Traveling in Costa Rica is wonderful for nature and adventure lovers. But you don’t have to be an adult to enjoy all of its best activities. Regions like Arenal and Monteverde offer tons of kid-friendly things to do.
Visiting Arenal and Monteverde in Costa Rica with Kids
Among all of the regions I was able to explore years ago when I lived in Costa Rica, my favorite are definitely Arenal and Monteverde.
It is special when you get to see tons of wildlife and have a lot of different adventures, both relaxing ones and exciting ones. Visiting these regions will also give you a break from the many beaches. But by far my favorite part is the large number of activities that can be done with the whole family.
But first, there is some basic but important information that is always good to know when you travel to a new place.
Basic Information for Visiting Arenal and Monteverde with Kids
When you travel to Costa Rica, you will need to get some colones. The exchange rate for these is about ₡556 for one dollar.
You will find tons of places where the US dollar is accepted, especially at hotels and large restaurants. But it is always a good idea to have some cash in the local currency if you want to buy from smaller businesses and to maybe get discounts.
When you come to Costa Rica, come prepared with some of the basic sentences in Spanish. That is because their official language is Spanish. As it happens most of the times, most people at hotels and restaurants will speak English as well.
However, the problem starts when you go out and try to eat at that tiny local eatery or attempt to buy some handcrafts at small shops. So do some practicing before you go.
- Tour Guides: $5 to $15
- Restaurants: 10% (note: sometimes they are already added to your bill so check before you tip)
- Hotels: $1 to $2 per service.
Top Things to Do in Arenal
Hike Around the Volcano
There are several tours and trails you can take around the volcano. All of them have a different level of difficulty. My advice would be to ask a lot of question and choose the one that corresponds to your kid’s physical condition and age.
The forest is beautiful and hosts a lot of wildlife. So keep your eyes open.
Kayaking on Lake Arenal
This is a huge, man-made lake at the base of the volcano. Its waters are used for tons of different water sports. For families, the best one is definitely kayaking. It gives you more safety and independence to explore than going on other tours.
The best part is, as a parent, you get to decide on the speed to keep things child-friendly.
Natural Hot Springs
This is one of those situations where everyone wins. Almost every kid I know loves hanging out at pools and playing around in water. Plus soaking in warm water that comes directly from the natural deposits created by the nearby volcano is extremely relaxing.
So let them play in one of the pools while you relax and take advantage of all the soothing properties of naturally heated hot springs.
Bonus: Other popular activities are onsite, including walking over hanging bridges, canopy tours and horseback riding.
Top Things to Do in Monteverde
Cloud Forest Hike
Unless you really have to because time is tight, don’t try to decide on which hike to do (Arenal or Monteverde). They are both extremely different and have different animals living on it.
Just pick a trail and start exploring. The foggy climate combined with the tall trees will make you feel as if you are in some fairy tale.
Have you ever walked into a space with tons of butterflies flying around you? It is amazing. At Butterfly Garden, there is also an area where you get to learn all about these tiny insects. But most importantly you learn about how crucial butterflies are for many ecosystems.
The tour is usually short, no more than two hours, making it perfect for kids who get bored easily.
There are few tours more exciting in the region than putting on a harness and flying through the forest. The Canopy Tour offers amazing views and tons of excitement, but don’t expect to be able to enjoy the forest.
This one is all about enjoying the fun of zipping through trees on cables at high speeds. Most companies offer shorter zip lines and small equipment, making it safe for kids.
Bonus: Other popular activities are night tours of the national park and rappelling.