Costa Rica Highlights Tour with Teenagers

A 8 day trip to Costa Rica 
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95 reviews

Tear the kids away from the television and take them out of the world of video games for an 8-day immersive Costa Rica vacation. Instead of posting selfies from the mall, they can take selfies with white-headed capuchin monkeys. They will forget about Instagramming their dinner and instead Snapchat photos gliding upside down on a zip line over the rainforest canopy. Trade in the Tumblr for a travel journal and Facebook for wildlife on a Costa Rica highlights vacation connecting teenagers and families to the wonders of eco-friendly adventures.  Consider browsing some of our other tours to Costa Rica as you create the perfect adventure for your own family.

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General Information

Photo Credit: Rainforest Chocolate Tour
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Arenal, Monteverde, Tortuguero, San Jose 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Monteverde – Arrive in San Jose and Travel to Monteverde for a Night Hike

The bustling life of San Jose often surprises newcomers to Costa Rica with its blend of contemporary shopping centers and tropical colors that wash over the homes, restaurants, and businesses scattered on the outskirts of the city center. The prestigious history of the 19th and early 20th-century plantation owners continues to decorate the neighborhoods of Amon and Aranjuez with art deco and Victorian mansions. The wealth of pre-Colombian Costa Rica shimmers beneath the soft light of the Gold Museum located at the heart of this fast-paced city.

Your private transfer greets you at Juan Santamaria International Airport and escorts you away to the life found in the outdoor market at Museo Nacional and the blend of boutique and brand name shops inside the modern complex of Plaza Real Cariari. Markets with open walls present dangling bananas and plantains alongside vibrant watermelon cut in half to showcase the stunning red interior. You reach the comforts of your gorgeous lodge nestled into the lush, dense trees of Monteverde’s Cloud Forest. The eco-resort boasts an unwavering commitment to the environment while providing unparalleled luxury overlooking the forest canopy.

Your guide greets you in the hotel lobby after you’ve had a chance to relax and you step onto the trails that crisscross the 74 acres of protected land in the fading light of the afternoon for your first introduction to Monteverde. It is also a unique welcome to your Costa Rica vacation as the nocturnal life of the forest fills the trees with sounds. You keep your flashlight close as the rich treetops darken the underbrush. Insects chirp and toucans sleep in the branches. You shine your flashlight on a bright green snake winding its body across the surrounding leaves, immediately captivating your teenagers.

What’s Included: accommodation at El Viandante, airport transfer, tour

Day 2: Monteverde – Choose your Own Adventure in Monteverde’s Cloud Forest 

At breakfast, the kids share their favorite memory of the previous night’s hike, ranging from finding the snake to discovering the unique way an anteater ambles through fallen trees. The scent of revitalizing coffee fills the dining room, accompanied by sweet pineapple and semi-sour passion fruit. Your guide greets you in the hotel lobby eager to escort you into the trees of the distinctive ecosystem.

You notice the dew lingering on the blanketing moss. In the early morning, the clouds drift across the mountaintops along the highlands at over 4,650 feet above sea level. The moss helps collect the moisture on which the trees, flowers, and bushes rely. Once in the trees, you walk along the six hanging bridges that stretch over a mile and a half. The suspension walkways move slightly with each step you take, making your exploration feel like an adventure story. The trees emanate an herbaceous aroma and orchids grow in the shade and thrive in the lingering moisture.

The cool, crisp air contrasts the tropical ambiance you expected, and your guide explains how 90 percent of all known organisms in the rainforest are found in the canopy. Shade and dim light reach the forest floor, but the sun shines brightly across the emerald treetops with forceful warmth, allowing for photosynthesis to lead to leaves, fruits, and seeds. You walk along a bridge nearly 1,000 feet long to enjoy a spectacular perspective of the canopy and your teenagers will delight in the troop of white-headed capuchin monkeys ambling amongst the branches.   

What’s Included: accommodation at El Viandante, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Arenal – Enjoy Crossing Arenal Lake and a Peñas Blancas River Safari

You wake early to enjoy a delicious breakfast while watching the clouds drift through the trees outside the dining room. You have a view over the forest canopy, which offers front row seats to the way in which the mist moves through the trees before dissipating, leaving dew its wake. You leave the view from the mountaintop and your lodge nestled in the forest trees to reach your luxury resort at Arenal. Your 4x4 vehicle takes you along the unpaved road winding toward the shores of Lake Arenal where the glassy waters of the humanmade lake reach depths of up to 200 feet.

The lake encompasses more than 30 square miles and offers a great panorama of the perfect cone of Arenal Volcano’s summit, which stretches nearly 5,500 feet above sea level. You travel across the water for a relaxing and scenic journey, coursing above the wild rainbow bass and machaca, a relative of the piranha known for its rows of sharp teeth. In the afternoon you continue to the banks of the Peñas River to board a raft.

The tropical heat around Arenal is more what you expected to feel while in Costa Rica. The river trickles against tall grass and fallen trees, dangling branches and rich leaves. The canyon walls reach an impressive height of 700 feet, and as your family drifts along the mellow waters, you notice the wealth of natural life erupting along the banks. Iguanas perch on the sun drenched banks to soak in the warm light while sloths sleep in the treetops visible from the shores below. You think that you spot a floating log before realizing it is caiman waiting for a passing meal. A keel-billed motmot sits on a small branch with its tail feather dangling. Two tassels adorn the feather and begin to twitch as you approach, a way for the motmot to tell you that it notices your presence. 

What’s Included: accommodation at Arenal Observatory Lodge, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Arenal – Delight in a Zip Line Excursion and Savor a Unique Chocolate Tour 

At breakfast, the scent of pancakes drizzled in coconut syrup fills the dining room. You listen to the waterfall spilling into the pool as the kids share their excitement for the coming zip line tour. After a detailed demonstration, you reach the first platform in the trees ready to glide over 600 feet above the rainforest grounds. You will cross seven lines including one cable that reaches nearly 2,500 feet long. The kids go before you, and they scream with excitement as they soar above the canopy. Your guide straps you to the clamp, and you lift your feet from the platform and fly down the line. The wind brushes your cheeks and your heart races from the thrill.

A white-tailed hawk circles overhead and you feel like one of the birds, enjoying the freedom of flying before stopping at the next platform. You continue your exploration of Arenal with a culinary tour where the whole family will discover the evolution of chocolate. Your guide leads you on the trails of a plantation to view the large, distinctive pods holding the seeds. The kids bang the pod against a table to open it, and you suck on the creamy filling coating the seeds to find a tangy flavor and gelatinous texture. The tropical humidity of this area helps the pods thrive. The aroma of roasting dried cacao fills the room. You help grind the nibs into a paste before tasting the velvety, decadent chocolate mixed with a small amount of sugar to balance the natural bitterness with sweetness.  

What’s Included: accommodation at Arenal Observatory Lodge, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Arenal – Venture to La Fortuna Falls on Horseback and Relax in Hot Springs

Mount a horse after breakfast for an encompassing tour of the landscape around Arenal. The horses are calm and relaxed, eager to feed on the lush grass bordering the trail. Your guide creates an easy pace to follow. Keel-billed toucans call to one another in the trees, their arched beaks shining with tropical red, blue, green, and orange hues against a vibrant yellow breast. The birds can grow to 22 inches in length with their bill reaching a third of the toucan’s overall size. Your kids point to the bird’s feet and comment on the unique, vibrant blue color of their talons.

A cacophonous call echoes through the forest. At first, you think it might be a jaguar waiting in the trees, but your guide quickly points to a troop of howler monkeys in the branches overhead. Their unmistakable deep, guttural moan can be heard up to three miles away. You dismount the horses at the beginning of a small trail to walk the remainder of the way to the waterfall. You can hear the trundling water before coming into view of the stunning 260-foot tall cascade. A slight mist rises from where the water hits the waiting pool, and you follow the more than 200 steps that lead to the smoothed rocks along the riverbanks. The cascade resembles a pure jet stream arching over the hanging ridge surrounded by verdant vines and moss. 

What’s Included: accommodation at Arenal Observatory Lodge, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Tortuguero – Relish a Scenic Adventure to Tortuguero to Visit the Village

You set out with your private transfer in the early in the morning to reach the Cano Blanco dock. The 4x4 vehicle drives along the highway passing the heavy trucks that travel back and forth between the Limon dock and San Jose. The Atlantic lowlands come into view, and you reach the town of Cano Blanco and the small dock leading into the Caribbean waterways. Boats traverse the Parismina River to the coastline and carry passengers through the preserved landscape of Parque Nacional Tortuguero. Mangrove forests and swamps populate the riverbanks, rare birds rest beneath the tropical sun, and you board the boat and take to the water traveling towards Tortuguero.

Spoonbills rest on the branches in the open sunlight, spreading their wings to dry from the earlier rains. Their distinctive beaks reassemble the wider brims of spoons, allowing them to dig into the muddy soil in search of crustaceans, insects, fish, and frogs. Your driver explains to your family the importance of the canals as the only way to reach the Caribbean village of Tortuguero, along with protecting the population of nesting sea turtles. Beyond the foliage, the Afro-Caribbean culture blends with Costa Rican traditions. Jaguars fill the jungle terrain, and spider monkeys reach for nuts along the dangling branches. Bananas grow in lush abundance on the plantations outside of town. You can touch the trees finding an absence of bark along the stump, and instead of finding a type of husk that helps the trees trap moisture.

What’s Included: accommodation at Lirio Lodge, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Tortuguero – Traverse the Remarkable Canals of Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park overtakes more than 120 square miles beginning at the southern edges of the village. In the early hours of the morning, the scent of fried plantains and simmering beans emanates from the colorful homes along the main street. A Caribbean breeze floats through the towering palms as gentle waves brush against the gold sands of the coastline. After an early breakfast, you step aboard a boat to traverse the canals of the celebrated national park on a fabulous water safari. Between June and October, travelers from around the world flock to the coastline to view the emerging green turtles as they make their way from their nests to the sea

The morning life of the national park highlights the different wilds spread throughout the rainforest. The tropical heat and seclusion make you feel as though you’re traveling in the Amazon. More than 300 species of birds linger in the trees throughout the year. You travel upstream along the serene canals, listening for birds, monkeys, and big cats. A river otter splashes into the water in search of fish, and howler monkeys call to affirm their territory. As you float on the canal, your guide points to a West Indian manatee gliding in the shallow estuary. The rare mammal can reach up to 12 feet in length and weight nearly 1,200 pounds. The kids grasp the side of the boat and lean their heads closer to the clear water for a better look at the majestic manatee swimming below.

What’s Included: accommodation at Lirio Lodge, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Tortuguero – Depart for Home

In the morning, you can hear the active howler monkeys calling to one another in the surrounding forest. From the comforts of the dining room, you notice a troop of spider monkeys grazing on fruit in the treetops. The use their prehensile tails for support as they travel the flimsier branches. You sip a refreshing cup of coffee as the kids recount their favorite excursions during your Costa Rica vacation. You will miss the adventure and luxury, along with the enticing coffee and fresh, sweet pineapple. Your private transfer greets you at the hotel and escorts you to the small runway of Tortuguero’s airport. Your brief flight takes you to Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, where you check-in for your flight home.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast 



Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.