Best Tours for Kids in Costa Rica (And the Ones to Avoid) in 2024

Looking for the best tours in Costa Rica with kids? You’re in the right place.

Costa Rica has some of the best tour options of any country that are suitable for families. Whether its a guided hike in a rainforest, a chocolate farm visit, surf lessons, snorkel tours – there are so many once-in-a lifetime, memorable experiences to have as a family in Costa Rica.

Having travelled to Costa Rica with kids, we enjoy doing organized tours that give us unique experiences as a family.

Monkey in Costa Rica
Costa Rica with Kids
Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

I’m going to share with you the best tours in Costa Rica with kids according to area, and what age group they’re best for. I want you to have as amazing time travelling in Costa Rica as a family as we did.

So, let’s jump in – best tours for kids in Costa Rica.

How do You Know if a Tour is Truly”Kid-Friendly”?

There are many different kinds of tours in Costa Rica – food tours, adventure tours, hiking or walking tours. How do we know which ones are ‘family friendly’ and which aren’t?

This is what I look for in a tour (in Costa Rica or elsewhere) to determine whether its family-friendly or not:

✅ The tour allows children
✅ The tour has a track record of being welcoming to children and families
✅ The tour is a reasonable length
✅ The tour is engaging and varied

A “reasonable” length will of course depend on your chid’s age and temperament. However, overall I wouldn’t recommend doing too many full day tours with children who are much younger than 10 years old.

For young children under 5, I prefer to stick to tours that are 2-3 hour range. With older children and pre-teens, you could probably extend to longer tours. Of course, you know your child’s interests and temperament the best.

With that in mind, here are the best tours for kids in Costa Rica according to region – La Fortuna, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio and Guanacaste.

Best Tours for Kids in La Fortuna

La Fortuna is situated just 2.5 hours from San Jose and Liberia

La Fortuna was my favourite area in Costa Rica, and it is perfect for kids. There’s no beaches (which might be a deal breaker for some) but there’s an abundance of rainforest and culture activities that the whole family can enjoy.

If you want to introduce your kids to the rainforest, exotic wildlife, environment conservation, and local activities such as chocolate making, then La Fortuna is the ultimate fun and educational place.

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 1-2 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you or your kids have ever wanted to see sloths, then this is the tour for you. This Sloth Watching Tour takes you to see wild sloths in their natural habitat in the rainforest, just outside of La Fortuna.

Your tour includes a guided tour, and a snack of fresh fruit at the end of the tour.

Book your Sloth Watching Tour here

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 2 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Farm Costa Rica

The Don Olivo Chocolate Tour is offered on a family-owned chocolate and fruit farm just a short drive from the centre of La Fortuna.

I did this tour with my family which included a baby of 8 months, and my 9 year old daughter. Our guide was welcoming and allowed us to sample fresh fruit picked off the trees (I recommend coming to this tour hungry!)

Book the Don Olivo Chocolate Tour here

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 2.5 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Frog in Costa Rica

This tour that leads you on a Night Walk Around the Arenal Volcano is an experience that you and your kids are likely to remember for a long time.

Walking through the jungle at night allows you to see animals that are not normally active during the day. My daughter enjoyed seeing spiders, tree frogs, bats, and other nocturnal animals.

Your tour includes entrance to the park, transportation and a professional guide.

Book the Night Walk Around the Arenal Volcano here

Age Range: 12 months +
Duration: 3 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This 3-hour tour is a Safari Float in the Jungle, which means you’re floating on an inflatable vessel through a stream in the jungle. In addition to enjoying the sounds of nature, you might be able to see tropical birds and other wildlife from your float.

The tour includes hotel pickup, a guide, lunch and snacks.

Book your Safari Float in the Jungle here

Age Range: 12 months +
Duration: 4 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This tour, Hiking and Swimming in the Rio Celeste, involves a short hike in the jungle followed by optional swimming in the picturesque Celeste River. Your guide will point out wildlife along the way.

The trail is very easy, perfect for all ages. You are brought to the most turquoise blue natural swimming pool with a stunning waterfall.

Book the hiking and Swimming in the Rio Celeste tour here

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 2-3 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Butterfly in Costa Rica

There’s a butterfly sanctuary just 30 minutes west of La Fortuna. There are butterflies, exotic frogs, reptiles and other insect.

This conservatory is dedicated to preserving the populations of these beautiful creatures and providing education and awareness.

Book your Guided Tour of the Butterfly Conservatory here

Age Range: 5+
Duration: 5 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

whitewater rafting

This half day Balsa River White Water Rafting tour takes you gliding class II rapids for 10 kms (6 miles) along the river through the jungle.

The cost includes your professional guide, all rafting equipment for kids and adults, transportation, and a Costa Rican casado lunch to finish off the tour.

Book your Balsa River White Water Rafting tour here

Best Tours for Kids in Guanacaste

Most people who travel to the Guanacaste region stay in or near Tamarindo, which is around 2 hours from the Liberia airport

Guanacaste is very popular for families because of the abundance of beaches, and family-friendly resorts. If you’re a beach-loving family primarily, then Guanacaste might be the place for you. There is less in terms of rainforest than there other parts of Costa Rica, but there is still some.

Here are the best tours for kids in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 2 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This boat safari, accommodating to all ages, allows you to relax in a raft as you sail through a river in the jungle, spotting wildlife along the way.

The guide points out crocodiles, monkeys, tropical birds that you can see from the boat.The boat also has a shaded cover which makes it ideal as a tour for young children.

This is unique, relaxing way to explore the rainforest!

Book the Tamarindo Estuary Boat Safari here

Age Range: Ages 4+
Duration: 1-2 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This zip-lining tour in the tropical jungle in Tamarindo allows you to see monkeys, tropical birds and other wildlife, as well as soar through the air on a zip-line.

A private professional guide and all equipment is included.

Book the Monkey Jungle Zip-lining tour here

Age Range: Ages 2 +
Duration: 5 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Miravalles Volcano is known as the “Yellowstone” of Costa Rica with its peak 6,653 feet (2,028 metres) above sea level, and is surrounded by lush vegetation, hot springs and mud baths.

On this tour, you will spend can spend most of the day relaxing in the mud-baths and hot springs as you enjoy rainforest and volcano views and likely even see some wildlife.

The tour price includes your entrance ticket to the Miravalles Volcano National Park, a lunch, and pick up and drop off from your hotel.

Book your tour of the Miravalles Volcanic Mud Hot Springs here

Age Range: 6+
Duration: 9 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Heliconias Rainforest

Because this is a longer tour, I’d only recommend it if you think your child could handle it. There are a lot of varied activities; walking across hanging bridges which are 115-130 feet off the ground, visiting a butterfly garden, and a lunch.

You’ll of course see wildlife, such as sloths and monkeys in their natural habitat.

Hotel pick up and drop off is included in the cost!

Book your Heliconias Rainforest tour here

Best Tours for Kids in Monteverde

Montverde is 2 hours and 20 minutes from the Liberia airport, and 3-4 hours from San Jose. The drive here isn’t easy because of the winding roads and rugged terrain, but its worth the journey. Read my post about driving in Costa Rica.

Monteverde means “green mountain” in Spanish and the place fits the name – its up in the mountains, surrounded by lush, green jungle.

Most of the tours is Monteverde are not young-child friendly, as they involve adrenaline activities like zip-lining, or very long (full day) hikes in the jungle.

But, there are a few great tours for kids in Monteverde. Here they are:

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 2 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hanging Bridges view in Monteverde cloud forest

There are many benefits to heading to the cloud forest first thing – fewer crowds, and higher likelihood of seeing wildlife.

Going with a guide means that you’re more likely to spot wildlife, and have access to professional equipment to see wildlife that is otherwise too far away or hard to see.

Book your morning walk in the Monteverde Cloud Forest here

Age Range: 7+
Duration: 2.5 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Learn first hand how coffee, chocolate and sugar cane are made on this family-friendly guided farm tour (for ages 7+) outside Monteverde.

On this tour, you will briefly learn about the process of turning plants into chocolate, coffee and cane sugar, and be able to try plenty of samples.

Book your Chocolate, Coffee and Sugar Cane tour here

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 3 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

hanging bridge through the rainforest in Costa Rica

Sky Adventures Monteverde Park is a privately owned rainforest that was grown specifically to preserve the biodiversity and wildlife. It has six hanging bridges in total; the highest one is over 900 feet off the ground.

In this tour, you will walk across the hanging suspension bridges that allow you to walk across and get incredible views of the jungle and see wildlife. You’ll do some easy hiking in the rainforest where your guide will point out wildlife to you.

Book your Sky Walk Tour from Monteverde here

Best Tours for Kids in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is in southeast Costa Rica, about a 3 hour drive from the San José airport.

Manuel Antonio is the perfect place to go in Costa Rica if you’re looking for a mix of rainforest and beaches.

Here are the best tours offered for kids in the Manuel Antonio region.

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 2.5 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Monkey in Costa Rica
Family-friendly beaches in Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest national park in Costa Rica at 4,000 acres, but its also the most famous. Its bursting with beautiful flora and fauna and an abundance of wildlife, and has some of the most family-friendly beaches in Costa Rica, which you’ll have an opportunity to experience at the end of your tour.

My daughter and I were very impressed on our tour of Manuel Antonio, and one of the highlights was getting to swim in the beach in the end.

There are many different tour offering for Manuel Antonio (and you’ll see others while you’re there.) What we like about this one is that they specifically advertise themselves as family-friendly, and have patience for kids of all ages.

Book your Hiking tour of Manuel Antonio National Park here

Age Range: 5+
Duration: 2.5 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Take the kids to learn about where their favourite food really comes from – a cocoa plant, and how it goes from being a bean into the chocolate that you can buy in stores.

This experience is very hands-on, so the whole family will likely learn new things!

Book your Manuel Antonio Chocolate Tour here

Age Range: 4+
Duration: 3 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

surf lessons in costa rica for kids

The younger they start, the better! If you’re a surfer or have always wanted to surf, then this is a great opportunity for the whole family.

This tour includes pick up and drop off from your hotel, surfing lessons from friendly instructors, and a snack of refreshing coconut water and fruit.

Book your Manuel Antonio Surf Lesson here

Age Range: 12 months +
Duration: 2 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

night jungle tour

While Manuel Antonio can get pretty busy during the day, its a different story at night when there are much fewer tours and many more nocturnal animals.

This tour includes transportation to and from your hotel in our near Quepos, (we stayed at Parador), and a 1.5 guide tour. The guide will have a flashlight to be able to show you animals and insects that you would otherwise miss.

Book your Night Your of Manuel Antonio National Park here

Best Tours for Kids in San José

The international airport in San Jose is called the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO)

Not everyone spends time in San Jose while they’re in Costa Rica but there are a lot of things to do there

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 2.5 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Costa Rica bird

This kid friendly tour in San Jose takes you to see wildlife that can be spotted throughout the city. You’ll see sloths, tropical birds and lizards. Binoculars and telescopes are provided and all ages are welcome!

Book your Wildlife Walking Tour of San José here

Age Range: All ages
Duration: 3 hours
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Braulio Carillo Rainforest is a jungle just north of San José. It has both rainforest and cloud forest which is a rare ecosystem.

On this tour, you’ll visit a hummingbird garden, a butterfly garden, and even get to ride in a floating forest tram that gives you a bird’s eye view of the jungle.

Book your Braulio Carillo Rainforest Adventure tour from San Jose here

Tours to Avoid in Costa Rica with Kids

I want to caution you about a few things to look out for when booking tours for kids in Costa Rica. Here are some things to keep in mind.

❌ High-adrenaline rush tours

There are so many adventure tours in Costa Rica; white water rafting, zip-lining, bungee jumping. I’m not saying to avoid them completely. These kinds of activities are a lot of fun, and generally safe to do in Costa Rica.

However, be sure to check any weight and height requirements prior to booking these trips. Even if the strips say that they are “suitable for kids ages 5+ or 10+”, that doesn’t mean that your child will qualify based on size.

Read the fine print of any tour you book so that you don’t face disappointment on the morning of your tour.

❌ Guided tours with toddlers

Based on my experience going on a few guided tours in Costa Rica, I would set expectations very realistically before signing up for a guided tour with a toddler.

Many of the guided tours say that ‘all ages’ are welcome, and often kids under a certain age (usually 2 or 3) are free of charge. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the tour is best for this age group. There’s a difference between allowing toddlers, and being toddler friendly.

We brought our 8 month old baby to Costa Rica, but if we’d come when she was 18 months, it would have been a very different trip.

Of course, if you want to do the tour and your child is allowed on the tour based on age – I’d say DO IT. I do believe that travelling with toddlers is a gift that comes with ups and downs. I would just say to adjust expectations and know that not all tours without age requirements are necessarily geared to people of all ages.

A caution about Jungle Tours: While its uncommon, it is possible to be bitten by various bugs that hang out in the jungle – mosquitos, sandflies, and various aunts. Be sure to wear sunscreen, mosquito stickers and ideally long sleeves in the rainforest in Costa Rica. Jungle tours are my favourite activity in Costa Rica, so I’m not recommending against them, but want you to be cautious have the right gear, especially if you have kids with you. Read my post on Bugs in Costa Rica.

The Bottom Line about Choosing Tours for Kids in Costa Rica

I have carefully experimented and chosen the tours that I think are the best tours for kids in Costa Rica (bearing age in mind of course) and I believe that when you consider your child’s age, temperament, and in some cases weight and height, then your family will make precious memories on these tours.

If you’re travelling to Costa Rica during the high season (December or March especially, which are the most popular months) then I recommend booking the tours and hotels you want in advance, as they fill up fast.

Costa Rica Family Tours FAQs

Here are the most commonly asked questions about going on tours with kids in Costa Rica

Which side of Costa Rica is better for kids?

The west coast of Costa Rica is much better for kids. Areas like La Fortuna, Monteverde, Guanacaste and Manuel Antonio National Park are all very family-friendly with many great activities to do as a family.

How many days in Costa Rica is enough?

How many days you spend in Costa Rica depends on how many activities you want to take part in. There’s beaches, rainforest, and sports like white water rafting, and so many more. Overall, I would recommend spending at least one week in Costa Rica.

Is Costa Rica safe for a school trip?

Yes, Costa Rica is a safe place for a school trip, not to mention very educational. As a former elementary school teacher and mom, I admire how much there is to learn in Costa Rica, and the fact that its a safe place to do a variety of activities with kids.

Best Tours for Kids in Costa Rica: Conclusion

Costa Rica, in my opinion, is one of the best places for a family vacation. It has some of the most amazing, family-friendly tours that are as fun as they are educational. I love the vast access to lush rainforest, exotic wildlife in their natural habitat, and most importantly the commitment that Costa Rica has to sustainability.

Many of the family-friendly tours in Costa Rica allow you to bring babies under 2 years old for free. Admittedly, some of these tours are much easier done with older children (I know from travelling through Costa Rica with our baby) so I want you to keep in mind that depending on your child’s age and temperament, you might have to adjust your expectations for the tour.

There are many tours in Costa Rica that are exclusively for adults – related to beer, gastronomy, or high adrenaline rush activities, but I hope that this article has showed you how much fun you can really have in Costa Rica with your kids!