Costa Rica is the perfect spot for your next family adventure.
Smaller than Scotland but big in personality, this peaceful country offers variety, relaxation and beautiful scenery.
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See also: Costa Rica, anyone? 21 reasons to go on holiday here
Costa Ricans are very friendly and always put children at the centre of attention; young explorers will have the time of their life!
You can explore Costa Rica by shuttle bus or by hire car, just roll down your window for a chorus of monkeys, frogs and birds and the fresh scent of the tropical rainforest.
During your Costa Rica travels swing between treetops, watch sea turtles lay eggs on sandy shores, swim beneath hidden waterfalls and slow down to the Caribbean pace of life.
Here are a few highlights to look forward to:
Costa Rica offers plenty of adventure; youngsters can zip through the skies on a canopy tour through the forest like Indiana Jones. There are zip lines in many different places in Costa Rica, with Monteverde laying claim to the country's first zip line. Costs vary quite a bit from $30-$65 depending on where you go.
Costa Rica has five active Volcanoes which sit along the Ring of Fire – a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. For those inspired by the forces of nature, a trek along the Arenal Volcano gives you the chance to experience their natural wonder up close and personal.
3. Cloud forests
The lush cloud forest of Monteverde is high on the list of Costa Rican must-sees for many travellers. Here, the morning mist lasts most of the day, continuously filtering through this dense, tropical jungle. Standing amongst primitive trees in the swirling mist feels like you've stepped back into the land of the dinosaurs.
One of the best places in the world to see turtles, Turtle Beach is tucked away within the Tortuguero National Park. It is accessible from the mainland by boat. You can stay in a rainforest lodge and an experienced guide will take you to the beach at night to see turtles digging holes and laying eggs. The stunning scenery and wildlife will create lasting memories that will stay with you and your family. And not a fake animal in sight – beat that Disneyland!
5. Tropical rainforests
The isolation of the Corcovado rainforest makes it one of the most special places in the country. Fill your senses with the sounds of the rainforest, listen to howler monkeys in the distance, smell the tropical hibiscus or spot tiny red frogs in the grass. The rainforest takes you by surprise; the quieter it seems, the more animals seem to be hiding amongst the leaves.
Boasting two very different coastlines, the Pacific and the Caribbean, Costa Rica offers some of the most amazing marine ecosystems in the world. If you have water babies they will adore snorkelling in the stunningly clear water and marvelling at the beautiful coral and sea life.
7. Sun-kissed beaches
If all the excitement leaves you needing a rest, you can switch to full chill mode to embrace the Caribbean-style east coast vibe offered by Puerto Viejo, a coastal town in Talamanca within the Limón Province. You'll find stunning beaches, reggae music and incredible Caribbean stew. It is also a surfing hot spot if you fancy hitting some waves.
8. Whales and dolphins
Take a boat ride and snorkelling trip to Isla Ballena, the only underwater national park in Costa Rica. Look out for dolphins along the coast. When snorkelling, if you're lucky the dolphins will swim right up close to the boat. The dolphins can be seen throughout the year and, if you visit in Dec-Jan, you'll have the chance to spot whales.
9. Traditional food
The food in Costa Rica is remarkably fresh, mild but also tasty. Depending on the time of the year, you can find mangos, pineapples, watermelons, melons, guanabana (soursop), guabas, passion fruit and a lot more! Rice and black beans (locally known as Gallo Pinto) is the nation's staple for most meals, often eaten three times a day! Thanks to its comfort-style, Costa Rican food is perfect for the whole family. Check out this guide to Traditional Costa Rican Food for more information. If you're worried your little ones might be slightly wary of the local food, never fear, most restaurants will have Western and European food options as well, from burgers to pizza!
Costa Rica measures its economy on happiness. And they seem to be performing very well, currently ranking number 1 in the world. As well as putting people first when measuring its economy, Costa Rica generates 99% of its power from renewable energy, and in 1949 it abolished its army in place of improved health and education. Ecotourism is one of the main economic activities of the country. Because of this, the government is dedicated to preserving its main attraction; nature and wildlife.
For more information on the best time to visit, see Rickshaw's When To Go guide.