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Family/Kids Travel / Canada / Mexico & Central America / USA

Exotic Family Experiences For Tighter Budgets & Timelines

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Swap the Amazon for Costa Rica

Costa Rica resort

In Costa Rica, get a feel for the Amazon without having to get a bunch of expensive shots or traveling deep into the Amazon’s dense rainforest.

Costa Rica is also closer to America, sitting just below Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, and your first port of call should be the Arenal Volcano, 60 miles north of the capital San Jose. It was the world’s most active volcano until 2010—the last big eruption was in 1998—and even now you can see steam rising (but don’t worry, seismologists say its activity is decreasing).

Its rainforests and national parks are heaven for nature lovers. Head to the Tabacon Hot Springs Resort (you can buy a day pass), and enjoy a guided walk along the different trails, which lead to natural pools, waterfalls, and bridges. It’s a real adventure through verdant forest.

If you like a side order of beach with your forest, the Manuel Antonio National Park is a must. Tour with a guide who will point out the sloths and iguanas, and explain more about the ecosystems. Take a ride on a zip line through the treetops (your hotel will be able to book zip line tours for you). It’s exhilarating and supervised, so don’t be afraid if you are a beginner.

After you have “flown” through the rainforest, head to the outskirts of the park and relax on the beach. Swim and snorkel, enjoy lunch al fresco, or be entertained by the inquisitive squirrel monkeys.

A hundred miles north of San Jose, you’ll find the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which was established in the fifties by a group of Quakers who left their homes in Alabama to avoid the Korean War. Take the Sky Walk over five suspended bridges or sign up for the Night Tour to see tree frogs, porcupines, tree frogs, and blue-crowned mot mots.

Wow your kids with a visit to The Children’s Eternal Rainforest (Bosque Eterno de los Niños), a jungle paradise founded in 1987 by a nine-year-old from Sweden, who with his classmates, bought 15 threatened acres. Since then, thousands of children from across the world have joined the campaign to protect these territories—and it might inspire yours too!


Pack for any occasion. In Costa Rica you could be hiking through a rainforest one minute and sunbathing on the beach the next. So think cover-ups, sunscreen, hard shoes, and backpacks.

The rainy season (or “green season”) runs from May to mid-November. Generally, mornings are drier than the afternoons and evenings, so be prepared for some early starts to get the most of out of your day.

The local currency is the colon, but many places will accept dollars.

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