Costa Rica Teens with surfing board

Guide to the best Costa Rica vacation with teens

Costa Rica is a natural playground where teens can explore nature up close and personal. A place where they can try new things, learn new skills, enjoy new adventures, and make new friends. With over half of the country protected within national parks and reserves, Costa Rica offers some of the most pristine wilderness areas found anywhere in the world.

The climate is warm throughout the year, making it ideal for outdoor adventures during both the summer and winter months. In fact, the country boasts three distinct seasons; rainy season (May – November), dry season (December – April), and transitional period (November – December).

In addition to its many natural attractions and favorable weather, Costa Rica remains one of the safest countries in all of Latin America. This makes it perfect for families with teenagers seeking a little excitement, or that likes a little ‘me-time’.

Overall, Costa Rica is one of the tourists\’ favorite destinations because it’s easy to navigate, affordable, and packed full of fun things to do, especially for families looking for something different. 

Here are some reasons why you should consider taking all your family here:

Relax – it\’s a safe place!

Costa Rica vacation with teens
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As mentioned, Costa Rica is widely considered one of the safest countries in Central America. In 2019, it was ranked as the 7th safest country in the world by the Global Peace Index. The country\’s low crime rate and lack of violence make it a great destination for families with teenagers that also are eager to explore on their own.

Also, English is widely spoken in Costa Rica. This is helpful for families who don’t speak Spanish. Many Costa Ricans learn English in school and are more than happy to practice with you.  Even if you or your teens don’t speak the language, you’ll be able to get by with a little bit of Spanish – and a lot of gesturing.

Food is a big deal!

When taking a family vacation with teenagers, food is a big deal for teenagers, so one issue that may arise is eating out,  but not in Costa Rica! There are a variety of food options for all types of diets including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. 

The country is also home to a number of Michelin-star restaurants. Some of the must-try dishes include Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken), Gallo pinto (a traditional Costa Rican dish), and amazing fresh fruits that no one could say no to, also Ceviche, Casados…and don’t forget the fresh-pressed sugar cane juice!

Adventure for all ages

Adventure for all ages in Costa Rica
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Forget theme parks; there are tons of activities that appeal to everyone. You don’t have to worry about missing out on anything. Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and friendly people. However, it offers much more than just sunbathing and swimming. 

When traveling with teens, it\’s important to find activities that everyone will enjoy. Costa Rica has something for everyone, from adrenaline-pumping adventures to relaxing in natural hot springs. With so many options, you\’re sure to find the perfect activity for your group, here are some activities to consider:

1. Zip Line Tours

The zip lines in Monteverde offer spectacular views of the jungle canopy and make for one of the most thrilling rides you\’ll find anywhere.

2. Paragliding

Take off into the sky above Tortuguero National Park and glide over the Caribbean Sea.

3. Horseback Riding  

Traveling through the mountains of Guanacaste, take a break from hiking and explore the area on horseback. There are a lot of options for horseback riding in Costa Rica. Some people prefer the traditional style, where you saddle up and ride off into the countryside. Others like to do guided tours that take them around beautiful parks or along trails near cities. 

Costa Rican horses are smaller than those found in the United States and are more comfortable to sit on. They are also easier to control. Most riders learn how to handle horses within five minutes of being on board.

4. Tubing and White Water Rafting

Costa Rican rivers are famous for their white water. With numerous rivers to choose from, Costa Rica offers some of the best white water rafting in the world. Costa Ricans love to go tubing down their rivers. They do it every day during the rainy season. See how far you can go down the Pacuare River in rafts with up to 10 passengers.

5. Surfing, Snorkeling, Scuba diving, and more

Costa Rica is a mecca for surfers of all levels. With over 300 beaches to choose from, you\’re sure to find the perfect spot to ride the waves. There are plenty of opportunities to surf near the ever-popular Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast, while the waters off Costa Rica\’s Caribbean Coast is crystal clear, ideal for diving and snorkeling, and teeming with unique marine life. 

6. Wildlife Encounters

Wildlife Encounters in Costa Rica
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Many tours include animal viewing such as seeing macaws, monkeys, sloths and toucans in the wild. Sea turtle conservation is another popular activity as it blends science with sustainability – and is of course at a beach! Sea turtle programs can often be seasonal, as they revolve around nesting – something that varies by species. 

For the mecca of wildlife viewing in Costa Rica, few places can compete with Manuel Antonio Park. It’s home to over 500 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, insects, plants, and fungi! Oh and the monkeys – the park is also home to 3 types – the chatty Mantled howler monkeys, the very intelligent white-faced capuchins, and the adorable and energetic red-back squirrel monkeys.

7. Soaking in natural hot springs

Costa Rica boasts some of the best natural hot spring experiences in the world. With Arenal in La Fortuna being the biggest draw. But don’t forget the Río Tempisque River – the Hacienda Guacamayas near San Jose offers a variety of activities including natural hot springs as well as horseback riding, zip-lining, hiking, rafting, and swimming.

Let them meet new people

vacation with teens in Costa Rica
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

For the most part, teens are social, and that goes for local Costa Ricans, or ‘Ticos’, too. They are proud of their country, and also very friendly – and happy to go out of their way to help and get to know you. Other options like small Surf lessons or short-term language classes are a great way to incorporate a purpose with some social connections.

Give your teens some space

When traveling, you want to feel like you\’re at home without all the stress that comes with planning a trip or staying cramped together. Costa Rica can offer great value for families wanting a little more for their vacation time and there are many affordable vacation rentals in places like Tamarindo that offer enough space for everyone to spread out. 

Add to this, there are many different types of accommodations available to travelers with teens ranging from luxury villas and private homes to more budget-friendly options like condos and apartments. No matter your preference or budget, there\’s sure to be an option for you and your teen in Costa Rica.

Overall, this is a country where everyone seems to know each other and strangers are always welcome. There’s a popular saying in Costa Rica, that goes, \”Pura Vida\” or \”Pure Life.\” This phrase embodies the Tico way of life and is used as a greeting, a farewell, or to express how good life is.