The Best Lodges in Costa Rica for Families

Natural World Safaris

15 Jun 2015

For The Whole Family ...

Costa Rica is a family holiday paradise with a great range of environments, activities and lodges it really is a destination where there is something for everybody in the family. Fresh from our latest visit to Costa Rica we have selected what we believe to be five of the very best lodges for families looking to enjoy one the natural world’s greatest destinations.

Lapa Rios

It is no surprise that Lapa Rios would feature in any top five list for families in Costa Rica. The grounds of the lodge boast its very own 1000 acre private reserve where you will more than likely encounter over time the four species of monkeys that you can find here in the Osa Peninsula (Howler, Spider, Capuchin & Squirrel) which in itself is a precious experience and one that can be enjoyed without leaving the confines of your stunning open air bungalow. 

Each room provides a mammal and bird list and as so much of the wildlife can be viewed from your own private balcony, even staying in can be a wildlife experience. There is a specialist rainforest tour just for the younger members of the family and this is where I believe that Lapa Rios begins to shine for families; in the activities available and the standard of the guiding.

This is a place where the staff are always keen to impress their sustainable credentials which run a lot deeper than you would find in most eco-resorts. Guests are presented with their own drinking bottle upon arrival so as not to proliferate the use of plastic bottles, guests are invited to enjoy their “Twigs, pigs and garbage” tour which comes highly recommended and shows firsthand the efforts that they have gone to in becoming a sustainable lodge. The onsite activities (which are all included) are too numerous to mention here but a special effort is made to include children in the conservation of the area by joining the team in the reforestation effort, learning about the medicinal benefits of the local plants, visiting the local primary school and enjoying the wild waterfalls hike. All in all I think this is one of the best wildlife experiences in Costa Rica for families and it comes from the flawless staff attention to the younger and older members of the family.

Selva Bananito

This is one for the wilder families among you! What it lacks in the luxury touches it more than makes up for in a true immersive wildlife experience. There may be no electricity in the rooms, no internet connection and most certainly no televisions! But that is exactly what this is about, connecting as much as possible with the surrounding wildlife.

Many years ago Jurgen and Sofia convinced their father to save rather than farm or log this incredibly special piece of land and have dedicated their lives to the protection of it. It is so important to note that this is not a lodge that has included a conservation project on the side but in fact a conservation project in itself and everything that the lodge does focuses towards that.

The vast majority of the materials used in the construction of the lodge was made from wood discarded from local loggers and the team here at Selva Bananito will be happy to discuss the ongoing conservation project with all members of the family whilst they are staying here. There are activities on site such as zip lining and horseback riding but getting into the forest is what this place is really about. The area of primary rainforest that the lodge has to offer contains an incredible array of wildlife and whilst the resident howler, spider and capuchin monkeys may steal the show it is the macro wildlife that will enthral visitors here with a huge variety of frogs, spiders and bird life to enjoy.

Recently the team here have found evidence of jaguar and other medium to large cats within the reserve and families can join a trip up to the camera traps where they will also search for the tell tale signs of the most famous of jungle residents. New for this year and the ultimate in sleeping out experiences here in Costa Rica is the overnight camping trip that Jurgen and his team have setup for guests. This will involve a half day hike through the forest learning about all the species along the way and spending the night in small tents far away from any noise or human habitation, this about as close to the jungle wildlife as you and your family are ever likely to come. 

Rio Perdido

Among the most unique lodges I stayed in during my time in Costa Rica, I think Rio Perdido is a brilliant stop for families with slightly older children, although it may not suit children under the age of 10 as the activities can be quite physical and currently there are no family rooms (although this is due to change towards the end of 2015).

For those that it does suit however, there are a wide range of walking trails, mountain biking trails, hot springs, water tubing and of course with this being Costa Rica, zip lining! Soon after arriving at Rio Perdido you will be offered the chance to immediately enjoy one of the onsite activities, or of course you can relax in the sumptuous swimming pool overlooking the surrounding area. There is a very vibrant feel and a strong approach towards having fun here at Rio Perdido that can at times be lacking in some luxury resorts. At Rio Perdido there is no doubt that you come here to enjoy yourself!

The zip lining course here is completely different to others that can be found in Costa Rica in that it is through a canyon rather than over the canopy and the expert team certainly enjoy their job of making sure you get the most of your experience, included in the course is a “tarzan swing” and “pendulum” cable and in my opinion the most terrifying rope bridge I have ever crossed! Although the 12 year old in front of me seemed to have no such problem with jogging merrily across it in a fraction of the time it took me to snake my way across it. The river tubing that is on offer here is good fun for all the family and while not as adrenalin inducing as the zip line course offers a far more relaxed way to explore the gorge. There are bikes available for hire and a network of cycle routes have been laid out along with a good selection of walking trails suitable for all ages and abilities. I would have to note that this is not a wildlife destination in particular and that is why I would recommend combining it with somewhere such as The Osa Peninsula as here it is all about the activities.

Pacuare Lodge

Few lodges in the world can boast an arrival quite like Pacuare Lodge (pictured above), regarded as one the top five rivers in the world for white water rafting, what better way to arrive than by rafting to the front door?! I loved this angle on your normal “transfer” and think it sets the scene for things to come from your stay at Pacuare Lodge.

Whilst the minimum age for rafting and many other activities here is 12 years old, I think this is a great place to stay for those of you who have children over this age. Whilst the more adventurous among you may opt to enjoy canyoning, canopy tours, riding rapids on inflatable kayaks there is a more relaxing massage service in the spa overlooking the Pacuare River.

The food here is among the best that I have experienced in any lodge in Costa Rica, quite how they achieve this in such a remote location I do not understand. A newly built two bedroom villa would be the perfect place to stay with your family and boasts its very own infinity pool which is large enough for the family to enjoy and overlooks the river where you can hear the ever present howler monkeys calling to one another. When the time comes to leave there is of course the option to depart the way you arrived, by raft! The team also make a point of taking a photographer along with you who will capture the action of your day on the river so your precious cameras are not affected!

Arenas Del Mar

For many families a holiday would not be complete without time spent on the beach at the end and for that part I would recommend Arenas Del Mar. The service levels here are like that to be found at Lapa Rios in that the team really seem to feel at ease with the guests no matter their age. Also from our point of view this area is more than just a beach destination but a wildlife destination in itself and you and your family can as easily be entertained enjoying the nature trails of the lodge as you would be taking a surf lesson on the beach right outside your room.

Nearby Manuel Antonio national park offers one of the best places in Costa Rica to see the squirrel monkey. Whilst it is possible for a family to take a self guided trail through Manuel Antonio to visit a beautiful and wild beach on the other side of the park to the entrance, I would always recommend that we arrange a guide as the jungle wildlife can be easy to miss without the well trained eyes of a professional. During your stay here you and your family could enjoy so many activities from lending a hand in the planting of trees, horseback riding to just relaxing on the beach. One tip here that I would certainly recommend is perhaps arranging to rent a catamaran and sail around the bay for a different view of the national park. Again it is the atmosphere here and the range of activities that makes this lodge, in my opinion, so special for a family holiday.

Get in touch if you are planning a trip to Costa Rica and we will be happy to help you tailor the perfect itinerary.

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