Costa Rica with a Baby

Costa Rica with a Baby: A Guide (2023)

Heading to Costa Rica with a baby? You’re in the right place. Costa Rica has been a popular place to travel for the past two decades. It draws solo travellers, couples on romantic getaways, and yes – families too. You’re bound to see many other families (even ones with babies) touring while you’re in Costa Rica, and I truly believe its one of the best places for a family trip.

As people who have been to Costa Rica multiple times and visited with kids and babies, we can share with you the best tips of where and when to go, and the most baby-friendly activities that will fulfill you, ones that suitable for bringing a baby along. Bringing kids to Costa Rica, especially those under 5 to Costa Rica might mean that you will have to do some extra planning to do, but its a very doable, and a rewarding family trip.

So, lets jump in – the best tips on Costa Rica with a baby.

Reasons to Go to Costa Rica with a Baby

Here are the reasons in a nutshell why Costa Rica makes an amazing family vacation, even with a baby!

Costa Rica with a Baby
  • Lots of outdoor time surrounded by nature
  • Availability of fresh fruit, perfect for finger foods or baby-lead-weaning
  • Animal encounters such as monkeys and sloths, in the jungle, or right outside your hotel room
  • Plenty of family-friendly beaches with calm, clear water and and sandy beaches
  • Warm, friendly people – Costa Ricans in general, especially those that work with tourists, are known for being very hospitable, and wanting to make sure you’re happy
  • There are LOTS of other tourists in Costa Rica, (in 2022, Costa Rica received 2.4 million tourists!) so you won’t be the only people who aren’t locals
  • You can drink the tap water all over Costa Rica, and never get sick
  • There aren’t major concerns about getting sick from the food
  • Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainability and biodiversity is inspiring; it helps you fall in love with nature and want to protect it for future generations
  • Costa Rica is very safe with a low crime rate.
Costa Rica

Breastfeeding in Costa Rica

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll be happy to know that breastfeeding is very culturally accepted in Costa Rica, and many Costa Rican moms do so openly. So, breastfeeding your baby openly, with or without a cover is fine- and you should do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

My baby did not want to breastfeed by that point, but we brought a breast pump to Costa Rica with us. We stayed in places that had access to a kettle and fridge so we could effectively clean the equipment after each use, and be able to store extra milk.

Pro Tip: If you’re bringing a breast pump, just make sure to bring the required adapter plug for Costa Rica!

Formula Feeding in Costa Rica

If you’re formula feeding, then there are several brands of formula sold in Costa Rican grocery stores, such as Enfamil and Nutramigen; the packaging just might look different from back at home and may be all in Spanish. Best to bring your translator app in case you’ll want to read the ingredients or instructions. We were doing a mixture of breastfeeding and formula feeding, so we didn’t need to buy formula in Costa Rica, but we did bring a can of it from home.

Costa Rica with a baby

Is Costa Rica stroller-friendly?

It depends what types of activities you’ll be up to, but generally, a stroller is just as useful in Costa Rica as it is at home. You may want to use it to push your baby down paths on the beach, the supermarket, through the towns, etc. There are some excursions that won’t be as stroller friendly, particularly if you’re planning on doing hikes in the rainforest (which was something we did a lot of.) So personally, we used the baby carrier much more often on our trip to Costa Rica than the stroller.

San Jose Costa Rica with a Baby
At the Mercado Central in San José

So, if you have room, I would bring both – the baby carrier and the stroller. If you only have room or one, then your decision will be based on what kind of activities you’ll be doing while there. If you’re mainly going to be on a family beach resort, then I think a stroller should be enough. But if you’re planning to do tours (farm visits, rainforest hikes, the cloud forest, etc) then I think a carrier is very necessary.

Diapers, Wipes and Baby Formula in Costa Rica

Diapers- Costa Rica has a great selection, and many brands – the two largest being Pampers and Huggies. You can bring some from home, and stock up in Costa Rica when you need to
Wipes – Same as the diapers. Wipes can be heavy to bring in your luggage, so I recommend only bringing a pack or two and then buying any more you need during your trip.
Formula -Costa Rican grocery stores carry many different infant formulas, such as Enfamil and Nutramigen, as well as some Latin American brands

Is Costa Rica safe?

Costa Rica is known for being a safe country. Its crime rate is slightly higher than Nicaragua, its neighbour country – however, its unknown if this is due to different efficiencies in reporting crime.

Safety in Costa Rican Cities

San Jose is a city with a lot of things to do (we spend 2 nights there with our baby and were glad that we did.) There are some areas in San José where you should not walk alone at night after 9pm. But its important to take precautions, like with any major city.

San Jose, Costa Rica
San Jose, Costa Rica

Most tourists in Costa Rica spend their time in the following areas: Guanacaste and Manuel Antonio (Pacific coast) and La Fortuna and Monteverde (Central Valley). These areas are are all beautiful and safe, and they offer different qualities, depending on what you’re looking for in a vacation. (More on that below.)

Good to Know: The Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica is visited by some tourists, but it is not as nearly as popular as the Pacific coast. There are also some areas that are not known for being safe.

Safety in the Jungles

Going for hikes in the jungle was one of our favourite things to do as a family in Costa Rica with our baby. Having said that, there are some precautions to take. Be sure that you have insect repellant for all children and adults, and mosquito-repellant stickers for your baby. There are some bugs in Costa Rica that have potential to be dangerous, but your risk of facing any serious problems is low, especially when taking all the precautions.

Our baby was a preemie, so we made extra sure to speak to our doctor about our trip to Costa Rica, and the risks for any mosquito-borne illnesses. I recommend doing the same.

Best Areas to visit Costa Rica with a Baby

The most popular destinations in Costa Rica are La Fortuna, Tamarindo, Manual Antonio, and Monteverde. Here are the best places to stay with a baby in each of the popular destinations in Costa Rica.

La Fortuna with a Baby

La Fortuna is a popular place to visit in Costa Rica, and its about halfway between San Jose and Liberia. (So you can reach it from either airport.) Its one of the best places to go if you want to see lush, natural beauty. If waterfalls, rainforests, volcanos, mountains and wildlife are your thing, then I highly recommend fitting La Fortuna into your itinerary in Costa Rica. However, La Fortuna does not have beaches. Many of the hotels have swimming pools, though.

Things To Do in La Fortuna with a Baby

  • Explore the downtown of La Fortuna with your baby in a stroller; there are churches, some pretty architecture, lots of restaurants between fine dining and hole in the wall restaurants
  • Mistico Hanging Bridges Park This tour out of La Fortuna will allow you to see spectacular sights with your infant in tow from hanging bridges in the rainforest. Bonus: this rainforest is stroller friendly.
  • Don Olivo Chocolate Tour in La Fortuna. We took our baby to this farm for their guided tour, and it was fantastic. You’ll learn a lot about how they grow the fruit, and make the chocolate. You and you baby will be able to try lots of fresh-grown fruit, and enjoy a cup of coffee and piece of chocolate at the end
  • See sloths in their natural habitat from visiting the Sloth’s Territory reserve on a 1-2 hour tour
  • Take a 2- hour tour of a butterfly conservatory, a 30-minute drive from La Fortuna
Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park
Mistico Hanging Bridges Park in La Fortuna

Where to Stay in La Fortuna with a Baby

  • Budget: Casita Bohemia (Tiny House) Great for being on a budget, without looking like it or feeling like it. Here, you’ll have a pool, a kitchen, air conditioning and free parking.
  • Mid-range: Hotel Villas Vilma. We stayed here and couldn’t have been happier with our stay. There’s a pool, its right across the street from two family-friendly restaurants where we loved eating breakfast and dinner. They supplied us with a pack and play (although we used our own). We also enjoyed relaxing with our courtyard view after the little one went down for bed.
  • Luxury: Arenal Manoa Resort & Hot Springs Enjoy a delicious breakfast every morning with a view of the volcano, swimming pools, hot springs and spa treatments. Great place to treat yourself

For a complete list of my La Fortuna accommodation recommendations, click here.

Tamarindo with a Baby

Fly to: Liberia International Airport

Tamarindo, in the Guanacaste region is perfect if you want to be on the Pacific coast near the beach. It has more family-friendly beaches than anywhere else in the country, so if the beach is your main interest, then I would choose the Guanacaste area. This region is very popular for tourists who are looking for beach towns and resorts, but there are also a lot of nature-based activities too.

What Do to in Tamarindo with a Baby

  • Spend time on the beach. Tamarindo is famous for its beaches; many of them are family friendly but some of them are best for older children because of the strength of the waves. Some of the baby-friendly beaches in Guanacaste are Playa Tamarindo and Playa Brasilito.
  • Farm to Table Tour . Not only is this experience geared at young visitors, but your baby will love getting up close and personal with farm animals
  • Tamarindo Estuary Boat Safari You and you baby will sit in a boat as it takes you through a river in the jungle. See crocodiles, birds, sloths and other wildlife

Where to Stay in Tamarindo with a Baby

  • Budget: Hotel Laguana del Codrilo Right on Tamarindo Beach for a bargain. Ocean view rooms, air conditioning, a stone’s throw from the shore and a short walk to bakeries and restaurants
  • Mid-Range: Best Western Tamarindo Villas Vistas has family-oriented villas right on Tamarindo beach. There’s a swimming pool, a Monkey Bar that plays live music at night, and its also only a few minutes away from wildlife tours; you can walk to the family-friendly Turtle Tour in less than 20 minutes.
  • Luxury: Hotel Tamarindo Daria Beach Resort Have lots of options with 4 restaurants, several spas, be steps away from the beach and close to family-friendly beaches. This resort is highly popular with families travelling to Costa Rica

Monteverde with a Baby

Monteverde, located 4,000 ft above sea level, is up in the mountains. If you enjoy lush, green nature with rainforests, and incredible sprawling mountains, then Monteverde is for you. Its not the best places for swimming or beaches (it has no beaches) but the temperature is a bit cooler up here in the highlands, so bring warm clothes if you plan to come here. Check out the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the Sloth Sanctuary or the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.

Costa Rica Monteverde

What do do in Monteverde with a Baby

  • Explore the Monteverde downtown area; its a small quaint mountain town with shops, tourist information, accommodations, restaurants and cafés
  • Take a 2-hour morning walk in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. You’re more likely to see wildlife in the morning, there are fewer crowds at that time, and this is the only baby-friendly Monteverde cloud forest tour offered that we could find
  • Spend an hour or so hiking the Children’s Eternal Rainforest– its less busy than the Monteverde Cloud forest during the day, and we saw some exotic birds when we were there
  • Take a 2-hour tour on the hanging bridges of Selvatura Park, a family-friendly rainforest focused on conservation – you have a great chance of spotting wildlife here too
  • Check out the Sloth Sanctuary or the butterfly conservatory right by the entrance to Selvatura Park
Hanging Bridges view in Monteverde cloud forest

Where to Stay in Monteverde with a Baby

  • Budget: Cabañas La Predara Stay in your own 1-bedroom rustic cottage with forest views while having access to an outdoor swimming pool and located right in between two different rainforest reserves
  • Mid-range: Quality Cabins Monteverde. Have your own private chalet with a beautiful view of the mountains – there are entire walls that are all window, for you to spot monkeys, birds and other wildlife. We enjoy staying in cabins like this when we travel, so that we have a separate room to relax in after the little ones go to sleep.
  • Luxury: Monteverde Lodge & Gardens. Relax with your baby in the heated indoor pool and be only a 10 minute walk from the Monteverde town centre. There’s an outdoor swimming pool and restaurant on-site

Manuel Antonio with a Baby

The Manuel Antonio region includes Quepos, Jaco Beach, Espadillo Beach, and of course, the famous Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio is perfect if you want a mixture of beaches, and rainforest. With your baby, you can do jungle tours in the rainforest, visit the crocodile bridge, and visit several family-friendly beaches!

What do do in Manuel Antonio with a Baby

  • Have a beach day.This is a great area for beaches, and many of them are family friendly, such as Jaco Beach and Playa Espadilla
  • Manuel Antonio Nature Guided Tour. This stroller friendly half day walk through the jungle will allow you to see lots of wildlife, such as sloths, birds, and lizards and enjoy the beach (pictured below) afterwards
Family-friendly beaches in Costa Rica

Where to Stay in Manuel Antonio with a Baby

  • Budget: Hotel Naoz Located only a short drive to family friendly beaches, Hotel Naoz has a swimming pool and restaurants on-site with a gorgeous view
  • Mid-range: Shana By the Beach Manuel Antonio Be within a 5-minute walk of a family-friendly beach, and a 10-minute walk of Manuel Antonio National Park, while also having access to two different swimming pools and a high-class breakfast every morning included in the cost!
  • Luxury: Parador Nature Resort & Spa We stayed here with our baby, and enjoyed the family-friendly swimming pools, stunning ocean views, the live music in the main restaurant at dinner, the walk through their monkey trail, and the baby-friendly service. Read more about our experience here.

Best Time of Year to Visit Costa Rica with a Baby

You can visit Costa Rica year-round, but here’s what you need to know about each time of year.

Dry Season (December through April)

The months between December and April (dry season) are the peak times for travel to Costa Rica. March and April are the hottest months of the year in Costa Rica and the peak of the ‘dry’ season. 

Having said that, we visited Costa Rica in mid-March, and it still rained quite a bit during our stay. For this reason, we’d recommend preparing for rain regardless of when you visit, so that you can still enjoy the activities you planned; (many of them run rain or shine in Costa Rica, as they’re accustomed to rain anytime throughout the year.)

Baby jungle hike costa rica

Wet Season (May through November)

May through November is wet season in Costa Rica, and considered to be ‘winter’ in the southern hemisphere. The good thing about visiting Costa Rica during wet season is because its way less busy at that time.

Even though its called ‘rain’ season, this doesn’t mean it rains all day or every day. The rain during rain season tends to be sporadic throughout the day, with sunny periods in between. Some days, it may not rain at all. However, rain season is also the worst time of the year for mosquitos, and carries the highest risk for mosquito-related diseases.

Good to Know: You’ll need to protect your children from mosquito bites at any time of the year in Costa Rica, even in dry season – especially in the rainforest.

Temperature in Costa Rica

The temperatures varies in Costa Rica depending on the elevation of the place you’re in and time of year. For example, when we visited in March, it was warm and sunny in most places, but when we went to Monteverde (over 4,000 ft above sea level ) we were quite cold, especially at night!

Monteverde costa rica

The temperature in Costa Rica generally falls between 22 and 28 ℃  on average (72 and 82 F). The warmest and sunniest areas are generally in the northeast, the Guanacaste region. Regions in higher elevations, Alejuela or Monteverde for example, are generally cooler. Temperatures drop about 10 ℃ (50 F) for every 3,000 feet higher you are in elevation.

Unless you’re staying in the Guanacaste region exclusively, we recommend bringing some summer outfits, but also some warmer outfits for yourself and young children.

How to Get Around Costa Rica with a Baby

Here are the best ways to travel around Costa Rica with a baby

Driving in Costa Rica

The three most popular options for getting around Costa Rica with a baby are rent a car, hire a private shuttle service or simply stay in one place and do day trips and tours. Personally, we chose to rent a car and drive around and we were very happy with that decision. It allows for the flexibility to travel with a baby at your own pace.

To rent a car in Costa Rica, or hire a private shuttle, you’ll need to bring a carseat from home, as you can’t always guarantee that they’ll have the size that you need for your baby’s age.

What to Bring to Costa Rica with a Baby

Here are the things we’d recommend bringing to Costa Rica with a baby

A portable high chair. We did not bring one, but it would have been really useful. Most restaurants in Costa Rica were baby-friendly, but not all of the high chairs they offered were up to code. This one here for example in La Fortuna (pictured below) was very wiggly and we worried that it was going to tip over.

If we could do it again, we would bring the PandaEar Portable Baby Seat, because its affordable, lightweight and folds up easily. Perfect for keeping in the car if you’re driving around Costa Rica and stopping at places to eat along the way.

Costa Rica with a Baby

A good baby carrier. While there are some stroller friendly areas, a baby carrier is your best bet for most jungle tours, beaches, towns, and coffee and chocolate farms. We like this one because its lightweight, you can wear it comfortably for a long time, and it fits 8-32 lbs (from baby to toddler!)

A good baby sunscreen. A baby sunscreen for Costa Rica should ideally be mineral based and reef-friendly. Chemical sunscreens with ingredients like octinoxate are not only harmful, but they’re harming the oceans. (Unfortunately, most mainstream sunscreens contain reef-killing ingredients.) We’d recommend Babyganics Mineral Sunscreen – protects your baby from the harsh UV rays, as well as the oceans from harmful ingredients. Plus, its affordable.

A portable changing pad. There aren’t as many change table stations in Costa Rica; they’re starting to become more common, but you can’t rely on finding them everywhere. A portable changing pad is so useful to have at home or while travelling in general, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. We like this one because its very lightweight, takes up no space, and so useful for a good price.

Mosquito Repellent for Baby. This is especially recommended if you’re doing any hiking in the rainforest, or are travelling during wet season. But mosquito repellent in Costa Rica is good to have either way. We like these stickers because you don’t have to spray any ingredients onto your baby’s sensitive skin. They use natural ingredients to keep those critters away from your baby, and are effective at it too!

A toy for long plane rides or road trips. I try to bring at least 1-2 toys that your baby has never seen before to entertain them during the long periods of transit. I like this visually stimulating plush book, or for older babies and toddlers – this Montessori busy board.

Costa Rica with a baby

FAQ: Costa Rica with a Baby

Here are some of the most common questions about travelling in Costa Rica that most parents have

Should I bring a stroller to Costa Rica?

Whether or not to bring a stroller to Costa Rica depends on what kinds of activities you’ll be doing. Some parts of Costa Rica, like the towns, and some trails through jungles are stroller friendly, such as the Mistico Park Arenal Costa Rica. However, we’d recommend bringing a baby carrier for areas that aren’t stroller friendly.

Is it safe to take small children to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in Latin America to bring your children. The crime rate is low, and Costa Ricans are friendly and helpful people. The country is very accommodating and welcoming to tourists, because tourists are a big part of their industry.

How much are diapers in Costa Rica?

A small pack of diapers in Costa Rica typically cost 5,000 colzones, or $9.30 USD from the drugstore or supermarket. This will usually give you about 12-24 diapers.

Costa Rica with a baby

Conclusion: Costa Rica with a Baby

The best things to do in Costa Rica with a baby include the beach, walks in the rainforest, visiting coffee and fruit farms, going on a safari, or walking through the markets and museums of San José. You should plan your trip based on the personal preference of the parents – this is a great time in your baby’s life to tag along with you doing the things that you like to do.

So if you prefer to relax on the beach all day – do it. If you’re more of a rainforest and volcano kind of person like me, then stick to the Central Valley. Costa Rica has a lot of gems for

Being a safe country with its nature as a focus for its tourism, Costa Rica makes for a really memorable family trip. We’re so glad our kids got to experience the animals, the rainforest and the pura vida lifestyle when they were young. Although our trip to Costa Rica with a baby was a lot of work at times for us adults, we look back on these memories very fondly.