Spring break can be the perfect opportunity to enjoy a family trip somewhere new. Costa Rica is a popular spring break destination for many reasons: it has warm weather and excellent beaches, it’s readily accessible from the United States, and it caters to tourists while retaining an authentic feel — unlike, say, Cancún. If you’re considering taking your family to Costa Rica for spring break, read on for our advice.
Is Costa Rica a Family Spring Break Destination?
In 2018, more than 3 million people visited Costa Rica, marking the eighth straight year of increasing visitors to the small Central American country. With two major international airports that receive direct flights each day from across the United States (and elsewhere), it’s easier than ever to experience a “Pura Vida” Costa Rican spring break with your family.
Because of those same reasons, though, some beach towns in Costa Rica have become popular spring break destinations for college students. If your ideal family trip doesn’t involve non-stop partying, consider steering clear of towns like Jacó, Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo.
That also applies if you’re visiting Costa Rica during Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week. Many Costa Rican have time off work (or school) that week, so you’re likely to find busy beaches and booked hotels. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — just be prepared, and book in advance.
Thankfully, Costa Rica is home to hundreds of miles of beaches, 29 national parks and plenty of other outdoor attractions that will help you and your family escape the crowds and spend quality time together.
Is Costa Rica Safe for a Family Spring Break?
Because of tourism’s importance to the local economy, the Costa Rican government works diligently to ensure visitors to the country are safe. From opening new police stations in tourist-heavy towns, to staffing lifeguards at popular beaches, to providing tour operators with emergency training, Costa Rica aims to find the balance between adventure and safety.
Like any other country, though, Costa Rica isn’t without its problems. The U.S. Department of State classifies Costa Rica among its safest international destinations (Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions), but the U.S. Embassy notes tourists are sometimes targets — usually for petty theft.
Before visiting, make sure you read the U.S. Embassy’s safety tips for Costa Rica. It’s also helpful to read our safety advice — which covers driving, ocean safety, and common sense behaviors — to enjoy a stress-free family spring break in Costa Rica.
Spring Break Weather in Costa Rica
If your ideal spring break weather includes copious amounts of heat and sunshine, then Costa Rica should be high on your list for a family vacation. March and April comprise the end of Costa Rica’s dry season. That means you’ll experience sun in most places — perfect for a day at the beach, or by the pool.
Costa Rica’s driest region is the northwest, in Guanacaste province and the Nicoya Peninsula, where the dryness can lead to dusty roads and barren trees. That might not be what you’d expect for a tropical country, but the tradeoff can be worth it for nonstop sunshine.
In April, Costa Rica’s South Pacific — think the Osa Peninsula — typically starts to receive some rain.
The exception to all this dry weather is Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, which includes popular destinations like Puerto Viejo and Cahuita. March and April are sunny there too, but the true dry season for the region isn’t until September and October.
All that being said, Costa Rica has 12 climatic zones and hundreds of microclimates. The weather can change dramatically in just a few miles of driving.
Rest assured there will be plenty of sun, so make sure you pack your sunscreen.
Where to Spend Spring Break with Family in Costa Rica
So you’ve chosen to spend spring break in Costa Rica with your family. Now, the all-important question: Where do you go?
Every family will have different preferences, but here are some popular Costa Rica vacation destinations that shouldn’t be overrun with college-aged spring breakers.
Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste)
A few minutes from Playas del Coco — a growing hotspot for tourism and nightlife in Guanacaste — is the quieter village of Playa Hermosa. At Playa Hermosa, you can relax in hotels with gorgeous views of the bay and eat dinner at one of the many beach restaurants. Plus, you’ll be close to other picturesque beaches, including some of our best beaches for families.
Cahuita and the Caribbean
Puerto Viejo will attract the biggest crowds on spring break, but just 20-minutes away is one of Costa Rica’s most pristine (and criminally underrated) national parks. Cahuita National Park has an expansive white-sand beach, coral reefs for snorkeling, and a hiking trail through the jungle. You can also visit indigenous communities, make your own chocolate on a tour, and visit an animal rescue center. You can’t ask for much more than that!
La Fortuna (Arenal) and Monteverde
When the weather is nice, most people think of the beach, but don’t forget about inland destinations! La Fortuna is a town near the base of Arenal Volcano, and clear skies should give you stunning views of the conical behemoth as you relax in natural hot springs. Across Lake Arenal is Monteverde, a town founded by Quakers that has a cloud forest, artisanal cheesemaking, and jaw-dropping views of the countryside. Either makes a great destination, and you can travel between the two towns with a boat ride across the lake.
As the weather gets colder across the United States, you may already be looking ahead to spring break destinations for your family. It can be difficult to find the right place — one that’s kid-friendly but great for adults, and an exciting destination that’s also doable as a weeklong trip.
With just a few days in Costa Rica, you and your family can relax at the beach, zipline through the jungle, make your own chocolate bar (or a cup of coffee), hike through a cloud forest and have enough time left over to watch the sunset over a volcano.
Let’s Plan a Family Spring Break Vacation in Costa Rica
Please use the contact form below to schedule a complimentary phone call to discuss all of the exciting options that lie before you and your family for a spring break vacation in Costa Rica.
Jen Rulon is an avid traveler and writer for Costa Rica Escapes. She is also a triathlon coach and author. You can find her knowledge as an author and speaker ranging from Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Men’s Journal Online New York Times.
As she has retired from the triathlon space, Jen’s love of Costa Rica began. She realized that she loves the beaches, and the coffee of Costa Rica and now wants to share through the eyes of what she sees with Costa Rica Escapes. Read Jen’s stories and advice for travelers who wish to see the authentic side of Costa Rica on their vacation.