12 Day Costa Rica with Kids Tour: Cloud Forest, Volcano, Rainforest, Beach
Tour Length: 12+ Days
Airports: San Jose
Destinations: Cloud Forest Arenal Volcano Rainforest Caribbean Coast Beach
All tours include a Private Naturalist Guide for your family
Day 1: ARRIVAL IN COSTA RICA – BIENVENIDOS!
Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose. Hotel shuttle to a nearby quiet hotel.
Days 2-3: MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST
Your private guide picks you up in the morning for the transfer to your first location (3 hrs). The tour begins! Monteverde is a cloud forest community settled by Quakers that boasts a large forest preserve with some of the most diverse plant and animal life anywhere in the world. You have 2 nights here.
Choose your optional activities with your guide. A naturalist guided hike at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, neighboring Santa Elena Cloud Forest Preserve or new Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge is a must. The frog zoo is a hit with younger kids and everyone enjoys the hummingbirds zooming around the Hummingbird Gallery. Families with older kids may enjoy the adventurous horseback ride to San Luis waterfalls. Stop in at CASEM, a women’s cooperative selling local art and souvenirs. Check out the cloud forest canopy from a bird’s-eye view from the hanging bridges or zipline.
Days 4-5: ARENAL VOLCANO and HOT SPRINGS
Leave Monteverde for Arenal Volcano. Take the scenic drive around Lake Arenal with your guide (4 hrs) or sign up for the Jeep/Boat/Jeep transport ($25pp, 3 hrs) and take a shortcut across the lake. La Fortuna is at the foot of a spectacular classic cone-shaped volcano. Settle in at cabinas outside of town for 2 nights.
Choose your optional activities with your guide. Check out old lava flows (and maybe current smoke) of Volcan Arenal. Those interested in adventure and scenery can opt for the steep hike to a spectacular waterfall (La Catarata de la Fortuna) with refreshing swimming holes. An afternoon family visit to Hot Springs (Baldi, Tabacon, or Los Laureles) with volcanically heated springs is fun too- there are two pools that are cool enough for even babies. There’s a great hanging bridges walk or tram ride through the rainforest canopy here for everyone and a zipline for those over 8. You have a good chance to see a sloth and poison dart frogs at EcoCentro Danaus or check out traditional cultural food, sugar cane candy and visit a school with Cultour at La Casona.
Days 6-7: SARAPIQUI and TIRIMBINA RAINFOREST RESERVE
Transfer with your bilingual naturalist guide to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, nestled in the lowland tropical rainforest (2 hrs). You have 2 nights here.
Choose your optional activities with your guide. You can cross the longest suspension bridge in Costa Rica to explore the rainforest at nearby Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve. Majestic tall trees, birds and colorful tiny frogs abound! Early-risers can opt for a guided birding walk. Visit the rainforest at La Selva, one of the top tropical ecology research stations in the world, or take a thrilling whitewater rafting trip on the Rio Sarapiqui (Class 1-5 rapids). The morning family boat ride on a slow, shady boat to look for monkeys, sloths, toucans, caiman and crocodiles is always a hit with kids who might get worn out on a hike! Kids 6 and up can try out the zipline at Hacienda La Linda.
Days 8-10: CARRIBEAN BEACH, PLAYA NEGRA
Transfer to the lovely Playa Negra beach (3 hrs), a quiet swimmable black sand beach just a 15 minute walk from the town of Cahuita and the Cahuita National Park, a beautiful stretch of undeveloped white sand beach with a strip of jungle home to monkeys, sloths and birds. Your guide will drop you off here and you can relax on the beach and play in the sand as a family. The guided portion of your tour ends with drop off here. Stay at a small family-owned lodge with a pool for 3 nights, just steps from the beach! No big noisy resorts with bars and discos for us! We’ve found the quiet gems perfect for families with young children. Please note: Samara Beach can be substituted here for a smal additional cost.
Day 11: HEAD BACK TO ALAJUELA
Time for one more dip in the ocean in the morning. Then head back to your hotel in Alajuela near the airport (about 4 hours) via pre-reserved private transport.
Day 12: TRANSFER OUT – ADIOS and GRACIAS!
Transfer (15 minutes) to Airport by hotel shuttle.