Spend eight days exploring Costa Rica's beaches, volcanoes, and cloud forests. These family-friendly itineraries offer both adventure and education. Divide your time between national parks, wildlife viewing excursions, and hikes to volcanoes and waterfalls, or opt for an itinerary that includes a full day of sightseeing historic San José. Families with smaller children might choose a trip with low-key outdoor activities, like a sunset catamaran cruise or a hike through a sloth habitat, while those with older kids may prefer an itinerary with zip-lining, snorkeling, and other adventure sports.

Itinerary #1: Family Trip to Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & Beaches

Discover the spectacular natural landscapes of Costa Rica on an 8-day adventure that's well suited to travelers with younger children. Spot sloths and monkeys in the wild on a guided jungle hike, soak in natural hot springs, and sail along the Gold Coast at sunset.

Hike with the family in the Costa Rican rainforest
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore the Rainforest After Dark La Fortuna
Day 2 Go on a Sloth and Bird Hike & Dip in Hot Springs La Fortuna
Day 3 Discover the Children's Eternal Forest Monteverde
Day 4 Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest on a Guided Hike Monteverde
Day 5 Enjoy a Catamaran Sailing Tour at Sunset  Tamarindo
Day 6 Boat Around Tamarindo Mangrove & Estuary  Tamarindo
Day 7 Snorkel Around the Catalina Islands Tamarindo
Day 8 Depart Cost Rica  

After arriving in San José, you will transfer to La Fortuna and spend the late afternoon and evening exploring a private ecological reserve. Observe nocturnal creatures, including exotic frogs, with your naturalist guide. On day two, you will go hiking on the Sloth Trail, keeping your eyes open for sloths clinging to the trees above you, then trek around Arenal Volcano in the afternoon.

Continue to Monteverde on day three, going for another nighttime forest hike in the largest private reserve in Costa Rica. Spot some of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve's more than 350 bird species during an excursion the following day, then move onto the surf town of Tamarindo for a sunset cruise on a catamaran. Explore the Tamarindo Estuary by boat, then finish the trip with a snorkeling excursion around the Catalina Islands. Learn more

Read about the Best Things to Do in Monteverde.

Itinerary #2: Hike, Snorkel & Sail Family Adventure

Trek to waterfalls, snorkel with giant manta rays, and boat through pristine waters at sunset on this active itinerary that also includes volcano hikes, dips in hot springs, and sloth spotting in the wild.

Try ocean kayaking with the kids
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore the Rainforest After Dark La Fortuna
Day 2 Go on a Sloth and Bird Hike & Dip in Hot Springs La Fortuna
Day 3 Discover the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge  La Fortuna
Day 4 Hike Along the Río Celeste  Tamarindo
Day 5 Kayak Around Tamarindo Mangrove & Estuary  Tamarindo
Day 6 Snorkel Around the Catalina Islands Tamarindo
Day 7 Enjoy a Catamaran Sailing Tour at Sunset Tamarindo
Day 8 Depart Cost Rica  

Begin the trip with a hiking adventure after dark, spotting nocturnal wildlife on a guided hike in a private ecological reserve. Then look for sloths in the wild before hiking around the base of Arenal Volcano and going for a dip in the natural Tabacon Hot Springs. On day three, you will venture to the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge for a boating or kayaking adventure down the Río Frio.

You'll transfer to Tamarindo on day four, stopping for a refreshing hike along the Río Celeste, one of the country's most spectacular natural attractions. Explore the region's mangrove by kayak, then spend a day snorkeling around the Catalina Islands. Your trip culminates with a catamaran tour at sunset. Learn more

For more ideas on what to see and do in Tamarindo, check out this article.

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Itinerary #3: Family Journey to the Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs of Costa Rica

On this exciting 8-day journey around the country's volcanoes, waterfall pools, and top snorkeling spots, you'll soak in hot springs in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, boat through mangroves around the Gulf of Papagayo, and go kayaking in coastal Sámara.

Snorkel in clear waters off the coast
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Soak in the Río Negro Hot Springs Rincón de la Vieja
Day 2 Hike in Rincón de la Vieja National Park Rincón de la Vieja
Day 3 Go on a Guided Rainforest Hike Rincón de la Vieja
Day 4 Sail on the Gulf of Papagayo at Sunset  Gulf of Papagayo
Day 5 Explore Tamarindo Mangrove & Estuary  Gulf of Papagayo
Day 6 Relax on the Beach in Sámara Sámara
Day 7 Kayak & Snorkel in the Ocean Sámara
Day 8 Depart Costa Rica  

Arrive in Liberia and transfer to your hotel in Rincón de la Vieja. In the afternoon, you'll go for a dip in the Río Negro Hot Springs, warmed by the country's most active volcano. Then you'll embark on a guided hike that leads to waterfalls in Rincón de la Vieja National Park the next day. Next, you'll move on to Tenorio Volcano National Park to hike along the stunning sapphire-blue water of the Río Celeste.

Midway through the trip, you'll transfer to the Gulf of Papagayo. Get an overview of the area while enjoying a sunset cruise along the Gold Coast past white-sand beaches and tropical jungles. Go boating on the Tamarindo Estuary on day five, then continue to Sámara, where you'll spend the last few days of the trip enjoying the region's beautiful beaches and going on a kayak and snorkel adventure around nearby Isla Chora island. Learn more

This article has more ideas for what to do around the Gulf of Papagayo.

Itinerary #4: Costa Rican Culture, Wildlife & Caribbean Beaches for Families

From the bustling markets of San José to rushing waterfalls and colorful rainforests, enjoy the best of Costa Rica's culture and coastal landscapes. Destinations include the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, and Cahuita National Park.

Splash and play with the kids at the base of a waterfall
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Enjoy the La Paz Waterfall Gardens San José
Day 3 Spot Wildlife on a Night Hike in Tortuguero Tortuguero
Day 4 Boat Along the Tortuguero Canals Tortuguero
Day 5 Discover the Beaches Around Puerto Viejo Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 6 Tour Cahuita National Park Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 7 Visit a Jaguar Rescue Center Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 8 Depart Costa Rica   

Start the trip with a full day of exploring the historic center of the city of San José, including markets, monuments, and museums. You will take a day trip to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, viewing the most extensive butterfly garden in the country as well as a series of impressive waterfalls. Continue to Tortuguero on day three, exploring the national park of the same name on an evening nature walk.

You will explore the flora and fauna of the national park while boating on its canals the following day, followed by a hike to the area's highest peak to enjoy views over the Caribbean Sea. Then, continue to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and Cahuita National Park for two days of cycling, snorkeling, and wildlife viewing. Finish the trip with a visit to the Jaguar Rescue Center to see animals in rehabilitation. Learn more

See the Ultimate Guide to Tortuguero National Park for more travel advice.

Itinerary #5: Volcanoes and Pacific Beaches For Families

On this family-oriented adventure, you'll explore three distinct regions of Costa Rica—Arenal and La Fortuna, the Monteverde cloud forest, and the pristine Gulf of Papagayo—enjoying kid-friendly activities along the way, including waterfall hikes, wildlife viewing tours, and a jungle canopy adventure.

Enjoy a sunset sail on the Gulf of Papagayo
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José & Explore Arenal La Fortuna
Day 2 Experience the Arenal Hanging Bridges & La Fortuna Waterfall La Fortuna
Day 3 Visit the Sky Adventures Park Monteverde
Day 4 Go on a Nighttime Nature Tour in Monteverde Monteverde
Day 5 Continue to the Gulf of Papagayo Gulf de Papagayo
Day 6 Relax on a Sunset Catamaran Cruise Gulf de Papagayo
Day 7 Choose Your Adventure in Papagayo Gulf de Papagayo
Day 8 Depart Costa Rica  

The trip kicks off in La Fortuna, where you will have the option to kayak on the lake, bike the national park, or zip-line through the forest canopy on day one. Meander along hanging bridges through the rainforest and visit La Fortuna Waterfall on day two. You'll have a full day of fun on day three at the Sky Adventures Park, featuring a sky tram, wildlife viewing experiences, and zip-lining excursions.

Spend a day in Monteverde, enjoying a guided nighttime tour of the cloud forest to spot sloths, armadillos, and sleeping birds. Then move on to the Gulf of Papagayo, spending the afternoon relaxing on the beach. You'll go on a sunset catamaran cruise on day six, then spend the last full day of the trip hiking in the jungle, enjoying a safari float or whitewater rafting on the Tenorio River. Learn more

Check out the Ultimate Guide to Arenal for more information on the region.

More Great 8-Day Costa Rica Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these other 8-day Costa Rica itineraries, with outdoor adventures, family-friendly trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 


Map of 8 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas
Map of 8 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas