Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Guanacaste Region, Costa Rica with Kids

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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!

Costa Rica with kids

View from our room, lots of monkeys in there!

Costa Rica with kids

The pool was of course a huge hit with Milana. They have several pools to choose from for families, and one adults only pool.

Costa Rica with kids

In the evenings, there would be a ton of monkeys swinging in the trees by the pool. It was the highlight of the day!  

Costa Rica with kids andaz resort

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:

Costa Rica with kids

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!

Costa Rica with kids

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!

Costa Rica with kids

Then we walked by the beach:

costa rica with kids

Milana found the perfect climbing tree:

costa rica with kids

And a cute little playground by the beach:

Costa Rica with kids

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:

Costa Rica with kids

I had the casado with pork chop, which was awesome:

Costa Rica with kids

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:

Costa Rica with Kids

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.

Costa Rica with Kids
Costa Rica with Kids

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.

Costa Rica with Kids

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.

Costa Rica with Kids
Hotel grounds

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:

The chef:

And the final product:

Tamarindo is super cute and great for walking around, so be sure to explore the town while here!

Costa Rica with Kids

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.

22 Comments

  • awestruckabroad12

    Great photos. I spent a month in costa rica so this post took me way back. Your family looks precious. What great memories!

  • ourfamilytraveladventures

    We love Costa Rica! It’s so beautiful! The Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort looks so cool! We will have to check it out next time we visit.

  • RosiEscapes

    Great pics. The food ones made me hungry 🙂 I have to add this part of Costa Rica to my unending list of things to do there.

  • Eva Casey

    So adorable!! I have to agree with Milana about animal jail! So much better to see animals up close and personal in their natural habitats 🙂 It looks like you all had a blast

  • 2traveldads

    Sounds awesome, and that property looks wonderful. I’ve never heard of a departure tax. That’s so strange.

    • Milana's Travels

      Most countries build it into the price of the ticket. Costa Rica is working on that and about half the airlines do it do far!

  • Wagtailtravel

    Wow! Your pictures are incredible beautiful! and wow your daughter knows how to pose 😉 Looks like a great kid and a great vacation!

  • travelwiththegreens

    WOW! your blog is amazing. I loved all the photos. Monkeys by the pool what a fun way to be watching the wild life

  • Lance Kerwin

    Amazing Costa Rica. Been there but not on a beach holiday or wildlife viewiing. The close encounters with giraffe photos are stunning. I had one encounter back in Nairobi. It was great experience.

  • Expat and the City

    Awww what a little traveler she is!! She’s so well-behaved, especially if the person in front didn’t realize there was a child on board! Super adorable photos and great-looking hotel too!

  • Voyager

    Can see Milana had a great time, wonderful to see her being educated the fun way and how she prefers animals in the wild to those behind bars.

  • Joe

    The hotel looks lovely, and it’s great that you had monkeys and iguanas on site there (safari looks fun too, of course). Looks like the perfect trip for kids, judging by how much fun your daughter is clearly having 🙂

  • Jamie

    Seems like a lovely time, lots of memories! Seems almost like a more family-friendly African safari. I’d love to have this experience!

  • Beautifully Travelled

    I really admire people who travel with kids. I hope one day when I have my own, I will do the same. My parents travelled with my sister and me and I will be eternally grateful. It teaches you so much, especially about values and openess.

  • Your Next Big Trip

    This place looks beautiful. I have to agree with Milana about the monkeys. It must have been so exciting to see them in the wild!

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