Hike to volcanoes, snorkel with tropical fish, and zip-line through the rainforest on these 9-day adventures designed for families. Each trip plan offers a mix of outdoor activities and wildlife viewing. The most classic itineraries lead you from Arenal to Manuel Antonio National Park and the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Other excellent options take you off the beaten path to destinations like Tortuguero National Park, the Gulf of Papagayo, and Sámara for boat tours, kayaking in the mangrove, hiking through a sloth habitat, and other active pursuits that will challenge and inspire travelers of all ages.

Itinerary #1: Costa Rica for Families: Outdoor Adventures & Wildlife 

Ideal for families and outdoor enthusiasts, this 9-day itinerary takes you to Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde Cloud Forest, and Manuel Antonio National Park for wildlife viewing, hiking, and snorkeling.

Family in mid-jump on Costa Rica beach at sunset - Photo by Adrian Eriksson on Unsplash
A family takes advantage of a Costa Rican sunset (photo courtesy of Adrian Eriksson)
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Enjoy the La Paz Waterfall Gardens La Fortuna
Day 3 Go on a Safari Float & Hike Around Arenal Volcano  La Fortuna
Day 4 Visit the Sky Adventures Park Monteverde
Day 5 Discover the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve  Monteverde
Day 6 Travel to Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 7 Hike, Sail & Snorkel in the Park Manuel Antonio
Day 8 Explore the Underwater World of Isla del Caño Biological Reserve Manuel Antonio
Day 9 Depart Costa Rica  


You'll spend a day sightseeing in historic downtown San José, then enjoy a side trip to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, home to the largest butterfly garden in the country. Go on a safari-style float down a jungle river the following day, then hike around the base of the famous Arenal Volcano and dip in natural hot springs.

Explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest next. Kids will love soaring through the trees while zip-lining at the Sky Adventures Park, then looking for jaguars in the wild in the nearby Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. Spend the end of the trip hiking and sailing in Manuel Antonio National Park, followed by a snorkeling adventure in the Isla del Caño Biological Reserve. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Costa Rica Family Fun: Culture, Wildlife & Cloud Forests 

Offering a hands-on farm experience, cooking class, and horseback trek, this 9-day family-friendly adventure includes waterfall swimming and a ride on the longest zip-line in Latin America

A little blonde boy feeds a cow on a Central American farm
Take the kids to a Costa Rican farm to interact with the animals
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Enjoy the La Paz Waterfall Gardens San José
Day 3 Take a Costa Rican Cooking Class La Fortuna
Day 4 Go Horseback Riding to La Fortuna Waterfall La Fortuna
Day 5 Visit a Local Farm La Fortuna
Day 6 Discover the Children's Eternal Forest Monteverde
Day 7 See Orchids & Zip-line in the Forest Monteverde
Day 8 Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest on a Guided Hike Monteverde
Day 9 Depart Costa Rica  


Sightsee in San José, then take in sweeping views of the Magia Blanca Waterfall on day two. You'll learn how to make traditional Costa Rican dishes during a cooking class with a local chef before embarking on a horseback riding trip to La Fortuna Waterfall. The whole family will love cooling off in the natural pool, then warming up with a visit to the Tabacon Hot Springs for another dip.

You'll spend all of day five on a Costa Rican farm. Kids can try their hand at milking cows, while adults will appreciate the farm's beautiful orchid gardens. Explore the Children's Eternal Rainforest, followed by an afternoon of zip-lining at an adventure park. Try the Big One, the longest zip-line cable in Latin America, or the Tarzan Swing. You'll hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest on the last day of the trip. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Costa Rica Family Trip: Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs

This action-packed 9-day tour leads the whole family around Costa Rica's most spectacular natural attractions, including Rincón de la Vieja National Park, the Gulf of Papagayo, and the beautiful beaches of Sámara.

Explore the coral reef on a snorkel trip
Explore the coral reef on a snorkel trip
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 Visit a Scarlet Macaw Refuge and Breeding Center Sámara
Day 9 Depart Costa Rica  


Kick off the adventure in Rincón de la Vieja National Park with a dip in the Río Negro Hot Springs, heated by a nearby volcano. You'll go hiking in the park with the family in tow and then along the bright blue Río Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park. Move on to the Gulf of Papagayo for a sunset cruise down the Gold Coast, keeping your eyes open for dolphins and sea turtles.

Enjoy a boating trip on the Tamarindo Estuary next, a wildlife-spotting opportunity engaging for all ages. Then you'll continue to Sámara and take some time to relax on the region's white, gold, and black sand beaches. You'll go snorkeling off the coast of the island of Isla Chora and visit a scarlet macaw refuge and rehabilitation center to finish off the itinerary. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Family Adventure in Costa Rica: Wetlands, Volcanoes & Caribbean Beaches 

This family-oriented tour introduces travelers to white-sand Caribbean beaches, smoking volcanoes, and quiet estuaries teeming with wildlife for nine days of outdoor adventures and educational activities in national parks.

Learn about jaguars in a wildlife refuge in Costa Rica
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore Downtown San José San José
Day 2 Spot Wildlife on a Night Hike in Tortuguero Tortuguero
Day 3 Boat Along the Tortuguero Canals Tortuguero
Day 4 Discover the Beaches Around Puerto Viejo Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 5 Tour Cahuita National Park Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 6 Visit a Jaguar Rescue Center Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 7 Transfer to Arenal & Soak in Hot Springs La Fortuna
Day 8 Visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges & La Fortuna Waterfall La Fortuna
Day 9 Depart Costa Rica   


Get oriented in San José before heading off to Tortuguero National Park for a nighttime tour of the rainforest, looking for spiders, frogs, bats, porcupines, and more along the walk. You'll explore the park's canals by boat on day three, then hike to the top of the highest peak in the region, Cerro Tortuguero. Take in sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea before descending and boating back to the lodge.

On the second part of the trip, the family will enjoy exploring the beautiful beaches of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, then touring Cahuita National Park. Cycling, sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and wildlife viewing are all on the agenda. Learn about the rehabilitation of wild animals in the area at the Jaguar Animal Rescue Center before continuing to Arenal to spend the last few days exploring the Arenal Hanging Bridges and hiking to La Fortuna Waterfall. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Active Family Adventure in Costa Rica 

Kids will love looking for snakes in the jungle and whale-watching from a boat on this family-friendly 9-day adventure! The itinerary leads you to Arenal Volcano, Tamarindo, and the gorgeous beaches of Sámara for swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

boy happy surfing
Take the kids to the beach to surf
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore the Rainforest After Dark La Fortuna
Day 2 Go on a Guided Rainforest Hike La Fortuna
Day 3 Enjoy a Sloth and Bird Hike & Dip in Hot Springs La Fortuna
Day 4 Hike along the Río Celeste  Tamarindo
Day 5 Kayak Around Tamarindo Mangrove & Snorkel Tamarindo
Day 6 Relax on the Beach in Sámara Sámara
Day 7 Kayak & Snorkel in the Ocean Sámara
Day 8 Hike in the Werner Sauter Biological Reserve Sámara
Day 9 Depart Costa Rica  


Begin the trip with a jungle tour after dark at Ecocentro Danaus, a private ecological reserve. Then spend a few hours hiking along the stunning blue Río Celeste river. Kids will have fun looking for sloths in the trees on day three, then soaking in natural hot springs near Arenal Volcano. Move on to Tamarindo for a kayaking excursion around the mangroves and wetlands, followed by a snorkeling trip to the Catalina Islands.

You'll spend the second half of the trip in and around Sámara. Explore the area's famous beaches, then go on a kayaking and snorkeling tour off the island of Isla Chora. On the last full day of the trip, the family will go on a fantastic rainforest hiking adventure in the Werner Sauter Biological Reserve. An expert naturalist guide will lead you through the tropical dry forest as you learn about the reserve's biodiversity. Learn more

More Great 9-Day Costa Rica Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these other 9-day Costa Rica itineraries, with outdoor adventures, family-friendly trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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Map of 9 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas
Map of 9 Days in Costa Rica - 5 Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas