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Are you planning a trip to the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica with kids? Then you’re in the right place! We love visiting Costa Rica with kids and think this is one of the best countries to visit with kids. Read on to find out what to do in the Guanacaste region with kids.
Something to keep in mind when traveling to Costa Rica: There is a $29 (per person) departure tax you must pay at the airport before you leave (get into that line before you get into the check in line or you’ll have to go back), something lots of people don’t know! Some airlines include it in their fare, but many still don’t so it’s important to know before you leave. This is best paid in cash, since if you pay with a credit card it’s treated like a cash advance (and you’ll be charged an additional $10 or so in fees) not a credit transaction.
Where is the Guanacaste region located?
Nestled in the northwestern corner of Costa Rica, the Guanacaste region offers a treasure trove of natural wonders, cultural experiences, and family-friendly activities. With its stunning beaches, lush national parks, and welcoming local communities, Guanacaste is an ideal destination for a family vacation
Where to Stay in Costa Rica with Kids
There are many family friendly hotels in the Guanacaste region in Costa Rica. Since we had Hyatt points, we chose to stay at the Andaz Costa Rica Resort. The property is beautiful, tough very isolated so make sure you have a rental car to get around! I highly recommend applying for the World of Hyatt Credit Card and getting your room for free since the cash rates are often really high! We had a car and drove all over, so it wasn’t an issue. Our room was great and overlooked the beach. It’s really a beautiful hotel and property, definitely worth checking out! If you don’t want a car, make sure to book some tours so you aren’t sitting in a hotel all day. Costa Rica is gorgeous and coming here just to stay at the hotel would be such a waste!
The shower was huge, and opened up to the outside area. One of our favorite parts about this room!
View from our room, lots of monkeys in there!
The pool was of course a huge hit with Milana. They have several pools to choose from for families, and one adults only pool.
In the evenings, there would be a ton of monkeys swinging in the trees by the pool. It was the highlight of the day!
Normally, we don’t eat at the hotel however we didn’t want to drive 30 minutes one way just to eat every time we were hungry, so we had breakfast at the hotel and sometimes dinner. The food was surprisingly really good, though much more expensive than at the small local restaurants which is to be expected. Kids 5 and under eat free, so Milana got to pick whatever she wanted (including the breakfast buffet) for free. She’s currently obsessed with rice and beans, so her breakfast was heavy on that:
Things to do in Costa Rica with Kids
One day we visited The Monkey Farm near Play del Coco, a nonprofit organization that turned an old farm into an animal rescue center. It’s run by volunteers from all over the world and while you many not see wild monkeys on your visit, you’ll see plenty of other animals!
Milana was super excited to hold a 2 week old goat!
There were lots of other animals here as well, including horses, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, ducks, rabbits, sheep and some very happy pigs in mud!
After the farm, we drove to Playa del Coco to walk around a bit. We found a street stand with fruit that sold whole coconuts for $1, so we couldn’t pass it up!
Then we walked by the beach:
Milana found the perfect climbing tree:
And a cute little playground by the beach:
After that, it was time for lunch so we went to Soda Teresita, across from the beach. Highly recommend it. The food was local and really good!
Milana had some watermelon juice and arroz con pollo, which she loved:
I had the casado with pork chop, which was awesome:
If you see these stands, stop by and have some! It’s similar to what we had in Belize and so good. Shaved ice with cherry syrup, powdered milk and condensed milk on top, called the copo. Of course, we couldn’t pass it up since it was a favorite in Belize:
Best Costa Rica Family Hotel near Tamarindo
Our next hotel was Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas, located in Playa Langosta (right near Tamarindo). We got a 2 bedroom villa, which had 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a full kitchen, living room, dining room and a private yard with a pool! This is definitely one of the best places we’ve stayed in, with plenty of room and privacy.
Having the private pool in our yard was the best! We could just hang out and swim without having to walk to the main pool.
We really lucked out with the weather since it was sunny and hot our entire stay. It rained briefly (maybe for 20 minutes) one day and that was it! The hotel grounds are awesome for exploring, with vegetation everywhere, a huge pool for the guests whose rooms don’t have one, and even an organic garden that the restaurant uses to prepare its food.
They even have an open-air yoga studio (they should just call it natural hot yoga given the humidity!), which is also the best place to see monkeys in the evening.
The beach in front of the hotel is not swimmable, as it’s filled with rocks, but we knew that in advance and didn’t plan on sitting on the beach anyway. They have hammocks set up on the sand, where you can relax and enjoy the ocean breeze and maybe catch a glimpse of monkeys in the trees! The swimmable beach is a short 10 minute walk away, in Tamarindo. It’s a very popular surfing spot, if you’re into that!
On our last night at Cala Luna, we reserved the private chef to come to our villa and cook dinner. I highly recommend this, it was an awesome experience! He grilled mahi mahi, chicken and beef, which was served with several sides. Milana loved this!
We even had a visitor show up, a very friendly raccoon:
And the final product:
Tamarindo is super cute and great for walking around, so be sure to explore the town while here!
Our flight home the next day wasn’t until 4, so we decided to go to the Ponderosa Adventure Park, 30 minutes from the airport. We only wanted to do the safari portion (which is about an hour), but they do offer lots of other activities as well. It was definitely a lot of fun! We got to feed carrots to the zebras, giraffes, ostriches, and other animals. Dave and I did something similar near San Antonio, Texas (except there you drive yourself) and loved it, so we were excited to find the one here. Milana loved it and loved petting a giraffe!
First were the zebras:
Then the biggest hit, the giraffes!
We had an awesome trip to Costa Rica with kids! Costa Rica is a great country to visit with kids and one of the easiest to navigate with a car rental. I definitely recommend Costa Rica for your next family trip. There is so much to do and see, and so much wildlife! The Manuel Antonio side we thought had a lot more wildlife so the next time we go again, we will be going there to show Milana all of the monkeys in the wild. Want to read this post later? Pin one of the images below.