Forming a long, sinewy land bridge linking Mexico and the rest of North America to the South American continent, Central America has been an iffy place for family holidays for several generations now, or so it appears. Watching the television news seems to leave an impression of a place wracked by problems, while recent civil wars make one wonder if things here are truly stable.
While travel anywhere in the region can be conducted with a modicum of caution and preparation, some areas are certainly more family-friendly than others. Of the seven nations that make up the skinny but mountainous expanse of Central America, Costa Rica ranks among the best place to travel to in our professional opinion.
With a stable economy and society (there is no military here, which says a lot!), some of the most biodiverse habitats in the world, and two coasts with a character all their own, it is a place where you can feel at ease, and where there will be plenty of activities to fill your days.
What follows is a family friendly guide to Costa Rica that will get you ready for your impending trip. After the kids have been put to bed and the house is quiet, sit down with a beer/glass of wine/refreshing glass of water and plot the basic details of your impending trip here.
The $64,000 question: is it safe?
No matter where one goes in Central or South America, the question is always the same: is it safe, or will my family and I be mugged/kidnapped at gunpoint after setting one footstep outside the airport? While paying heed to your surroundings and listening to the locals is strongly advised, don’t be unduly afraid of going on a family trip to Costa Rica.
In this country, the only real areas of concern are in certain neighborhoods in the capital San Jose, and let’s face it: you’ll be transiting out of there rather quickly to more interesting places further afield. Apart from this, ensure that you only use your cards in a bank ATM (skimmers and info sellers are a bit of a problem in small businesses here), and watch out for rip currents on the Pacific Coast, and your should be fine!
Fun places to stay
Throughout Costa Rica, there are unique destinations and resorts that will engage the whole family. Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort’s proximity near the Arenal Volcano means plenty of hot springs, and lots of wildlife and volcanic exploration trips without a long day wearing out your troops, while the Nicoya Peninsula is home to tons of chilled out towns with gentler surf that makes this place suitable for young children that might not be able to handle stronger currents.
Activities that will thrill the whole family
One thing that you won’t have a problem with while in Costa Rica is finding scads of fun things to do during the day. Whether your kids are flying like superman on a zipline through the cloud forests near Monteverde and Saint Elena, challenging the rapids of the Rio Pacuare, or hanging ten with Tico surf instructors on the gentle surf breaks of Tamarindo, there is plenty to at any given time in this small but action packed nation.