Known as one of the world’s happiest countries, Costa Rica is wonderfully welcoming to families and, despite immense conservation areas and dozens of protected national parks, it’s also very accessible.
Good planning is the key to a successful holiday here and it’s the ideal destination to combine some lazy time on lovely Pacific beaches with wild adventuring through some of the planet’s rarest and loveliest environments.
Direct flights from the UK to San José take just over 11 hours.
Costa Rica uses hydro, wind and geo-thermal energy to produce electricity for a population of almost 5 million. In December 2016 it became the first country in the world to use no fossil fuels for electrical power over an entire year.
There are unusual, innovative and sustainable places to stay all over Costa Rica and almost all welcome children. Look for rainforest lodges and tree houses, family farm stays, eco-ranches and independent beach hotels on the Nicoya Peninsula.
Costa Rica’s now an all-year-round destination. The driest season’s from November to May and December’s the busiest month with lowest rainfall and humidity.
The country has two coastlines: Caribbean to the east and North Pacific to the west.
Costa Rica is roughly the same size as Switzerland with almost three times as many conservation areas and protected natural territory (Switzerland 9%, Costa Rica 27%).
This accessible cloud forest reserve is Costa Rica’s leading eco-tourist experience and covers an area of 10,500ha in the north west of the country. Made up of 90% virgin forest the reserve’s home to 500 bird and mammal species, over 100 reptile species and 2500 different species of plants.
Tortuguero translates as Turtle Catcher and the nesting population of Green Sea Turtles, Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles on Playa Tortuguero is one of the main reasons to visit this stunning conservation area.
Contrary to its name, Costa Rica’s Caribbean east coast isn’t the best choice for beach holidays. The white sands, seaside towns and barefoot atmosphere on the Pacific side are much. And the surf-ready, crowd-free and beachy Nicoya Peninsula is the best area of all, to catch your breath after the awe-inspiring natural drama almost everywhere else.
Costa Rica’s capital is where most UK families arrive. It probably won’t be your mind’s eye vision of the country’s idyllic paradise reputation, but it’s a fun place to spend a day or two exploring before you head off on your real holiday.
Costa Rica’s most northerly city’s an interesting day out if you’re heading Rincón de la Vieja National Park or down to the beautiful beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula. It’s the traditional heartland of the Guanacastle ranching industry and there are intriguing glimpses of El Sabanero culture which little cowhands will like.
Costa Rica isn’t a huge country but don’t let that tempt you into hiring a car and heading for the open road. For a start, most of the roads aren’t that open and many of them are barely surfaced, especially outside the cities. Vast conservation areas, wetlands, mountainous provinces and lowland or highland rainforest in abundance, makes driving a slow and frustrating process. And there are more regions inaccessible by car, than not.
Plan in advance, know what you want to see and identify the best centres for exploring various national parks, reserves and coasts. There are several good UK operators who specialise in Costa Rica for families and many English speaking local companies who can tailor holidays and offer sensible advice depending on the age of your kids and the type of experiences you’re looking for.