Get Off the Beaten Path at These All-Inclusives in Costa Rica

Claire Zlobin

Rainforests, howler monkeys, beach days, and snorkeling await your family’s visit to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the places where you can visit a different region and have a vastly different experience depending on the area.  Whether you are looking for long white sand beaches that give meaning to the term picturesque or you want to explore the jungle with kids, you’ll find it all in Costa Rica—and better still, you’ll find all-inclusive resorts that fit your travel style. 


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From hiking in the cloud forest, climbing a volcano, or splashing at the beach, your kids will be awed by nature around them. Costa Rica is a diverse and family-friendly destination that offers a wide range of activities and experiences for families to enjoy. The top 5 reasons to visit Costa Rica are:

  1. Natural beauty: Known for its stunning natural beauty, with a wide variety of landscapes and ecosystems to explore, including rainforests, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes.
  2. Adventure activities: A great destination for families who enjoy outdoor adventure, with a range of activities available, such as hiking, rafting, zip-lining, and surfing.
  3. Cultural experiences: A culturally rich country with a strong tradition of sustainable tourism and conservation. Families can learn about the history and culture of the country while participating in activities such as visiting local markets, touring coffee plantations, or participating in community service projects.
  4. Family-friendly resorts: Home to a number of family-friendly resorts that offer a range of amenities and activities for children and adults to enjoy.
  5. Proximity to other attractions: Located in Central America and is close to other popular vacation destinations, including Panama and Nicaragua.

A fun way to see more of the country is to fly into San Jose and out of Liberia. You can spend a few days at hotels along the way, starting in the mountains and making your way to the beach. Most all-inclusive resorts are in the Guanacaste province, known for its long beautiful beaches. 

 

Here’s a round-up of some of the best all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica for families, from the more luxurious eco-lodges to less-expensive spots for adventurous families:

The Westin Reserva Conchal, Playa Conchal, Guanacaste

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Situated on one the most unique beaches in the world, you'll delight in the sight of Conchal beach, a long white sand beach with crushed seashells along the length of the beach. This luxury wellness resort offers families many options, including a spa, golf, the largest freshwater pool in Central America, and a kids club. Insider tip: Bring water shoes for the beach.

Online: marriott.com

 

Margaritaville Beach Resort, Playa Flamingo, Guancaste

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A short drive from Playa Conchal, you'll find Playa Flamingo, a golden sand beach with stunning sunsets. Whether you are going for a wedding or a family trip, this resort goes all out. With daily beach and resort activities and many excursions for you to explore, you won't have trouble staying busy (if that's your jam). Their family suites have the family in mind, offering kids their own bunk bed and space, even in a shared room. The beach is excellent for long walks. Since Flaming Beach is along Brasilito Bay, the waters tend to be calmer than many other beaches in Costa Rica. 

Online: margaritavillebeachresortcostarica.com

 

Hotel Riu Palace, Matapalo, Guanacaste

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If you love to explore water activities like diving or surfing, this long flat beach is off the beaten path and perfect. For families with little ones or those who want a little more chill water environment, Hotel Riu Palace offers four pools for guests to choose from and Splash Water World waterpark for kids of all ages. In addition, the hotel has a gym, table tennis, volleyball, tennis court, windsurfing, sailing, and more. You can rent snorkeling equipment and kayaks. There's even 24-hour room service! There are two resorts on the property, the Riu Guanacaste and the Riu Palace. If you stay at the Palace, you can use the amenities at both.

Online: riu.com

Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica, Playa El Jobo, Guanacaste

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The design and layout of this property soothe tired parents' souls and revitalize them simultaneously. With slides, a climbing gym, beach activities like horseback riding, and a spa, you can be as active or chill as you'd like here. This resort is in a secluded area with both ocean and jungle views. With a kids club for kids up to ages 12 and a teen zone and babysitting for those looking for couples time, dare I say it? This place sure feels like a dream.

Online: amrcollection.com

Planet Hollywood Costa Rica, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort, Gulf of Papagayo, Guanacaste

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If you are looking for the star treatment, look no further. Tucked away in Papagayo Bay, this resort is excellent for families, and generally, the bay is great for swimming with calm waters. Do you have a rising star or a fashionista? With singer/songwriter classes, drama, and showtime classes, and a wardrobe room, this kids club for kids 4-12 years of age offers something different from the usual. A large selection of tours is available at an extra cost and they include transportation from the resort. From horseback riding through tropical scenic trails, cocoa plantation tours, walking inside an active volcano crater, and raft tours along the river, you'll definitely find something your family will enjoy. 

Online: planethollywoodhotels.com

Montaña de Fuego Mountain Resort & Spa, La Fortuna, Alajuela

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Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the most visited national parks in Costa Rica. Many hiking trails and viewpoints make exploring nature and witnessing the rainforest's animals a great activity. Don't be surprised if you spot a sloth sunning on a branch, a toucan, or monkeys playing near the natural hot springs that are wider than some rivers. 

Montaña de Fuego Mountain Resort & Spa, located at the base of Arenal Volcano, is an eco-wellness retreat where even your spa services are included in your all-inclusive package. Each day you can choose a complimentary activity like bird watching, visiting a farm, taking a guided tour through the village of Villa Maleku, or visiting the thermal pools. Included in your package are unlimited spa treatments like foot reflexology, purifying volcanic mud mask, or a back massage.

Online: montanadefuego.com

Tortuga Lodge & Gardens, Tortuguero National Park, Limon

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This once-in-a-lifetime experience is located directly inside a national park. This area, often described as the Amazon of Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, is a dense jungle accessible only by boat, and the rivers are the roads. Tortuga Lodge is the only hotel in Tortuguero with a private nature reserve. Activities for families include birdwatching, hiking, river tours, and visiting Tortuguero village. See and hear the howler monkeys, and take a scenic boat ride. From August to November, you can visit the beach outside Tortuga Lodge with a guide to see baby turtles hatching. Tortuguero National Park is a more remote location, and a bit of a trek to get there, but it's worth the effort. All meals are included at this property; they can work with you to arrange transportation.

Online: tortugalodge.com

 

 

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If nature is calling to you and you'd like to explore some of the more remote areas like the Puntarenas and OSA Peninsula, your best bet is to work with a group like Tailored Costa Rica, who will put together packages for you. These areas are scenic and magical but rarely have all-inclusive packages other than food. Tailored Costa Rica will take care of everything like car rental, transportation, food packages, and booking your accommodations so you can have that all-in experience while going a bit more off the beaten path.

A note on safety:

The natural majesty of the rain forest comes with its charms and dangers, and we would be remiss if we didn't point out the importance of being aware of which beaches have strong riptides and having a conversation with your kiddos about creatures like the beautiful little frogs that are awesome to look, but one should avoid touching. 

We've spent 14 days in Costa Rica, rented a car, and explored from coast to coast with kids ages 3 and 7 without any issues. We did have family conversations around safety before we left, especially with my inquisitive 3-year-old. 

 

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