Play hard, bond deeply, and (shh... don't tell the kids!) learn tons on Boundless Journeys' Costa Rica Family Adventure.
Costa Rica Family Tour Overview
Costa Rica is a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds. Howler monkeys, lush rainforest, lava-spewing volcanoes, hot springs, crescent shaped beaches, and a huge variety of entertaining wildlife will provide memories for your family to last a lifetime. From the Highlands of Arenal to the Pacific Coast of Manuel Antonio, we hike, raft, surf, and zip-line through this colorful country. Along the way, we have opportunities to experience tico culture with an experienced local guide. The memory of this Costa Rica family adventure tour is a gift each generation will cherish, as every moment renews in you a child-like sense of wonder in a world where there’s much to discover.
Itinerary at a Glance
Day 3: Immerse yourself in the wonderful world of Costa Rican chocolate with a hands-on tour. Take an exciting journey down the Balsa River, and enjoy lunch at an organic farm.
Day 4: Spot wildlife in Carrara National Park en route to the Pacific Coast. Enjoy lunch in the home of a local family. Conclude the day at your luxurious resort in Quepos.
Days 5-6: Discover the beauty of the rainforest with a zipline canopy tour and hikes in Manuel Antonio National Park. Learn how to surf - or perfect your technique - with our expert instructors.
Day 7: Return flight to San José and departure.
Fun for the Entire Family
THE BOUNDLESS JOURNEYS ADVANTAGE
- A passion for travel. Simply put, we love to travel, and that is woven into every one of our journeys.
- Unique, award-winning itineraries. Our flexible, hand-crafted journeys have received accolades from the world’s most revered travel publications.
- Insider connections. There is simply no substitute for traveling with a knowledgeable insider.
- Small groups. We tread softly, and our average group size is just 6-8 guests.
- Flexibility to suit your travel style. We offer both small-group departures and Private Collection trips, so that you can choose which works best for you.
- Customer service that goes the extra mile. There is no request that is too big – or too small – for our staff to handle.
- Sustainability. We are committed to traveling responsibly – striving to preserve traditions and cultures around the world, and protecting fragile natural habitats.
Our tours often fill months in advance, and our maximum group size is smaller than most tour operators. It's very quick and easy to reserve a trip. Give us a call at 800-941-8010 or complete the online Reserve a Trip form. We will confirm your reservation with a $500 per person deposit, payable by check or credit card.
Trip Rating (1 Easiest - 5 Most Strenuous)
Traveling to and from
Most Convenient Airport:
Juan Santamaria International Airport, San José, Costa Rica (airport code: SJO)
Meeting Time and Place:
A Boundless Journeys driver will meet you at the airport when you arrive in San José to drive you to your hotel (you will find the driver holding a sign with your name on it after clearing customs, and exiting the right-hand side of the terminal). Check in time at our hotel is typically after 3:00 p.m. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier, and we will do our best to arrange an early check-in time.
Departure Time and Place:
On the last day of the trip we will be flying from Quepos back to San José. We are scheduled to arrive at the San José International Airport by 9:30 a.m. Flights out on the last day of the trip should be scheduled no earlier than 12:00 p.m., although afternoon flights are safest.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Boundless Journeys’ trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Costa Rica: Highlands to the Coast Family Adventure is rated 2, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walks on this trip range from 1-5 hours. The terrain is usually gradual, although you may encounter occasional steep sections. Most walks are on unpaved paths and trails, with minimal vehicle support. Trails, at times, may be wet and slick with mud.
The zip-line tour and surf lessons are geared to all levels and all ages. The minimum age for the whitewater rafting is 9 yrs. old. A float trip is substituted for those younger than 9, or for those who prefer flat water.
Preparing for this Trip
It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. The more well prepared you are for the activities, the more you will enjoy yourself! Please engage in moderate aerobic activities (team sports, hiking, jogging, or cycling) a couple of times a week for 4-6 weeks before the tour. If you live in a flat area, try to incorporate some stairs into your workout, or use a treadmill with varying incline capability. Consult your doctor before undertaking any new fitness programs.
The temperature in Costa Rica is influenced by altitude, and varies little over the course of the year. In San José, average temps are between 59 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. When cold fronts move in, as they can at any time of year, the weather can turn cooler and wetter, typically for a few days. In Arenal you can expect moderate days and cool evenings, with average temps between 65 and 85 degrees Farenheit.
The coastal areas are typically much warmer; the Pacific coast averages lows in the mid to upper 70s and highs in the high 80’s and low 90s. You may obtain more detailed weather information by visiting www.weatherbase.com.
When to Go
The dry season is from December to April, typically with only one or two days of rain per month (although if a cold front comes in, a rainier pattern can prevail, even during the dry season).
The rainy season (or green season) begins in May and lasts until late October. During the day, the skies are generally sunny, though they usually give way to afternoon showers.
It is important that you come prepared for a variety of weather conditions regardless of the time of year. Over the course of your trip, you will likely encounter both cool, rainy weather, and warm, sunny weather. Please be prepared with clothing for both.
Costa Rica Accommodations
Overview: Comfortable San José hotel and perfectly located nature lodges with many amenities and unrivaled scenery. All private baths.
Night 1: Hotel Bougainvillea
Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica
Located in a quiet suburb of San José, Hotel Bougainvillea offers charming accommodations and a tranquil place to rest after your travels.
Nights 2 & 3: Hotel Arenal Manoa
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Nestled across the valley from the Arenal Volcano, Hotel Arenal Manoa offers one of the world's most thrilling fireworks displays – regular volcanic eruptions.
Nights 4-6: Hotel Si Como No
Quepos, Costa Rica
Proudly occupying the most idyllic hilltop in the town of Quepos, this award-winning eco-designed resort & spa provides its own signature version of “barefoot luxury” to all its guests. Featuring two restaurants, a wildlife refuge, swimming pools, and a cinema, Si Como No is also a leader in green practices and economic sustainability for the local community.
A Boundless Moment in Costa Rica...
After paddling the rapids of the Balsa River, we visit Arenal Vida Campesina, a small organic farm owned by Erasmo Gonzales and his children. The family shows us their cassava, lettuce, and plantain gardens, and the sugar cane stalks that thrive in the area’s volcanic soil—ingredients that feature later in our farm-fresh lunch, wrapped in the soft, floury tortillas we learn to make by hand.
COSTA RICA DETAILED ITINERARY
Arrival in San José
Our trip begins upon the arrival of your flight to Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José. After clearing customs, you are met by our driver and transferred to our hotel, where you can settle in and freshen up after your flight. This evening you are free to enjoy dinner at your hotel or at a local restaurant.
Hotel Bougainvillea, San José
Transfer to Arenal; Arenal Hanging Bridges; Ecotermales Hot Springs
Afternoon walk – easy to moderate, on hiking trails and suspension bridges, 3 hours; soak in natural hot springs.
This morning we are picked up by our naturalist guide for our drive to Arenal National Park abounding with diverse species, innumerable rivers, waterfalls, thermal hot springs, and of course, the majestic Arenal Volcano.
After lunch at one of our favorite local restaurants, we have the unique experience of seeing the wonders of the rainforest from a bird’s-eye view in the canopy, while traversing on suspension walkways high above the forest floor. Meandering through the trees at our own pace, we have the vantage point of eight different bridges of various lengths spanning nearly two miles of lush forest.
Early this evening, we enjoy the benefits of this geothermal area with a dip in the Ecotermales hot springs – one of the less frequented but most scenic springs in the Arenal region. There is no better way to unwind after a long day than by visiting the hot springs and treating ourselves to its naturally replenishing effects. Afterwards, we will dine at the authentic, home-style Costa Rican restaurant on-site.
Tonight we retire to our hotel, offering panoramic views of the Arenal Volcano from every room.
Hotel Arenal Manoa, La Fortuna
Chocolate Tour; Rafting the Balsa River; Vida Campesina Organic Farm
Whitewater rafting or float trip, 2 hours, Class II-III rapids, easy.
This morning we immerse ourselves in the world of chocolate, with its aromas and delicious flavors. Our tasting tour uncovers the history of chocolate, from its important role with indigenous populations to its arrival in Europe and the global market. We participate in the hands-on, chocolate making process using exotic ingredients such as cinnamon, nutmeg, Jamaica flower, and chile powder.
After getting our fill of this delicious treat, we gear up for a white water adventure down the Balsa River. Our rafting tour is ideal for families, with moderately flowing rapids interspersed with tranquil stretches, where swimming and nature watching is encouraged. The surrounding rainforest is home to several different species of monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, river turtles, iguanas, toucans, hummingbirds, and woodpeckers.
Next we continue to Vida Campesina, a small organic farm owned by Erasmo Gonzales and his children, for a late afternoon lunch. Here we are introduced to organic methods of growing cassava, lettuce, plantains, sugar cane, and more. Our new friends teach us how to make tortillas, and we enjoy them with a farm-fresh meal.
This evening we head into the town of La Fortuna, which has retained its underlying, small-town sabanero (cowboy) feel, for dinner.
Hotel Arenal Manoa, La Fortuna
Transfer to Manuel Antonio; lunch in a local home; Carrara National Park
Walk, 2-3 hours, easy; transfer time - 3.5 hrs to Manuel Antonio.
Our day begins with a drive to the Pacific Coast and the white-sand beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. En route, we stop to stretch our legs with a walk in Carrara National Park, home to one of the largest remaining wild populations of Scarlet Macaw in Costa Rica. Monkeys, crocodiles, armadillos, peccaries, waterfowls, opossums, sloths, boas, aouti, kinkajou, tayra, margay cats, jaguars, white tail deer and ozelots can also be found here. In the nearby Tarcoles River, we can observe large American crocodiles basking in the sun.
Lunch today is a highlight of our journey, as we have the opportunity to visit with a local family in the small town of Tarcoles. Here we enjoy an authentic homemade Costa Rican meal in the comfort of their home.
After lunch, we continue to Si Como No Resort, located in the jungle-covered hills just above Manuel Antonio National Park. Its pura vida vibe is perfect for families. On-site amenities include a private wildlife refuge and butterfly atrium, swimming pools, a spa, and even a cinema.
Hotel Si Como No, Quepos
La Foresta Nature Reserve; Titi Canopy Tour
Hiking – 2-3 hours, easy; Zip-line canopy tour.
After a hearty breakfast, we begin our day at La Foresta Nature Reserve, where it is possible to observe at least 50 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles, and a butterfly garden. Noteworthy and easy to spot are the troops of Titi (squirrel) monkeys, a subspecies found only in this part of the world and in great danger of extinction. La Foresta Nature Reserve has partnered with the Titi Conservation Alliance and is committed to projects designed to help the species thrive.
Next we embark on a thrilling adventure through the treetop canopy on a zipline tour. During our two hour journey, we zip through primary and secondary forest with dramatic views of the valley. Our guide will point out abundant wildlife, such as three species of monkeys, two and three-toed sloths, poison dart frogs, iguanas, and toucans. Children have the option to zip with a trusted adult if they prefer.
Later today we return to our hotel, or perhaps take a walk on the beach, before dinner.
Hotel Si Como No, Quepos
Manuel Antonio National Park
Hiking, easy to moderate – 3 hours; surf lessons, all levels.
This morning we explore the small but rich Manuel Antonio National Park. This reserve offers a rare combination of beautiful tropical coastal forest, filled with diverse species of birds, monkeys, and other mammals, as well as inviting, crescent-shaped, white-sand beaches.
By midday, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, perhaps sampling casado (rice and beans with meat) – a favorite of the locals.
This afternoon, we take to the water for surf lessons. Geared to accommodate all levels, our lesson is designed to maximize learning with training on the beach and in the water. We learn basic surfing techniques, wave dynamics, surfing etiquette, and ocean safety.
This evening we enjoy our final dinner together, and recount the incredible experiences we have shared.
Hotel Si Como No, Quepos
Flight from Quepos to San José; departure
Today we say goodbye to the pacific coast of Costa Rica, arriving at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José by 9:30 a.m. for flights home.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary to take advantage of weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these should the need arise.
- Dec 26, 2015–Jan 01, 2016
2015 Land Cost
$3,295 per person
$800 discount 11 yrs. old and under (when sharing a room with two adults); $500 discount 12-15 yrs. of age. Minimum Age: 7 yrs. old.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This does not apply to cruises in the Galapagos Islands. Please see these trip pages for more details.
- Expert leadership
- All accommodations
- All meals except one dinner
- All transportation during the trip, including boat transfers and internal flight
- Park fees
- All activities as noted in the itinerary
Please complete the following information to request a reservation. A trip deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your reservation (payable by check or major credit card). Once we receive your request we will contact you within one business day to confirm availability and answer any questions you may have.
About our guides
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work – the mark of a truly great leader – our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own.
Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Marco Fallas: Marco, an Ecotourism Specialist who is locally known as “Tex”, is full of energy and has a contagious sense of humor. With over 20 years of experience in the tourism field in Costa Rica, Marco knows his home country intimately and with enthusiasm. Combined with his vast experience in the field, Marco continues to further his local education and in the off-season has taken many courses including studies in ornithology, ecology, history, and recently nature photography. His travels in the United States have included the Grand Tetons, Minnesota, Sedona, and Michigan, and this has helped him to better understand temperate climate ecology and international culture. With his ready laugh and caring manner, it is no wonder Marco is one of our most popular tour leaders!
Nancy Madrigal: A native to San Jose, Costa Rica, Nancy was studying advertising when she was asked to train and guide in Tortuguero National Park. This experience led her to follow her childhood dream to work in nature. She is proud to celebrate 22 years of leading groups in Costa Rica and abroad. As a licensed Costa Rica guide, Nancy has taken extensive courses in natural history, botany, ornithology, and archaeology, among many others. Along with her husband Glenn, she enjoys nature walks, bird watching, photography, music, traveling and cooking. She is also a volunteer for and founder of a grief support group in Costa Rica. Nancy is a favorite guide for family tours!
Alex Arias: Alex is a passionate outdoorsman and has led nature tours for nearly 15 years in the many regions of Costa Rica’s rich landscape. We are proud to have such an active and enthusiastic Tour Leader on our team as adults, families, and children alike have all had wonderful experiences. Alex has also led adventure tours involving mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, canyon exploration, and rappelling, and has competed with adventure teams in Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. To keep things exciting, Alex has led groups of travelers and locals up to the peak of Chirripo – the highest peak in Costa Rica – several times.
Jimmy Tosso: Jimmy has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Latin America; he has visited Spain, England, Italy, France, Holland, Turkey, Germany, Greece, Mexico, and Panama. This has helped him acquire a very good understanding of other cultures which he has been able to apply as a tour guide. Jimmy admits that Italy was his favorite destination which he first visited over 12 years ago, when he first discovered his talent for Italian cooking. Jimmy is fluent in English, Italian and French. He obtained his guide license 13 years ago from the National Institute of Learning. With an exceptional sense of humor, he excels in sharing his knowledge on Costa Rican culture and nature in a refined and unique manner. Jimmy has lead groups of all different nationalities, making him an expert in the Costa Rican guiding field.
Julio Madriz: Julio grew up on a farm in rural Costa Rica where he developed his interest in the natural world. At Costa Rica University in San José, he studied microbiology before returning to farming and becoming a naturalist guide. His involvement in the production of several nature films has afforded Julio opportunities to travel throughout Europe and the Americas. He has five sons and daughters whom he considers his best gift. His hobbies include reading, running, trekking, and enjoying the outdoors. He also gets great satisfaction from introducing people of all ages to his country. He is a very enthusiastic guide and a pleasure to travel with.
What other guests have said about our guides in Costa Rica:
"There is no doubt that our guide on this visit to Costa Rica (Marco “Tex” Fallas) was the best guide I have experienced anywhere. His knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for not only the wildlife but also the culture of his country is undoubtedly an inspiration. He made this trip outstanding. He will live long in my memory and heart." – R.K., Hertfordshire, UK
“Julio was an outstanding guide and friend to the five of us and treated us like family! We have an image burned in our minds that can not be erased because he was so fantastically exciting and positive. He must be the most popular guy in Costa Rica since everyone seemed to know him; and now, just add us to his list of friends!” – E.R., Glenside, PA
"Thank you for putting together the best family vacation we have been on thus far! Everything flowed seamlessly. Our accommodations were beautiful, our guide Alex was excellent, and the itinerary was perfect. We felt like wherever we went we got special treatment because we were on a Boundless Journeys trip. Alex was so good to us and great with the kids – we all loved him. I sang praises to all I met on vacation about Boundless Journeys! Thank you for such a memorable vacation!" – H.H. & S.H., Keene, NH
"Marco was an incredible guide with endless energy and enthusiasm, a wonderful teacher of Costa Rican culture, history, wildlife, and a person full of pride for his country. He made our experience with Boundless Journeys particularly rich and unforgettable." – C.W., Portsmouth, NH
“Jimmy was the best guide ever – in over 30 trips I have taken!” – A.S., Crescent Springs, KY
“We just wanted to write a short note to let you know how wonderful our guide, Nancy Madrigal was on our trip. Her incredible knowledge of nature, history, flora, and birds was what made the trip such an extraordinary experience for both of us. She really expressed Costa Rica’s charm and warmth, and gave us all her personal attention as well as did an extraordinary job in planning and executing all of the tour details. Her favorite expression to describe various parts of our trip was “Unbelievable!” and we have to say that this is also a great description of her. We thank Boundless Journeys for asking her to be our guide, and will highly recommend your company for our friends of similar interests.” – D.W. & M.W., Salisbury, NC
"I can’t tell you how impressed I was with Marco Fallas and anyone he worked with on the trip. Marco truly made this more than a trip/vacation but a memory and experience I will never forget and will treasure. We have all walked away from this trip in complete awe of him and with a true respect for the country and how they are working to preserve what is so special and unique about it." – C.C., Lexington, MI
Picture Yourself Here:
Diverse landscapes of Arenal Volcano, the Balsa River, and the Central Pacific Coast.
Rich wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and amazing birdlife.
Cultural encounters including a visit to a family owned and operated organic farm, and lunch at a local home.
- Dec 26, 2015–Jan 01, 2016
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Prefer a private departure?
Please contact our Costa Rica expert to discuss the many possible options.
What others have said...
“Thank you for putting together the best family vacation we have been on thus far! Everything flowed seamlessly. Our accommodations were beautiful, our guide Alex was excellent, and the itinerary was perfect. We felt like wherever we went we got special treatment because we were on a Boundless Journeys trip. Alex was so good to us and great with the kids – we all loved him. I sang praises to everyone I met on our trip about Boundless Journeys! Thank you for such a memorable vacation!”
- S.H., Keene, NH
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- Denise Franz King, Palau: Oceania Odyssey