a Family Vacation in Costa Rica Great? 

In addition to all of these incredible sights I’ve just mentioned, there are other factors that make Costa Rica a great family vacation destination.

  • Costa Ricans are gentle and kind and greatly appreciate the fact you are visiting their country.
  • Spanish is the language of the country, but you will find many English speakers since English is taught from an early age. Although my proud mom moment was that I had my children speaking Spanish for themselves by the end of our trip and the Ticos were all very patient and appreciative of their efforts.
  • The money system is easy math: Roughly $500 Colón per $1 U.S.  You can have the kids do much of the calculating.
  • It is a very safe country to travel.
  • They care about their environment; it’s a great lesson for kids on environmentalism.

Getting Around 

Getting around in Costa Rica is becoming easier. Roads have greatly improved over the last few years in Costa Rica. Because I have driven all over Mexico and speak basic Spanish, we felt very confident and comfortable renting a car and driving. For those not so brave, there are many great companies providing transportation throughout the country. You can also fly one of the two domestic airlines on a puddle jumper to turn a 4-hour drive into a 30-minute flight.

At the end of our 6-week family adventure I expected my girls to be ready to go home, but instead they sat in the airport and cried. We all fell in love with Costa Rica.   Of course not everyone has the time and can spend 6 weeks on a family vacation in Costa Rica.  It worked for us at the time we traveled, but now with our current work commitments would be more difficult.  The great news is that you can enjoy a family vacation in Costa Rica just as much on a shorter stay as well.  You definitely don’t need 6 weeks!   Since that vacation we have returned for 2 more weeks and also have plans to spend our spring break week there in 2018.  So a totally doable family vacation for shorter stays as well.  

To contact Leslie to help plan your family vacation in Costa Rica or any other Costa Rica experience (Leslie has done Costa Rican destination weddings, honeymoons, and eco-adventure trips in addition to planning family vacations in Costa Rica) please CLICK HERE for our CONTACT FORM.  Be sure to select Leslie as your requested agent. 

Leslie Sickler plans worldwide vacations for her clients, but her areas of specialty are in Adventure travel, Soft Adventure, Family and Culinary Travel with her geographic specialties including Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize and Cuba. She has a degree in Anthropology from UCF with a specialization in Mayan Archaeology and worked as a personal chef and contract chef for years before turning her love of travel into a career in travel.