Best Family-Friendly Eco-Tours in Costa Rica
For families with a healthy sense of adventure and an appreciation of nature, Costa Rica may well be the world’s top destination. There are sprawling rain forests, turtle nesting beaches, and thriving coral reef communities. This tiny, conservation-minded country is one of the most bio-diverse in the world, with monkeys swinging, sloths lazily dangling, and toucans hopping around in the treetops.
No matter what your itinerary looks like in Costa Rica, you can explore a variety of habitats and encounter plant and animal species found almost nowhere else on the planet. Hikes, snorkeling trips, beach walks, canopy tours, and rafting adventures are among the most poplar eco-tours.
And unlike other untamed paradises, many of Costa Rica’s wildlife excursions are very accessible, relatively safe, and kid-appropriate—just ask the experts. The tiny travelers I’ve met almost always have something to say about the amazing creatures they’ve seen and the adventures they’ve taken.
An arribada—or massive gathering of egg-laying turtles—happens at Playa Ostional each month around the last quarter moon. Kids won’t be the only ones marveling as the sea turtles start swimming up to the beach by the hundreds, dropping their eggs off, and returning to the sea. Arribadas happen throughout the year, but are particularly well attended from July to December. The massive “arribadas” (arivals) of Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles happened this rainy season at the Playa Ostenial Wildlife Refuge in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste as they have done for hundreds of years.
Although these turtles come ashore all year around at this beach to lay their eggs, it is during the rainy season when they do it in large numbers; for instance, the latter part of August, the arribada was close to one million females, which lay an average 100 eggs each. The baby turtles will hatch in 45 – 55 days immediately heading to the sea in search of algae, branches or other things to feed. By the time they reach maturity, they will come back to their place of birth.
PLAYA OSTIONAL. This beach, made famous by Dr. Douglas Robinson, is located at the village of Ostional north of Punta Guiones close to Playa Nosara. Access is via Nicoya to Nosara and from Santa Cruz. The final stretches are advisably accessible via four-wheel drive vehicles in the rainy season.
According to biologist Rodrigo Morera, who works with the Ostional Development Association (ADIO), the massive arrival in August was similar to those of previous years, although October will most likely see the largest arriibadas of the season.
One of the top eco-tourism destinations in a top eco-tourism country, Monteverde is replete with cloud forest reserves, hanging bridges, zip-line tours, and family-friendly accommodations. Families with young whippersnappers will love Selvatura Park, which includes a canopy tour and butterfly garden, and Children’s Eternal Rainforest, a conservation project featuring exhibits and hikes geared specifically toward little ones. Monteverde Hanging Bridges are great for people that desire to see the tree canopy in a closer and more relaxed way. This is a hike of about three kilometers with trails and bridges where you can observe different parts of the forest starting from the ground and getting to the tree canopy experiencing different habitats. Monteverde Hanging Bridges tour allows you to enjoy nature walking on suspension bridges along the tree-tops so you can view the beauty of the canopy below. You will spend most of your time close to the tree tops where you will be able to see birds, bromeliads and more. Monteverde hanging bridges let you see the canopy from a different perspective, looking down on the trees instead of up, an unusual experience and good exercise.
Manuel Antonio National Park – Costa Rica’s Natural Treasure; The smallest national park in Costa Rica also happens to contain multitudes of wildlife, which is super convenient for families looking for a contained and easy eco-stroll. The park includes beaches and jungle habitats, and if you bring a guide along, you’re almost sure to spot monkeys and sloths on your walk. Manuel Antonio contains a charming combination of rain forest, beaches and coral reefs The forest is home for sloths, iguanas, the rare and adorable squirrel monkeys and millions of colorful little crabs. And the trail that winds around Punta Catedral affords some spectacular views. The park is easy to reach, south of the town of Quepos, and is near a good selection of hotels and restaurants. Visiting the park, one is treated to an abundant diversity of wildlife. Cathedral Point, with its forest topped cliffs was once an island, but is now connected to the coast by a thin strip of island. This land bridge now forms the spine separating the parks two most popular beaches, Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio.
4 Hike at Corcovado National Park
For the slightly more adventurous family, a trek in Corcovado National Park may be in order. This tour is to the Corcovado’s Sirena Ranger Station. This ranger station is also located along the Pacific coast, but further south in the middle of the Park. The boat ride to Sirena from the hotel takes approximately one hour, well worth it for anybody who wants to see the Park’s interior. There are several trails that surround the ranger station, some of which offers visitors to the Park with the best opportunites to observe wildlife. While not always visible, common sightings at either of the ranger stations include scarlet macaws, monkeys, (white face, howler, spider & squirrel) pecaries, iguanas, sloths, lizards, and a wide variety of plants, amphibians and insects.
The Tempisque Palo Verde River Wildlife Boat Tour will take you to the entrance of the Palo Verde National Park. The best bird watching for aquatic species is found right here, as the park is favored by many migratory birds as they escape the cold winters in North and South America. The area’s density gives it a rich mix of mammal, amphibian and reptile life, including many crocodiles, howler & white faced capuchin monkeys and scarlet macaws. The lowlands and marshes create the perfect conditions for the largest concentration of waterfowl and wadding birds in all of Central America. This is a bird watchers paradise as well as a perfect spot to see lots of crocodiles. After the scenic drive you will board motorized river canal boats and cruise the Tempisque River and the Palo Verde River where the two rivers converge. Experienced River Boat Guides will stop to get you close to animals, birds, and crocodiles. Watch as crocodiles slide in from the banks and glide through the water, see many varieties of birds, and look for monkeys, bats, and other wildlife. Covered boats provide shade for little ones and those who need to minimize sun exposure.
At the end of the tour, guides will return you to your Beach Hotel. Tempisque Palo Verde River Wildlife Boat Tour is a wonderful tour for the entire family.
6 Snorkel in Gulf Of Papagayo
Sail, snorkel; fish, swim and see a gorgeous sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Watch dolphins jump, frolic and ride the bow as you silently glide along on a 75 foot catamaran
Bill Beard’s Costa Rica has privately escorted tours and first class accommodations throughout the country that may be added to other packages.
For single, triple, quad or group rates, contact our agents.
Our Reservation Office Is Located In La Fortuna, Costa Rica In The Shadow Of Arenal Volcano, behind the Catholic Church, Near The World Famous Hot Springs.
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IMPORTANT NOTE – Please be advised that every reasonable effort has been made to keep all prices up to date and free of errors or omissions. Prices and policies from our vendors and the Costa Rican government are subject to change without notice. Invoices will be issued at the time of booking to confirm all final rates and offers.