Last Updated: September 28, 2020
Since having kids, we have learned a lot about family travel in Costa Rica. We have a series of articles on family travel on this website, but this post focuses on traveling with a baby.
Before having kids, we had already lived in Costa Rica and traveled the country many times before. But things changed a lot when we had our first child. We went from carrying the bare minimum in backpacks to having several pieces of luggage bulging with our new “bare” necessities. We wouldn’t have it any other way, though, and have loved sharing this amazing country with our two boys. They have joined us on day hikes through the jungle, weekend excursions to the mountains, and even two-week road trips. In this post, we’ll share our experice on what to expect when traveling with a baby in Costa Rica.
General Info on Traveling with a Baby in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a wonderful place to travel with a baby. First off, it is very safe. There isn’t a lot of crime and you don’t have to worry about if the food and water is clean. If your child is on solid foods, feel free to let him or her taste the exotic fruits and even sample the local specialties.
There are also many baby-friendly things to do. From visiting the national parks and reserves, to hanging out at the beach, there are plenty of places to bring a baby. Costa Rica is also a fairly small country so it is easy to plan a trip that doesn’t require too much driving.
Another important thing to note is that the country is extremely family oriented. In particular, the culture loves babies and everything to do with them. You won’t get far on your trip before a friendly Tica (Costa Rican woman) starts oohing and ahhing about your gorgeous baby. She may even ask to hold him or her (more on this below). Once you have an understanding of how family oriented the country is, some of the idiosyncrasies about traveling with a baby here make a lot more sense.
For more information on why Costa Rica is a wonderful destination for families, read our post, Family Travel: Why Costa Rica is the Perfect Destination.
One of the big benefits of traveling with a baby or child in Costa Rica is that you get priority at the airport. After you get off the plane in Costa Rica, you have to go through customs and immigration before you are allowed to enter the country. A lot of times, especially at San Jose’s busy international airport, this line is long and can take a while.
If you have kids, you skip the line altogether and get to go to a special priority line.
Once when we flew into San Jose, I was carrying Sam, our oldest, in the baby carrier. We knew about the special line for families, but it was roped off at the time so we weren’t sure what to do. All of a sudden, a friendly Tica working saw us coming and stopped us from entering the regular line. She opened the family line, and with a smile, directed us to the immigration agent. We got right through immigration, with no waiting involved. The family line is definitely an awesome benefit of traveling with a baby in Costa Rica.
Most hotels in Costa Rica are small to medium in size and often family run. While you can find resorts that will have everything you need for traveling with a baby, part of the fun of visiting Costa Rica is staying at some of the locally owned places.
On one road trip a while back, we stayed in six different small hotels. Our oldest son was four-months old at the time so we needed a crib for him and also something for bath time.
We used Booking.com to make our reservations like we usually do. The good thing about this site is that you can see, first off, if a hotel allows children at all (some don’t). You can also see if they have cribs available. In addition, you can send messages to the hotel through the website to confirm crib availability, just to make sure one will actually be available during your stay.
This may not sound like a big deal, but the fact is, a lot of hotels in Costa Rica don’t have great information online. Since a lot of them are smaller, they either don’t have a website or it is very simple. Booking.com is nice because most of the hotels in Costa Rica are on there and it’s easy to see all the information you need in one place without having to search on multiple websites.
About half the hotels we stayed at had portable cribs (Pack ‘n Plays).
Many of the larger hotels (especially chains) in Costa Rica do have cribs and some smaller ones do as well. If you end up staying somewhere without one, you could always bring or purchase a simple Pack ‘n Play when you get here. However, keep in mind that depending on where you’re visiting, it may not be convenient to find one and it will likely be overpriced.
If your baby is too small to take in the shower, you’ll also need to be sure your hotel room has a tub. Tubs are not very common in Costa Rica; showers are the norm.
Higher end hotels are the most likely to have a shower with a tub.
If your hotel doesn’t have one, an easy solution is to buy an inexpensive plastic tub when you get here. These are readily available in baby stores and also larger big box stores like MaxiPali (a Wal-Mart company).
Most, but not all, restaurants have high chairs. They are usually not the plastic ones that you’re used to, but handmade wooden ones with Tico flair.
Holding Your Baby
Earlier we mentioned about locals wanting to hold your baby. One of the places that this happens most often is in restaurants. Especially in smaller towns, servers, and sometimes even patrons, will come over and ask (in Spanish) if they can hold your baby. They put their arms out and can be somewhat insistent, making it difficult to say no. Part of it is that they are being nice and want to give you the chance to eat (if you’re holding the baby) and part of it is simply that they love kids!
At first, we were really freaked out by this but ended up actually kind of liking it. Our oldest who this happened to the most loves meeting new people and we think being held by random ladies telling him how adorable he was could be part of the reason. Usually he had made friends with everyone, including the kitchen staff, by the time we left.
Car seats or booster seats are mandatory in Costa Rica for children 12 and under (up to 57 inches/145 cm or 79 pounds/36 kg). Here are the specific laws:
- Infants up to one year (up to 28.5 pounds/13 kg or 29.5 inches/75 cm) are to be rear facing in the middle seat.
- Babies and children ages 1-4 (20-40 pounds/9-18 kg or up to 43 inches/110 cm) can be front facing in the middle seat.
- If you have more than one child, the one who weighs less should be in the middle and the other behind the passenger seat.
- Children ages 4-6 (33-55 pounds/15-25 kg or up to 57 inches/145 cm) are to be in a booster seat with a back.
- And ages 6-12 (48.5-79 pounds/22-36 kg or up to 57 inches/145 cm) must be in a backless booster.
You can read the requirements here in La Nacion (translated from Spanish on this website).
Although Costa Rica has a car seat law, it is often not enforced. You will see kids unrestrained in the back or even front seat of a car. Families even sometimes ride with their kids on motorcycles when going across town. Still, as a visitor, make sure to be in compliance, as the fine for not following the law is ₡198,000 or about $400.
Car seats are available through all reputable shuttle van and rental car companies in Costa Rica for free or a small fee. They typically have convertible seats and booster seats that comply with Costa Rican requirements.
Keep in mind, though, that the exact models on hand at any given rental location will vary widely. If you are not comfortable knowing in advance what kind of car seat will be available, we recommend bringing your own. Most airlines don’t charge for checking car seats as luggage and the peace of mind is worth the hassle of lugging your reliable seat with you.
If you are renting a car, check out our discount to save money and get free car seats for your kids.
For lots more detail on car seats, read our separate post Car Seats in Costa Rica.
One thing that can be difficult when traveling with a baby in Costa Rica is the lack of baby changing stations. Although they are becoming more common at restaurants and gas stations nowadays, you won’t always find them.
Be sure to bring a travel-size changing pad for diaper changes on the go. We’ve had to change diapers in all sorts of places, outside restaurants, on park benches, and in the back of our SUV.
Breastfeeding in Public
While breastfeeding in public in some places is controversial, that is not the case in Costa Rica. In fact, it is the exact opposite here. The majority of moms in Costa Rica breastfeed and do so openly.
You will see women breastfeeding while shopping at the grocery store, in restaurants, and on the bus. It is culturally accepted (and encouraged) to not cover up. A fellow expat from the United States who also had a baby in Costa Rica told us that a Tica once asked her why she was covering up.
If you’re not used to breastfeeding in public, it can feel weird to do it at first. But if you’re only covering up for other people, you can let loose in Costa Rica. You will notice that instead of turning away, the locals will smile and praise you for it. After all, you’re taking care of that precious little baby—and they love babies!
We’ve discussed before how difficult it can be to find baby gear in Costa Rica. Basic items like diapers, rash cream, formula, bottles, and pacifiers are readily available if you forget something. Remember, though, that they might not be the brand you’re used to or will be expensive.
Anything specialty like organic baby foods, baby sunscreen, or insect repellent for kids is much harder to find outside San Jose.
Try to bring everything you will need from home to avoid wasting time on your vacation searching for things. In a pinch, the popular tourist towns usually have small shops that carry at least some baby products. You can also find the basics at most grocery stores or pharmacies.
For a detailed list of what to pack, read our separate baby packing list post. This has tips on the best ways to carry a baby around for activities, what to bring for different excursions, and even some airport and flying must-haves.
Those are our tips for traveling with a baby in Costa Rica. While vacationing with your little ones isn’t always easy, you won’t regret the extra effort you put in when you see them enjoying all that this amazing country has to offer.
Last Updated: September 28, 2020
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Have a question about traveling with a baby in Costa Rica? Ask us below.
Looking for more information to plan your trip? Check out these articles:
Planning a Family Vacation to Costa Rica: Essential tips and info to jumpstart your planning. Covers which airport to fly into, choosing destinations, and more.
Car Seats in Costa Rica: What to expect when it comes to car seats in Costa Rica. We give examples of some specific seats that are commonly available.
Best Beaches for Families in Costa Rica: See our top six picks for the best beaches for family travel.
Great post! Even though my kids are now in college, I remember fondly that when we lived in Turkey, how restaurant staff would play with our kids and hold our baby for the same reasons you mention… so we could enjoy our dinner and because they just love babies and kids. Even our gardener was much loved by my kids as he always took time to greet them, talk to them and play with them a bit. He also let them “help” him with his tasks. It was awesome once you got used to it… although, lol, it kind of freaked out Grandma and Grandpa when they visited; they just weren’t used to a culture being openly adoring, caring and protective of all kids.
I’m looking forward to early retirement in Costa Rica in a few years and I especially look forward to a family friendly culture that openly adores babies and kids… maybe I’ll get my kids to move down too!
Hi Brian, That’s such a great story about your family’s time in Turkey. We love how the culture is so loving of children and would never have expected to feel this way. Sure, at first, it was kind of strange and we kept an eye on Sam all the time, but now we’ve come to expect it and love it because we know it comes from such a great place. That’s wonderful that you’re planning to retire in CR. Best of luck!
Thank you so much for this great article, we are due our third baby early next year and would like to visit CR as a family of five – 8-10 week old, 2 and 4 year old boys, mum and dad! Our 4 year old is lizard and bug crazy and we would love to show him some of the opportunities out there before he starts school in September. Your article has really put me at ease concerning travelling when baby is so small, which area of CR would you most recommend we choose as a base for 2-3 weeks? Thank you
Hi Amy, Glad our article was helpful!
Just about everywhere in Costa Rica has lizards and bugs so your 4 year old will be thrilled. For some options for a good home base, Samara (https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/samara/) is a nice beach town with kids. It has calmer water for swimming and you can walk to get around. Another great choice is Manuel Antonio (https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/manuel-antonio-trip-planning/). It’s also on the beach but on the Central Pacific Coast where the rainforest is lusher and there’s more wildlife. From Manuel Antonio, there are a lot of options for day trips too, like to Dominical/Uvita for waterfalls and Jaco for more going on.
Also be sure to check out the Family Travel section of our site (https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/family-travel/) if you haven’t already. It has more trip planning info and covers things like car seats, packing, etc.
Hope your family has a great trip!
I will be in Jaco for the month of November 2016. We are traveling with our daughter who will be 9 months old. Where can I find a crib and high chair in Jaco?
Hi Adam, There are probably small baby stores in Jaco but we don’t know of one, and even if there is one, they might not have much to choose from. Your best bet is probably to stop in San Jose before heading down to Jaco. The Walmart right off Route 27 has portable cribs, high chairs, and a good assortment of other baby stuff if you need anything. That way you don’t run the risk of not getting what you need. Jaco does have a big Maxi Pali that will come in handy during your visit, but we have never seen a high chair or Pack n Play there.
Thank you so much!
Hi there, great to see your post. My sister is will be traveling around Central America by the time our little one is born. We are thinking about visiting them around Dec/January when our little one will be about 2,5months old. People out here in Belgium consider us crazy, but we have always loved to travel and held a bit back trying to get pregnant and not knowing if we could still fly by the time the trip actually was planned. Although our plan is not final yet, it is really reassuring to read that it is such a child-friendly country. I m only a bit worried on the whole packing since we are used to 2 60L backpacks only and I imagine our activities will be more limited since a newborn needs lots of sleep throughout the day…. I guess will have to appoint one “babysitter” every day: me the breastfeeding mum 🙂
In your opinion… is under 3months too small to travel Costa Rica or would you not worry? We ll have to go back to work afterwards and not really a chance to meet up with my sister and her boyfriend otherwise… kinda love for our future child to meet its godmother soon and kinda looking forward to a first holiday with our mini-me 🙂
Hi Tine, I don’t think you’re crazy at all. As long as you think you can handle the long flight, you will be fine once you get to Costa Rica. It will be an adventure and like you said, you will probably have to slow down a bit and skip some things, but you will still have a great time. We flew international when our son was three months old and it really wasn’t that bad. When he was just two months old, we took him on his first trip in Costa Rica to a little town called Puerto Jimenez a few hours from home. We hiked with him in the baby carrier, went to the beach and out to dinner. He slept through a lot of it, nursed in the carrier, and seemed very content. I think it can actually be easier to travel with them when they’re that little because they sleep so much and can sleep anywhere. Just make sure you have everything you need from home for him or her because that is key to not being stressed. We have a baby packing list for Costa Rica that will help you plan.
So, yes, we’d say definitely go ahead with the trip if you really want to and enjoy time with your family. We’d love to hear how it goes if you end up coming. Congrats on the upcoming arrival of your little one, by the way! What an exciting time. Your life will never be the same again 🙂
I cant find where to write you personally beside responding in this thread, so sorry for this! We are going to CR in January. We have 4 kiddos, the littlest will be almost 13 months old. I’m nervous to have him get the MMR shot before we leave since he is so little. Our others have all gotten it, but for some reason my gut is not wanting to let me get him vaccinated before we go…what do you think? Did your son get the vaccinations beforehand? Thank you in advance!
Hi Caitlin, Our son was born in Costa Rica so his vaccinations have been based on the CR schedule. He got his MMR at 15 months, according to that, so I don’t know why your 13 month old would need it before you come? I would just get it when he/she normally would.
Hi! I’m curious about the health aspects of traveling in Costa Rica. Risk of illness from exposure to mosquitoes and insect bites. Contagious diseases etc. can you speak to this and the precautions you yourself took with your child? How’s the healthcare system there? Any insight on this would be great!
Hi Erin, We have been living in Costa Rica for almost 6 years now and our son was born here. We feel quite comfortable with the health aspects of living and traveling in Costa Rica. Mosquito borne illnesses are definitely something to be aware of, however, a little prevention goes a long way. In recent years, the number of cases of the mosquito diseases has dropped significantly – See our Mosquitoes post for more information. So we recommend wearing insect repellent on exposed skin or clothing to cover up, but it’s nothing that should stop you from traveling here. The normal vaccinations are recommended. The healthcare system is pretty good. All major towns and many smaller ones have public clinics and hospitals that will see children (including foreigners) for free. And for anything serious, the San Jose area has wonderful private hospitals. Hope that helps!
Hello! Your posts have been super helpful and enlightening. We are traveling to Costa Rica within the next month. We will be staying at the Westin Playa Conchal and we will have our one year old on tow for her first international trip; very exciting! Just wondering what you’d recommend doing outside of the resort? We’ll have a backpack carrier, so hiking and exploring local culture will be of interest. I want to make the experience memorable without spending all of our time within the resort. Are there any reputable tour companies or areas which are a must see close to the Westin? I believe the Westin offers tours through Swiss Travel, but I don’t want to limit our possibilities to what the resort may offer. Is renting a car the way to go? Any information you can offer is greatly appreciated! Thank you 🙂
Hi KDB, That’s awesome that you’re coming to CR with your one-year old! Playa Conchal is a beautiful spot and a good beach for little kids.
Having a car will definitely open up more options for things to do since many attractions in that area are a drive away. For things you could do with your little girl, there’s hiking at Rincon de la Vieja National Park. A great wildlife rescue center is near there too and a really pretty waterfall that would be good because it has a sandy area and calm pool for swimming. In the other direction is Diria National Park for more off-the-beaten path hiking and Guatil pottery (they do demonstrations of how pottery was made in the traditional style by one of the indigenous groups). If you do decide to rent a car, be sure to check out our discount through Adobe. They can also drop off the car for you at the resort for free. Hope that gives you some ideas. There is actually quite a bit to do with a baby. Hope your family has a wonderful trip!
We are headed to CR with our 4 month old. I didn’t even think about vaccinations until I started reading the CDC site. He will have his 2 month shots but no MMR or Hep A and Typhoid. I am breastfeeding so not so worried about Typhoid and Hep A but did you have any concerns? Any advice would be very appreciated!
Hi Haley, We live in Costa Rica so I can tell you what our son has gotten so far. They don’t recommend babies get the Hep A vaccine until a year, and he’s not scheduled to get MMR until 15 months. I don’t think babies get the typhoid vaccine and from what I have heard it really isn’t needed for Costa Rica anyway. So I think you’re all set since your baby will have the same things as the babies who live here. If you have any concerns, though, you could talk to your doctor or go to a travel clinic. Hope your family has a great trip!
We are traveling with our 4 year old. I’m a bit of a freak about car seat safety. Do you know if most shuttle companies have the extra car seat anchors – not the one for the regular seat belt but the extra two anchors that really fasten down a car seat? We need a shuttle from San Jose to Manuel Antonio (one way) and I’m searching for the safest and most affordable option. We’ll be in the same scenario several days later from Manuel Antonio to Jaco for the ferry. Any and all info is appreciated. Thanks so much!
Hi Tiffany, I am the same way about car seat safety so I totally understand. To be honest, I haven’t been in a shuttle in CR since having our son so I’m not sure. I would bet though that they do not have those anchors. A lot of shuttle companies have the vans they use on their website so one idea is to try to look up the specs that way. It’s a little more expensive but if you’re interested in a private shuttle, we can ask the company we work with about it as part of doing the booking for you (we don’t charge extra to make bookings). To give you an idea of cost, they charge $179 for the trip from the airport to MA. Just reply to this if you’re interested and we can email you with more info.
Also, just to make sure you know, the ferry from Jaco to the Nicoya Peninsula is actually a small speedboat so make sure they have life jackets for your four year old or bring one. The big ferry boat is another option. That leaves out of Puntarenas, a little north of Jaco, but it doesn’t get as close to Montezuma and Santa Teresa if that’s where you are headed.
Love your post!! We’re bringing our 13 month old and 3.5 yr old and maybe grandparents. We’ll be there for about 8 days. I don’t even know where to begin!! Any thoughts about flying in San Jose and flying out of the other international airport? Particular itinerary with 2 kiddos?
Hi Jill, We recommend finalizing your itinerary before booking plane tickets because Liberia airport is really only more convenient if you plan on visiting Guanacaste/the Northern Pacific Coast. Otherwise San Jose will give you the most flexibility.
For an itinerary, you could start with our one-week Family itinerary in our Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries book. That suggests destinations and activities that will be good for your everyone in your group, including the kids and grandparents. Otherwise, you could see what appeals to you in our Destinations Summary Guide. This guide provides a short overview of all the towns we cover on our website with links to our full articles. Hope that gives you a good starting point. I know it’s overwhelming with all the choices, but CR is a great destination for families so you can’t really go wrong. Good luck!
Hi! I will be travelling to costa rica in a week with my 18 month old. We are bringing a carseat – do the cars there have LATCH? Or are the seatbelts the kind that lock? Or should I bring the lock band separate? Thanks for such a great post!
Hi Lindsay, I think LATCH is only required for cars in the US. They might be in rentals here, but I haven’t looked so I’m not 100% sure. We have always used the center lapbelt for our son’s car seat, but I will definitely check next time we rent. In the meantime, I would just bring the lock band so that you have it. Hope your family has a great trip!
Hello- I have a few questions for you. My husband and I are thinking about possibly coming to Costa Rica for our first time next month with our 8 month old baby- I pump milk every 4hrs and I’m just nervous about being able to find places to pump (electric pump) when we are out and about for the day (beach, hiking etc) -do you have any suggestions on where I could pump? I hope this doesn’t sound like a weird question – Im just nervous because it will be my first time traveling with our baby. Maybe I should get a manual pump? Also, do babies need any special vaccinations when visiting Costa Rica? Thank you for your help!
I just read your other comment about vaccinations so I’m all set with that part:) I should of read the comments before asking…
Hi Fawn, When I was pumping and we were traveling, I found it easiest to do it in the car. I had a manual pump but you could just bring a power adaptor for the car and plug it right into the lighter. We used to pull over at the beach and crank the AC. You can usually find a spot that isn’t too busy and people in Costa Rica aren’t too nosy anyway so it worked out great.
Thank you for your fast reply! Is it a good idea to rent a car? There aren’t any issues with scams or charging you for things unfairly ? I have never rented a car in another country before- usually I take public transportation. Also, the cars there have the cigarette lighter plugs to plug something in? It would be great to be able to rent a car…
Hi Fawn, Renting a car is very common in Costa Rica. In my opinion, it’s the easiest way to travel with a baby too. You do have to be careful with who you rent through, but there are good companies out there. We recommend Adobe because they have great customer service, reliable cars that are always 3 yrs or less old, and don’t have hidden fees. We get a discount through them to for our readers, which you can learn more about here.
And, yes, the cars here have cigarette lighters. Last time we rented, we used it to charge our phones all the time.
I’m sorry to bother you again but I just thought of another question. How do you travel to Costa Rica from the US with a lap infant? Usually I buy airline tickets from Priceline.com because I never find a cheaper ticket but they do not support lap infant prices- they charge full price for lap infants traveling internationally. What have you found to be the cheapest way to travel from the US? Thank you!
I didn’t know that about Priceline. We have only flown back to the US once with our son, but we flew Southwest and they only charged us taxes for his fare. We find Southwest to be the cheapest, not-super-budget, carrier option, at least to fly to and from Boston. You might have to book directly through an airline if that is how Priceline handles lap infants. Good luck!
I actually just booked a ticket for my 8-month old, as a lap child. I had to call United Airlines directly and add him as a separate ticket. It was around $190.
We are looking to travel to Costa Rica in March or April of 2017 with our 4.5 yr old and 1 yr old from NYC area. Right now Im interested in flying into SJO and driving/ferry/to Mal Pais. We both surf and want a hotel right on a beach where we can take turns surfing/watching the kids. Is this crazy drive with 2 kids? How long is the journey from SJO to Mal Pais? If you have a better suggestion for another location that might be easier to get to with kids we are open to it bc we didn’t book yet.
Hi Melissa, It’s about 5-6 hours from San Jose to Mal Pais via the ferry. We have done long car rides that like with our one year old before so I don’t think you’re crazy, but maybe I would feel differently if we had just gotten off a plane with him! You could always do an overnight somewhere to break up the drive too. Mal Pais does sound like a good spot for your family. Keep in mind that if you go for it that there is often traffic around San Jose, then the road gets slow after the ferry because it has rough dirt sections. We have directions from San Jose in our Mal Pais post and detailed info about the road conditions in this post.
Another option that would mean a lot less time in the car is flying into Liberia and going either to Tamarindo or Playa Grande. Tamarindo has a variety of breaks and is good for beginners too and Grande is more for intermediate/expert level. Plus these are only an hour from the airport!
We’re travelling with our 10 month old next month, and are debating between renting a car or taking taxis/buses. The car seat issue makes it challenging. Should we use public transportation, save money, and lug a 25lb carseat around, or rent a car with a carseat (or rent a car and bring our carseat)? We’ll be spending half of our time in San Jose, and half in Samara.
Hi Monique, If you have a baby, I would rent a car, at least for the Samara portion. It would be a hassle to lug around a heavy carseat and it will be so much more convenient not to have to rely on the bus schedule. Buses don’t run all that frequently in a lot of places so you will be waiting around a lot. If you’re only going to San Jose and Samara, you shouldn’t need 4×4 so can get by with an affordable sedan. Take a look at our Rental Car Discount if you go with this option. Our readers get 10% or more off and you can also get a free carseat. It’s totally up to you about if you want to bring your own carseat or not. What they will have for brands/styles might be different from what you’re used to so we usually tell people to bring your own if you’re at all concerned.
Another option is to take shared shuttle vans between the destinations. If you stay within walking distance of amenities in San Jose and near the center of Samara, it will be easier to walk to get around or take the bus locally. If you decide on this, we work with one of the major shuttle companies here and can get you a discount if you book multiple trips. There’s more info on our Discounts page.
Thanks so much for the recommendations and the links! Luckily, we found places in Samara and in San Jose that are walking distance to much. In Samara, we’re staying at a place in town that is only a few blocks from the beach. In San Jose, we’re staying near Parque La Sabana, which seems really close to lots of stuff. So we decided to not rent a car or bring a carseat, since we’ll be able to walk most places, and we’ve been told we can request taxis with a carseat. Our dilemma now is traveling from San Jose to Samara and back. We were looking at taking the Alfara bus (which seems to leave from San Jose to Samara at 5:30 and 12:00 noon– if MD means mediadia), but would welcome other recommendations if you have any. We’re trying to travel as light and as simply as possible.
Sounds like you are in good locations. La Sabana Park is close to a lot. I would be surprised if you can get a cab with car seats here but you never know. Other than the bus, you could take a shuttle van, as I mentioned before. Interbus has a San José to Samara option daily at 7:45 for $54 pp. I think it’s free for babies but would have to double check. Just respond to this if you’re interested and would like help with the booking.
I forgot to mention that they provide a car seat for free for the shuttle.
I LOVE YOUR BLOG!
It’s sooo helpful! Me and I my husband we wanted to travel to CR in June this year with our 10months old daughter. However, I have been told about the high risk of Zika Virus and Dengua Virus. (apparently this one is quite serious) Should we be concern about our little girl getting those? Should we post pond the travel??
Hi Daria, You should read our post Costa Rica and Mosquitoes: Tips for Preventing Zika, Dengue, and More. That has a lot of info and at the bottom, you will find links to more. Right now there are very very few cases of all three diseases, but it will probably pick up some I n June since that is rainy season. But I don’t think it’s enough to postpone your trip as long as you take precautions with repellent, etc. We live here with our now 1 yr 4 month old. Hope that helps!
My husband, 3 year old daughter, 8 month old daughter and I would like to rent a house mid-November to mid-December in Costa Rica at the end of 2017. We’ve been looking at AirBnb and prices seem reasonable (low season?). We want a relaxed trip and will do a little sight-seeing but not tons given the age of our kids. We’re thinking of renting a car too so we could stay out of town a bit. What would be the best area to rent this house in? We have a budget so nothing expensive. Thanks. Calm beach and a pool is a must.
Hi OSL, For a calm beach, the places we would recommend with young kids are Samara, Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste), or Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast. These towns are all really different. You could read our Destinations Summary Guide for a quick overview of the differences and then we have full articles on each place with more detail.
Hope that gives you some direction. When you go to rent a car, make sure to check out our discount to save 10%. Our readers also get free car seats if you don’t want to lug yours.
Hello! We are traveling to Manuel Antonio in a couple of months with our baby who will be eight months old at that time. I am interested in hiring a private shuttle to and from the airport. However once we arrive to Manuel Antonio I am thinking we can just use the buses as our form of transportation. Will I need a car seat for this or can I just hold my baby?
Hi Alexis, We know of a reliable company that makes the trip from the airport to Manuel Antonio. Let us know if you would like a recommendation and help with the booking and we can email you with more information. The shuttle company will provide a car seat.
For the bus, you can just hold your baby. This is what all the locals do. I’ve never seen a car seat on a public bus in Costa Rica.
We are considering taking a family vacation to CR in April ’18. We are interested in an All Inclusive resort as we will need 3 rooms. We will have a 6 month old baby traveling with us, so will she need any vaccinations before we travel? Any recommended All Inclusive resorts that you might suggest we look at? Some of the family members will be interested in available excursions, while others (seniors) might just like to sit by the pool. Thanks for any guidance you can provide.
Hi Jann, We covered vaccinations for babies in a comment above. See our response to Haley on December 5, 2016. As for all-inclusives, one of the best is the Westin Conchal. It’s on a gorgeous beach with sand made of tiny shells. There’s also the Four Seasons Papagayo. People also like the JW Marriott near Tamarindo, and the Riu is a less expensive option that is popular. All of these places will have excursions available to book so just decide based on which resort looks the most appealing.
Hi there, I really like your blog and would like some insight. Our baby will be about 4 months old in December 2017 and were interested going to CR . What are some great things you recommend to do in CR. I don’t know if its normal to take a 4 month year old to a rainforest, beach etc. If you have any car rental recommendations, budget friendly hotels etc. Thank you
Hi Ally, You should check out the Family chapter of our Itineraries book to get some ideas. It is definitely normal to take a four month old to the rainforest, beach, etc. Our son was born in Costa Rica and all he knows are these things. We took him hiking in Corcovado National Park when he was two months old and the same for the beach, and were visiting waterfalls with him when he was four months old. As long as you are prepared with what you will need, it is fine. I think we mentioned these things above, but a baby carrier is good for hiking along with an umbrella for sun protection. Insect repellent and sunscreen are important too. We have more tips on what to bring in our Baby Packing List post.
And traveling with a rental car is definitely the easiest way to get around with a baby. We get a discount through one of the major companies here and get free car seats. Here’s a link to our rental car discount page with more information.
Thank you for all of this great info! We are looking at traveling with our almost 9 months old in March, and probably heading to playa Hermossa and playa conchal, after reading your recs. You mentioned staying in six small, family Ron hotels that had trips available for Sam at the time, do you have any of the names of those hotels? I have been looking on booking.com and several do not have that as an option. I was really bummed that the economy hotel you recommended in Conchal said they didn’t have cribs- it sounded perfect otherwise! Thanks in advance!
Hi Erin, Take a look at Quinta Esencia B&B in Brasilito. Lovely place. We stayed there with Sam and they had a Pack n Play. Did you ask Hotel Conchal directly or just look at booking.com? It might be that their listing is not complete. I would be surprised if they didn’t have one. For Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste), I think Hotel ManGaby has one. If you are interested in Samara, which is a great destination for families, we stayed at Hotel Montelaguna and they had one too.
Great info! We are traveling to Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste in Jan. 2018 with our with 3 kids (2-5yo, 1-2yo). We’re debating on renting a car or just taking taxis as needed since we will probably spend most of our time being lazy at the beach. Do taxis require carseats too? If they do, do you think we’ll even be able to find a shuttle out of the airport without bringing all 3 seats on our own…. We’re used to traveling in Mexico where car seats are not enforced at all, so traveling with car seats isn’t something I had planned for.
Hi AMS, Not everyone uses car seats here but the police does enforce them and they are legally required so we think that they are required in taxis. Some may have them if you request them in advance, but for the trip from the airport, we would just recommend arranging a shuttle. Shuttles are required to provide them by law (be sure to request them) and will be cheaper than taking a taxi anyway. By the way, the driving here is a little crazy and I can’t imagine our son not being in a car seat for safety! Any tours you do will provide transport in shuttle vans and they will have car seats if you request them in advance. Again, local taxis will be harder but you could have your hotel try to find someone that can provide them. Hermosa is good too because you can walk around to get to a lot of things. Hope that helps. A rental car is a lot easier with little kids if you think you’ll use it.
My brother and I are coming to Costa Rica to do La Ruta ( a cross country mtb race). Our wives and kids ( 9 month old and 11 month old) are coming too. The race statts in Jaco and ends in Limon and takes 3 days. Our wives and kids will more than likely just stay in Jaco until we finish and then we have 4 days after to enjiy Costa Rica together. Which provence do you recommend? Someone suggest San Jose as it is central and another person suggested Manuel Antonio. Appreciate any suggestions.
Hi Adam, If they will have already spent 4 nights in Jaco, maybe head inland somewhere like La Fortuna. Fortuna has a volcano, hot springs, waterfalls, and a lot of family-friendly activities. It is also a reasonable distance from San José if that’s where you fly out of. If you would rather have more beach time, Manuel Antonio would be a very good choice. Both places are good options for travel in early November as well. Good luck on the race!
I just want to say thanks for all the information you provide in your blog, it really helped when I was planning our first trip with baby in tow! we had an amazing time- I thought you might be interested in our itinerary (since we used you for much of our inspiration!!)- http://lifeasabutterfly.com/costa-rica-baby/
Hi Hayley, You’re welcome! Glad your family had a good experience in Costa Rica, that’s great to hear. I remember following your adventures when we first started blogging so it’s very cool to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your article- good tips. Take care!
Hi there – thanks for some extremely helpful info! We are coming in November with out 8yr, 6yr, and 10 month old sons. we only really have 6 full days, so i was thinking we might just rent an airbnb near Dominical and do daytrips around the Pacific coast. There are some activities the older boys would love that are not appropriate for the infant however – ziplining, kayaking, white water rafting, horseback riding, snorkeling…most activities beyond hiking really. Is there any way to hire a reliable babysitter to stay with the infant for a few hours while we do some of these things? I’d be extremely grateful for any help/advice on that front. Thank you!!!
Hi Claire, It would be hard but not impossible to find a trustworthy babysitter. There are plenty of people around who could do it but you would need to feel comfortable with them obviously. Many of the options will only speak Spanish. Since there aren’t any organizations or anything that you can go through, your best bet is probably to ask whoever you rent through if they have a recommendation. Another option is staying somewhere where babysitting is an option like a resort. Jaco has a really great Kids Club (independent) that we have taken our son to but I’m not sure if they take kids under 1 year. You could check. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this is a tough one!
Hi Jenn and Matt,
Thanks for a really interesting and helpful blog! You’ve convinced us to go to Costa Rica and now we’ve booked our flight from Miami to San Jose on January 11th until February 1st. We’re bringing our two sons (4 years / 6 months). We like hiking (rather in mountains with a nice view than a flat scenery) and have put together the following itinerary. We would really appreciate your input on the route and places to sleep, before we’ll soon start booking our accomodation. We also need to rent a car, seems that a 4WD is the best option..
The itinerary so far: January 11-13: San Jose, 13-16: Sarapiqui, 16-19: La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano, 19-22: Tenorio National Park, 22-25: Santa Elena/Monteverde, 25-28: Samara or Santa Teresa (yoga), 28-31: Quepos/Manuel Antonio, 31-1: San Jose (flight at 2pm).
Some questions; – How far are the distances by car (or can we rely on googlemaps)? We don’t want to drive more than max 4-5 hours in a day.. – Is it a shame to miss out on Totuguero? – We’re a bit worried about the mosquitoes, but have found some good repellants for kids (Picaridin) and hope that the dry season is not as bad as the rainy season.. Any advice on accomodation regarding this? – Is it safe to bring and park our rental car in San Jose?
Looking forward to hearing from you – and thank you so much for a great blog!
Hi Marie, That itinerary looks good, but we would go to Samara from Monteverde because Santa Teresa is a very long drive. Also, the drive from Samara to Manuel Antonio is quite long (5+ hours) so you may want to plan some stops en route to let the kids run around. Jaco has a park/playground on the main road. You can rely on Google Maps for the most part, as long as you know you’re taking the correct route. You can use our post Road Conditions of Specific Routes along with Google to plan your routes between destinations in advance. Don’t try to fit in Tortuguero; it will be too much and is harder to get to. You will see a lot of the country with what you have already planned. Mosquitoes are better in dry season. If you stay in hotels that are completely sealed (A/C is best because the sealing will be good), that’s the best way to avoid them. Hotels with fans are fine too if they have good screens. Bringing your rental car to San Jose is fine, but be sure your hotel has secure parking. Driving there is tough because of traffic so you will probably want to walk once you arrive or take taxis.
We are planning to travel to Jaco in the Spring with our baby who will be 11mo. old at the time. I haven’t yet decided whether or not we will rent a car, since this will be our first time in Costa Rica and I am wary of the roads etc. I’m assuming that traveling by taxi won’t be an option though, because of the car seat issue. Any suggestions, or do you recommend just renting a car?
Hi Kim, We would recommend renting a car. Or if you stay somewhere in Jaco that is within walking distance to things (there are many options), you could take a shuttle from the airport (car seats are available through shuttle companies) and then just walk to get around town or take the bus.
Hi! We’re a family of five (3 boys, ages 7, 5, and 1.5 by the time of our trip) and have already booked our trip to Bahia Drake during spring break 2018. We are renting the Binya House for a week. It’s obviously going to be an adventure but my wife is a little nervous. I haven’t been to CR since 1999 (and not with kids) but have been reading your blog. (Thanks for all the info!) Given that Drake Bay is remote and most people don’t have THREE kids with them, I thought I’d ask for some additional advice:
1) is the water potable or do we need to buy bottles. How’s milk access?
2) do you think they’ll have diapers there or do we need to bring enough?
3) which tours do you think would be best? is the isla cano even doable with non-swimming kids? How about the mangrove tour? What’s the best way to get around since not all the kids can hike for multiple miles in the tropical sun
4) anything else we should really be prepared for?
Hi Trieu, It looks like the house you are renting is close to the center of town so that will be good for picking up groceries and things. To answer your questions:
(1) The water is good almost everywhere in Costa Rica, but for Drake Bay, we would make sure it is filtered at the house or get bottled. Check with the owner because many places have filtered water.
(2) Diapers- We would bring enough for the week. They will have some in the 2 small supermarkets in town but the inventory will be scattered so you might not find the right size, like the brand, etc.
(3) Tours in Drake are tough with very young children. For Cano Island, you would have to stay in the boat with the kids who don’t swim and it’s a fairly long boat ride out. If the mangrove tour you’re talking about is the one to Térraba-Sierpe wetlands, this is the river that people go on who are taking the boat taxi from Sierpe on the mainland to get to Drake. You could do it but the ride involves some time on the ocean, and depending on the tide, the ocean can get rough where the mouth of the river comes in and boats have had some difficulty in the past. Definitely bring some life jackets for the kids to keep them safe if you do this tour or take the boat taxi from Sierpe. They will have life jackets but only adult sizes. We have this life jacket for our son who is 2. Although many activities in Drake will be hard, the good news is the main beach right in town has calm water for swimming and you can always walk the path going south of town to visit the several secluded beaches for as long as the kids can go. You can see a lot of wildlife right along this path. Another idea is to have a boat take you to Playa San Josecito for the day to avoid hiking it. This is a good beach for kids because the water is calm and there’s a lot of wildlife around. You can also snorkel.
Definitely check out our Drake Bay post if you haven’t already. Hope your family has a great trip!
Thanks for the info Jenn and Matt! Unfortunately and tragically, I just learned about the Nature Air crash only 2 days after I wrote you. It looks like the airline has been suspended. Do you have any news on this? It seems like there’s a good chance that our Drake Bay trip will have to be cancelled or we’d have to find another way to get there. (We’ll probably lose a bunch of $ on the airfare as well as the airbnb we got in Drake.)
On a more positive note, is there a weeklong family-friendly excursion you recommend for our family of 5–including 3 boys ages almost 2, almost 5, and 7?
Thanks for any tips.
Hi Trieu, I didn’t realize that you were planning on flying. Yes, that crash was very unfortunate. The airline is up and running again now, though, as of early February. Here’s an article with more information. I think that the investigation into the crash is still ongoing. If you do change your plans and are looking for alternate destinations, you could take a look at the Family chapter of our book Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries.
Hi there! Your blog is very informative thank you so much! Ive been to Costa Rica once before and I fell in love! now i want to bring my partner and my baby who will be 7 months old. My question is regarding medical help. I noticed when I was there that hospitals seemed few and far between. If my baby ( or one of us) got sick, what would be our best option? are there walk in clinics available in most places? How much would they cost?
Also, doesnt your back just kill carrying your baby around in that thing? I have a hard time going across the street to the store with my carrier let alone weeks worth of traveling. Does the carrier let you switch it around so hes on your back instead? Im thinking that might be easier..Thanks so much!!
Hi Ashley, Locals clinics are in larger towns in Costa Rica if something minor happens and are very inexpensive. For anything more serious, you would probably want to go to one of the private hospitals in San Jose like Cima or Clinica Biblica. Your hotels will be the best resource for where to go. We recommend travel insurance, which will kick in in case anything does happen.
The Ergo we have does switch to back when babies are older (our son was still really little in the pics above. I can’t remember when we turned him but the manual has guidelines). It’s designed to prevent back pain and is actually super comfortable. I still carry him in it from time to time and he weighs over 30 lbs now! Harder than it used to be but I like to think of it as a good workout 🙂 Hope your family has a great visit!
Great website with really helpful info !
We are thinking of travelling with our 11 month old in March. Just wanted to do some research to know if there are doctors or pediatricians in the play del Coco area near Liberia if we ever needed to access one while there. As well as a major hospital in the area?
Also curious if you have ever had to access care for your kids and what your experience was like with the healthcare system there ?
Thank you !
Hi Rebecca, Playas del Coco has a local public clinic and there are probably other private doctors in town or not far away. There is a big expat population in that area so there is a need for English-speaking doctors. The city of Liberia has a couple of reputable private hospitals (Cima is one) for anything bigger.
We have used the pubic and private healthcare system several times for our son and ourselves and have been very happy with the care. The quality of care varies a lot in the public system depending on where you are, but we have had good luck with the clinics and hospitals near us. It is also so affordable. Private care is faster (no wait times) and it’s a lot easier to find someone who speaks English. Still very affordable too.
Great advice! We are thinking of going to CR with our 7 month old baby for two week in Feb/March. We are not planning to get a car – what itinerary would you recommend? Thank you. Justyna
Hi Justyna, You could get some ideas with the Family chapter in our book, Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries. That has a 2 week itinerary that will show you the diversity of CR but take you to towns that aren’t too far away to avoid very long drives in the car. The destinations are also good places for little babies- offers easier hikes and other activities that you could do for a couple of hours.
Hi! We are planning a trip in the beginning of April, with our son who will be almost 10 months. I would like a resort on or close to the beach, but also close to parks and/or rainforests, volcanoes and just activities for us to enjoy a few days of the 7 days we plan on being there. I am lost as to which region to look into, that will offer a beach, parks, and local activities. Any recommendations? Thanks!
Hi Dina, Most of the beach resorts are up in Guanacaste, but this is farther from parks, the rainforest, and volcanoes (this area is tropical dry forest and will be very dry in April and not too jungle-like). Maybe take a look at Manuel Antonio or Jaco. These are bigger beach towns that have hotels with a lot of amenities on or near the beach. They are also closer to the types of activities you’re interested in. Manuel Antonio will be lusher than Jaco that time of year. There is one resort in the Jaco area- Los Suenos Marriott. We have stayed there before and really enjoyed it. It’s great for kids since it has a kids’ club, kids’ pool, lots of restaurants on site, etc.
Hello, and thank you for the tips. I do have a question, what waterfalls are good to go with a 6 month old baby? I’ve seen that many waterfalls require tough hiking or long walks.
Hi Melissa, It really depends on where you’re visiting, but if you’re basing your itinerary on this, here are some ideas. We did the Montezuma Waterfalls with our son in the baby carrier when he was about that same age. You would want to access it via the hanging bridges and trail maintained by the zip line company (see our Montezuma Waterfalls post for more detailed info). The Costa Ballena has a few choices- the Uvita Waterfall is a good one and so is Pozo Azul in Dominicalito. You can get to these with just a short 5 min or less hike down. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a good option too.
Great post, thank you! I loved the description of the Ticos loving on all the babies. I’m pregnant and already thinking about a tropical vacation with the baby, since we weren’t able to go anywhere tropical this year due to Zika concerns. We’ve been thinking about the Santa Teresa area in early March….. but I wonder if it would be too hot there for a 6-month-old baby?? We live in the Rocky Mountains and aren’t too used to heat.
Hi Lauren, The baby should be fine in Santa Teresa. It is hot there but you can find some shade almost everywhere you go. Our baby was fine when we traveled with him to very warm areas of the country and where we live on the Southern Pacific Coast, it is hot and humid as well. It is a good idea, though, to get a hotel with AC for nap time and nighttime to take a break from the heat. We’d also bring an umbrella to provide shade when you’re walking around and a light sun hat for the baby.
Thanks so much for the reply! That’s great to hear. The advice about AC is right on. I guess you need to stop roughing it / cheaping it a bit with delicate babies in the picture, huh. (First kid, so it’s all a learning curve!) Anyway, love your website and thanks again!
My husband and I just got by with the traveling big again. We’ve decided we want to go to
Costa Rica with our daughter (she’ll be around 9-11 months) before I go back to work in August. We’ll have probably about 7-10 days we can take off.
Can you please give me suggestions on an itenerary for an outdoorsy family with a baby??
Hi Blair, With a baby that young, you have a lot of flexibility. If you’re interested in hiking, you could check out La Fortuna to hike around the base of Arenal Volcano and the Costa Ballena. Both of these areas have a lot of wildlife too, especially the Costa Ballena, and hikes that aren’t too long with the little one. Manuel Antonio is always a good choice with kids as well if you would prefer a destination with a little more going on. The Family chapter of our book, Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries, has some more ideas.
I love this Thank you for all of the information it’s very useful. We are hoping to go to Costa Rica next year with our baby when it’s about 6 months old. I have spent a few months in Puerto Viejo but with people coming to visit we think it will be better to stay in Guancastle area but we have read it is a bit more barron and not much jungle. Is there anywhere that you would suggest we stay which has nice beaches but good wildlife? Did you arrange your accommodation before you left or for long term rentals is it best to just arrange it when you’re there? Sorry for all of the questions. Julia x
Hi Julia, Other than Puerto Viejo, Manuel Antonio has nice beaches and a ton of wildlife. You could also look at the Uvita/Dominical area. This region has lush rainforest, wildlife, and gorgeous beaches. It is more spread out and less developed.
We did house sitting when we first moved to Costa Rica. If you want to rent long term, a good option is to arrange something for the first week or so when you get here so that it’s less chaotic and then to find something once you arrive. You can usually get a better deal if you’re here, although we do know people who used local real estate agents with success so it is possible.
I just want to say a huge thank you for your blog and all of these posts. It has really changed my mind about traveling here. We are thinking of visiting a friend in Nozara with a by then 6 month old flying from the UK. As this will be our first baby I was quite stressed at the thought of it all especially when she’s not even born yet lol.
I guess a lot of it is just thinking ahead and making it a home for 3/4 weeks.
Do you have any extra advice on Nozara at all?
Thank you so much again 🙂
Hi Vanessa, Glad our posts have been helpful. Traveling with a baby can be stressful but a lot of it is just making sure you have a solid plan, and it sounds like you’re doing that. Nosara is a good destination to pick. It’s popular with families and has a good grocery store and other conveniences if you need something. It also has a large expat community. You can read our detailed post about the town and what it offers here Nosara Trip Planning Essentials. We also cover it in the Family chapter of our Our Top 10 Itineraries book.
Hello. I am really enjoying the info on your site. We are planning a week-long trip to Costa Rica in November with a 10 month old baby. We have never been and would like some advice on things to do/places to visit with a little one, such a short hikes, parks with trails suitable for a stroller, etc. I would definitely like to visit La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano.
Hi Maria, We have some ideas for the best places to visit and things to do with a baby in the Family chapter of our book, Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries. That itinerary goes to La Fortuna, Nosara, and Manuel Antonio. If you’d like, we could also design a custom itinerary for your family, which could cover the specific details like short hikes, parks with paved and other trails suitable for a stroller, waterfalls you can take a baby to, etc. There’s more info about our Itinerary Service here.
Hello! I’ve read your blog inside and out..thank you for all of that great advice! Since you have a little one, I have two questions that no one has been able to answer (which might actually be my answer!!)
We will be traveling with our 9 month old. He is a very easy baby and we plan to do some short hikes in MA, etc. with him in the carrier. Is it crazy or wrong to think that rainmaker and Nauyaca waterfalls are do-able with a little one? I am dying to go to both but of course don’t want to get all the way out there and realize it was a bad idea. Did you do both of these places with your little one?
Hi Amy, Yes, of course! Do those hikes, you are not crazy. We have been hiking with our son since he was a couple of months’ old. When he was 4+ months, we started doing some fairly serious hikes (up to 5 miles round trip) with him in the Ergo carrier. We did the Nauyaca, the Montezuma Waterfalls, Santa Rosa National Park, Samara Trails, and many more. It’s not dangerous as long as you’re prepared with everything you need. We have a detailed list of what we used to use when our son was younger in our Baby Packing List post – scroll down to the hiking section. The umbrella is key and if it’s really hot, the wet cloths too! Be sure to get an early start to avoid the hottest part of the day. Also plan on extra stops for feeding and diapering, and bring a change of clothes for after since he’ll probably be sweaty. Hope that helps!
thanks for all the great info!
couple of questions for an upcoming trip with our 9month old :
Would you recommend bringing baby food from home or buying in the supermarkets in Costa Rica? We will be brining formula from home but she is starting to eat quite a lot more baby food now days.
We will be in La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio, would you say that a stroller would be useable in those two areas? Our baby does like to sleep in the stroller sometimes so that’s why I’m thinking it might be nice to have with for when we are out and about but don’t know if it won’t get used due to rough roads/sidewalks if there are any?
Thanks for your advice!
Hi Renee, You can get baby food here, but usually just Heinz brand and for some reason, it’s almost all fruits and no veggies. Most grocery stores don’t have organic but a couple of places in Manuel Antonio might (e.g., Mini Price Store in Quepos). If it were me, I would bring my own just to avoid having to run around to find what I wanted.
You will probably get some use out of your stroller in La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio. Walking around in MA is tough because there aren’t a lot of sidewalks and much of the road is steep, but you will still find some places where it is useful. Hope that helps!
What kind if milk is as available for toddler in costa rica?
Hi Deeba, You can get powdered milk or fresh whole or 2% in just about all grocery stores.
Hi Jenn and Matt – Terrific site that I have consulted many times. We made a trip with our 2.5year old 3 years ago, and are thinking about a trip late March/early April with our 5.5 year old and now almost 2 year old. We are trying to mix in a little familiar with something new, but a lot undecided. First trip we did a couple stops in the Nicoya Peninsula, mainly focused around Playa Samara, which we may likely return to, then made our way (after a quick out of the way excursion and splurge for 2 nights at Rio Perdido!), to the Dominical area, including a vist to Manuel Antonio. Flew into LIR, flew out of SJO.
This time, looking for some other suggestions… wonder if a Samara-Monteverde-Playa Hermosa trip for a shorter getaway, in/out LIR would be ok? Or, thoughts on Sarapiqui area, then out of SJO? Partner likes the idea of a beach visit before we fly out, which is why I thought in/out LIR may be better? She’d really like to get some wildlife in as well though, while keeping everything manageable with two youngsters in tow. Thanks!
Hi Gareth, The LIR-Samara-Monteverde-Playa Hermosa-LIR loop sounds like your best bet. You won’t have to drive too much with the kids and will get to see and do a lot. You’ll fit in the beach and also get a lot of wildlife and good activities for young kids in Monteverde. Sarapiqui is very off-the-beaten path and on the other side of the country so we’d wait on that one. It would be better paired with some time on the Caribbean side.
Great article – thank you. We’d love to take our 5 month old to costa rica but i’m worried about the bugs. Did your baby encounter much bugs? Did he need vaccinations before going, or heavy bug spray when there?Was he bitten, and by what bugs?
Hi Keara, We actually live in CR. Our son was born here (he’s 3 now) so we are very familiar with bugs. With a five month old, you can keep them safe outdoors pretty easily. We used natural repellent on his arms and legs when we went hiking. At the beach, the bugs usually aren’t bad. For vaccinations, you should talk to your pediatrician, but Costa Rica follows a similar schedule to the US.
Great article. Thanks for sharing! My family is actually moving to Dominical in two months. We’ve lived in Guanacaste before but that was a while ago and my memory is a bit fuzzy. I am giving birth to our second child in May. I am going through somewhat of a frenzy trying to pack and narrow down the overwhelming amount of newborn clothes we own! Yes, I know it’s very hot, but how many pairs of baby pants would you recommend I pack, and should I pack any kind of “feetsy pants?” I’m pretty sure I’ll look back on this question and laugh since my baby will most likely be naked most of the time; however, any feedback is greatly appreciated!
Hi Jaime, You won’t need any feetsy pants in Dominical but bring a couple of pairs in case you need to stay overnight in San Jose. I don’t think our son ever wore pants during the day time so those are probably not necessary. He basically lived in onesies. I’d pack a few lightweight blankets, though, just in case. Hope that helps!
Thank you for your post, a lot of useful information,we are planning to come on Feb 2019 with two children 2,5 and 16 months old, we are planning to stay in Santa Teresa, close to banana beach, I was wondering if we need a stroller and if it is useful there or we won’t be able to use it much in this area? Also do we need a car to get around there? If yes, are there rentals in Santa Teresa? Thank you
Hi Julia, You would probably use one of the strollers with bigger wheels, but make sure the wheels are good because the roads are dirt in Santa Teresa. It sounds like you will be close to town so you really don’t need a car unless you want one. There is a rental car company in town, but with young children, it would probably be easier to just rent one from the airport so that you have it the whole time. If you decide to do this, be sure to check out our rental car discount through Adobe. Hope your family has a wonderful trip!
Thank you for all this info. Super helpful! We are going to CR in March (flight booked RT to San Jose). We have 8 full days and debating what to do. Our kids will be 1 year old and 5 years old then. Our thought was to split the trip between La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio. Is there enough to do in La Fortuna with a 1 year old or are most kid-friendly activities for older kids like my eldest? Baby will be in carrier most of time I would guess while hiking. Should we split it 4 days in each area or does one deserve more time than the other? we were also thinking of Monteverde but not sure we have the time and concerned if we have bad weather, we may not see much. We are pretty adventurous and open to any suggestions. Any thoughts?
Hi Brigitte, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Splitting your time in La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio is a great idea with kids those ages. La Fortuna has a decent amount to do with a 1 year old in a baby carrier. Definitely check out EcoCentro Danaus, which is an easy way to see wildlife. The national park‘s Peninsula Trail is also great for young kids. You can read about it in our post (link provided). We also did Proyecto Asis wildlife rehab center when our son was about a year old. He got a little bored but it was still fun and your 5 year old would probably love it. You could add Monteverde but it might make it feel more rushed so the 2 destinations is probably better. Hope that helps!
Hello! My husband and I planned a trip to Osa Peninsula solo but I am in a bit of a panic over leaving my 2 year old for so long and want to bring her with (grandparents included). Our itinerary is briefly: 4/2 fly in, 4/3 beach, 4/4-6 Corcovado, 4/7-8 beach, 4/9 fly out. We planned this without our daughter in mind so before I go ahead and try to add her and my parents to the trip I’d appreciate your opinion.
1. I have read our trek through Corcovado is not toddler friendly, however, you indicated you brought your (at the time) infant). We would likely have her stay at the beach with grandparents during this but I would appreciate your input.
2. My husband booked our stay at Jungla Del Jaguar. I emailed them and they said a 2 year old should be no problem. This is a pretty remote place which is right up our alley. Looks like it is really close to Playa Josecito which you recommended as a family friendly beach. Do you have any knowledge of this place?
3. What was your kiddo’s favorite things to do in CR at age 2 (she will be 2 3/31 and we leave 4/2 🙂 )
Thanks for your tips and guides!
Hi Jessica, We did Corcovado when our son was very little (3 months old) so he just happily slept most of the time in the baby carrier. It was only a few hours’ hike too, which helped. If your daughter is OK with being in the carrier, I think it would be fine to do a half day hike and you would just need a good setup to keep her cool (umbrella, cold rags, etc.). But if you have the grandparents there, it would be much easier to just go on your own.
We don’t know much about Jungla del Jaguar. It looks quite remote like you said, but should be okay for your family. Just make sure you have everything you need since there aren’t amenities for miles. Definitely bring an infant lifejacket for your daughter for taking boat rides.
At 2, our son really like going to the beach and just being outside, checking out the plants, flowers, etc. I think your daughter will love it! Hope your family has a great trip.
Hi! We are travelling with our 9 month old. We’ve. We. Here for two weeks and he last couple days has gotten a bad diaper rash. Any tips you’ve learnt locally? Maybe the fruit? Heat? Diapers?
Hi Johanna, We were lucky with our son and didn’t have to deal with much diaper rash. A lot of times it can be from the heat and humidity. Lots of parents say to go without a diaper for a while until it clears up. Hope that does the trick!
Hello, We are traveling to CR with my children (5 & 2 years old) later this month, I am curious what bug repellent you recommend for young children that is effective and safe? Many thanks!
Hi Westie, We use Babyganics on our son. It works fairly well but in very buggy areas, we just put him in lightweight pants as those are the best for keeping off the bugs. Our Baby Packing List post might be helpful for you too if you haven’t seen it already.
Hello, a fellow Masshole here. We’re looking at a family vacation in July 2019, we would like to rent a house in Playa Grande again and bring our one-month-old. We were just there in November 2018 with our 2 yo, no concerns for him. Definitely having some trepidation for the newborn. What are your thoughts?
Hi Jason, Our son was born here and we have another baby on the way so we would say it’s totally fine to bring a one month old to Costa Rica. It might help if the house has A/C to keep him or her cool and make sure to overpack because it can be hard to find things here. See our Baby Packing List. If you need a crib/pack n play or other bigger items, there is a small company in Tamarindo that rents them. Here’s their site.
Hi we are looking to spend 2 weeks in costa rica with our 13 month old mid-late October. How worried should we be about the rain when planning our itinerary and getting around in a rental car? Any areas we should avoid completely?
Hi Puneet, You should read our Weather post, but in general, mid October is fairly rainy with some rain every day. Right at the coast it rains less than in the mountains. We’d definitely avoid the very southern Pacific coast (it tends to get rainier the farther south you go). The Caribbean coast would be a good option for some of the time since it is usually drier in October. Make sure to get a 4×4 to have the most flexibility to get around since roads are worse this time of year.
Hi Jenn and Matt!
My husband, our 18 month old and I are meeting my parents (who live in Brazil) in CR for the winter holidays. We are seasoned travelers who really love to get to know the culture of an area when we travel and tend to avoid tours and resorts. We live in the US and baby girl has been to Germany, Mexico, Croatia and Iceland in addition to various parts of the US including Hawaii so far. She is a great traveler so we are not worried about longer car rides and we love to hike with her. We have realized with a baby, though, that we need to be conscious of having easy access to restaurants and beaches with calmer waters. The caveat with this trip is that we will be able to go snorkeling together because my parents can babysit! Yes!! So we’d love to be close to that as well. We have to fly into San Jose in order to meet my parents and plan to stay overnight before heading to the coast, and then staying again in SJ overnight before we have to fly. We will have a rental car.
With that information, I would love your opinion on what you think might be a good spot for us to visit on the coast, if you had to pick just one. Since we love to travel so much and the world is so big, we might not be back to CR in the near future and I am having serious FOMO in making a decision! Haha. We are considering staying in one of these 4 areas: NW: Playa Ocotal or Tamarindo or Montezuma, SW: Uvita, Dominical or Quepos, or SE: Puerto Viejo or Playa Negra.
Any insight you have would be much appreciated!! Thanks for providing such an informative blog!
Hi Sasha, We totally hear you about having the grandparents around to babysit. That’s awesome! If you want to snorkel, that elimintates Uvita/Dominical, Quepos, and Montezuma. Puerto Viejo would be a good choice and it’s a little more off-the-beaten path. Tamarindo is a surfing beach and farther from the snorkeling spots in Guanacaste. If you want to do Guanacaste, we’d suggest Playa Hermosa. It’s a little quieter too and less touristy. It also has access to some smaller beaches for snorkeling and a decent selection of restaurants nearby. The main beach has calm water. Follow the link to our Playa Hermosa post for one great spot. Hope that helps!
We are looking at traveling to Costa Rica in late November for 3 weeks with our baby who will be 6 months old. Unfortunately he is not a fan of car seats. Could you recommend anywhere that we can go with lots to do in a fairly small area without much need for travel and also advise if there is much of a train network / alternative way to travel around without needing a car?
Thanks so much
Hi Jo, You should check out our post about the Best Beach Towns Without a Car. That should give you some ideas for places that have a lot right there without the need to travel to get to things. There are no trains here except in San Jose, only buses. Jaco and Manuel Antonio are the closest to San Jose. Also be sure to read our post about Traveling with a Baby in Costa Rica.
Thanks for the great post! We are heading to Costa Rica in Jan and we’re wondering what you thought we should bring for beach time for a 1 and 3 year old. We are doing air BNB in playa Blanca and playa flamingo, do you bring mats with you? Is it easy to find sand toys?
Hi Jennifer, If we aren’t too late, bring water shirts, sun hats, and kid sunscreen. It’s easy to find sand toys. We don’t use mats but bring those too kg you want to use them. Hope you have a great trip!
Hey! We’re trying. To plan a trip late April with our one year old! Just wondering if the pacific side caribbean side is better for wildlife and adventures!
Hi Leah, Both coasts are good for wildlife and adventures with a one year old. Lots of choices. We’d recommend checking out our Destination Summary Guide to start narrowing things down.
Hi, my partner wants to travel to Costa Rica early next year. My daughter is currently 6 months old. We want to travel and see as much of the country as possible as we would love to move there and not sure if this is just a dream or something we could really do. How are things there with covid? I am a worrier so worry about travelling especially now. Not sure even where to start with planning but am on maternity leave so would be a great opportunity to finally come and see the place.
Hi Jemma, Costa Rica is experiencing fairly high Covid numbers right now but it seems to be plateauing so hopefully by early next year, it will have improved significantly. We have a full post about Covid in Costa Rica here, which we update regularly. For where to visit, you could take a look at our Family Travel articles if you haven’t already. We have a lot of information in there.
Great article! We are travelling with our 8-month old. Will we be able to bicycle with her in a carrier strapped to our back or are there more stringent laws about this?
Hi Powlina, I don’t think anyone would stop you from doing that here. Glad our article was helpful!
I really wish we could use your Adobe hook-up! We have four children so I need a six passenger vehicle, 4×4, and nothing comes up on their site as meeting these two requirements. Sadly so!
Hi Rachael, There isn’t much for rental car options in Costa Rica for six people plus luggage, unfortunately. Vans are the only option through Adobe. They aren’t 4×4 but can still get around fairly well. You could ask Adobe if one of the vans would work for where you are visiting. You can find their email on our rental car discount page: https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/costa-rica-rental-car-discount/
Hope you are able to find something. Otherwise we usually recommend renting two separate vehicles.
Thank you Jenn and Matt! I am really appreciating all your wonderful posts here!
Hello! We have a few months off work and are considering going to Costa Rica with a 4 month old and a 2 year old. Our only concern is vaccinations. We will have all the routine vaccinations for both kids but obviously the 4 month old will be too young for some vaccines. Any recommendations on this? I know none are required officially but there are a lot recommended. Just curious how you handled this!
Hi Sara, Our kids were actually born here. Costa Rica follows a similar vaccine schedule to North America (assuming that is where you are coming from), so our kids and all other kids here don’t have all the vaccines when they are little babies either. Costa Rica is very strict with vaccination so 99% or more of people here are vaccinated, which helps a lot. You don’t hear about outbreaks of the diseases that those vaccines are intended to prevent. You can also just be really careful with giving your baby only bottled water if you need to mix formula but a lot of the food/water safety issues won’t be an issue since the baby is so young and maybe doesn’t even eat solids yet. I hope that helps. Try not to worry. Costa Rica is very safe!
Hi Jenn & Matt, Thanks for your awesome blog! My partner and I are from Rhode Island, have a 2-yr-old and are expecting another child in December. My partner is campaigning that we spend maternity leave (2 or 3 months, roughly Jan-Feb) in a warmer climate (southern US or possibly overseas). Costa Rica is on our radar and the Mal Pais area has been recommended. A few initial questions: if you can imagine what it’d be like to still live in the U.S. and to temporarily transplant your family to a foreign country to endure the exhaustion, logistics, etc. a newborn, does this seem crazy? If not, would you also endorse Mal Pais, and/or other parts of CR? We’d need a babysitter and/or daycare for our toddler. And third, possible to get our infant the vaccines that are standard for 2-month-olds in the US (DTaP, Hib, HepB, Polio, PCV, and Rotavirus) in CR, or not because you’re on a different schedule down there? Thank you in advance!
Hi Stephanie, I don’t think it’s crazy but there is a lot of logistical planning. Mal Pais is really remote and wouldn’t be my first choice. I think it would be easier to stay somewhere closer to San José. There are some nice options on the central Pacific coast.
You could get the vaccines administered privately I think. This would be in San José through a private pediatrician or hospital. Costa Rica follows the US schedule more or less. Not sure if you would need a referral from a local doctor? I guess I’d start with a visit to a pediatrician.
We do have a video chat service if you’d like to talk more about this. Here’s the link with more info: https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/video-chat-service/ Best of luck with your plans!
Thank you for this post and all the valuable tips you have shared with us. We are traveling to Costa Rica in January with our baby girl who will be 5 months old, for two weeks. We are discussing bringing our pram with us, because she won’t be able to use a stroller just yet. How did you guys travel with such a small baby? Do you have any recommendation for a travel pram or such? We will have our carrier (ergobaby) of course, but I would like to have the option of her being able to lay down and have a nap during a walk or so. We are planning to go to La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio.
Thank you for any tips you might have for us!
Hi Gabi and Mia, We didn’t use a pram for either one of our boys. We used only a baby carrier for hikes. Both liked sleeping in it. You could bring a pram if you wanted to, but just keep in mind that it will only be useful in a few places since much of the terrain in Costa Rica isn’t smooth. You would be able to use it at Manuel Antonio National Park. There are also some places for hikes/walks in La Fortuna where it would work. Here’s a link to our new post on Things to Do in La Fortuna with Young Kids with more info.
Also check out our Baby Packing List article for more tips if you haven’t seen it yet.
We hope you all have a visit in January!
Hi, I love your website and all the helpful articles and info! We are thinking of visiting in a week or two with our 2.5 month old baby. I’ve read this article but wondered what you thought about potential health risks to baby such as mosquitos etc? Is malaria a problem in CR? We’re desperate to go but equally do not want to be reckless with our baby’s health! Thanks
Hi Imogen, Honestly, the biggest thing we would be worried about traveling with a young baby is Covid. But as far as mosquito-borne illnesses, we wouldn’t worry too much. Malaria is very uncommon. Dengue is present but the numbers have been really low in recent years. January is also dry season when the mosquitoes are not as bad. Just be sure your baby is sleeping in a big-free space, either with a mosquito net or hotel that has air conditioning. Hope that helps!
Hi Jenn and Matt, I would like to ask you if you can give me an advice where to buy a portable crib near the airport of San Jose. Thanks a lot!
Hi Andrea, The most reliable option near the airport for a portable crib is a store called Bebemundo in the mall in Alajuela. Here’s a map link with the location: https://goo.gl/maps/HJGxAy7NvxbQdKd26
Great blog thank you. We are traveling with our almost 1 year old in December to Costa Rica. Did you need to get your little one any shots before going?
Hi Linzy, The common recommendation is to just make sure your child is up to date on all routine vaccinations.