Traveling with kids in Costa Rica?

Here are ten things to do that could find you in your very own chapter of the jungle book.  Change your kid’s name to Tarzan or Mowgli and get your adventure on.  Your kids will love you all the more for it.

Get covered in CLAY.

Let’s face it kids love being dirty.  And why not?  There is time enough in their futures where cleanliness will be a huge priority albeit a bit boring. But let’s be clear, if you go to Buenaventura for a day visit (during dry/high season of November – April) it is not mud you will be playing with but BLUE CLAY.  With primary mineral compounds such as Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Silver and Manganese found in the blue clay this type of fun benefits all the family.

avatar blue clay

Looking like a character from avatar you get to wash it all off under the waterfalls or in the river. Buenaventura is a private retreat destination with a River­front Mountain Lodge & Eco­Village, Health & Wellness Rejuvenation Retreat & Learning Center, Eco Adventure wilderness Rainforest Park & Campgrounds & Private Wildlife Reserve in Costa Rica. So be sure to make a reservation even for the day as Buenaventura is not operated as a mainstream hotel or adventure park. It is definitely worth the trip out there.

Sleep in a TREE HOUSE

Down in the south west of Costa Rica is a tree house community. Finca BellaVista boasts some of the most beautiful tree houses I have ever seen. You can even buy a lot of land in the community and build your own casita amongst the canopy.

costa rica tree house

Finca Bellavista is a magical place where the whimsical merges with reality. Their wonderland of tree houses, scenery, and bountiful wildlife captures the imagination like no other place on Earth can.  Think Ewok Village or Swiss Family Robinson. The treehouse pods are connected via bridges that run between the houses and in some of the treehouses even each room is accessed by a swinging footbridge.

Animal Rescue

Help Feed Monkeys, Sloths and Toucans.

Whilst on holiday give a little back in the way of volunteering at the Costa Rican animal rescue center.  You don’t need to be a family armed with veterinary science, just simply people with a

monkeys Costa Rica
White Face monkeys

passion for saving wildlife. Help from others is what keeps the Rescue Center going. Volunteers provide hands on support for every animal at the sanctuary. Main duties include feeding, cleaning, and keeping the animals stimulated, whether it is inventing toys for the howler monkeys, building climbing structures for the sloths to exercise (yes, even sloths need exercise!) or helping to bandage a puppy’s burned paw. I did this with my son years ago and he was delighted to be feeding monkeys every day. The experience has stayed with him and aided in teaching him what I believe is a valuable lesson in the way of being humble.

Witness Turtles laying eggs

Depending on the time of year you are in Costa Rica you could be lucky enough to see the babies hatch. Named an “arribada”, turtles arrive on certain coastlines of Costa Rica to lay their eggs. Generally a month later the babies will hatch, having survived the hands of locals, given permission to collect a certain amount and the mouths of dogs or vultures. My son and I witnessed exactly eighty eight baby turtles hatch once in Monteverde. In Ostional we watched for many weeks Olive Ridley sea turtles arrive on shore to bury their eggs. But please note. Although it is an attraction for us it can be very overwhelming for the turtles when hoards of tourists are lining the shore as they attempt to leave the water and make their way up the sand. Last September many returned to the ocean without actually laying their eggs due to the amount of tourists lining the beach looking on. So if you are wanting to see turtles make sure you go on a weekday and not in peak season. For the turtles sake.

Sleep in a Cave

Nestled behind the twin waterfalls of the Diamante waterfall is a cave. Equipped with the comforts of a kitchen, bedding, showers and toilets it is an awesome place to spend the night Take a tour with the guys from the Tree of Life Diamante Tours and you will get to visit the organic garden, hike through several trails visiting 6 waterfalls, get to visit 3 natural swimming pools on the way, do some cliff jumping, have all four meals included as well as sleeping in the cave overnight.

Rappel or zip line

For the adventurous kid and parent rappelling is an awesome way to be in nature. If this is a bit much for younger ones you can safely zipline. Allow your kids to experience flying through the

zip line Costa Rica
A zip line in Costa Rica.

canopy of a forest. If they are lucky they can see eye to eye with a monkey or find themselves flying next to a vulture or toucan! If this is still a little wild for some kids Manuel Antonio has a new 12 min attraction that is a scaled down version of the zip line providing a cheaper and shorter experience of moving amongst the treetops.

Make and eat a truckload of chocolate

Pick it, grind it and eat it. Chocolate.

Chocolate making tours are scattered around the country. You can buy various degrees of quality chocolate Costa Ricachocolate at all the ferias popping up around Costa Rica as its popularity grows.  Although you won’t find Ullaloompas in Costa Rica, a tour around a chocolate factory where you can make your own chocolate can still be fun. Take part in the whole process from bean to bar.  Chocolate does grow on trees and with out all the added nasties the kids can basically eat all they want.  Now that is something they would want to hear.

 Horse ride along a beach or with cowboys

Travelling around the world with my son, our most sweetest memories are on the back of horses.

horse rides on the beach
Horseback-riding at sunset

 Beach riding is a lazy afternoon activity. Not much else to do, but to get on the horse and stare longingly at the horizon.  Stop for a pipa ( coconut ) along the way and enjoy the view.  Of course there are many different places you can go for a horse ride. Up to waterfalls, into the jungle and following rivers. You can even ride with cowboys, learn to herd cattle and rope calves.  Sightseeing from the the saddle on a horse is a pretty neat way to see some of the country.

Shower in the rain

Costa Rica boasts some pretty impressive rain down pours. With the rain having a pressure stronger than most of the showers you will find in hotels why not get out in it with your kids.  Not the type to run out of the rain we run into it once it starts to bucket down!!  All those times you are shouting at them back home to get out of the rain, it is time to join them.  Take off your shoes, put on your bathing suits, jump in the puddles and even get out the biodegradable soap and take the opportunity to have a good ole wash down. Your kids will love the idea of showering outside. It makes bathtime so much easier.

Watch the Macaws feed in the wild

On the coast of a small town called Esterillos Este south of Jaco the beaches are lined with wildmacaws costa rica almond trees. Every evening when the almonds are fruiting the macaws come in at sunset to feed on them.  The spectacle is to say the least, spectacular.  Filling the trees with their red colours and the sounds of their screeching as they fight over the best branches filled with nuts, it is a wild experience to see.  Take some food for a picnic and end your day as the sun sets to the macaws feeding.

Just do it

When it rains…get out in it.  Take the soap and get naked and shower in the storm. Horse riding and it starts to rain..raise your arms in the air and laugh.  Eat street food….albeit costa rica is missing the immense street food experience of asia ceviche road side and pipa frias are not only healthy but a great way to break up a road trip and go local.  Costing one dollar for a cold pipa and two dollars for fresh ceviche and crackers…. a bargain of a way to satiate the munchies and allow the kids and yourself to get out of the car to stretch your legs.  Make chocolate. Pick it, grind it and eat it.

You know what… think outside of the box.. why do we live here??? To let go of all that we are taught and told we have to do with children. The best experiences are those that are not organized… pick mangos and almonds on the beaches…. go to see the macaws at sunset… come in to eat the almonds…. 4 wheel motorbike riding…

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