Journey to Costa Rica: A Family Adventure
Costa Rica is a veritable playground for families! Walk along hanging bridges in the canopy of an amazing rainforest, spot exotic birds and caimans, and walk right up to the rim of Poás Volcano on this adventure where you will travel with like-minded grandparents, parents, and children.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
This was the trip of a lifetime for my daughter and me. We both were overwhelmed by the beauty of the country and the many new adventures offered to us. The zip line was a favorite. We can't say enough good things about our guides - knowledgeable, engaged, patient and fun!”
Dear Danny [guide], your positive attitude and attention to detail allowed me the rare opportunity to completely enjoy a vacation. It is always stressful to travel with kids, however, on this trip I was able to relax and watch my son grow with each of our adventures. You were so much more than a tour guide. You, my friend, are a memory maker. You and this trip will forever be in our hearts. Thank you!”
- Fabulous shots from Smithsonian Journeys Expert Kirt Kempter
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Take your kids on an adventure of a lifetime in Costa Rica! This lush, tropical country is a veritable playground for families, and the opportunities for fun are endless. Walk amid the tree tops on hanging bridges, glide through the jungle on a zip line, and go white-water rafting down the warm Sarapiqui River. You’ll also meet the friendly “Tico” people and learn about the importance of the environment and conservation to all who live there.
Experience geology up-close during visits to Poas Volcano and to Arenal Volcano, where you can walk right up to the rim. Learn about rain forest ecology and conservation efforts during a hands-on workshop and hike the trails of La Paz Waterfall Garden to one of the largest butterfly observatories in the world. During your trip, meet with a Costa Rican scientist who is working to develop more efficient rocket engines for travel to outer space, and participate in a half-day service project at a local school, where kids can meet with pen pals. You’ll also enjoy relaxing with your family at a thermal hot spring and a day at a beachfront hotel, where you can play on the beach, take surf lessons, or go horse-back riding. Throughout your vacation, you'll be accompanied by a top-notch local guide, who not only welcomes you to his country and astonishes you with his knowledge, but who loves working with families. This unforgettable family vacation to Costa Rica is recommended for families with kids ages 6 and older.
Day 1— Arrive San Jose
Upon arrival in San Jose, Costa Rica, your family is met and transferred to the hotel. Rest and relax after your long journey. Overnight: Hotel Bougainvillea
Day 2— San Jose to Sarapiqui Region
Poas Volcano is one of the active volcanoes in Costa Rica’s Central Mountain Range. The volcano is accessible by paved road almost all the way to the principal crater, which is purported to be the widest in the world. Walk the last half mile to the crater's edge and then have a close-up look at what the awesome power of a volcano can do. Later, hike the scenic trails at La Paz waterfall gardens. Having one of the largest butterfly observatories in the world, numerous hummingbirds, tropical gardens, and a variety of waterfalls, there is something here to enchant everyone in your family. Arrive this afternoon at the Sarapiqui region and settle in to your comfortable lodge for a welcome dinner. Overnight: La Quinta de Sarapiqui (B,L,D)
Day 3— Sarapiqui
Who wants to get splashed? Head to the scenic (and warm!) Sarapiqui River for an exciting family white-water rafting trip (ages 6 and up). For those who are less adventurous, you can substitute this with a relaxing and slower-paced float trip. Next, hike across a suspension bridge and into the rain forest to a former cacao growing plot. Along the way learn about the fascinating history of chocolate. Once you arrive at La Tirimbina, learn about the growing and processing of the cacao beans, and try some chocolate, too!Overnight: La Quinta de Sarapiqui (B,L,D)
Day 4— Sarapiqui to Arenal
Depart for the region around Arenal Volcano—one of Costa Rica’s most active—after breakfast. Stop en route near the small town of La Fortuna for the Sky Adventures tour: either the Aerial Tram and zip line (minimum height of 3.93 feet) or Aerial Tram and hanging bridges walk, depending on how adventurous you are! This afternoon, meet a friendly and enthusiastic Costa Rican farmer named Don Juan for an in-depth tour of his eco farm. Learn about exotic local fruits and their diverse uses and health benefits. Don Juan will show you how to take raw sugarcane and process it into juice or liquor known as “guaro”. Then, continue to Arenal Observatory Lodge. This lodge was originally built in 1987 as a Smithsonian Institution scientific research station. Overnight: Arenal Observatory Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 5— Arenal
You can sleep in this morning if you are so inclined, or opt for a morning forest hike on some of the many trails that crisscross the area around the Arenal Volcano. Lunch will be in the nearby town of La Fortuna, with some time to meander the quaint streets and check out a few shops. Hop on a mountain bike this afternoon to explore the surrounding countryside, beginning at the hotel with a downhill ride to the dam at Lake Arenal. Continue around the lake traversing paved and packed gravel roads, tree roots, water crossings, and other possible challenges. Alternatively, those who prefer not to bike, may explore the protected, primary neo-tropical rain forest from the Hanging Bridges in Arenal. A highlight of today is sure to be your visit to the Ecotermales hot springs. The thermal springs are heated by the Arenal volcano and offer a fun and relaxed atmosphere among green gardens and steamy cascades. Enjoy a family-style dinner here before returning to the hotel for a good night’s sleep! Overnight: Arenal Observatory Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 6— Arenal to Guanacaste
En route to Guanacaste, visit Las Pumas rescue shelter, where numerous types of Costa Rican jungle cats, primates, mammals, and birds are cared for after being injured or abandoned and require personal care. After the shelter, spend time at Ad Astra, owned by Franklin Chang, the one and only Costa Rican astronaut. He went to space seven times with NASA before retiring and coming back to Costa Rica. One of the scientists at Ad Astra Rocket will give your family a tour of the facility and explain what they are working on—at this time, a plasma engine to take rockets more cheaply and quickly to outer space. Arrive at your charming boutique beachfront hotel with time to relax before dinner. 2014 Overnight: Bosque del Mar, 2015 Overnight: El Mangroove (B,L,D)
Day 7— Guanacaste
Time at the beautiful North Pacific coast of Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete without a day to do as you wish on your family vacation. Relax at the hotel, or perhaps opt to head to Tamarindo Beach for surf lessons and shopping. Another option is a full day of adventure, which includes horseback riding, white-water river tubing, and a zip line canyoning tour. (Optional tours at guests’ own expense.) 2014 Overnight: Bosque del Mar, 2015 Overnight: El Mangroove (B,D)
Day 8— Guanacaste
Visit a local Costa Rican school this morning, where the group takes part in a half day service project. (The exact nature of the project will depend on the number of participants and the needs of the school and community at the time of your visit.) Children with pen pals in Costa Rica will have the opportunity to meet them today! Enjoy a farewell dinner with your guide and fellow travelers tonight, and share your favorite memories. 2014 Overnight: Bosque del Mar, 2015 Overnight: El Mangroove (B,L,D)
Day 9— Depart Liberia and arrive U.S.
You and your family will be transferred to Liberia airport for your departing flight. (B)