Costa Rica can be a great place to bring the family, especially if you want to share with them the richness of untouched ecosystems and the thrill of adventure tours. But it’s also a destination that requires pre-trip planning. The fact Costa Rica is a modern third world country and the language barrier can complicate the simplest of travel plans.
If you are planning to travel to Costa Rica with children, look for kid-friendly hotels and tour packages. Make sure your intended resort destination is not adult-only and also consider flying instead of driving when traveling to outlying destinations.
The government of Costa Rica requires children traveling with only one parent to present permission to travel from the legal guardian or parent who is not present. These regulations are in place to prevent human trafficking and international child abductions.
Travel experts recommend that single parents travel with a birth certificate and a notarized copy of a letter that says that both parents agree to the travel itinerary.
Immigration rules are tighter for Costa Rican children (even those born in Costa Rica to two foreign parents). Single parents need to obtain an exit permit issued by the Costa Rican immigration office before travel. You can find more information about this procedure at the Website of the Costa Rican embassy in the United States or at the US or Canadian embassies in Costa Rica.
Fly, Don’t Drive
Costa Rica’s highways are narrow, mountainous and dangerous due to fast-traveling cargo trucks. Added to the negatives of road travel in Costa Rica is the lack of addresses or street signs and the length of travel between destinations.
For these reasons, travel agents steer families away from the roads and recommend booking flights on one of two national airlines: Nature Air or Sansa. Both airlines offer reliable transportation to more than a dozen tourist destinations.
Not-To-Miss Kid-Friendly Tours
If you are traveling to Costa Rica with kids, you won’t want to miss La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which has a number of interactive displays where kids can peak under leafs for frogs or ride a traditional oxcart. This is an easy day trip from San José, which can be combined with a visit to the Poas Volcano.
You’ll also want to spend a morning at Café Britt, a fun, light-hearted tour of Costa Rica’s coffee roots (also a day trip from San José).
The dozen canopy tours that dot the country are great for kids age 8 and up. Also consider the Calypso Cruises to a remote island in the Gulf of Nicoya or the Rainforest Adventures Tour. Monteverde is an excellent option for those traveling with kids, with options such as night walks, the Frog Pond and the wildlife-rich national park.