Take Your Tween to Action-Filled Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a small country packed with opportunities for a fun and action-filled family vacation.
You can easily find things to do with young kids and teens. But I think the sweet spot for visiting this Central American country might just be tweens—kids between the ages of 10 and 13 years old—because they soak up all the educational opportunities and are old enough for some adventure.
Here are five activities this age group loves to do in Costa Rica, with suggestion on where to do them. Packages that include these activities are available, too.
5 Things to do in Costa Rica with Tweens
Visit the rainforest
Manuel Antonio National Park is a 1,700-acre park just loaded with biodiversity. Hike through three types of rain forest while you look for 109 species of mammals and nearly 200 types of birds.
Cool off after your walk at one of the park’s pristine beaches.
Open Tuesday to Sunday. Park admission is under $20 with children under 12 free. Guided tours are about $50 for adults and about $35 for children. Pay admission as you enter the park.
Save the rainforest
Kids Saving the Rain Forest is a wildlife rescue center in Quepos, near Manuel Antonio Park.
Janine Licare and Aislin Livingstone began it as a fundraising project in 1999, when they were both 9YO. Today, volunteers take in injured animals, nurse them back to health and release them in the wild.
Visitors aren’t allowed to handle these wild animals (a good sign that a park is ethical and legit), but on any given day you might get to see sloths, monkeys, birds, marmosets, tamarin monkeys or kinkajou in various stages of rehabilitation. Tours are every morning but Tuesday.
Admission is about $60 for adults and $45 for children under 12. It includes a snack and use of the pool.
Pretend you’re Tarzan
At Jaco Ropes Adventure Park, the whole family can play in jungle treetops on elevated obstacle courses.
Try rope climbing, canopy zip lines, a variety of challenging bridges, a vine passage, swings, tire and log passes while strapped into safety harnesses. Admission is $65 for adults and children.
Catch a wave
Costa Rica is known around the world as a surfing mecca. The coast line has several areas with gentle breaking waves where you and your tweens or teens can learn the sport.
The most popular beach is Tamarindo on the Pacific Northwest coast (top). There’s no shortage of surf schools offering lessons, we like Eric Atkinson of Salty Sols because he’s certified in safety measures and good with kids.
“Kids are usually just stoked from head to toe and do great once they feel comfortable in the water,” says this instructor, who has been teaching them how to pop up in whitewater for many years. “We always want the kids to gain a real appreciation for being in the ocean and to ride some great waves their first time out so they gain confidence and have fun.”
Two-hour surf lessons, which are scheduled around the tides and include a board and rash, are about $45 for adults and $35 for children under 12.
Soak in hot springs
Arenal Volcano heats the underground rivers that flow close to it, making hot springs abound.
The Kalambu Hot Springs Water Park in La Fortuna is a water park built around then.
Tweens can ride the giant Mammoth slide and three different twisty slides and run around a water play area with a giant bucket and water cannons. While they splash and scream you can relax in the numerous thermal pools.
Park hours vary by season. Admission is $32 adults, $25 children.
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Ellen Zoe Golden is a retired entertainment publicist who has worked with Billy Idol. Her communication skills have helped her as a travel agent for Costa Rica Vacations, which provides hundreds of customized travel packages to Costa Rica. In her spare time, she surfs, does yoga, runs, and writes for local newspapers like the Tamarindo News and Tico Times.