Costa Rica is among the most beautiful and exciting destinations in the world, and while it’s perfectly suitable for solo travel, the best experiences are often those that can be shared with others.
If you are planning a group or family trip to Costa Rica, you won’t be lacking in available activities. From thrilling canopy adventures to relaxing volcanic mud baths to unmatched biodiversity, there is no shortage of experiences to share with friends or family.
Of course, planning Costa Rica group travel involves different decisions than a solo or couple’s trip. Here are our top Costa Rica group travel tips.
Costa Rica COVID-19 Precautions
First and foremost: The coronavirus pandemic remains a major consideration across the world, and Costa Rica is no different. The country has an excellent and robust healthcare system, and nearly all tourist attractions are operating normally, but COVID-19 will have some impact on your group trip to Costa Rica.
First, when planning group travel to Costa Rica, make sure all adults are vaccinated or have health insurance that covers COVID-19; the vaccine or insurance is the primary requirement to enter Costa Rica during the pandemic.
Everyone in your group will also have to fill out the Health Pass, an epidemiological form, during the 72 hours before arriving in Costa Rica. The Health Pass shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to complete and asks basic questions, such as your contact information and countries you’ve visited recently.
When traveling as a group through Costa Rica, you will be required to wear masks when in indoor, public spaces. Otherwise, though, nearly all businesses and activities are open.
Finally, the United States and several other countries require a negative COVID-19 test before returning from an international trip. Thankfully, both of Costa Rica’s airports have labs with rapid antigen and PCR tests available.
Research Costa Rica Destinations
Will your Costa Rica group trip be relaxing, adventurous, or some combination of the two? Once you decide, you can begin deciding on destinations and activities!
Three of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica are La Fortuna, which borders the majestic Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal; Monteverde, a wildlife-filled cloud forest with hanging bridges and zip lines; and Manuel Antonio, a national park containing sloths and monkeys galore, with one of the country’s best beaches to boot.
All three of these receive tens of thousands of tourists every year, so each has a plethora of activities to accommodate all ages, and all forms of group travel.
And those groups wanting to stray off the beaten path in Costa Rica might choose the Osa Peninsula, considered one of the most biologically intense places on earth.
When to Visit Costa Rica With a Group
The best time to visit Costa Rica depends entirely on your budget, your destination within the country, and your planned activities. The country’s rainy season is August through November, but this isn’t universal; the Caribbean coast is often dry when it’s raining in the Pacific, and vice-versa.
The peak tourism season is from late November until mid-April. This coincides nicely with sunnier weather but also results in busier destinations and higher prices. Visiting in the “shoulder” season (May through July) or the off-peak green season (August through November) can mean smaller crowds and more affordable stays.
Take Advantage of Seasonal Group Discounts
Remember, as the number of travelers goes up, the per-person price for group activities in Costa Rica often goes down. Please don’t be afraid to visit during the “Green Season!” The United States’ late spring/early summer (May through July) and late summer/fall seasons (August through November) are slower months for tourism in Costa Rica. That means your group will enjoy smaller crowds — and often cheaper prices — during days that are capped with relaxing thunderstorms in the evening. We encourage you to learn more in our Best Time to Visit Costa Rica article.
Top Costa Rica Group Activities
Here are some of the most popular Costa Rica group activities:
Zipline or Canopy Tour
Soar through the rainforest canopy like the macaws and toucans that brighten the skies above Costa Rica. Ziplines and hanging bridges are an iconic part of any visit to Costa Rica. Best of all, they’re appropriate for most ages and groups of all sizes. Monteverde and La Fortuna (Arenal) are known for these tours.
Hike at a National Park
Visit one of Costa Rica’s 30 National Parks and see for yourself why the country is considered an ecological marvel. Your group can split the cost of a guide, who will help you spot sloths, poison-dart frogs and other hard-to-see wildlife. Manuel Antonio, Cahuita, Tenorio and Poás are among Costa Rica’s most popular National Parks.
Hot Springs and Beaches
Unwind with your group at Costa Rica’s beaches and hot springs. Some of the best hot springs are in La Fortuna (Arenal), while there are beautiful beaches just about everywhere. Some of our favorite Costa Rica beaches are Manzanillo, Nosara and Dominical.
Don’t Rush: Take Your Time
One of the biggest mistakes tourist groups make when visiting Costa Rica is planning too many destinations into too short of a time. It can be tempting to try and do everything during a trip, but that can be tiring and means you won’t truly enjoy any one place.
This is especially true for big groups!
Try and spend at least two nights in every destination. That way your group can enjoy Costa Rica without feeling like the entire trip is spent traveling from place to place. If you’re not sure how much time is appropriate, you can model your vacation off of our tried-and-true itineraries.
Pick the Right Costa Rica Airport for Your Group
Costa Rica has two major international airports: Juan Santamaría (SJO) near the capital of San José, and Guanacaste International Airport (LIR) to the north.
Group trips focused on the Central or South Pacific, or the Caribbean, will have easier travel from SJO. Itineraries focusing on Nicoya peninsula (Guanacaste) can save time flying to LIR. Monteverde and Arenal are about equidistant from both airports.
If your group is on a budget, flights to SJO are often cheaper, because that airport is served by more airlines from more destinations.
Keep Your Group Safe in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is generally a very safe country for tourists, but some basic precautions will help prevent accidents and other misfortunes.
If your group trip includes time at the beach or at a waterfall, know that many of these attractions aren’t protected by lifeguards. Water is powerful, so use common sense and don’t get into the ocean (or a river) if you’re uncertain.
Otherwise, we recommend driving during the daytime (the lighting is bad on some roads at night!) and making sure you don’t leave valuables unattended. Costa Rica’s tap water is safe to drink.
Planning a Costa Rica Group Trip to Remember
Planning a group trip can be difficult, but choosing Costa Rica as your destination makes it easier. It’s a small country with beautiful vistas, adventure activities and incredible wildlife pretty much everywhere you look.
If you’re considering travel, Costa Rica Escapes can help plan your perfect itinerary to ensure visiting Costa Rica with a group is the trip of a lifetime.
John Rabenau has been working in the eco-tourism & adventure travel industry in Costa Rica since 2002. He has worked in a variety of capacities from Outdoor Educator & Principle Guide to Itinerary Design Manager & Business Owner for numerous organizations. He has grown Costa Rica Escapes into one of the most reputable Costa Rica travel agencies since its creation in 2006, hosting more than 5,000 people with custom vacation itineraries.