Costa Rica with the kids: The perfect family holiday
If you have children who love nature, wildlife and adventure, Costa Rica provides childhood holiday memories like nowhere else. From watching sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach during nesting season, to zip lining through the legendary cloud forest, kids of all ages (and adults, too) will love glorious Costa Rica.
A safe, diverse and unique Central American destination, this is an ideal place for wildlife adventures, epic rainforest tours and exciting experiences that the youngsters will be itching to tell their friends back at home.
On the Caribbean side of the country in Tortuguero, inspiring boat rides through canals and rainforest walks await. Check in to Evergreen Lodge, located within the National Park and only accessible by boat. The lodge offers bungalows set amid the trees where you will sleep to the sounds of the jungle separated only by insect screens as your windows. There are no TVs in the rooms and an early night's sleep is recommended for you to be up at the crack of dawn to explore the fascinating bird life, meet the white-faced monkeys that often make an appearance at breakfast and immerse yourself in an authentic rainforest experience.
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Go on an early morning boat ride through Tortuguero's incredible canals to spot Costa Rica's amazing array of wildlife, such as the white-faced monkeys leaping from tree to tree, caimans peeking out of the water and Jesus Christ lizards (famed for walking on water) resting on the branches. Sloths, iguanas, snakes and the most extraordinary birds, including bare-throated tiger herons with their unusually long necks and resplendent keel-billed toucans reside in the area. Back at the lodge, there are terrific trails to follow around the bungalows and take in the lush surroundings while witnessing the wonderful wildlife. Red-eyed tree frogs, howler monkeys and a grey-necked wood rail with her chicks are some of the animals we spotted on an afternoon walk.
When it comes to relaxing at the lodge, treat yourself to a dip in the sun-drenched swimming pool and sip a cocktail or smoothie at the pool bar. For an experience you'll never forget, take the family on a sea turtle nesting tour. Tortuguero is an integral part of the Caribbean for green turtles to nest and on an evening visit to the beach, you can watch as the huge creatures (more than three feet long) methodically drop more than 100 eggs into nests dug deep in the black sand. It is an unreal and must-do experience for anyone visiting Costa Rica.
A quick plane ride to San Jose followed by a three-hour drive north-west takes you to Monteverde, one of the most fun-filled destinations for families in Costa Rica, offering a plethora of adventures and wildlife opportunities to keep everyone entertained. Stay at the elegant Hotel Ficus, a modern hotel with Deluxe Rooms that feature two queen-sized beds that are ideal for families, a large shower, seating area and scenic views. The hotel is an excellent base for exploring the world-famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, home to an abundance of hummingbirds (Costa Rica is the hummingbird capital of the world) and elusive mammals, jaguars and pumas. There are bird watching tours and guided night tours, as well as self-guided trails for you to admire Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity.
For a day of thrills, head for Selvatura Adventure Park to enjoy a fantastically fun ride through the canopies along zip lines. Not for the fainthearted, the zip wires offer unrivalled views of the cloud forest and an exciting way to whizz through the trees - the perfect activity for adventure-seeking teens. The not-so-brave can marvel at the virgin forest from a height via the hanging bridges that are superb for snapping photos.
If you want to learn something new, a visit to the Don Juan Farm is a marvelous way to understand how coffee, one of the country's major agricultural exports, is produced at a family-run farm. A tour shows you how coffee cherries are picked, dried and roasted. The children will love sampling sugar cane juice and immersing themselves in the world of chocolate, participating in the chocolate-making process before tasting 'real chocolate'.
Book it:Hayes & Jarvis (01293 735 831) offers a seven-night Highlights of Costa Rica holiday from £1,499 per person - saving up to £277 per person. The trip includes one night at the Hotel Balmoral in San Jose, followed by two nights at the four-star Evergreen Lodge Hotel in Tortuguero, one night at Los Lagos hotel in Arenal, followed by a further night at Ficus Lodge in Monteverde and finally two nights at Casitas Eclipse Hotel in the Manuel Antonio National Park. The offer includes direct return international flights from London Gatwick to San Jose with British Airways.