Traveling with toddlers means looking at the world as if it were for the first time. You are sure to see them enjoy each new thing like it is the most amazing they have ever laid their eyes on, therefore you don’t need anything too big or glorious to keep them interested and entertained.
Traveling through Costa Rica with toddlers on a family vacation is exactly that and more, because every beautiful tropical flower on a trail, colorful meal at a small restaurant, animal hanging from a tree at the beach, or a nice breeze from a breathtaking viewpoint can do the trick. And let’s be honest, you don’t want to make traveling with your children hard, so keeping it as simple as possible could be the key to your trip’s success.
People that Know Family
The tourism industry is very developed in Costa Rica, therefore you can find the perfect fit of services for every budget and specific needs. Driving around the country is relatively easy, and most popular destinations are a two to five-hour drive from the airport. More often than not, hotels are located near wild and beautiful attractions and also amenities like grocery shops, pharmacies, clothing stores, and restaurants. And access to private and public healthcare is also easy to find (and reliable). In much of Costa Rica, all that you need (if you are traveling with your toddlers) is at your fingertips.
People That Care for Kids – Tico Family Culture
Family life is very important for every Costa Rican. Most people live near their parents, aunts and uncles, and they all mind everybody’s business, in a good way! That’s why everywhere you walk in with your toddler, Costa Ricans will welcome him/her and give the whole family a little break as they make your baby laugh, they teach him/her something or they encourage their own children to play and interact with yours. Your kid will make friends – big and small – everywhere you go!
Things to Do with Toddlers in Costa Rica
Visit a Farm
Many destinations in Costa Rica offer visitors the opportunity to discover and enjoy life on a typical Costa Rican farm. Something as simple as going to see chickens and cows, or visiting a banana plantation, a coffee farm or a cacao plantation can be mesmerizing for your child and also very interesting for the adults. Besides a great experience, you can all discover new flavors together!
Close-Up Encounters with Wildlife
Costa Rica prides itself for its direct efforts to protect flora and fauna in all of its territories. That’s why many private organizations have opened rehabilitation and rescue centers for animals that, for various reasons, need help to survive.
Visitors are welcome in all of these wildlife rescue centers, and the entrance fee helps with the costs of helping the animals. Your family can feel good about helping some animals in need, and it’s a great opportunity to have a close look at amazing animals like jaguars, sloths, monkeys, owls, and other birds, and learn about them in a controlled place.
Does your toddler like bugs? Insects, frogs, lizards, and snakes are always a great success with small children. Find a herpetarium, a butterfly garden, or an insect exhibit and you will have so much material to blow your kid’s mind!
Hiking Nature Trails
Hiking with a toddler can mean that you hike and (s)he hangs, literally. So unless your family is into that, you might consider skipping it completely.
But, the Costa Rican National Parks system wants to make nature accessible to all, and many of the well renowned national parks have accessible trails where you can push your toddler’s stroller as you hike and show your little one the colors, shapes, and noises of the rainforest.
Carara National Park in the Central Pacific and Santa Rosa National Park north of Liberia have accessible trails; Poás Volcano National Park has a paved trail all the way to the main crater of the volcano; Irazú Volcano National Park’s trail to the main crater is half cement, half sand; Manuel Antonio National Park has one trail that is a packed gravel.
Some private reserves, like La Selva Biological Station in North of Costa Rica, also have accessible trails and amazing rainforest to share with your family.
Family Beach Time
A country with two coasts means many beautiful beaches for all tastes and needs. Some of those beaches might be too rough even for adults, but some offer just the right combination of sand (to make castles!) and calm water (to bathe and play).
In the North Pacific, those calm beaches for you to feel comfortable in the water with your toddler are more spread around, but we have covered here some specific beach suggestions for you to consider.
Family River (Boating) Time
Boat tours are a great way to explore the rainforest of Costa Rica in a safe and comfortable way. There are amazing boat tours in every big destination of Costa Rica. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- In the North Caribbean, boat tours at Tortuguero National Park take you to the most remote corners of this amazing wildlife destination.
- In the North of Costa Rica, the Sarapiquí River is a great place to discover from a boat.
- In the North Pacific, a boat tour in the Tempisque River will give you the opportunity to encounter a great amount of water and migratory birds.
- A boat tour in the Tarcoles River in the Central Pacific will get you close to the giant American Crocodiles.
- In the South Pacific, a boat tour in the Sierpe river will give you a better understanding of the mangrove habitat.
Family Resort Time
Vacationing to a Costa Rican resort with your toddlers can still make the trip an adventure, but also be a little more relaxing for parents. Resorts in Costa Rica are so diverse, you can choose from beach time with your toddlers, on-site hot springs, rainforest hiking trails, or mountain setting with breathtaking views.
Most of these resorts offer traditional amenities like pools, restaurants, and gardens to explore. Many resorts are built on hilly and mountainous terrain so understanding the layout of the resort along with the child-friendly amenities is vital to a relaxing time.
Costa Rica Escapes can assist with this in the planning process, so be sure to ask us! You will find beauty everywhere in Costa Rica, and you can’t escape nature and all of its wonders as you rest and your toddlers enjoy a family vacation in a controlled and safe environment.
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.