Planning a Family Vacation to Costa Rica: Essential Tips and Info

Last Updated: February 28, 2023

As any parent knows, taking a trip with the kids is always an adventure. Routines are inevitably disrupted and everything that is familiar changes. But that shouldn’t deter you from planning an amazing family vacation to Costa Rica. With some careful research and planning, you can have a stress-free trip and create lifelong memories.

Over the years, we have helped hundreds of parents plan their family vacations to Costa Rica. In this post, we’ll share some of our top family travel tips so you can plan your own visit. We’ll cover making an itinerary, choosing destinations, hotels, and activities, as well as some more general information.

Planning a Family Vacation to Costa Rica

Selecting an International Airport for Your Family Vacation to Costa Rica

Getting the trip off to the right start is essential for having the whole vacation be a success. That’s why it is so important to choose the right airport to fly in and out of. You don’t want to fly into one airport, then have to drive six hours to your first destination, only to find out that the country’s other airport was three hours closer.

Costa Rica has two international airports. One is in Alajuela in the mountains in the middle of the country (San Jose/SJO Airport). This is the largest airport in Costa Rica. The other, Liberia/LIR Airport, is in Guanacaste, in far northwestern Costa Rica.

San Jose Airport

Since it is more centrally located, San Jose Airport is closer to many destinations. It provides easy access to the central Pacific coast, southern Pacific coast, and Caribbean coast. SJO Airport is also only about 2-3 hours from the popular destinations of La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano and the Monteverde Cloud Forest. So it’s a good all-around airport to fly into.

Liberia Airport

Liberia Airport, however, can be more convenient in some situations. It is much closer to beach destinations in Guanacaste/the northern Pacific coast (e.g., Tamarindo, Playa Conchal, Playa Flamingo, Playa Hermosa, Nosara, Samara). Similar to San Jose Airport, La Fortuna and Monteverde are also about a 2-3 hour drive from Liberia.

Tips on Deciding on an Airport

The point is that when deciding which airport to fly into, you should already have a fairly good idea of your itinerary to make sure you’re limiting drive time. Costa Rica is small, but mountainous terrain and bad roads can make for long drives between destinations.

Route 606 Monteverde Paved
The newly paved road to Monteverde (Route 606). Still cuts right through the mountains.

Something else to be mindful of is that most flights into Costa Rica arrive in the early afternoon. With kids, especially younger ones, it’s often easier to stay overnight near the airport to get your bearings before setting off again. Especially after an already big day of travel. Click here for the hotels we recommend near SJO Airport.

If your family is very active and you’d rather get to your first destination the day you arrive, this is totally possible with some careful planning.

If you’re flying into San Jose, some destinations that are a reasonable drive away are La Fortuna (2.5 hours), Monteverde (3 hours), Jaco (1.5 hours), and Manuel Antonio (2.5 hours).

If you’re flying into Liberia, the easiest is to head to the beach. Places like Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo, and Playa Hermosa are only 30 minutes to about an hour away. If you would rather start inland and end at the beach, La Fortuna is about 2.5 hours and Monteverde is 3 hours.

Keep in mind that we don’t recommend driving between destinations after dark because of road and weather conditions. The sun sets consistently around 6:00 p.m. in Costa Rica, so try to plan your driving accordingly. For more tips on driving, read our post Driving in Costa Rica: What to Know Before You Go.

Choosing Destinations for Your Family Vacation to Costa Rica


Costa Rica has a lot to offer and it can be hard to narrow down where you want to go. A good starting point is our Destination Guide. This gives a brief overview of all the destinations we cover on our website (almost 30 so far). You’ll get a feel for each town and its top activities, along with a link to a more detailed article.

Costa Rica Destinations

Other than drive times, it is important to consider if a destination is a good option with kids specifically. Costa Rica is well developed for tourism in general, but some areas are better than others when traveling with kids. The most popular destinations tend to have more kid-friendly hotels and restaurants, as well as activities that are good for families.

Family-Friendly Destinations in Costa Rica

Some destinations that we always find ourselves recommending to families include the following.

La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano

Most kids think Arenal Volcano is super cool, so this alone makes it worth a stop. Arenal is a huge, conical-shaped volcano that forms the backdrop of the small town of La Fortuna. Not only does it have the volcano, but it also has tons of other activities for kids. Hanging bridges, zip lining, hikes along the old lava flows, easy rainforest walks, river float trips, water parks, and many kinds of wildlife tours are just some of the many things to do for families. La Fortuna also has a good selection of restaurants, many with kids’ menus.

Read our post La Fortuna: What to Expect from Costa Rica’s Most Popular Destination for more info.


Monteverde is another popular destination that has a lot of choices for families. Some fun things to do with kids include cloud forest hikes, hanging bridges, a tram ride, night walks to see wildlife, butterfly exhibits, a bat exhibit, reptile exhibits, and family-oriented coffee and chocolate tours. Read our post Monteverde: A Forest in the Clouds for more information.

Monteverde Butterfly Garden
Releasing a new butterfly at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations. It has thick rainforest filled with wildlife like monkeys and sloths. Manuel Antonio is a great place for families because everything is located in one small geographic area near the beach. It also has tons of choices for restaurants and hotels. Read our post Manuel Antonio Trip Planning for additional details.


Samara is in the Guanacaste region on the northern Pacific coast. It’s smaller than Manuel Antonio, but has a nice downtown right along the beach with plenty of amenities. Playa Samara is a calmer cove so a great option for swimming with kids. Read our post Samara: Guanacaste’s Most Overlooked Beach Town for more information.


North of Samara, Tamarindo is a busier beach town with tons of amenities. You can stay near the center of town and be within walking distance or a short drive to almost everything. There’s even a mini-golf course in town. The beach in Tamarindo is best for surfing, but it’s close to other beaches with calmer water. Read our post Tamarindo: Where Paradise Meets Convenience for more details.

Playa Tamarindo
The main beach in Tamarindo

Playa Hermosa

In northern Guanacaste is Playa Hermosa. This is a quieter town with a scenic beach that is excellent for swimming. The small community has a handful of good restaurants and is close to Playas del Coco, with more options. It’s a good place to spend 2-3 nights. Read our post Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste): Costa Rica’s Northern Beauty for more information.

There are also plenty of lesser-known towns if your family prefers off-the-beaten path travel. But this list has places that will appeal to most families.

Read our post Best Beaches for Families in Costa Rica for some more ideas.

Choosing Hotels or Vacation Rentals for Your Family Vacation to Costa Rica

Once you have your flights booked and itinerary finalized, you can move onto reserving your hotels. The main things to be aware of here are location and amenities.


We have always found that being centrally located can make for an easier trip. In some beach towns in Costa Rica, you can be within walking distance to the sand. In many places, however, the beach is harder to get to, requiring a steep walk or short drive.

Similarly, some inland destinations, like La Fortuna, are more spread out. Hotels may be on one end of town, while the majority of activities and attractions are on the other.

So be sure that you understand each town’s layout before deciding on a specific hotel or vacation rental. You can find some great deals at places well outside town, but it may not be worth it if you have to drive a half-hour or more each way to get to and from your hotel.


Like anywhere in the world, many hotels in Costa Rica have pools, which almost every family is looking for. Some hotels have family pools, with fun slides or water features. If you have young kids, you may be able to find a pool with a nice shallow end where they can splash around.

Pool Area Arenal Manoa La Fortuna
The pool at Hotel Arenal Manoa is great for families. It’s huge and has a shallow end for kids and a swim up bar for adults.

Some hotels also have things like a playground (or one nearby), so if you have little kids, this can be worth exploring.

In terms of the types of accommodations available, many hotels in Costa Rica have villas/bungalows. These are completely standalone spaces so can give families a lot of privacy. Often you can find them with more than one bedroom to provide separate spaces for adults and children, which is always a bonus!

Most hotels in Costa Rica, especially nicer ones, do not have rooms with kitchens. If you want a kitchen, your best option is probably to get a vacation rental. All the major destinations in Costa Rica, and many small towns as well, have listings on Airbnb and VRBO.

Choosing and Scheduling Activities for Your Family Trip to Costa Rica

You know your kids best, so reading through different activity options will give you a good idea of which activities will work for your family. Costa Rica is an extremely family-friendly destination, so you should have no trouble finding things to fill each day.

Check out the Family Travel category of our website to get some ideas. If you would like any assistance choosing your activities, feel free to contact us through our Tour Booking Service.

Diamante EcoPark WIldlife Sanctuary
Visiting a wildlife sanctuary in Guanacaste

For how to schedule activities, we have found from helping people that one to two a day works well for most families. Any more than that will be rushed, unless your family is very active and doesn’t mind going from one thing to the next right away.

Although many parents fear being overbooked by reserving things in advance, we have found that it helps people get organized if they have a solid plan for how each day will go. Usually that means making reservations in advance for the one or two daily activities, with free time in between.

It can be very difficult in Costa Rica to book things last minute. So having an itinerary in place with what you will be doing each day and what time it will start and end can make the trip go a lot smoother. With pre-planning, you also won’t be spending your precious evenings figuring out what will happen the next day. We all know that getting the kids to eat, bathe, and go to bed is challenging enough!    

Transportation Options for Families

Rental Car

For most families, renting a car is the best way to get around. With at least four people, it’s usually the most affordable too. Having a car is also nice because it gives a lot of flexibility to make stops and go at your own pace. With kids, especially, pulling over to take in a view or check out a waterfall can be key to keeping everyone happy during a long drive.

Tip: If you’re a family of four, a regular mid-size SUV should give you enough space for yourselves and your luggage. An SUV will give you higher clearance if you’re visiting anywhere with dirt roads.

With a family of five, we usually recommend a seven-passenger SUV. A standard five passenger probably wouldn’t have enough room for your luggage. So going the next size up is usually best.

You won’t need 4×4 for many destinations in Costa Rica unless you plan on exploring. It can be nice to have, though, because it lets you go on smaller dirt roads that often lead to remote beaches or trails. For a list of places where you need four-by-four, see the FAQs section of our Rental Car Discount page.

If you decide to rent a car, you can check pricing and availability for your dates on our Rental Car Discount page. Our readers get 10% off through Adobe Rent a Car plus extras like free car seats for kids, a complimentary second driver, and emergency cell phone.

Shuttle Transfers

Shuttles are also a great way to get around the country if you’d rather not drive. They can be very affordable too.

Shared shuttles go between the bigger destinations and cost around $45-60 per person per trip. Younger kids are usually half-price. These shuttles take a little longer because they make stops to pick up and drop off other passengers. They are a good option if your family has three or fewer people.

For four or more people, private shuttles are usually less expensive or about the same price. And they are a lot more convenient and direct. They will pick you up at a time you choose and make quick stops along the way for you as part of the service. You’ll also get to chat with the van driver, who can teach you some interesting facts about his or her home country.

If you need a shuttle, we’d be happy to help book you with one of the reliable companies that we work with. Check out our Private Shuttle Bookings page for pricing and to get more info.

Car Seats

Car seats are required for children 12 and under up to 57 inches/145 cm or 79 pounds/36 kg. Rental car companies offer them (sometimes free, sometimes for an additional charge). You can request them when you book a shuttle van transfer as well, for no charge.

For lots more information, read our separate post Car Seats in Costa Rica.

Packing Tips 

Once you have your itinerary set and all your bookings made, all that is left to do is dream and pack!

Packing Overview

Despite its small size, Costa Rica has several different microclimates so it’s important to pack for each region you’ll be visiting. In Monteverde, for example, temperatures can be quite cool (into the 60s F/15-18 ˚C at night), while most beach towns are hot and steamy. You also may need some special gear for visiting remote destinations, like a flashlight or covers to waterproof your luggage.

Boat Taxi Landing Drake Bay
Beach landing in Drake Bay – best to have some dry bags for electronics for this adventure!

For a detailed packing list that will get you ready no matter where you are visiting, refer to our post, Packing for Costa Rica: The Essentials.

Baby Travel

If you will be traveling with a baby, there’s a lot to know about Costa Rica. Most hotels do not have bathtubs, for example, so that can be hard with little ones. We have two articles that should help. Our post, Traveling with a Baby in Costa Rica, will let you know what to expect. And our post Packing List for Traveling with a Baby in Costa Rica will help you sort out what to bring and what you can leave at home.

Travel Insurance

We know that traveling with kids isn’t always predictable. Because of this, we usually recommend getting travel insurance so that you’re covered in case you need to cancel your trip or someone gets sick and needs medical care while you’re there.

There are many insurance companies to choose from. One reputable option that we have used ourselves is Travelex. They have plans that cover trip cancellation, interruption, and delays as well as emergency medical, evacuation services, and Covid-19.

*Note: If you purchase a Travelex insurance policy through the link above, we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps support our site and allows us to keep this information up to date. Thank you! 

Final Thoughts

We hope this post has helped you with the planning for your family vacation to Costa Rica. Although organizing a big trip can be overwhelming, these steps should get you on your way to having a stress-free vacation with the kids.

Last Updated: February 28, 2023

Looking for more information to plan your family vacation to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:

Family Travel: Why Costa Rica Is the Perfect Destination – Learn what makes Costa Rica the perfect first international trip with kids.

Rental Car Discount: For families, renting a car is usually the most affordable and practical way to get around. Check out our discount to save at least 10% and get free car seats and other perks.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens: Wildlife Up Close A fun day trip from San Jose is La Paz Waterfall Gardens. The many wildlife exhibits and lush gardens here make for a perfect day, both for kids and adults.

Related Posts

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Using ATMs and Credit Cards in Costa Rica
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Sustainable Hotels in Costa Rica
Coati Kids Saving the Rainforest
Kids Saving the Rainforest
Uvita Waterfall Guide
Uvita Waterfall: Catarata Uvita


  1. Hello! I am hoping I can reach out to you for an honest opinion about the weather. My family of 4 has a trip coming up in less than 2 weeks to La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Quepos. I know coming in November we are at what is usually the tail end of the wet season. But I think even on your website I read this is a great time to visit! I have read that typically there will be rain, often just quick showers in the afternoon or at night, and some days dry. However yesterday we checked the weather for La Fortuna and Quepos. Unfortunately none of my weather apps can find Monteverde. We were very concerned to see rain and thunderstorms predicted not only every single day, but more concerning, nearly all day long (every hour, about 70% chance) for the next 2 weeks. If this were correct, this would be really awful for us, especially traveling with kids. Of course we expect some rain, but this amount of rain would really limit how much we can do and enjoy our trip. Obviously a trip like this costs a lot of money. I am hoping you can give me an honest opinion of what is going on with the weather and what you are seeing. I hope it is ok to reach out to you for this advice. I have used your website a lot in our planning. Thank you so much, I really appreciate this!

    1. Hi Autumn, Not sure if you have heard, but right now, Costa Rica is experiencing the effects of Hurricane Eta, which hit Nicaragua as a Cat. 4 last Tueday. It has been raining here almost non-stop since then and is predicted to continue for a while still.

      The weather forecast in Costa Rica is only reliable in the very short term. Forecasting is done a lot differently here – you can check out our Weather post for more details on that. So whatever it says in the long term for your trip dates isn’t going to be reliable at all. Assuming there are no more tropical storms, the weather should be pretty good for your trip. Monteverde is the one place that could be a little rainy since it tends to get more rain compared to other regions. But you should still have some decent weather there, especially in the morning. Hope that helps make you feel more comfortable. We will cross our fingers for good weather for you! We actually have a trip planned to Rincon ourselves at the end of the month since it’s normally a fine time to travel.

  2. Hello! My family (kids ages 6 and 4) are hoping to spend 4-5 weeks in Costa Rica in either July or August. My husband and I work remotely, so we want to take advantage of that while trying to get a feel for living in another country (like you, our dream is to one day uproot and move abroad!) We are exploring areas, and I wondered if you had any tips on areas that would make a good home base for that time of year. We’ll need WiFi for the work week, and will be renting a car so we can explore on the weekends. I’d love to find a rental house near a great beach for families, and also near a market for groceries. Any advice? Thank you so much for creating this website! I’m pouring over it and getting so many good tips.

    1. Hi Jenn, We actually just came out with an article today that should address your questions: Planning a Long-Term Visit to Costa Rica. We talk about the central Pacific coast and Guanacaste being good home bases in that article, and that’s true in July/August as well, since those areas are less rainy than many others. They also have good internet. Hope that helps!

  3. Any suggestions for a place in Costa Rica for a 6month old? We’re staying at Arenas Del Mar in manual Antonio for 4 nights, looking for another hotel/destination for the next 4 nights

  4. Hello –
    Based on your about page history, I was curious if you still have any contacts in the southern Pacific side near Uvita/ OjoChal. My wife and I are taking the family down for a month starting this November. As our children are still pretty young (6yr old twins and a 4yr) it would be great to have the option for some childcare/education during our trip. If you have any recommendations that would be very much appreciated.

    Any general recommendations for fun activities for young kiddos, safe swimming beaches etc.. in this region would also be very much appreciated.

    thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Dave, You should join the Facebook group, Costa Ballena Bulletin Board. If you search on there, you’ll see some posts about small Montessori type schools. There is also a new day care. I think it’s called King Frog.

      For things to do with young kids, most of the beaches have riptides but if you go at lower tides, they can splash in the shallow water. Playa Arco does have calmer water. Hacienda Baru is a nice place for a fairly easy hike to see wildlife. There are more options in Manuel Antonio as well. Hope that helps.

      1. Awesome – thanks for the info!

        sorry about the double post – I guess I had too many tabs from your site open when i made the first post and lost which page I was on – but its more ad revenue right? 😉

        thanks again!

  5. Hi, I was supposed to travel in early January ‘21 with my transfer, but with the Omicron variant, Canada has imposed Extra quarantine requirements. So I am considering rescheduling to either the last two weeks of August or next Christmas school break (the last two weeks of December ‘22). Unfortunately it seems like I’m locked into my destinations which includes a few days at Manuel Antonio, a few days at Arenal, a couple of days in Monteverde and a few days in Samara. Please give me your honest opinion as to whether this would still be a good itinerary during rainy season. Can we see turtles in August on the Pacific side? And when you say it’s crowded at Christmas, how crowded is it (I don’t want it to be like Disneyworld, lol?) ) Also, I’m planning on using shuttles, Are they 4 x 4 or could they have issues with muddy roads in rainy season? Thanks for your site!

    1. Hi Susan, Manuel Antonio usually has decent weather at the end of August and the other destinations should be fine that time of year. It’s not peak rainy season. If it were us, we would come in August over Christmas.

      If you’re nervous about the weather, you could reschedule for December. It is busy but most people don’t find it to be too much. Some really popular things like Manuel Antonio National Park you may want to avoid.

      Yes, you can see turtles near Samara in August. There are local nesting beaches and also Playa Ostional to the north has mass nesting events called arribadas.

      The shuttles will be fine during rainy season. Don’t worry!

      Hope that helps you decide.

  6. Thank you for all of your fantastic overviews! We are contemplating spending a month in Costa Rica this summer with our 7-year-old. We’d work remotely for a couple of the weeks and then plan to travel around. We were looking at the Guanacaste area as our “home base” and were wondering if there are any summer camp type things offered for kids. We saw one in Tamarindo, but would love to be closer to Playa Flamingo if anything like this is offered in the more Northern beach areas? I’ve spent some time googling but haven’t run across anything, so thought I’d check in with local experts:-) Many thanks!

    1. Hi Jamie, The Sailing Center in Potrero does day camps periodically so you could check with them. Some of the schools in that area like CRIA or La Paz may too; we’re not sure. We don’t know much about it but the Hide Out by Good Vibes Rock School does camps during holiday weeks. They also do regular workshops and classes. There’s also the Elif Summer Camp at Las Catalinas (last two weeks of July). Hope that helps!

  7. Hello, I have been reading a few of your blogs and they have been helpful. My husband and I are looking to go to costa rica mid August, but we are lost on what we can do. We have a 2 year old daughter who loves the out doors, nature, animals and swimming. We would love to zip line, do the cloud forest, see sloths/animals and snorkel. I am not sure if any of this is possible with a 2 year old. Can I please get some insight and i am open to any other suggestions you have. We are looking to do a 10 day trip. also from what I am reading vaccinations are not required to enter the country but i’m wondering about the tours. any thoughts on that? I know a negative test is needed to travel and enter the country tho. Thank you so much

    1. Hi Claudina, Costa Rica has gotten rid of all the Covid entry requirements so you don’t need a negative test or vaccination to do tours or go to restaurants. Our Entry Requirements post has more information.

      For an itinerary with a 2 year old, you could take a look at our Family Itinerary. You could add on the cloud forest too. Since you’re looking for something very specific, you may want to consult with someone about the itinerary. We do have a video chat service if you are interested. We’ve been helping a lot of people develop an itinerary and recommend hotels to them as well as tours. We could help you figure out where to go for snorkeling, swimming, kid-friendly zip lining, and lots of nature/wildlife. Here’s a link to our page with more info.

  8. Hello –

    I’m considering a week-long trip to CR in February 2023. It would be two families of three (including 2 5 year old kids). We were thinking of renting a house in Playa Panamá, Guanacaste for a week, because we like the idea of being able to settle into one place and it seems like that area has many nice, calm beaches that are good for kids. In addition to the beach, we’d love to do nature, animal, and adventure activities that seem to be centered in Arenal. Would we be making a mistake to stay in one house for a week, or can we (1) find those things near Playa Panama too or (2) make day trips to Arenal. Thanks!

    1. Hi Erin, It would be much easier to split your time between La Fortuna and Playa Panama. La Fortuna is too far to do as a day trip, especially with young kids. There isn’t much to do in the Playa Panama area aside from the beach so that’s probably your best option if you want to do nature and adventure activities. Just be sure to fly in and out of Liberia Airport or into San Jose and our of Liberia to limit your driving.

  9. Hello Jenn and Matt, I am loving your blog, it has been so helpful for us as we plan an upcoming trip with our family.

    We have a 3 year old and a baby on the way. We are hoping to come in March or April and stay for 1-2 months. Every time I think we’ve decided on a place to call home (temporarily) I read another post of yours and decide we should go there!

    Not a bad problem whatsoever but it is making it hard for us to narrow down some places.

    I have heard Guanacaste is quite hot, dry and brown in the months we are looking to come. What are your thoughts on this?

    Our baby will be 4-5 months at the point of travel and our toddler almost 4. We would like to have a nice mix of beach, wildlife and hiking/nature exploring.

    Do you think it’s wise to divide up our time into 2 different places and do small trips from there?

    Currently we are thinking a bit of time guanacaste (Playa Coco/ Famingo/ or Samara) and the other near Manuel Antonio.

    I also read that Uvita or jaco could be a good place to base ourselves on the southern coast.

    Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated. We would like to be close to access medical care in case it’s needed as well.

    Lastly would it be quiet expensive to try and rent a car for the 1-2 months?
    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Hi Alanna, I think I would divide the time since you have two months.

      Guanacaste is very hot and dry in March/April so we would probably avoid that. Samara is still nice since it has more forest but it will be really hot. Manuel Antonio stays fairly green so that’s a good option. And it has a lot of wildlife and is really good with kids. Jaco is a nice place for young families. It’s on the central Pacific coast and only about 1.5 hours from San Jose so close to good doctors. A lot of people like Uvita on the southern Pacific because it has a ton of thick jungle and beautiful beaches, but it is quite remote and far from things.

      It would be nice to have a car, especially with kids. You could try getting a quote through our Monthly Rental Car Discount and see what kind of rate they can give you. It will be high season during your visit when cars are more expensive.

      I hope that helps! Feel free to reach out through our video chat service if you’d like to talk more specifics.

  10. Hello,
    I’ve been reading through a lot of your guides and love how thorough they are! Unfortunately, as an educator, I’m pretty restricted on dates that we can visit Costa Rica.

    I would love for my family to spend a week in La Fortuna area but the earliest we could do that is the last week of May, which is clearly into the rainy season.

    We certainly do not mind being in the rain but is it going to be raining so much that we can’t go out and enjoy the activities around Arenal? Do places around Arenal close down due to rain? Are the roads from San Jose to Arenal going to be drivable if it’s raining?
    We are also thinking about looking at Monteverde for a day or two, which I know you’ve stated is generally wetter than other areas anyway. So, same questions for Monteverde and the ability to drive there from La Fortuna.

    Thanks for all your information!

    1. Hi Aaron, Late May is still early in rainy season so usually the weather is still pretty good. Arenal has different weather anyway from the Pacific slope. It’s usually nice then, with some rain but not enough to get in the way of your plans. Monteverde is rainier, but again, still fine that time of year. Be sure to spend at least a couple of nights there if you decide to go as it’s a little too fa to do on a day trip from Arenal.

  11. How can you do laundry on a 2
    Week trip that includes La Fortunate, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio and Osa Peninsula? A list of laundry facilities or hotels that do laundry for you would be helpful.

    1. Hi Julie, It’s easiest to stay in an Airbnb/vacation rental if you want to be able to do laundry. Otherwise, hotels can do it for you for an additional charge. If you’re not staying anywhere too fancy, it’s usually very affordable. Otherwise, some towns have laundromats. We don’t have a list to share, though.

  12. Hello Jenn and Matt,

    Thank you for your extremely helpful site. It has been so instrumental in planning our family’s first international trip. As I’m typing these questions I’m realizing I may need to book a video consult as I have a lot of questions for you!

    I see above that you recommend booking activities in advance and that last minute booking can be hard in Costa Rica. We are taking a somewhat off the main tourist route first trip to Costa Rica: Punta Uva, Turrialba, San Gerardo de Dota, Drake’s Bay, and Uvita. We are also going in the last week of July/first week of August, so not the very busiest season. My daughter and I are fast-travelling extroverts who wants activities every day, but my husband and son are introverts and I’m concerned I’m going to over-book for them. I’d like to book a few of the main activities (maybe every other, or every third day) or book daily activities but leave some flexibility for the introverts to not join the extroverts, but I don’t know how possible that will be. For things like snorkle tours, boat tours, wildlife refuges, zip lining, guided hikes in these less crowded locations (with the exception of Drake’s Bay as our hotel is handling activities for that portion of the trip), do you think we can leave some scheduling to the last minute?

    When we say “ahead of time” how far ahead would you book for a trip in July/August? Would two months ahead be appropriate?

    I additionally am concerned because we have read that in the South Caribbean we can surf if the water is rough and snorkle if it’s calm, so how does that work with planning ahead? It seems that we can rent surf stuff easily, but I assume we need to book surfing lessons/snorkle trips ahead of time. Any guidance on either of these questions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Carina,
      It is nice to have some flexibility but can also be really frustrating trying to set up tours last minute in the afternoons or evenings when you would rather be relaxing. Some things like surf lessons or visits to wildlife refuges can be more last minute and flexible. Other tours like snorkeling, boat tours, zip-line, etc. are good to book in advance. This gives the company time to line up the guide/boat/equipment/transportation. For the Caribbean coast specifically, the seas can vary a lot from day to day. We usually recommend booking the boat tour or snorkel trip on the first free days you have in case they need to be rescheduled for a day or two later because of the conditions. So overall yes, good to have the most important tours scheduled for some structure and add from those as you go.

  13. Thanks for your helpful post! We have 3 boys who will be 9, 7 and turning 4 this summer. I know the two older will be able to do lots of fun stuff, but will the 4yo not? Zip lining for example? I’m wondering if it makes more sense to wait a year or two so we are all able to get involved in the fun!?

    1. Hi Jessie, You can still do a lot with a 4 year old (our youngest is 4). The main limitation is you probably can’t do long hikes or most adventure activities. If they are adventurous, there is a good zipline option for very young kids in Arenal through EcoGlide. Even 2 year olds can go (they go tandem with a guide). You’ll be able to do short hikes, some waterfalls, pontoon boat tours to see wildlife, chocolate/coffee tours, wildlife rehab tours, etc. We help a lot of young families planning trips. Feel free to reach out through our video chat service if you’d like to talk more specifics.

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