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Limón, Costa Rica

one way cruise to costa rica

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Cruise to Costa Rica to discover why the locals have been called the happiest people in the world. Costa Rica’s abundant ecotourism treasures await when you board your Carnival cruise to Limón. From here you can soar above rainforests, feel the mist from tumbling waterfalls, and swim in clear Caribbean seas. These make Limón, Costa Rica a top spot in the region for embarking on eco-adventures. When you cruise to Limón, don’t forget to check out the city itself, the source for millions of bananas that get shipped northward every year. Whether in the Caribbean waters or amongst nature on land, you’ll feel refreshed and invigorated by your cruise to Costa Rica.

  • Raft the dam-controlled Reventazón River’s powerful rapids.
  • Zipline through the canopy of the rainforest.
  • Spread out on the golden sands of a spectacular Caribbean beach.
  • Explore the Veragua Rainforest, located on the hills overlooking the Port of Limón.

Things to do in Limón

Gotta see limón.

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* Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional per person.

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Wild waves hitting the shore of Manzanillo beach on a beautiful sunny day, near Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Cruise to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Puerto limon shore excursions, amazing experiences coming soon., sorry, there are no excursions for this port at this moment., things to do in puerto limon.

Three-toed sloth animal climbing plant in the jungle of Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Three-toed sloth animal climbing plant in the jungle of Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Fly over trees on an aerial tram, zip-line through the tropical forest or spot three-toed sloths as you hike at the Veragua Rainforest Park, a 3,212-acre nature reserve with views of the remote Talamanca Range. Then head to the biological exhibit for a glimpse of the wildlife researchers as they study the creatures and vegetation that inhabit this land.

Wild Caribbean beach of Manzanillo near Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Wild Caribbean beach of Manzanillo near Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Costa Rica's beaches are known for their unspoiled beauty, and the ones in the province of Limon are especially popular for their Caribbean vibe. Relax in the white sand and warm waters at Playa Bonita, Playa Blanca or Puerto Viejo. Pick up souvenirs at the stalls set up by the water, sip on a fresh coconut, stroll by the shore as you take in the palm-fringed coast.

Plants of the rainforest, as seen from a boat in the canals of Tortuguero National Park in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Into the Wild

Limon is home to several outdoor attractions, including nature thrills like river rafting and zip-lining. If you're a nature fan looking for a more contemplative outing, then head to the Tortuguero Canal, where you can paddle among water lilies, orchids and sea turtles. Have your camera ready to catch the sloths dangling from the trees, the iguanas jumping into the water and the tropical birds overhead.

Tostones or patacones, fried green plantain slices, typical in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Local Cuisine

Taste your way through Puerto Limon and enjoy the mealnge of Spanish and Afro-Caribbean flavors. Cruise to Puerto Limon and try the distinctive dish rondon , a hearty, ginger-spiced stew of coconut milk, yams and seafood, typically fresh white fish and crab. Or sip on an agua de sapo (ginger lemonade) and snack on patacones (fried plantains) and chicharrones , slices of deep-fried pork belly brightened up with a pinch of lime.

Artisan earthware clay vase, pottery for sale in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Puerto Limon's shopping experience is as laidback as its beachy mood. Stop by casual Mercado Municipal for leatherware, ceramics, pottery and wood carvings, or go to shoreside shops in beaches like Playa Bonita for ocean-inspired souvenirs during your Costa Rica cruise.

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Costa Rica Cruises: Natural Beauty & Rich Culture

Nature rules in Costa Rica. Go whitewater rafting, visit a sloth sanctuary, or trek through the Veragua rainforest when Holland America Line cruises to Puerto Limon outside San Jose. From Puerto Caldera — the port city for Puntarenas — you can get a bird’s-eye view of the cloud forest canopy, take a mangrove river cruise, or head to a coffee cooperative in the lush Naranjo highlands. Quepos is your gateway for adventures in Manuel Antonio, crown jewel of Costa Rica’s vast national park system. 

A view of the Golfo Dulce off the coast of Costa Rica.

Cruising Golfo Dulce

A picture of people enjoying the beach in Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Costa Rica on a Panama Canal cruise excursion

Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Costa Rica

Featured shore excursions, recommended for you.

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Costa Rica Cruises from $2,199*

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Costa Rica Cruises

Unleash your inner eco-adventurer on a cruise to Costa Rica, a vibrant nation full of colorful scenery and breathtaking vistas. When cruising to Costa Rica, you might have to opportunity to tour cities like Limon, Puerto Caldera, Puntarenas and San Jose – each equally charming and in close proximity to Costa Rica’s real treasures like rainforests, jungles, waterfalls and volcanoes. Fuel your wild side with a whitewater rafting tour through the jungle, or zip line over the canopy of a lush rainforest. For something a little less strenuous, catch a show at the National Theater or enjoy a scenic boat tour—just watch out for those playful monkeys! Like many Central American nations, Costa Rica has two major coastlines, the Caribbean on the east and Pacific Ocean on the west. The experience can vary depending on which side you cruise along, with the Caribbean coast being less populous with more secluded beaches and nature preserves. Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, on the other hand, offers more opportunities for popular tourists activities like horseback riding, fishing and surfing. Regardless of which coast you sail to, Costa Rica is sure to impress.

Things to Do on a Cruise to Costa Rica

Many of the most popular excursion activities on Costa Rica cruises revolve around exploring the environment and ecosystem. Most give you a chance to experience sites and sounds—including animals—that you might never encounter back home. Get your hands on some fresh Costa Rican coffee while touring a local plantation, hike along an active volcano crater, journey into the rainforest or soothe your mind, body and soul in a geothermal spring. Highlighted below are a few of the best ways to spend your time while cruising to Costa Rica:


  • Tackle some rapids with a white water rafting adventure near Limon, Costa Rica. You’ll have relaxing scenic stretches of calm waters intertwined with wild rapids that are sure to get your adrenaline rushing.  
  • Hike through pristine protected rainforests and lush jungles as you take in all the mesmerizing wildlife, including several species of monkeys, frogs, birds, snakes and more. Costa Rica is a nature-lover’s paradise, so don’t be afraid to step off the path and take it all in!  

Coffee Plant

  • Enjoy an excursion that celebrates one of Costa Rica’s most appreciated exports – coffee! Tour a coffee plantation near Puerto Caldera and discover how the beans are carefully grown, harvested and roasted to create the perfect cup of Costa Rican coffee.  
  • Visit Poas Volcano National Park where you’ll be able to see the massive main crater, as well as the many steam vents letting sulfur escape from the Earth. Keep in mind that the availability of select volcano tours can depend on recent (or anticipated) volcanic activity.  

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

  • Explore Costa Rica from horseback on a tour around Drake Bay. Keep your hands on the reigns and your eyes peeled for wildlife as you trot along rivers, streams and beaches. Some excursions focus on the rugged Costa Rican highlands while others keep to the more tropical regions.  
  • Learn to surf at a number of Costa Rica's most picturesque beaches. The water and waves off the shoreline of Manuel Antonio Beach are especially suited for beginners with their seemingly never-ending supply of small-barrel waves.  

Map of Costa Rica:

Top 10 Costa Rica Cruises

  • Wind Star Costa Rica & Panama Canal 7D ONX-PTC (Nov 30 2024) Departing From Colon, Panama (Nov 2024)
  • Wind Star Costa Rica & Panama Canal 7D PTC-ONX (Dec 7 2024) Departing From Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica (Dec 2024)
  • Wind Star Costa Rica & Panama Canal 7D ONX-PTC (Dec 14 2024) Departing From Colon, Panama (Dec 2024)
  • Wind Star Naturally Costa Rica 7D PTC-PTC (Dec 21 2024) Departing From Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica (Dec 2024)
  • Star Pride Panama Canal, Cartagena, San Blas Islands & More 7D ORJ-BLB (Dec 21 2024) Departing From Port of Oranjestad, Aruba, Caribbean (Dec 2024)
  • Star Pride Panama Canal, Cartagena, San Blas Islands & More 7D BLB-ORJ (Dec 28 2024) Departing From Balboa, Panama (Dec 2024)
  • Wind Star Costa Rica & Panama Canal 7D PTC-ONX (Dec 28 2024) Departing From Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica (Dec 2024)
  • Wind Star Naturally Costa Rica 7D PTC-PTC (Jan 11 2025) Departing From Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica (Jan 2025)
  • Star Pride Panama Canal, Cartagena, San Blas Islands & More 7D ORJ-BLB (Jan 18 2025) Departing From Port of Oranjestad, Aruba, Caribbean (Jan 2025)
  • Wind Star Costa Rica & Panama Canal 7D PTC-ONX (Jan 18 2025) Departing From Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica (Jan 2025)

Costa Rica: Cruise Lines

Though not as popular with tourists as the Caribbean, Costa Rica offers a truly amazing experience that’s unlike anything else. This cruise destination is getting more popular each year, so we recommend seeing it soon. Listed below are the cruise lines currently sailing to Costa Rica and the neighboring Central American countries:

Windstar Cruises

Get away from the crowd and journey to unique destinations aboard Windstar’s intimate small ships.

Cruise Web

Costa Rica: Departure Ports

Costa Rican cruises might depart from both Atlantic or Caribbean cruise ports, as well as Pacific Coast departure ports. Fortunately, the increased popularity of this destination is also bringing increased availability of cruise itineraries. Whichever port you depart from, your Costa Rican cruise is sure to provide bushels of unbelievable sights and sounds. Cruises to Costa Rica depart from any of the following cruise port cities:

Balboa, Panama

Balboa, Panama

This Spanish styled city along the Pacific end to the Panama Canal is a great way to visit the capital city as well as the world famous Canal itself.  

Colon, Panama

Colon, Panama

Colon, this historically important city is a gateway to the Panama Canal and full of Latin charm and New World history. 

Lima, Peru

Lima is a hidden gem offering a lot of history, beautiful architecture, sprawling beach front and a vibrant nightlife.

Port Of Oranjestad, Aruba, Caribbean

Port Of Oranjestad, Aruba, Caribbean

Enjoy pristine beaches, lots of fun activities and perfect weather year-round in the Dutch island of Aruba.

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica

With its luscious greenery, steep cliffs, tropical beaches and nature reserves, Puerto Caldera is an amazing cruise destination for the adventurous traveler and beach lover.

Photo Gallery for Costa Rica Cruises

When cruising to Costa Rica, we encourage you to take a step off the beaten path and explore a nation that really knows how to celebrate its ecosystem and environment. Costa Rica has some of the most protected land acreage in the world, which gives you more space to explore its untouched beauty. Continue below to browse our photo gallery of Costa Rica cruises, keeping in mind that this is merely a taste.

Tree Frog in Costa Rica

Tree Frog in Costa Rica

Waterfall and Lagoon in Costa Rica

Waterfall and Lagoon in Costa Rica

Costa Rican Coastline

Costa Rican Coastline

Hummingbird in Costa Rica

Hummingbird in Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Nature Reserve in Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Nature Reserve in Costa Rica

Green Coffee Beans from Costa Rica

Green Coffee Beans from Costa Rica

Tree Frog in Costa Rica

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The ins and outs of one-way cruising

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A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com , a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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I’ve heard from a few readers interested in one-way cruises. Although several of the questions have been about cruising to and from Hawaii for an extended stay in the islands, the most recent was about the Caribbean: “I am looking for a one-way cruise from Florida to Costa Rica and then a one-way return at a later date. Any options or suggestions?”

The short answer—for both Costa Rica and Hawaii—is “no.” You can find lots on one-way cruises, but in other parts of the world. Here’s a current summary.

Where you can

Most of the interest in one-way cruising seems to focus on cruises between a port in the contiguous 48 states (or Vancouver) and offshore destinations. Presumably, some travelers are seeking either to combine a destination vacation with a leisurely ocean trip or to avoid air travel.

Major cruise lines

Most major cruise lines operate one-way cruises on three routes to/from the mainland:

  • Between Seattle or Vancouver and Whittier or Anchorage
  • Transatlantic repositioning cruises from the U.S. to Europe in the spring and Europe to the U.S. in fall
  • Segments of long-haul and round-the-world cruises, just about anywhere

One-way sailings between Seattle or Vancouver and Alaska often include travel in the other direction by air as an option (along with land excursions in Alaska). Transatlantic repositioning cruises and segments of extra-long cruises may also offer optional one-way air—usually a good deal, given that one-way intercontinental airfares are usually very high.

Seagoing ferries

You can travel one-way or even short segments along the entire paths of the Alaska Ferry, for example, and you can arrange extended stopovers at intermediate points along the way. When you total the costs of base fare, cabin space, and meals, the Alaska Ferry is really not any less expensive than the cheapest cabin on a conventional cruise ship to/from Alaska, but the added flexibility appeals to many travelers.

Freighter travel offers another approach to one-way cruising. You can usually arrange some combination of one-way, round-trip, multi-stop, and segment cruises, depending on the shipping line and the itinerary. From the U.S., you can find at least a few freighter trips to Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and South America. One-way trips run from one week to more than a month; freighter agencies generally do not get involved with air travel in the opposite direction. Freighter trips start/end in a few big ocean ports and a few Great Lakes ports. Freighter travel is a highly specialized niche market; for more information, contact one or more of the bigger freighter agencies, including Freighter World Cruises , Maris Freighter Cruises , and TravLtips .

And where you can’t

As far as I can tell, one-way cruises are not available between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii, the Caribbean, or Mexico. According to a spokesperson from CruiseCritic.com , the website gets more inquiries about Hawaii than any other one-way destination, but there are no one-way itineraries at present. And since Hawaii is a domestic destination, you can’t take a freighter there, either.

Given the steady growth of cruising and ongoing addition of new routes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some line start to offer some one-way options, at least on the more popular routes. I don’t suggest, however, that you hold your breath until that happens.

Other regions

If you want to avoid flying, you can find quite a few one-way ocean and river cruises within the U.S. and Canada. But if you’re willing to fly, you can find lots of one-way cruises that start and end overseas:

  • Within the Mediterranean and Greek Islands
  • River cruises between Moscow and St. Petersburg and along the Danube, Rhine, and other European canal/river systems
  • Between Bergen and Kirkenes along the Norwegian coast

One-way cruises within Europe often include optional open-jaw air tickets from the U.S. to the cruise’s starting point and return from its endpoint; typically, you can set the dates to allow extended pre- or post-cruise stays at one or both cruise terminals. If the cruise doesn’t include an air portion, you can easily arrange your own open-jaw itinerary.

You can also book one-way trips on many European long-distance ferries and mail boats. Several itineraries in and around the Baltic, Black Sea, and North Sea provide multi-day and multi-stop one-way ferry trips on some very exotic routes such as Scotland to Iceland. For a list of ferry lines and schedules in and around Europe, get hold of a current copy of the Thomas Cook European Timetable , available online or at good bookstores.

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Best Cruise To Costa Rica: Top Picks For An Unforgettable Experience

by Judith Eve | Aug 11, 2023 | Cruise Planning & Cruiser Lifestyle

one way cruise to costa rica

I have always thought of Costa Rica as a beautiful cruise destination.

Costa Rica is a popular destination for eco-adventurers and nature lovers alike. With its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife, it's no surprise that Costa Rica has become a hot spot for cruise vacations. In this article, we will explore the best Costa Rica cruises available in 2023 and 2024.

Celebrity Cruises offers some of the best Costa Rica cruises for those looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation. Their itineraries include stops in Puntarenas, where passengers can trek through the lush rainforests of San Luis Park or relax on the beautiful beaches. Celebrity Cruises also offers excursions to see the country's diverse wildlife, including sloths, monkeys, and exotic birds.

Royal Caribbean Cruises is another great option for those looking to explore Costa Rica's natural beauty. Their itineraries include stops in Puntarenas, as well as other destinations along the Nicoya Peninsula. Passengers can take part in eco-adventures like zip-lining through the rainforest, kayaking along the coast, or even surfing the legendary waves. With so many options for adventure and relaxation, it's no wonder that Costa Rica remains a top destination for cruise vacations.

Why Cruise to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country that boasts a diverse range of natural wonders, from its lush rainforests and stunning beaches to its active volcanoes and abundant wildlife. For those seeking an eco-adventure, Costa Rica is a prime destination, and cruising is a great way to experience all the country has to offer.

One of the major draws of Costa Rica is its rainforests, which are home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna. A cruise to Costa Rica offers the opportunity to explore these vibrant ecosystems, whether by hiking through the lush vegetation or taking a guided tour to spot some of the many species of birds, monkeys, and other animals that call the rainforest home.

Costa Rica's beaches are also a major attraction, with both calm bays for swimming and stretches of wave breaks for surfing. A cruise to Costa Rica allows passengers to visit multiple beaches along the country's coast, each with its own unique character and activities.

For those interested in geology, Costa Rica's active volcanoes offer a fascinating glimpse into the earth's inner workings. A cruise to Costa Rica may include a visit to one of these volcanoes, where visitors can see the steam vents and lava flows up close.

Another aspect of Costa Rica that draws visitors is the concept of "Pura Vida," which translates to "pure life" and is a reflection of the country's commitment to environmental sustainability and ecotourism. A cruise to Costa Rica can be a great way to support this commitment, as many cruise lines prioritize environmentally responsible practices and offer excursions that focus on conservation and education.

In summary, a cruise to Costa Rica is an excellent way to experience the country's natural wonders, from its rainforests and beaches to its volcanoes and wildlife. With a commitment to sustainability and ecotourism, Costa Rica is a destination that offers something for everyone.

Best Time to Cruise

When planning a cruise to Costa Rica, the timing of the trip can make a significant difference in the overall experience. The ideal time to visit Costa Rica depends on the traveler's preferences, budget, and availability.

The dry season, from mid-December to April, is the best time to cruise to Costa Rica. During this time, the weather is dry and sunny, and the sea is calm, making it perfect for water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and surfing. However, keep in mind that the dry season is the busiest time of the year, and prices can be higher than usual.

If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, consider cruising during the shoulder season, from May to June. Although it is slightly wetter than the dry season, the weather is still pleasant, and there are fewer crowds, making it an excellent time to explore the country's natural beauty.

It is essential to note that Costa Rica has two distinct coasts, each with its own weather patterns. The Pacific coast is dry and sunny from December to April, while the Caribbean coast has a slightly different wet and dry season. Therefore, it is crucial to consider which coast you want to visit before booking your cruise.

When it comes to availability, it is always best to book your cruise early, especially if you plan to travel during the high season. Some blackout dates may apply, so be sure to check with your cruise provider before making any reservations.

In summary, the best time to cruise to Costa Rica is during the dry season, from mid-December to April. However, the shoulder season from May to June is also an excellent time to visit if you are on a budget. Consider which coast you want to visit and book your cruise early to avoid any disappointments.

Top Cruise Lines for Costa Rica

When it comes to planning a cruise to Costa Rica, choosing the right cruise line can make all the difference. Here are some of the top cruise lines that offer exceptional service, amenities, and itineraries for their Costa Rica cruises.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises offers a wide range of Costa Rica itineraries that allow passengers to explore the country's stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and diverse wildlife. Their ships are known for their luxurious amenities, including award-winning cuisine, spa treatments, and entertainment options. Celebrity Cruises has received high ratings from Cruise Critic for their exceptional service and onboard experience.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line's Costa Rica cruises offer passengers the opportunity to explore the country's natural beauty through activities such as zip-lining, river cruises, and wildlife tours. Their ships are known for their elegant decor, spacious staterooms, and exceptional service. Holland America Line has received high ratings from Cruise Critic for their onboard experience and shore excursions.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises' Costa Rica itineraries offer passengers the chance to experience the country's vibrant culture and natural wonders. Their ships are known for their exceptional service, diverse dining options, and entertainment offerings. Princess Cruises has received high ratings from Cruise Critic for their onboard experience and shore excursions.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International's Costa Rica cruises offer passengers the opportunity to explore the country's stunning beaches, rainforests, and national parks. Their ships are known for their innovative features, including rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, and Broadway-style shows. Royal Caribbean International has received high ratings from Cruise Critic for their onboard experience and family-friendly amenities.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line's Costa Rica itineraries offer passengers the chance to experience the country's natural beauty through activities such as zip-lining, waterfall rappelling, and wildlife tours. Their ships are known for their casual atmosphere, diverse dining options, and entertainment offerings. Norwegian Cruise Line has received high ratings from Cruise Critic for their onboard experience and dining options.

When choosing a cruise line for a Costa Rica cruise, passengers should consider factors such as ship size, passenger-to-crew ratio, popularity, and partnerships with local tour operators. By selecting one of these top cruise lines, passengers can be confident that they will have an exceptional experience exploring the natural beauty of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Cruise Itineraries

Costa Rica is a popular destination for cruise ships, with many itineraries available to explore the country's stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture. Some of the most common ports of call include Puntarenas, Limón, and Puerto Caldera, which offer easy access to the Caribbean coast and its lush rainforests, as well as the Pacific coast and its stunning beaches.

Many Costa Rica cruise itineraries also include stops in other destinations in the region, such as Panama, Colombia, and the Caribbean islands. For example, some cruises depart from Fort Lauderdale or Tampa and include stops in the Panama Canal before arriving in Costa Rica. Others depart from Valparaiso or Los Angeles and include stops in San Francisco before heading south to Costa Rica.

One popular itinerary is the 10-day Costa Rica and Panama Canal cruise, which departs from Fort Lauderdale and includes stops in Cartagena, Colombia, before transiting the Panama Canal and arriving in Puntarenas. This itinerary allows passengers to experience the history and culture of Colombia, as well as the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal, before exploring the natural wonders of Costa Rica.

Another popular option is the 7-day Western Caribbean cruise, which departs from Tampa and includes stops in Cozumel, Mexico, before arriving in Limón. This itinerary allows passengers to experience the vibrant culture and cuisine of Mexico before exploring the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

No matter which itinerary you choose, a Costa Rica cruise is sure to offer a unique and unforgettable experience. From the lush rainforests and sparkling beaches to the vibrant culture and cuisine, Costa Rica has something to offer for every type of traveler.

Pricing and Booking

When it comes to booking a cruise to Costa Rica, there are a few important factors to consider, including pricing, cabin types, sailing dates, and booking agents.

Prices for Costa Rica cruises vary depending on a number of factors, including double occupancy, taxes, fees, port expenses, fuel supplements, and more. It is important to carefully review the pricing information provided by the cruise line or booking agent to ensure that you are getting a fair and accurate price for your trip.

Many cruise packages to Costa Rica offer a range of cabin types to choose from, including interior, oceanview, balcony, and suite options. The specific rates for each cabin type will vary depending on the cruise line and sailing date, so it is important to review the pricing information carefully before making a decision.

When booking a Costa Rica cruise, it is important to choose a reputable booking agent who can help you navigate the various pricing options and restrictions. Some booking agents may charge service fees or other fees to help you book your trip, so it is important to review the pricing information carefully before making a decision.

It is also important to note that cruise pricing and availability can vary depending on a number of factors, including sailing dates, cabin types, and more. To ensure that you are getting the lowest pricing possible, it may be helpful to review pricing information from multiple sources, including external websites and third-party pricing suppliers.

Overall, the average cruise prices to Costa Rica can vary depending on a number of factors, but with careful research and planning, it is possible to find a cruise package that meets your needs and fits within your budget. Additionally, it is important to review any restrictions or requirements set forth by the cruise line or the U.S. Department of Transportation, particularly for Canadian residents traveling on U.S. cruises.

Onboard and Shore Excursions

When cruising to Costa Rica, passengers can expect a variety of onboard and shore excursion options to suit their interests and preferences. Many cruise lines offer a range of activities and tours to explore the natural beauty and cultural offerings of this Central American country.

For nature enthusiasts, there are excursions to rainforests, gardens, and wildlife reserves where visitors can spot monkeys, sloths, and exotic birds. Waterfalls, rapids, and beaches provide opportunities for adventure seekers to go white water rafting, surfing, or simply soak up the sun.

Coffee plantation tours offer a glimpse into the country's agricultural industry, while zip lining and canopy tours allow visitors to experience the thrill of flying through the treetops. Hiking and walking tours are also available for those who prefer a slower pace.

Shore excursions can vary in length and transportation options, with some tours offering bus or boat rides to reach their destination. Cruise lines such as Star Clipper offer passengers the chance to explore Cahuita National Park, a protected area known for its coral reefs and diverse marine life.

For families traveling with teens, there are options for excursions that cater to their interests, such as surfing lessons or poolside relaxation at a beach resort.

Overall, there are plenty of onboard and shore excursion options to choose from when cruising to Costa Rica, allowing passengers to tailor their experience to their preferences and interests.

Eco-Adventures in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a dream destination for eco-adventures. The country is known for its lush rainforests, stunning waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Visitors can explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica through a variety of eco-tourism activities.

One of the best ways to experience eco-adventures in Costa Rica is through a cruise. Many cruise lines offer excursions that allow passengers to explore the country's natural wonders.

For example, Royal Caribbean Cruises offers a stop in Puntarenas, which is a great jumping-off point for eco-adventures. Passengers can trek through lush rainforests in San Luis Park, discover tropical flora and fauna in Pos Volcano National Park, and shower under Costa Rica's tallest waterfall at Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls.

Carnival Cruise Line also offers a stop in Limón, which is a top spot in the region for embarking on eco-adventures. Visitors can soar above rainforests, feel the mist from tumbling waterfalls, and swim in clear Caribbean seas. They can also check out the city itself, which is the source for millions of bananas that get shipped northward every year.

Trafalgar offers a Costa Rica Eco Adventure tour that allows visitors to experience the country's natural beauty up close. The tour includes visits to national parks, hikes through rainforests, and even a boat ride through the Tortuguero Canals.

Overall, Costa Rica is a fantastic destination for eco-adventures, and a cruise is a great way to experience all that the country has to offer.

I often hear people talk about their visits to Costa Rica. I think a cruise to Costa Rica would suit me just fine.

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Judith Eve, loves to write riveting articles on crusingtonpost.com. She hails from the sun-kissed regions of South Florida, residing within a stone’s throw of the bustling Fort Lauderdale and Miami cruise ports. As a native Floridian, Judith’s love for the ocean and cruising extends as far back as her memory can recall.

Her lifelong passion for travel has taken her to countless destinations around the globe, but cruising, undeniably, holds a special place in her heart. Judith has embraced the elegance of luxury liners, relished the intimacy of boutique ships, and marveled at the innovation found on the newest megaships. This varied experience makes her a well-rounded and knowledgeable commentator on everything cruise-related.

Balancing her writing career and family life with effortless grace, Judith is happily married, mother to two wonderful children, and a doting grandmother to three grandkids. Much like Judith, her family shares her enthusiasm for the sea, often accompanying her on cruise adventures and enriching her articles with their unique perspectives.

Her work for crusingtonpost.com provides readers with insightful, engaging narratives of her travels, from vivid descriptions of the picturesque locales she visits to in-depth reviews of the cruise lines she travels with. Her writing is not only an exploration of travel and cruising; it is a testament to her zest for life, her commitment to family, and her love for the ocean.

Endearing herself to readers with her warm, personable writing style, Judith has become a trusted voice in the cruising community. She is the go-to source for tips, advice, and comprehensive information on cruising. As a tireless explorer and devoted family woman, Judith Eve embodies the essence of the adventurous spirit, inspiring readers to set sail and create their own sea stories.

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How to Choose Your Costa Rica Cruise

When considering travel to Costa Rica, should one consider a small ship cruise, a land-based tour or a combination of both? Either style of travel has its merits so it really comes down to personal preference. In this Costa Rica cruise & tour guide, we outline the differences and similarities of exploring Costa Rica by land, sea or a custom trip with both. Read on for expert advice on Costa Rica resorts, hotels, eco lodges, small ships and guides, and the different types of travel within this naturalist’s wonderland of lowland rainforests, misty mountain cloud forests and active volcanoes.

a small ship with people kayaking around it in Costa Rica

IN THIS POST – How to Choose Your Costa Rica Cruise: Costa Rica Tours by Land Costa Rica Family Tours Cruise vs Land Cruise & Land Consider Your Guides

Costa Rica Small Ship Cruises

In recent years a number of small ships have been added to Costa Rica, offering another option for exploring this natural paradise. Large cruise ships have long visited Costa Rica, but these are limited to major ports and day trips from these ports. Small ships are able to explore off the ship, away from port, offering access to regions of Costa Rica that are not accessible to even the most intrepid travelers.

Many Costa Rica small ship cruises also include visits to Panama and transit from Panama to Costa Rica or reverse. This makes sense since the coastlines of Panama and Costa Rica are connected and share similar environments. But this also means that you will spend less time in Costa Rica than on a land tour.

The hallmark of a small ship cruise in Costa Rica is the ability to explore off the ship, away from port.

The hallmark of a small ship cruise in Costa Rica is the ability to explore off the ship, away from port. Small ships are able to cruise close to shore, anchoring in quiet coves and using inflatable landing craft to ferry guests ashore to relax on the beach or explore the rainforest up close. Many small ships carry kayaks, paddleboards and snorkel equipment to make the most of your coastal exploration. Activities such as rainforest hikes, snorkeling and kayaking are often led by expert naturalist guides to enhance your understanding and appreciation of the nature and wildlife you encounter. These same guides offer evening programs to entertain and enhance your knowledge of Costa Rica’s nature and culture.  Join Expedition leaders from National Geographic aboard a purpose-built expedition ship for a Costa-Rica-focused Wild Costa Rica Escape: Guanacaste Cruise or connect to Panama with their Costa Rica & the Panama Canal  cruise.


See the full list of itineraries by small ship.

Costa Rica Tours by Land & Lodges

Costa Rica tours and land-based adventures are the traditional way to explore Costa Rica and have worked well for millions of travelers. Land-based tours offer flexibility and a wide range of styles and accommodations to fit any budget—some of the world’s first and finest eco lodges are located in Costa Rica. AdventureSmith offers a number of land-based tours that are built around small groups, independent travelers and customized itineraries. Each has advantages and will appeal to different travel styles.


See the full list of land-based itineraries.

Costa Rica Small Group Guided Tours

Traveling with a small group of 8-16 guests on a pre-defined itinerary is appealing to people who are seeking quality guides at an affordable price. These itineraries have been time tested and highlight Costa Rica’s top destinations. Many also enjoy the company of traveling with like-minded travelers where the group members often start as strangers but end as close friends.

Costa Rica Independent Tours

We strongly believe that a professional guide is integral to the Costa Rica travel experience. While this is true in a rainforest setting or other environment where the guide’s expertise will enhance your understanding of the region, some guests don’t need a guide to get from point A to point B.

Independent tours book everything in advance but allow guests to travel autonomously.

Independent tours book all the transfers, accommodations and activities in advance but allow guests to travel autonomously from one place to another, utilizing local guides in each region. Independent tours such as  Pacific Costa Rica  offer couples and independent travelers a more intimate option without the distractions of a small group. They often can be customized to include the experiences and accommodations desired by each client.

traveler standing on a bridge in the Costa Rican jungle

Custom Guided Tours in Costa Rica

For more than a decade, we have seen a dramatic increase in the demand for custom tours. Travelers are often attracted to small group tours but perhaps the dates don’t work, or they want to upgrade accommodations or change the itinerary. Our Costa Rica experts work with each client to create the perfect tour based on their interests, ability and budget. Custom tours can vary from simple and affordable to extravagant and luxurious. They can be as active or as relaxed as you wish. Custom tours typically include a guide throughout the itinerary but can also be arranged with independent transfers (see above) combined with local guides in each region.

Costa Rica Family Tours

Family tours in Costa Rica are extremely popular. Traveling with children is quite different, and special care should be taken to accommodate the needs of kids abroad. The  Costa Rica Family Adventure  offers shorter travel times, kid-friendly lodges and activities suited to younger travelers. Learn more about family cruises to destinations worldwide.

children looking at an animal in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Cruise vs. Land Tour

Key considerations can help guide you in deciding between a Costa Rica small ship cruise or land tour in Costa Rica . You may wish to unpack once on a ship or you may enjoy the novelty of moving between different accommodations. Some travelers appreciate opportunities to travel by various modes on land, while others keep it simple by dedicating themselves to a Costa Rica small ship. The desired level of luxury is important to think about. And it’s smart to also recognize whether you want more authentic fare from local restaurants on land, or prefer the international staples offered by the galley staff of a ship.

Travel Logistics

Aboard a small ship cruise you will unpack only once before spending a week exploring a wide variety of destinations and habitats. Land tours are often more rugged, packing and unpacking at each new location and lodge. Travel by road or by air takes up precious vacation time. In Costa Rica, all roads lead to San Jose, so land tours are often forced to return to the center of the country before moving on to the next region. Domestic flights in Costa Rica can sometimes replace long days of travel, but the same restrictions apply with all flights returning to San Jose before connecting with another destination.


Small ships offer comfortable but not luxurious accommodations. Rooms have private baths and air conditioning. Ships offer plenty of common areas and deck space to engage with other guests or have a quiet moment alone to watch the sunset. When exploring from small ships you are often accessing regions away from roads and civilization so the only other travelers you encounter are those from your ship.

Small ships are comfortable (not luxurious) while accommodations on land-based tours vary widely.

Accommodations can vary widely in style and amenities on land-based tours. Of course the status of your hotels and lodges will largely define the price of a tour. Accommodations range from simple retreats with no air conditioning and shared bathrooms to luxurious lodges and extravagant resorts with A/C, swimming pools and upscale amenities. AdventureSmith land tours in Costa Rica strive to utilize accommodations that are rooted in the environment and provide unique access to the region’s diversity. While exploring from lodges you will, of course, encounter other guests from the lodge. But in popular national parks and reserves you will also encounter other travelers visiting from nearby towns.


See the full list of hotels & wilderness lodges.

Meals aboard small ships and on land-based tours are excellent. Food is such an important part of the travel experience but is often only given an afterthought during the booking process. Both ships and lodges strive to use the finest local ingredients, and chefs are proud to creatively represent the region’s diversity through their culinary creations. Meals are included aboard all small ships and most packaged tours, but may cost extra on independent tours.

Both ships and lodges strive to creatively represent the region’s diversity.

Aboard small ships, you will dine in a casual family-style setting with other passengers. Choices are typically limited to a meat, fish or poultry and vegetarian option. Breakfast and lunch are often buffets, while dinners are plated. On land tours meals are served in hotel or local restaurants, offering a wider variety of choices. Restaurants also offer travelers a chance to interact with locals and perhaps a chance to practice your Spanish. Costa Rica is a destination that is not well known for its cuisine and while this is changing, especially at some of the top lodges, you may find that the cuisine aboard small ships offers a more international flair. 

costa rican volcano

Costa Rica Cruise & Land Tours

Still having trouble deciding if you want to visit Costa Rica by land or sea? We suggest you try both. Combine your small ship cruise with a land tour for the ultimate Costa Rica vacation. The  Tropical Volcano & Cloud Forest Adventure is specifically designed to complement small ship cruises that begin or end in Costa Rica. AdventureSmith can also work with you to combine a Costa Rica expedition cruise with a land tour to ensure you experience the best of both options.

A Word About Guides

At AdventureSmith, we hand select our offerings so that the quality of guides is excellent aboard both small ship and land tours. As we’re a company founded by guides, this is an important consideration for us and we strongly feel that the quality of your guide will have a major influence on the success of your vacation. Both land tours and small ship cruises employ top guides who are experts at creating connections between Costa Rica’s environment and visitors. We strongly feel that a guide is an essential part of any successful trip and that traveling in Costa Rica without one is a big mistake. I once spent hours on Manuel Antonio’s Sloth Trail looking for the elusive creatures. When I returned with my guide he spotted several in the first five minutes. 

I once spent hours on Manuel Antonio’s Sloth Trail looking for the elusive creatures. When I returned with my guide he spotted several in the first five minutes.

There is one small ship cruise that rises above the rest when it comes to the quality of guides and onboard programs. Lindblad Expeditions employs a wide range of experts from National Geographic, each with their own specialty and area of focus. You will find a rotating cast of experts culled from top universities including researchers, authors, photographers and explorers. Lindblad’s  Costa Rica & the Panama Canal Cruise  appeals to travelers willing to pay a premium for an intellectual and educational experience with National Geographic in Costa Rica.

people aboard a zodiac on a costa rican river

Discover more about AdventureSmith Explorations’  Costa Rica vacations  for more information, and  contact our experts  any time to further customize how to choose your Costa Rica cruise.

This Costa Rica small ship cruise guide was originally published in 2014 and is updated periodically by our experts. Our most recent update occurred April 2020. F or more articles, advice and inspiration visit our comprehensive small ship cruise guide .

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Do you work with travel agencies- and do you do a family groups? What is the max capacity on the ships? Thank you for any information- Sylvia

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Hello Sylvia,

As small ship cruise experts, we work with ships ranging from 8 to 210 guests and take pride in educating clients about which ship is right for them . We absolutely work with family groups, big and small, as well as solo travelers and groups of all sizes. We are happy to find new travel agent partners and have more information regarding our partnerships on our Small Ship Cruise Travel Agents page. One of our Adventure Specialists will contact you soon to learn how we can help find the right trip for your clients!

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send info and pricing on this tour. I am traveling solo

Hello Tim, Thank you for your comment! Costa Rica offers a wide variety of tour options and wildlife viewing for group and solo travelers. You can preview all of our Costa Rica cruises and land trips here. One of our Adventure Specialists will be in touch soon to discuss your options!

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Toucan in Costa Rica


Discover the extraordinary wonders of this Central American paradise with a Costa Rica cruise. From the lush rainforests and pristine beaches to charming coastal towns, Costa Rica offers a tapestry of natural beauty and vibrant culture. Explore the captivating ports of Golfito and Puerto Caldera, where you can delve into the heart of this tropical oasis. Our cruises to Costa Rica provide the perfect opportunity to discover the diverse wildlife and landscapes of the country while immersing yourself in the laid-back pura vida way of living that Costa Ricans embrace.[ReadMore]


Costa Rica is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers , boasting an exceptional array of national parks and protected areas. Embark on guided excursions into the lush rainforests of the Carara National Park, where you can spot diverse wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, toucans, and tropical birds. Immerse yourself in the lush landscapes of cloud forests and national parks where misty canopies and cascading waterfalls create an ethereal ambience. Our cruises around Costa Rica provide a gateway to these natural wonders, allowing you to witness the incredible biodiversity and awe-inspiring beauty of Costa Rica.


A cruise holiday to Costa Rica isn’t complete without a chance to bask in the sun, swim in crystal-clear waters, and feel at one with nature and wildlife. Immerse yourself in the relaxed coastal lifestyle, where time slows down, and the worries of the world melt away. Our Central America cruises offer the perfect opportunity to experience the best of Costa Rica's beaches, where you can truly embrace the pura vida spirit and create lasting memories.

Cruises to Costa Rica

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Tropical Islands & Verdant Rainforests Of The Caribbean & Central America • L2504A

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  • Witness the dramatic landscapes of Antarctica
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Aurora Expeditions™

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Costa Rica & Panama Canal

Welcome to Aurora Expeditions’ Costa Rica and the Panama Canal voyage.  Immerse yourself in the remarkable coastlines of Costa Rica and Panama. Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse regions...

From USD $ 12,065.75 /pp

What is expedition cruising?

Embark on a sea-based adventure to the remote coastal regions of our globe, where unique encounters will allow you to experience nature at its most pristine.

This type of travel was born three decades ago, nurtured by rugged adventurers keen to share the magic of the wilderness with like-minded travellers. Expedition cruising brings together those with a curiosity about the world around them, a keen sense of adventure, and a desire to immerse themselves in the natural environment.

What will I do on an Aurora Expeditions cruise?

On our expedition cruises you will sail in a small, purpose-built ship with an expert, international expedition team, through some of the most amazing seascapes on earth. In small Zodiac boats, you will search for wildlife. We land on remote beaches, where you might visit a penguin colony, walk up a ridge for panoramic views or hike to see remnants of bygone eras. Our expedition team is by your side the whole time, enriching your experience with fascinating presentations and insights into remarkable places.

What do you mean by ‘expedition’?

An expedition cruise is never predictable. Every voyage is different, guided by the ever-changing weather, tides, ice conditions and our team’s deep local knowledge. We choose the best plan for each day, pushing for the ultimate experience for everyone on board. Being flexible yields incredible rewards. When we can share a spontaneous wildlife display, watch a breathtaking glacier calving or allow you a moment of true solitude, we know it’s worth it.

On an expedition cruise, we encourage you to make the most of every opportunity to nurture your inner adventurer. You can choose from a range of add-on activities to make the most of your time in these beautiful places. We have pioneered many adventure options to help you explore in your own way.

Included Activities

one way cruise to costa rica

Zodiac cruises

Explore shallow coastlines, discover secluded bays and search for wildlife in hard to reach places in our Zodiacs; sturdy, inflatable rubber speed boats.

Find out more

one way cruise to costa rica

Wildlife encounters

Join our onboard naturalists as we visit some of the most extraordinary biodiversity hotspots around the globe.

one way cruise to costa rica

Guided hikes

Adventurous hikes for all abilities. Explore historic ruins, admire local flora and fauna and hike up remote ridges to spectacular viewpoints.

one way cruise to costa rica


Whether you use a digital SLR or an iPhone, our photography guides are ready with handy hints to help you get the most out of your camera.

one way cruise to costa rica

Historic sites

Join onboard historians and discover abandoned whaling villages, compelling archaeological sites and fascinating remnants of bygone eras.

one way cruise to costa rica

Bird watching

Join your onboard naturalists and fellow birdwatching enthusiasts to watch for seabirds following the ship as they make their long journey across the ocean.

Onboard/At Sea

Our ships are designed to put people in connection with the environment. With expansive observation decks to bring you closer to the world outside, inviting communal areas, a comfortable lecture room and complimentary access to the gym, sauna, swimming pool and jacuzzis, the exploration and discovery continue whether you’re ashore or on board.

one way cruise to costa rica

Ship cruising

Find a spot on deck or in the observation lounge as the captain skillfully navigates sea ice, sails the spectacular, narrow Lemaire Channel or crosses the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal.

one way cruise to costa rica

Enthralling, informative lectures

Join our expedition specialists and learn about the captivating wildlife and natural wonders as you see them. Be swept away in tales of terror and triumph as our historians share some of the fascinating stories of human endeavor in these remote corners of the world.

one way cruise to costa rica

Wildlife watching

It’s not uncommon to spot dolphins frolicking off the bow, humpback or fin whales surfacing at sea, or majestic albatrosses and petrels soaring overhead. Get out where the action is and make sure you don’t miss a thing! Binoculars and wildlife guides are available for your use on board.

one way cruise to costa rica

Gym, Sauna & Jacizzis

In between landings you have complimentary access to the gym, our sauna (which we highly recommend after the polar plunge!) or our two jacuzzis on the top outside deck, which boast  stunning views of the world outside.

one way cruise to costa rica

Onboard Dining

You will be fuelled-up for your expedition with delicious morning and afternoon teas, and hearty meals cooked by our onboard chefs. Meal-times are a great opportunity to soak up the expedition camaraderie in our open-seating dining area. We also invite you to join your captain and expedition team for informal Captain’s Welcome and Farewell drinks, with complimentary beverages and cocktail appetisers, followed by a 3 course meal.

Optional (select itineraries)

Optional activities are popular and group sizes are limited, so if you’re interested, get in touch with our team as soon as possible. Additional fees apply. See your itinerary page of the website for details. Whether it’s adventure at sea or on land that makes you tick, we have a huge range of optional activities to help you make the most of your time in some of the most beautiful places on earth. We’ll get you out for your optional activities as often as possible, and this will be your main mode of exploration throughout your trip. Your guides will assess the conditions at each landing, and you’ll have the option to join whenever conditions allow.

one way cruise to costa rica

Sea kayaking

Silent and sleek, sea kayaks are perfect for exploring wild coastlines. Accompanied by your expert guides, you will have multiple sea kayak excursions throughout the voyage (weather permitting).

one way cruise to costa rica

Scuba diving

Get under the skin of the sea and discover the hidden wonders beneath on a guided diving option. NB: Polar diving participants must have extensive experience diving in drysuits in cold environments.

one way cruise to costa rica


Relax and catch a glimpse of the captivating underwater world just below the surface as you drift along at a leisurely pace.

one way cruise to costa rica

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP)

Put your balance to the test on the newest addition to our activity program. Paddleboard your way to a truly memorable adventure experience.

What kind of footwear do I need for our shore visits?

It is most important that you bring a comfortable pair of enclosed walking shoes to wear on board the ship. Muck boots are provided on board and are required to be worn on all landings. If you have concerns regarding extra small or large sizing, or hard-to-fit feet, we recommend you bring your own pair.

How do we dry wet clothing?

On board, you can store your wet weather gear and muck boots in your locker, found in the mudroom.

How often do we get off the ship?

We aim to get off the ship as much as possible to experience the destinations up close. Twice per day is common but more if weather, daylight hours and itinerary allow. Duration of the landings vary from site to site but at the height of the peak season, cruise operators must stick to timings allocated by authorities.

Should I bring along my own walking poles?

Yes, it’s a good idea, especially if you have trouble walking over uneven ground. Some of our landings can be on slippery rocks or deep snow, and we may go for extended walks to see different parts of our landing point. We recommend the telescopic poles, with the optional snow-basket tips. You can purchase these poles in most outdoor stores.

What if I need to go to the toilet when ashore?

Our expedition team will instruct you with these types of rules on board. Generally we ask you to relieve yourself on board before going on a landing and if the necessity arises ashore, you will be driven back to the ship.

Can I do more than one activity?

We strongly advise against selecting multiple activities as each is a dedicated activity for those with the relevant experience. To make the most of your time and money, we recommend selecting only one activity.

How fit do I need to be to travel on a Patagonian expedition?

To make the most of our voyages, you should be in good general health and able to walk reasonable distances, sometimes over uneven terrain. However, if you have problems walking on rough ground, you can enjoy the scenery closer to shore. Should you have any physical limitations please notify us well in advance of your departure, but this should not discourage you participating.

How many people on the ship?

Our ship carries an average of 132 passengers.

Where do passengers come from?

The majority of our clients come from Australia, the UK, Europe and the United States, however we do often have a mix of other nationalities on board, including our expedition team.

How much room is there for luggage?

There is ample storage space in your cabin on all our ships. Your empty baggage can be stored safely elsewhere on the ship if need be. Do you have facilities on board to download digital images from my camera?

There will be computers in the library and media room for your use.

Is the ship air-conditioned?

All our ships are air-conditioned, with the on board temperature ranging from 15°C to 25°C. You can control the temperature of your cabin by adjusting the airflow through the roof vent and turning your heater on or off.

Does the crew speak English?

The crew aboard is international and all speak English.

What is the electrical supply on board?

The electrical supply on board is 220 volts, 50 hertz. Please bring a converter if your devices use 110 volts. International electrical sockets are available in your cabin and throughout the ship. If you have many devices, it is advised you bring a multi power board.

Is there Internet, email or telephone access on board?

Onboard WiFi internet packages are available for purchase during the voyage. Telephone access for personal use is not available on board. In case of an emergency, our expedition team can facilitate communication with your family members if necessary.

What is not included in the price of the voyage?

In general, items that are not included in the cost of your voyage are: flights to and from your voyage, pre and post accommodation, transfers, drinks from the bar (alcohol and soft drinks), gratuities, Ship Shop items, laundry costs and other items of a personal nature (unless stated in your voyage inclusions). Some voyages do include certain pre- and post-cruise travel arrangements, so please check your specific voyage inclusions on the website or contact us .

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance, including medical evacuation cover, is mandatory for all Aurora Expeditions’ voyages. We advise you have insurance for voyage cancellation to ensure you will be covered financially if you are forced to cancel your voyage due to circumstances beyond your control. It is in your best interest to read carefully the General Terms & Conditions on your booking form.

How much should I tip? Are tips included, if not how much per person per day?

Gratuities /tips for crew included – to the value of USD$15 per person per day. It is at your discretion if you would like to increase/decrease the amount or remove the tip when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members.

Do you cater for special meal requests?

Yes. Our talented chefs will take your requirements into their meal planning and ensure you receive tasty, healthy meals. Please ensure you list any dietary requirements on your personal details form.

What currency do you accept on board?

The onboard currency is US dollars. All your onboard purchases including bar, laundry, ship shop, internet, and massages are charged to your shipboard account and settled by credit card or cash (US dollars only) at the end of the voyage.

Can I smoke on board?

There is a ‘No Smoking’ policy throughout the interior of our ships.

Are there hairdryers on board?

Hairdryers are provided in each cabin.

Will I get seasick?

Many people ask us if they will get seasick. It is a very difficult question to answer because it depends so much on the individual. Our experience is that a small percentage of people are seasick on any trip and most of these people are fine after a day or so at sea. If you feel that you are particularly susceptible to seasickness then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. We advise you come armed with motion sickness tablets, and there will be a doctor on board to assist with any bouts of seasickness.

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You can drive - which is a crazy and dangerous adventure, take a bus - and you'll certainly have a story to tell, or you can explore going by freighter (some freighters rent out "cabins" - sometimes in exchange for work).

or see http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=1212 .

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity.

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San Jose Hotels and Places to Stay

  • Some Information about San Jose - Costa Rica's Capital City.

one way cruise to costa rica

Around Siouxland: Cruise Main in Wayne

WAYNE NE (KTIV) - The community of Wayne will continue a long-standing tradition of Cruise Main in Wayne, beginning May 17.

“Cruise Main in Wayne” takes place on the third Friday of the month, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event starts in May and goes until September.

This year, the event will have food trucks at the south end of Wayne, as a way to make it easier for residents to access. The Wayne Economic Development Committee will also award trophies to eventgoers who bring their cars to the event including the most unusual or different car.

The event started as a memorial for Dustin Soden, a man who admired all kinds of vehicles. Soden passed in December from cancer. T-shirts will be sold not only at the event itself but also at Taco’s and More and the Elkhorn Valley Bank.

For more information on Cruise Main in Wayne, follow the link.

Copyright 2024 KTIV. All rights reserved.

one way cruise to costa rica

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  • Hotels + Resorts

14 Best Hotels and Resorts in Costa Rica

These are the best hotels in Costa Rica for every type of traveler.

Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.

one way cruise to costa rica

Arenas del Mar

Costa Rica — Travel + Leisure ’s Destination of the Year for 2024 —  is a biodiverse wonderland with rainforests, cloud forests, volcanoes, hot springs, sandy beaches along the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and incredible wildlife (including three-toed sloths and white-faced capuchin monkeys).

A hub of ecotourism, the best things to do in Costa Rica range from cloud forest hikes and chocolate farm tours to surfing and yoga. Sure, you could fill a trip with myriad activities, but it’s equally wonderful to kick back, relax, and soak in the chilled-out spirit. For these reasons and so many more, this peaceful Central American nation wedged between Nicaragua and Panama stands out as a top vacation destination and one of my all-time favorite countries to visit. (We even spent an entire month in the beach town of Santa Teresa to celebrate my son’s first birthday .)

When it comes to accommodations, the hotel scene is as diverse as the terrain and varied attractions themselves. There are beautiful beach resorts that put guests steps from the waves, luxury tented camps, more rustic eco-lodges surrounded by prolific jungles, and five-star stays focused on wellness. Budget travelers will also find cool hostels with excellent Wi-Fi that allow digital nomads to work and play the pura vida way.

To help pick the perfect home base to make your tropical vacation dreams come true, we’ve rounded up the 14 best hotels in Costa Rica according to readers, travelers, and experts.

Nayara Springs

Nayara Resorts

Also available to book at Hotels.com

It’s perfect for a romantic vacation or a relaxing grown-up escape.

Leave the kids at home; Nayara Springs is adults-only.

Lauded as a grown-up getaway with romance relaxation in spades, Nayara Springs — a World’s Best Award winner in 2021, 2022, and 2023 — is an adults-only retreat and member of Relais & Chateaux that’s tucked away in the heart of the Arenal Volcano National Park. Framed by lush flora, each of the 35 luxury villas feels like a private hideaway. While it might be tempting to spend the whole time in your spring-fed plunge pool and outdoor shower, the rest of the estate is well worth exploring, too! Not surprisingly, the amenities are equally grown-up, with daily yoga, massages, volcanic mud facials in the open-air spa, and coffee tastings as standouts. Book a table at the fine dining restaurant for a memorable date night.

The Details:

  • Accommodations: Full breakfast, free wireless internet, access to the gym, and complimentary daily yoga included
  • Location: Located in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
  • Nearby Attractions: Within the heart of the Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Rates: Rates start at $860 per night for two adults

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

Four Seasons Resort

It’s a resort lovers' dream with loads of upscale amenities.

The property attracts a lot of families.

A favorite of families, romance-seeking couples, and groups of pals, the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo — named one of the best hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure readers — truly ticks the boxes for luxury-living travelers of all ages. Occupying a prime position overlooking the waves on Costa Rica’s Peninsula Papagayo , an exclusive 1,400-acre resort community, the five-star beach resort offers two beaches, six restaurants, four pools, watersports, kids and teen clubs, and an 18-hole Arnold Palmer golf course. The modern spa encourages guests to unwind with rituals inspired by local healing traditions. Accommodations range from guest rooms and suites to sprawling private residences for more extended stays. The concierge team will happily set up excursions. Waterfall hikes to horseback riding, anyone?

  • Accommodations: On-site amenities include six restaurants, four pools, two beaches, kids and teen clubs, and an 18-hole Arnold Palmer golf course
  • Location: Located in Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica
  • Distance from Airport: 45-minute drive from Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR)
  • Rates: Rates start at $1,200 per night

Hacienda AltaGracia, Auberge Resorts Collection

Auberge Resorts Collection

Accommodations, meals, non-alcoholic beverages, mindful movement classes, amenities, and daily programming are included in the nightly rate.

Accommodations are one- or two-bedroom casitas only.

If you’re looking for R&R of the luxury variety, there’s no better place to recharge than Hacienda AltaGracia, Auberge Resorts Collection. The five-star property and World's Best Awards winner in 2023 is the pinnacle of a well-heeled holistic escape with swish accommodations and a spate of experiences to awaken the mind, body, and soul. Sweeping views of the San Isidro Valley and the sounds of bird singing set the tone for a magical stay at the 50-casita resort, which covers 180 acres of tropical forests, a coffee farm, stables, and organic gardens. For well-being seekers, The Well — the world-leading on-site wellness center — tops the list of restorative reasons to visit. Besides healing rituals and mindful movement classes, thrilling adventures like ficus tree climbing and horseback riding are also major drawcards.

  • Accommodations: Meals, non-alcoholic drinks, experience designer, domestic air transfers, and select activities included as part of the holistic rate
  • Location: Located in Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica
  • Distance from Airport: Thirty-five-minute plane ride from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO)
  • Rates: Rates start at $1,550 per night

Nayara Tented Camp

It’s five-star, safari-style glamping with rainforest views.

Buckle up for a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO).

Nestled in the heart of the Arenal Volcano National Park and drawing inspiration from luxury safari lodges in Africa and Asia, Nayara Tented Camp — a World's Best Awards winner in 2022 and 2023 — takes glamping to the next level. Tented accommodations vary in size from romantic suites to family-friendly four-bedroom villas and show off canopy beds, freestanding tubs, and volcano-view terraces with private plunge pools fed by thermal waters. Though, that’s far from the only place to take a dip! The self-guided wellness circuit comprises six interconnected hot springs heated to varying temperatures. Guests can also take advantage of the restaurants and amenities at Nayara Spring and Nayara Gardens, which are linked via footbridges and jungle pathways.

  • Distance from Airport: Two-and-a-half-hour drive from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO)
  • Nearby Attractions: Sits within the heart of the Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Rates: Rates start at $1,070 per night

Nayara Gardens

Great for families.

The property welcomes a lot of kids, especially during school holidays and the summer.

A family-friendly base camp in Arenal Volcano National Park, Nayara Gardens — a Worlds Best Awards winner in 2021, 2022, and 2023 — lures adventure lovers of all ages with its lush surroundings, hilltop rainforest views, and abundance of outdoor activities. After a full day of exploring — and ideally a little downtime in the mineral springs and resort pool — guests can refuel with Latin American or Asian fusion fare before retiring to spacious casitas with private terraces, outdoor showers, hammocks, and hot tubs. Parents won't want to miss the volcanic massage in the open-air spa pavilions.

  • Rates: Rates start at $480 per night for two adults

Origins Lodge

Delicious food and a dazzling rainforest setting.

Don’t expect to find air conditioning or televisions in the rooms.

Answer the call of the wild at Origins Lodge, an off-the-grid, eco-conscious refuge ensconced by 111 acres of untamed jungle. It’s got all the wildlife peeping (hello, howler monkeys and sloths) you’d expect, plus hiking, horseback riding, organic garden tours, and an on-property waterfall. All seven luxury lodgings have private plunge pools heated by outdoor fireplaces. The lack of televisions encourages guests to disconnect completely. Head to the stunning yoga studio or spa suite to unwind even further. Surprising for such a remote retreat, the culinary program is positively pilgrimage-worthy, with a delicious daily breakfast that’s included, as well as supplemental gourmet prix fixe lunch and dinner options with menus that change daily.

  • Accommodation: Breakfast and select activities such as yoga, on-site hikes, trekking and horseback riding to the waterfall, and an organic garden tour are included
  • Location: Located in the north rainforest jungle of Costa Rica
  • Distance from Airport: Ninety-minute drive from Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR)
  • Rates: Rates start at $908 per night for two adults

Hotel Belmar

Andres Garcia Lachner / Hotel Belmar

The carbon-neutral, planet-positive, family-owned hotel was one of the first eco-hotels in the region.

It’s located three hours from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO).

The oldest continually operated eco-lodge in Monteverde , a town at the edge of the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, Hotel Belmar provides access to boundless eco-adventures such as horseback riding, a thrilling ropes course, and ATV excursions at the adjacent Savia private reserve and Finca Madre Tierra. Even with rugged terrain and opportunities for outdoor recreation at every turn, the experience of staying at this planet-positive property and 2023 World's Best Awards winner isn’t as rugged as one might think. Treehouse-style rooms are draped in wood and have floor-to-ceiling windows, freestanding tubs, and substantial wraparound terraces. Folks keen to sample Costa Rica’s local culinary exports are in for a treat as cocktail classes and organic coffee and craft beer tastings are included in the rate.

  • Accommodations: Select activities such as on-site yoga, mocktail classes, organic coffee tastings, and craft beer tastings included
  • Location: Located in Monteverde, Costa Rica
  • Distance from Airport: Three hours from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO)
  • Nearby Attractions: On the edge of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and with access to the hotel’s Savia private reserve for eco-adventures and Finca Madre Tierra organic farm
  • Rates: Rates start at $235 per night for two adults

Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel

Hideaway Rio Celeste

Also available to book at Tripadvisor.com

It’s the only luxury hotel on the Rio Celeste.

You’re packing for the rainforest, so bring a waterproof jacket, sturdy boots, and insect repellent.

A World's Best Awards winner in 2023, Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel earns top billing for its location on an 80-acre rainforest reserve in the foothills of northern Costa Rica’s Tenorio Volcano National Park. Past guests rave about the wildlife encounters, scenic trails, exclusive swimming access, and wild spirit. Light-filled casitas look out over the gardens or rainforest. While lounging by the pool or relishing a massage at the spa, there’s a real sense that you’re a million miles away from the realities of the daily grind. Despite its off-the-grid atmosphere, the property does have Wi-Fi if you need to check on things back home (though disconnecting is obviously encouraged and honestly pretty easy to do in such a stunning environment).

  • Accommodations: Breakfast, wireless internet, and access to the gym included; private river access
  • Location: Located in Rio Celeste, Costa Rica
  • Nearby Attractions: Sits within the heart of the Tenorio Volcano National Park
  • Rates: Rates start at $435 per night for two adults

Lapa Rios Lodge

Accommodations, meals, non-alcoholic drinks, and most on-site activities are included in the rate.

The minimum guest age is 6 years old.

Set on 1,000 acres of tropical lowland rainforest overlooking the Golfo Dulce on the Osa Peninsula, Lapa Rios Lodge is a true luxury eco-lodge — and one of the first properties in the country to earn the distinction. The sustainably minded hotel supplies open-air, treehouse-style bungalows with ceiling fans, solar-heated water, and bamboo furnishings. Favored for its commitment to nature and immersive experiences, guests love seeing frogs, howler monkeys, and scarlet macaws on guided night walks and birdwatching activities. For more adrenaline-pumping adventures, why not try surfing or scuba diving? On the food front, the chefs at Brisa Azul spotlight seasonal ingredients through plant-based and carnivore-friendly menus.

  • Accommodations: Meals, non-alcoholic drinks, and select on-site experiences included
  • Location: Located on the Osa Peninsula
  • Nearby Attractions: Sits within 1,000 acres of rainforest reserve, overlooking the point at which the Pacific Ocean meets the Golfo Dulce
  • Rates: Rates start at $1,268 per night for two adults

Hotel Nantipa

Also available to book at TripAdvisor.com

It’s a boutique oasis in the chill beach town of Santa Teresa.

High season (December through April) books up quickly.

Located in Santa Teresa , a low-key beach town on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula , one of the world's Blue Zones, Hotel Nantipa channels laid-back vibes in a design-forward way that still speaks to the untamed nature of the region. Sheltered by foliage-frame pebbled paths, standalone bungalows flaunt breezy decor and indoor/outdoor showers. Our favorite feature? The private terraces with hammocks and plunge pools. While the fully stocked beachfront villas are perfect for multigenerational families and larger groups. There’s also a lovely main pool and an intimate spa sanctuary. Manzu Restaurant occupies a prime spot right on the sand. It’s a splendid setting to eat fresh sea bass ceviche, sip on a pineapple margarita, and watch the sunset.

  • Accommodations: Breakfast included, on-site activities include yoga, movie nights, beach clean-ups, and surfboard rentals
  • Location: Located in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
  • Distance to Airport: Fifty-minute drive from Tambor Airport (TMU)
  • Rates: Rates start at $495 per night for two adults

Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort

It’s the only luxury resort in Manuel Antonio that’s right on the beach.

You’ll need to take a flight, rent a car, or arrange transport through the hotel from San Jose to Arenas del Mar.

Positioned within an 11-acre private nature reserve that connects to Manuel Antonio National Park, Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort is the luxury beachfront resort in Manuel Antonio. So, if you’re a fan of swimming in the ocean, building sandcastles, and lounging under a shaded umbrella, it’s the best option. Further distinguishing itself from other properties in the area, it has luxury suites with sweeping views and plush king-size beds that helped earn it a coveted spot on T+L’s World's Best Awards list in 2023. The property also brings guests close to incredible wildlife with the chance to spot red-eyed tree frogs on nocturnal walks with in-house naturalists and go on daytime excursions to the biodiverse Barú National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Accommodations: Full a la carte breakfast included
  • Location: Located in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
  • Nearby Attractions: Sits within an 11-acre private nature reserve and connects to Manuel Antonio National Park

Pacuare Lodge

The minimum guest age is 7 years old.

There are no roads leading to Pacuare Lodge; most guests arrive via the Pacuare River.

Pacuare Lodge makes eco-tourism dreams come true, starting with the adrenaline-pumping approach. Most guests arrive at the far-flung refuge by rafting in on one of the world’s most beautiful white-water rivers. The thrills continue with ziplining through the forest canopy and canyoning. A scenic backdrop for adventure or relaxation, the intimate property marries an untamed landscape and indigenous Cabécar-inspired architecture. When it’s time to kick back, gardens and secluded suites with large terraces and private spring-fed pools await. Alternatively, a trip to Jawa Juü Spa or downward dog by the river is a great way to reset. True to its low-impact quintessence, the culinary program takes a farm-to-table approach emphasizing fresh, local ingredients.

  • Accommodations : Meals, non-alcoholic drinks, transportation, select on-site experiences, and electric golf carts to get around included
  • Location: Located in Turrialba, Costa Rica
  • Rates: Rates start at $1,336 per night for two adults

Finca Rosa Blanca

Piotr Bratosiewicz / Finca Rosa

The signature shade-grown organic coffee tour includes a cupping experience.

It is close to the capital but far from the beach (about two hours).

Situated in the highlands above the capital of San Jose, Finca Rosa Blanca blends hospitality and agriculture. A 14-key inn and sustainable coffee farm, the property is the perfect place to sip home-grown java while admiring the majesty of volcanoes and tropical forests. Not surprisingly, given the quality of the crops, the gourmet offerings are a standout across the board. The cuisine celebrates the region's culinary traditions while introducing creative twists that excite the palate. In addition to touring the shade-grown coffee plantation and tantalizing their tastebuds, guests have the opportunity to swim in the infinity pool, do yoga, go on excursions with in-house naturalist guides, bliss out at the wellness center, and snooze in character-filled suites featuring comfy beds, jacuzzi tubs, private verandas, and hand-crafted artwork.

  • Accommodations: Breakfast, afternoon Rosa Blanca organic coffee, and cookies included
  • Location: Located in the coffee highlands of the Central Vally in Costa Rica
  • Distance from Airport: Twenty-five-minute drive ride from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO)
  • Rates: Rates start at $360 per night for two adults

Hotel Aguas Claras

Full board upgrades are available.

The high season is typically the opposite of the rest of Costa Rica’s peak rainy period.

Seated between the rainforest and beach on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, Hotel Aguas Claras gives travelers a taste of two different realms of natural beauty. That means access to Playa Chiquita and an abundance of tropical flora. Besides its spellbinding nature, it has plenty of design credentials courtesy of individually designed one- and two-bedroom bungalows and themed suites appointed with local art and handcrafted decor. At this easy-going boutique oasis in Puerto Viejo, guests can also look forward to experiencing Afro-Caribbean culture. Love aquatic adventures? The property is located just 25 minutes from Cahuita National Park, which houses the country's largest system of coral reefs.

  • Location: Located in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
  • Distance from Airport: Twenty-five minutes from Cahuita National Park
  • Rates: Rates start at $365 per night for two adults

Know Before You Go 

Decide what kind of trip you want..

What’s so amazing about visiting Costa Rica is that you can tailor a vacation to your interests. Do you prefer to hang by the pool or spend days riding waves and building sand castles? Are rugged rainforest adventures a must, or would you like more spa time? Are you traveling with kids? (Some properties have age minimums, so that’s something to consider.)

Be honest about how much you’re willing to “rough it."

Costa Rica is a bastion of untamed natural beauty. And while it's tempting to go all in on a remote lodge, that might not be the best fit for every traveler. Before settling on a hotel, ask yourself: Do I need Wi-Fi? Is air conditioning a must? Am I OK with a long drive on windy roads?

Consider seasonality.

Because of Costa Rica’s topography and varied terrain, certain times of the year bring swings in weather to different parts of the country. Looking into this ahead of booking will help you to avoid the rainy season in the rainforest or skip the peak period by the beach.

Be mindful of budget.

Accommodations in Costa Rica run the gamut from backpacker-friendly hostels to five-star resorts. Some luxury hotels cost upwards of $1,500 a night. But you certainly don’t need to spend that much for a five-star stay. Whatever your budget, it’s possible to find a fabulous overnight.

How We Chose These Hotels

Lindsay Cohn is a travel journalist with a deep love and appreciation for Costa Rica. The hotels on this list were chosen based on her personal experience and research and the first-hand accounts of Travel + Leisure editors and other contributors. Many of these hotels have also been voted into their respective categories in the World’s Best Awards by T+L readers.

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Sail to a place often regarded as paradise on a luxury cruise to Costa Rica. With both Caribbean and Pacific coasts, lush rainforest, volcanoes, misty highlands, and laid-back cities and beach towns, this Central American country does indeed seem blessed with wonder, natural and otherwise. Ticos, as Costa Ricans are known, celebrate their good fortune by greeting one another with “pura vida” (pure life), the essence of this happy, laid back, and spectacularly beautiful country.

These Central America cruises give you a chance to experience nature at its most pristine. You’ll have the chance to see cloud forests and coffee plantations, visit a sloth sanctuary, and observe monkeys and crocodiles in the wild. Opt for the thrills of white water rafting or zip-lining, or simply while away your time on long, golden beaches.





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Enjoy luxurious staterooms, cuisine, and service as you discover Costa Rica, Cozumel, Colombia and Fort Lauderdale. Climb, snorkel, swim, bike or chill in some of the world’s most beautiful places.

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Surf & sand.

Costa Rica’s beaches are legendary. On the west coast, you’ll find calm bays for swimming backed by dense rainforest, as well as stretches of wave breaks that make for exhilarating surfing. Costa Rica’s east coast borders the calm, teal water of the Caribbean, making for a blissful beach day and opportunities for snorkeling and sea kayaking.

Forests & Wildlife

Costa Rica is blessed with both tropical rainforests along the coast and mist-shrouded cloud forests in the highlands. Both offer myriad adventures, from hiking to zip lining, aerial trams, and ATV excursions. Wildlife is abundant—look out for toucans in the trees or pairs of scarlet macaws soaring over the forest canopy. Butterflies here seem super-sized, in brilliant colors, while slow-moving sloths gaze down at you from the trees.


Costa Ricans are deeply committed to protecting the natural world, and you’ll find several activities that combine excitement with ecotourism. Visit a sloth sanctuary from Puerto Limón, or learn about the ecology of stingless bees at Api Agricultura. Visit Cahuita National Park with a naturalist, or find out about the conservation of macaws at the Natuwa Sanctuary at El Manantial.

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Puerto Limon

Costa Rica Cruise Itineraries

Explore the rainforests and beaches of Costa Rica on a cruise lasting between 11 and 16 nights. You could sail round-trip from Tampa, calling at Puerto Limón on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Or join a longer voyage between Valparaiso, Chile and Los Angeles, calling at Puntarenas on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Some Panama Canal itineraries also stop in Puntarenas.


Why cruise to costa rica with celebrity cruises.

Cruise to Costa Rica with Celebrity and enjoy the good life on board a stylish, contemporary ship. Bask by the pool, take in the fresh morning air on deck, and toast the end of the day at the romantic Sunset Bar. On Solstice-series ships, there’s even a living lawn on the upper deck, perfect for cocktails, a picnic, or a game of bocce ball. Choose The Retreat for the ultimate in luxurious travel, with access to the exclusive Luminae at The Retreat restaurant and a serene private lounge.

Itineraries will bring you either to Puntarenas on the Pacific coast or Puerto Limón on the Caribbean side. Whichever port you visit, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the country’s natural wonders, from cloud forests to animal sanctuaries, jungle rivers, coral reefs, and sandy beaches. Discover for yourself the meaning of “pura vida” on a voyage to Costa Rica with Celebrity.

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20 family-friendly vacation spots to bring your teen, including a destination my family always chose

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Traveling with a teenager isn't the easiest thing in the world — just ask my [Wise] parents. Every spring, we'd load up the car and embark on another epic family vacation , from sandy beaches to popular amusement parks .

But just like there are plenty of places to take the kids before they’re grown , there are several destinations — both within the United States and internationally — ideal for families with teens.

Many could be considered bucket list spots for teens, but why not splurge for the occasion? It may be the last before your kid(s) fly the coop.

Plus, if they are anything like me [Wise], they will look back and remember these vacations with fond memories years later.

Shop TODAY favorite vacation spots | Best vacation spots for families with teens | How we chose | Meet the expert

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Shop TODAY favorite vacation spots:

Chiang mai, thailand, denver, colorado, disney cruise line, jackson hole, wyoming, the maldives, myrtle beach, south carolina, wisconsin dells, wisconsin, best vacation spots for families with teens, african safari.

Best for ages: 15-18

Here’s why: Simply put, teens deserve to be treated to the ultimate dream family vacation before they fly the coop.

Do this: Book an all-inclusive package with flights (dealing with logistics in Africa can be tricky) offered by a tour operator like The Luxury Safari Company . For families with teens, they recommend visiting Sosian Lodge in the north of Kenya. In seven nights, families can strengthen bonds and have one-of-a-kind experiences while fly camping (sleeping in the bush), river tubing, working on an African cattle farm and even visiting with predator research teams. Of course, there are plenty of game drives and walking safaris, so teens can get the most epic of photos for Instagram.

Stay here: Ask for the Family Cottage at Sosian Lodge , set on 60,000 acres of Kenyan wilderness meets working cattle ranch. Another great option is Puku Ridge Camp in Zambia. Teens staying at this lodge in South Luangwa National Park will appreciate the private plunge pools and opportunities to meet school children in local villages. Finally, for the teen who insists on having good Wi-Fi and access to tennis courts or mountain biking (not easy to find in the African bush), there’s Feline Fields in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert.

More info: TheLuxurySafariCompany.com

Butler County, Ohio

Best for ages: 13-16

Here’s why: This best of the Midwest destination proves that even inner-city teens can have fun in flyover states. Butler County also makes for a great halfway point for families coming from different coasts.

Do this: Teens who identify as foodies will love the aptly named Donut Trail where they can get their donut passport stamped at each of the funky boutique donut shops along the trail. (There is exactly a baker’s dozen!) Teens who collect all 13 stamps can collect a free T-shirt. Aspiring equestrians can get their horse fix at any of the area’s stables where they can rent horses or join a group ride. Teens who want to learn or practice wakeboarding will have a blast at Wake Nation . With its unique cable-tow system, no boat is required and beginners can learn at slower speeds. And for the ultimate rush, drive 30 minutes south to Cincinnati for indoor skydiving at iFly .

Stay here: Hueston Woods Lodge and Conference Center is just a few minutes by car from Miami University — one of the oldest public universities in the U.S. Guests can enjoy archery, community bonfires, badminton, nature trails and access to Acton Lake and Heuston Woods State Park .

More info: GettoTheBC.com

Charleston, South Carolina

Best for ages: 13-18

Do this: “For the slower-paced families, Sullivan’s Island is absolutely gorgeous and worthwhile," says Brittany Betts, a travel expert with  Florida Panhandle . "The beach there is well-kept and quiet, but there’s also a cute town full of unique shops and restaurants down the main strip. The reason why it’s combined with Charleston is because they are so near one another and this would be for the more fast-paced families that like doing several attractions,” she continues.

“There’s so much history in just this small town, but there’s also a large market in the area, cute restaurants with live music, and unique tours in old dungeons and through gardens that are really informative and fun for teenagers,” Betts explains.

Stay here: If you're looking for an affordable hotel option, the Courtyard Charleston Mount Pleasant is a great choice. Complete with outdoor pool, your teen will love relaxing after a long day of sightseeing.

More info: Charleston.com

"Surprisingly I’ve been to Chiang Mai twice! I went once as a teen on a high school trip and then again as a grownup with my parents. I can’t say enough nice things about Thailand, the people are truly the kindest you’ll ever meet, and the nature is unmatched, it’s almost like the colors are brighter in Thailand. Some of the activities I got up to were exploring temples, checking out the night markets and getting to try a traditional Thai massage (I still think about it to this day)." — Vivien Moon, commerce editor at Shop TODAY

Here’s why: Chiang Mai is a safe, affordable, entry-level destination in Asia where families can learn about one of the most welcoming cultures on earth. It’s also where you can feed growing teenage boys on $10 a day.

Do this: Volunteer at one of Chiang Mai’s many elephant sanctuaries. While most weekly programs are only for ages 18+, Elephant Nature Park has one-night programs open to families with kids of all ages. Spend the day watching the elephants bathe in the river before helping to feed and walk them, and rest during the night in a traditional bamboo hut. In the ancient walled city, visit Chiang Mai’s 117 Buddhist temples, and even sign up for a monk chat at a wat to learn more about the religion and how most Thai boys spend their early teenage years becoming monks. Sign up for a Muay Thai camp or a cooking class including a shopping trip to some of Southeast Asia’s most colorful markets. Schedule your trip for November if you think your teen will love the world-famous Yi Peng Lantern Festival or in April for Songkran , the world’s largest water fight (where weapons include everything from buckets to squirt guns and hoses) held in conjunction with the Thai New Year.

Stay here: With its rooftop pool, a rarity in Chiang Mai, it’s hard to beat Akyra Manor . Teens will appreciate its location in the hip, artist-influenced neighborhood of Nimman. Between its spacious suites and being within walking distance of the lively night market, Anantara Chiang Mai Resort is also teen-approved.

More info: TourismThailand.org

"My parents and I had a wonderful trip to Costa Rica last year, thanks to all the accommodations/activities that Caribe Fun Tours planned for our itinerary. We started our trip at Hotel Costa Verde in Manuel Antonio, which had jungle views, pools around the property, yoga in the mornings and was walking distance from the beach. In Manuel Antonio, we enjoyed ocean kayaking and snorkeling and a guided hike in Manuel Antonio National Park . We ended our trip at Hotel El Silencio del Campo in La Fortuna, which had volcano views, hot springs around the property, a farm and garden to explore and a complimentary breakfast." —  Lauren Witonsky , associate editor at Shop TODAY

Here’s why: Teens are notoriously moody, but that won't stop them from enjoying Costa Rica , often called the happiest country on earth. Show them rainforests, volcanos, white sand beaches and what the "pura vida" life is all about.

Do this: Soar through the canopy in Monteverde, the high altitude cloudforest where ziplining for tourism was pioneered and the rest of the world followed suit. Sky Adventures Monteverde Park also has an aerial tram and a hanging bridges tour where you can see the levels of the cloudforest and its biodiversity up close. Teens who want to say they’ve climbed a volcano can do so at Cerro Chato, next to Arenal, the country’s most famous volcano and one of the most active in the world. No trip to Costa Rica is complete without a visit to its beaches, stretching for miles along both the Caribbean and Pacific. Learn to surf in the funky town of Tamarindo at Iguana Surf where the instructors all speak English and no one goes home without having caught their own wave. Hike in the tropical waterfront paradise that is Manuel Antonio National Park — Costa Rica’s answer to Yellowstone. (You can laugh at them, but don’t feed the monkeys.)

Stay here: If your teens are feeling a need to binge their favorite show while on vacation, they’ll love the turbo speed Wi-Fi at Tierra Magnifica , a luxury boutique property in the surf community of Nosara. (You’ll love the panoramic views and sense of safety.) If an all-inclusive is more your speed, teens will appreciate dining options and beachfront activities at The Westin Reserva Conchal.

More info: VisitCostaRica.com

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"Even though I went as an adult for the first time, I can say that I would’ve probably been obsessed with Denver if I was a teenager. The variety of teen-friendly activities I hit up when I was there brought me back to my younger years. From gawking at all of the vintage aircraft and space shuttles at Wings Over The Rockies to leisurely perusing the stunning exhibitions at the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Contemporary Art to taking in America’s favorite sport at Coors Field , Denver’s just a quintessentially cool city to explore." —  Jess Bender , senior editor at Shop TODAY

Sierra Hoeger, an associate editor at Shop TODAY (pictured below), has spent time close to Denver on vacation — more specifically, at Rocky Mountain National Park . She says, "Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding areas proved to be the perfect family vacation for my sister and I in our teens/early 20’s. We’re a pretty outdoorsy family and it seemed to have activities the entire family could enjoy, from hiking to checking out local coffee shops, visiting sites from our favorite movies and doing some shopping. We’ve been itching to get back ever since we first visited!"

Here’s why: The Mile High City is a must for families with teens who want to play in the mountains but have big city amenities.

Do this: Social media mavens can start the day at the Denver Selfie Museum where the backdrops are just as Insta-worthy as the surrounding Rockies. Or capture those tricks for TikTok at the 60,000-square-foot Denver Skate Park . Aspiring artists will want to check out the myriad collections at the Denver Art Museum (18 and under are free). In the winter, adrenaline junkies can’t skip a trip to Ruby Hill Rail Yard, an urban terrain park and snowboarder’s paradise.

Stay here: For golf fans, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver is a perfect choice if you're looking for a hole in one, and it's within walking distance of most of the city’s downtown sites.

More info: Denver.org

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“I went on a Disney Cruise with my mom in my very early twenties and we had the best time, it’s definitely a must-do for any Disney-loving family. Some people might think it’s just for little kids (which it definitely has tons of kids activities) but there’s something for every age on the ship with a touch of Disney magic. There’s amazing live shows, character interactions and each ship goes somewhere different so you’ll get a different experience port-wise depending on which cruise you take!” — Shannon Garlin , an associate editor at Shop TODAY

Best for ages: 13-17

Here’s why: Cruises remain popular with families with teens for a reason; they’re less stress for you and teens love the independence. Thanks to owning everything from the “Frozen” franchise to “Star Wars” and Marvel, Disney can keep all kids — from toddlers to teens — entertained.

Do this: Book any Disney Cruise Line voyage on Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy. (Family Caribbean or Alaskan cruise in 2024, anyone?) Both ships promise “ultra-cool plush pads” designed exclusively for teens. The official teen club, Vibe, is a 9,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor oasis that only teens, using their Key to the World card, have access to. Vibe (ages 14-17) has a fountain bar, a 103-inch LCD TV, plenty of video game pods and two pools. Edge, the lounge for tweens (ages 11-14) has similar amenities as well as a lighted dance floor, a 10-foot-tall cinema, a photo booth and individual computer stations.

More info: DisneyCruise.Disney.Go.Com

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" Jackson, Wyoming  is for the outdoorsy kid who loves skiing, snowboarding or simply building a snowman. They have the National Elk Refuge and is an iconic place to take pics and watch wildlife up and close. My favorite activity was riding on a fat bike and just enjoying the scenic views with the Teton Mountain Range as the backdrop.” —  Jannely Espinal , a commerce writer at Shop TODAY

Here’s why: Jackson Hole is a year-round vacation destination and convenient home base for exploring two of the country’s most popular national parks. With its small-town setting (population 10,500) where everything is within walking distance, teens can easily explore on their own.

Do this: Ski or snowboard together at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort , one of the most iconic ski resorts in the world. Rent bikes and ride 56 miles of paved paths or 115 miles of mountain bike trails, most with striking valley views. Since a family who rafts together stays together, battle the rapids on the Snake River or go for a scenic floating safari in search of moose, elk, bears and more. No trip to Jackson is complete without venturing into Yellowstone National Park via the equally stunning Grand Teton National Park .

Stay here: Located at the base of Snow King Mountain Resort , Snow King Resort is Jackson Hole’s best option for families who want immediate access to all kinds of outdoor adventures. Ski, snowboard, tube or — if you visit outside of winter — ride the mountain coaster and alpine slide. There’s also a massive mountain-top ziplining course, fly fishing and stargazing readily available for the curious teen.

More info: VisitJacksonHole.com

Louisville, Kentucky

Here’s why: Underground ziplines, a baseball museum, the Muhammad Ali Center and a bridge allowing travelers to be in two states at the same time are just a few of the memorable experiences families with teens will enjoy in Louisville , aka Derby City.

Do this: Tech-savvy teens will want to visit Ovrdrive , a state-of-the-art center with racing simulators and more than 100 virtual reality games. (Those ages 12 and up can also throw axes.) Head to the Louisville Slugger Museum and take home a personalized bat as a one-of-a-kind souvenir. Cool off in the Louisville Mega Cavern boasting nearly 20 miles of underground tunnels and the world’s only ziplines that are entirely underground. Finally, check out Churchill Downs where teens can learn about the art and sport of horse racing by either attending a race or visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum (whose interactive exhibits include a horse race simulator).

Stay here: All rooms at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Louisville Downtown come with separate TV rooms so teens can stay up late watching their favorite shows. The property also offers free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and is only a block from Museum Row.

More info: GoToLouisville.com

Los Cabos, Mexico

Here’s why: With several daily nonstop flights from major cities in the U.S., it’s easy and affordable to reach this beautiful international beach destination. Los Cabos is a drier alternative to Cancun, plus you don’t have to worry about hurricane season.

Do this: Between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific, take advantage of the year-round swells and learn or practice surfing in Los Cabos. There are approximately 1,000 miles of coastline, so it’s never too crowded. Teens keener on marine life can snorkel and dive alongside the likes of friendly sea lions and ominous-looking, yet harmless, hammerhead sharks. Other animal encounters include camel safaris in the outback. Despite its proximity to water, Los Cabos’s breathtaking landscape includes a desert playground. For a high-speed tour, opt for an off-road ATV or UTV excursion with Cactus Tours . For the best value, buy the Park Pass at Wild Canyon Adventures , which gives teens access to unlimited ziplining, horseback riding, bikes, a hanging bridge and more. The price even includes an ATV or UTV tour, as well as a bungee jump or giant swing ride.

Stay here: Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection has a teen club with a recording studio. Grand Velas Los Cabos ’ teen club has lots of games (including an Xbox Kinect), a bar serving non-alcoholic drinks and even an in-house DJ spinning the latest beats every night until midnight.

More info: VisitLosCabos.travel

"I went to the Maldives for my honeymoon in 2019 and stayed at Joali . It’s definitely a luxury property but I felt it was worth it after all the hours we spent on airplanes getting there for such a milestone event." — Adrianna Brach, the editorial director at Shop TODAY

Here’s why: You don’t have to be on your honeymoon to visit the Maldives . With its 1,190 islands, it’s a tropical paradise with lots for teens to do. An obvious bucket list destination, it’s also easy to justify taking when it could be your last vacation as a family.

Do this: Try new watersports like wakeboarding, kitesurfing, jet blades and even hydrofoils (which could be deemed more of an air sport). Become PADI-certified (ages 10+) and take an underwater family holiday card you’ll never forget. Since every other kid wants to be a marine biologist when they grow up, why not learn about conservation by transplanting coral, planting a tree or helping rehabilitate endangered sea turtles? Treat them to a treatment at Spa by ESPA at Joali Maldives where there’s a special menu for teens.

Stay here: Amilla has a program for older kids and teens including fire dancing lessons, guitar lessons, mocktail making classes and even nighttime glow rider bicycle tours. One & Only Reethi Rah also has a teen program, One Tribe, with dedicated teens-only chill space. And for adrenaline lovers? Stay at the Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru , which boasts a Mastercraft X55 boat that makes its own surf and comes complete with sound system.

More info: VisitMaldives.com

If you're searching for a destination where your teen will thrive, look no further. My [Wise] parents took me and my two siblings to Myrtle Beach almost every spring break where we spent the week relaxing on the beach, shopping at Broadway at the Beach and eating our way through the city.

Here’s why: There are several reasons Myrtle Beach welcomes nearly 20 million visitors annually. For starters, there are more than 50 beaches to choose from, several world-class golf courses to conquer and one of the country’s biggest boardwalks selling limitless fun.

Do this: Teens anxious to drive can get behind the wheel of their own go-kart and race on six different tracks at the Broadway Grand Prix . Teens aspiring to join the PGA Tour will want to play at one of the area’s 90 golf courses which host junior opens throughout the year. (There’s also a Top Golf if you can’t get a tee time.) Meanwhile, young fans of "The Walking Dead" won’t want to miss the AMC hit show-themed escape room , and fans of "The Simpsons," The Simpsons in 4D . Teens wanting to hang out with other teens can easily do so on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade , home to one of the country’s tallest Ferris wheels. Of course, there are also plenty of beach activities including surfing, wakeboarding and horseback riding to choose from.

Stay here: Homewood Suites by Hilton Myrtle Beach has an on-site waterpark with different areas for young and old kids. Meanwhile, the beachfront Grande Cayman Resort has 10 pools and four on-site restaurants.

More info: VisitMyrtleBeach.com

Porto, Portugal

Best for ages: 16+

Here’s why: Practically crime-free, extremely cheap and small enough to be walkable, Porto is the perfect European city to give teens a taste of independence. Located where the Douro River meets the Atlantic, its proximity to the beach and the Douro Valley ensures there is plenty to do.

Do this: Visit the world-famous “Harry Potter library” — Livraria Lello . Teens not afraid of sharks can learn to surf with Onda Pura . Take a scenic boat or train ride to the Douro Valley, the world’s oldest demarcated wine region where teens (16+) are legally allowed to taste wine and — more importantly — learn how it’s made.

Stay here: The breakfast buffet at The Lodge Wine & Business Hotel will satisfy any growing teen, and its picturesque outdoor pool is a rarity in this city founded in 1123.

More info: VisitPortugal.com

Reno Tahoe, Nevada

Here’s why: Reno Tahoe is a unique destination where mountains meet desert. It’s where annual events include the Zombie Crawl, the Great Reno Balloon Race, the National Championship Air Races and — last but certainly not least — Burning Man.

Do this: Venture downtown to take iconic Instagram shots of the murals (there are more than 100) and to pose for pics with the Burning Man sculptures . Embrace your inner Flintstone and bowl at the National Bowling Stadium , also called the “Taj Mahal of Tenpins.” Another good rainy day activity for teens is a trip to Need 2 Speed , an indoor go-kart racing track open seven days a week. It also boasts blacklight mini golf and a VR game. Beautiful weather? Drive to nearby Lake Tahoe to kayak in the crystal clear water or hit the slopes at one of the area’s renowned resorts. Teens can also explore hundreds of miles of hiking and mountain biking trails year-round.

Stay here: The coolest hotel in town (and perhaps Nevada) is Whitney Peak Hotel . It has a bouldering park on-site and is home to one of the world’s tallest climbing walls where teens can climb up for a bird’s-eye view of the Reno Arch.

More info: VisitRenoTahoe.com

San Diego, California

Here’s why: Whether or not you agree with its nickname “America’s Finest City,” you’ll agree San Diego has beautiful year-round weather and so much to keep your teen(s) happy they’ll ask about going to college there.

Do this: Beach hop your way around the city’s nearly three area beaches, or cave hop via kayak or SUP . Take a self-guided street art tour , stopping to pose in front of massive murals — often illustrating important messages — for pics for the ‘gram. Ride the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the oceanfront Belmont Park or watch an interactive film in its 7-D high tech theater. Other must-consider attractions include the San Diego Zoo , San Diego Air & Space Museum , San Diego Automotive Museum and the Comic-Con Museum .

Stay here: The Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay welcomes RVs in addition to its fully-furnished tiny home rentals complete with fire pits and front porches. Between the on-site arcade, food trucks, poolside movie screen, basketball courts and indoor/outdoor fitness center, teens will never find themselves bored on vacation.

More info: SanDiego.org

Seattle, Washington

Here’s why: The city that birthed the grunge music movement is an artsy, alternative place most teens will feel so welcome in they’ll want to move there.

Do this: Seattle’s vacation ideas are vast and plentiful! For starters, take the popular Underground Tour to see what’s beneath the city via its vast network of interconnecting tunnels. Next, visit the Museum of Pop Culture , home to exhibits like Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and Indie Game Revolution. Teens developing a taste for coffee will also want see the many coffee shops in the city that birthed Starbucks and a growing trend toward artisanal brews. Don’t forget to catch the famous flying fish show at Pike Place Market — home to several pop-up murals that would look great on the ‘gram. Finally, adventure seekers can get their fix at the indoor ninja course at Elevated Sportz in nearby Bothell or on the miles of trails in the surrounding evergreen forests. There are also plenty of water sports to try in Puget Sound.

Stay here: Thompson Seattle is a luxury waterfront property within walking distance of Seattle’s top attractions including everything from Pike Place Market to hip vintage shops. Parents will appreciate the floor-to-ceiling views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain Range while the kids are looking at their devices.

More info: VisitSeattle.org

Space Coast, Florida

Here’s why: Just an hour from Orlando , Florida’s Space Coast is an inspirational beach destination where teens can learn about everything from space exploration to manatee conservation.

Do this: Get a trip to Disney World , Universal Studios and Epcot out of the way. Then head southeast to the childhood home of Kelly Slater (it’s the East Coast's Surf Capital) for some beach time. Explore further inland on a kayak or SUP tour winding through tunnels of mangrove trees. Sea turtle sightings aren’t guaranteed, but the Space Coast does have a huge concentration of them. Teens obsessed with LED lights will be in awe in the bioluminescent lagoon . The Space Coast is one of very few places in the world to see this phenomenon where the tiniest of marine creatures emit a neon blue light for protection. Teens who want to work for NASA will never want to leave the Kennedy Space Center with its rocket garden, 3D space films, shuttle launch experience and journey to Mars. For a really memorable experience, book some add-on "enhancements" that includes immersive training courses and even a casual chat with an astronaut.

Stay here: The family-owned and operated Surf Studio Beach Resort in Cocoa Beach has clean, low-cost accommodations that include kitchens (because teens are always hungry) and a private bedroom for the parents. Cape Winds Resort Rentals in Cape Canaveral also offers private beach access in addition to tennis courts, a basketball court and a pool.

More info: VisitSpaceCoast.com

Tenerife, Spain

Here’s why: A trip to Tenerife is a rite of passage for most European teens. American teens will love the Island of Eternal Spring and its lively beaches, ethereal national parks and top-rated zoo and waterpark for the same reasons.

Do this: Ride the cable car up to the top of Teide, the world’s third-tallest volcano and crown jewel of Europe’s most visited national park . Snorkel while on a SUP or kayak tour in the shade of the cliffs at Los Gigantes, home to dolphins and sea life galore. Ride the zero gravity slide at Siam Park , the no. 1 rated waterpark in the world according to TripAdvisor, or head out on a quad safari en route to Spain’s highest village. Of course, there are also miles of beaches to explore (made of white sand imported from the Sahara or local, black volcanic sand).

Stay here: Families with older teens will enjoy the adults-only (16+) atmosphere at Iberostar Selecion Sabila , where luxurious, minimalist design meets beachfront all-inclusivity. Families with younger teens with small siblings can stay up the road at Iberostar Selecion Anthelia which boasts six pools and a kids’ camp.

More info: WebTenerife.com

Whistler, Canada

Here’s why: Billing itself as an international mountain sports mecca, Whistler is another family vacation bucket list destination. It gives teens unlimited opportunities for adventure and — just as important — a greater appreciation for nature.

Do this: Drop into a teen group ski or snowboard lesson at Whistler Blackcomb , a venue for the 2010 Olympic Games. Those not wanting to try snow sports can hang out at the teen youth center: three rooms of video games, movies, skateboarding and special events. In the summer, junior golfers (16 and under) golf free with an adult on Whistler’s award-winning golf courses. Older teens qualify for a highly discounted green fee. Teens can also sign up for Summer Gravity mountain biking camps where they’ll learn from the pros and meet other teens obsessed with MTB.

Stay here: The best option for families wanting to stay at base camp is Fairmont Chateau Whistler . Guests ages 16+ are allowed on daily excursions sans parents (just signed permission slips). They include paddle boarding, hiking, biking and frisbee golf.

More info: Whistler.com

"I stayed at the Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells a few years ago and had a ridiculously good time. There’s something for literally everyone — an indoor waterpark, arcade, amusement park, bowling alley, spa, golf simulator... I could go on. Such a great destination if you’re in the Midwest and looking for a fun family vacation!" — Audrey Ekman, a production associate at Shop TODAY

Here’s why: Wisconsin Dells is the waterpark capital of the world. Families can stay for two weeks and still never ride all the slides.

Do this: Visit the bottom of the ocean (or outer space) thanks to the underwater virtual reality experience at Kalahari , one of the country’s largest indoor waterparks. Race each other on the Raja king cobra-themed, side-by-side slides at Noah’s Ark . (It’s six stories high!) Visit Mt. Olympus to take on the nine-foot-tall waves at Poseidon’s Rage, one of the world’s largest wave pools or float on The River Troy, the world’s fastest manmade river. Tired of water-based activities? Attempt the Wizard Quest, the first fantasy team-building (or family-bonding) game in the country or unleash your inner Viking at Asgard Axe Throwing .

Stay here: While several area resorts boast their own waterparks, the top-rated property on TripAdvisor is the family-owned and -operated Black Hawk Motel & Suites . All guests get free admission to Timbavati Wildlife Park and a Wild Fun Zone attraction pass.

More info: WisDells.com

How we chose

We chose the best vacation spots for families with teens by researching various destinations all over the world. We also interviewed a travel expert and asked for her recommendation, and we included quotes from Shop TODAY editors who've traveled to these places in the past.

Meet the expert

  • Brittany Betts  is a travel expert with Florida Panhandle , an online vacation planning site.

one way cruise to costa rica

Allie Wise is an associate editor for Shop TODAY.

  • Destinations
  • Central and South America

This Lush National Park Full Of Hiking Trails And Wildlife May Be Costa Rica's Most Underrated

Braulio Carrillo National Park in Costa Rica

Embarking on a journey through Costa Rica is an action-packed, spellbinding experience , unveiling some of Earth's most exquisite tropical landscapes. Tucked away in the heart of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range, a mere 45 minutes from the capital, San Jose, lies a hidden gem, Braulio Carrillo National Park. This is no ordinary park; it's a sanctuary nestled amidst the lush canopies of cloud forests and the vibrant biodiversity of lower-altitude rainforests, all at the base of the majestic mountains. The park's highest peak, the Barva Volcano, stands tall at over 9,500 feet, offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding wilderness.

The road to Braulio Carrillo National Park from San Jose is a thrilling and scenic journey that commences the experience unfolding in front of you as you leave the exhilarating Zurquí tunnel behind. This tunnel serves as a portal to a captivating rainforest that spans a staggering 117,300 acres, making it one of Costa Rica's largest and steepest protected areas. The serpentine-like highway that winds through the vast park offers a tantalizing glimpse into the untamed jungle beyond the asphalt. Vehicles inch forward like a child navigating a maze as passengers marvel at the untouched, emerald wilderness. With that first trembling breath of excitement, the adventure is just beginning. 

Captivating hiking trails at Braulio Carrillo National Park

There are a handful of trails that wind their way through the park. Some standouts include the Stag Horn Path, the Copey Lagoon Trail, the Vara Blanca Lookout Path, and the Barva Lagoon Path. Within the boundaries of this urethral paradise, a visitor might choose to take one of the shorter trails to one of the phenomenal waterfalls or even go for the long haul on a difficult four-day hike from the Puesto Barva Station to La Selva and explore the extinct Barva Volcano's crater. 

The moderately challenging 3.6-mile Barva Volcano Trail, which takes a little under two hours to navigate to a lake in the middle of the Barva Volcano, is a fan favorite, with 4.6 stars on AllTrails . It is a popular birding and sightseeing trail, so you may see more people enjoying it than some of the other trails.

Another fantastic trail is the Zurqui Trail, which is a bit more challenging in its 7-mile loop that takes nearly three hours to complete. For family exploration, the Las Palma is a short trail great for smaller children. Many of the trails are moderately difficult, and some are perfect for families vacationing in Costa Rica , though it's advised to do some research on each before setting forth and to prepare for unexpected weather changes. 

Meet some of the amazing inhabitants of the rainforest

When visiting Braulio Carrillo National Park, it's crucial to embrace the local ethos of respecting and preserving nature . This vast, protected cloud forest and rainforest is a haven for over 515 species of birds, 150 species of mammals, and a myriad of invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians. While exploring this park, visitors may see the yellow-eared toucanet, lattice-tailed trogon, bellbird, goldfinch, long-tailed silky-flycatchers, and many more.

What adds to the amazing avian collection is the knowledge that many of the birds stop by on their migration from all over the world. It's also not uncommon to cross paths with various monkeys, such as the howlers and the red or white-faced varieties. Some of the others are the tapir, hive bear, pumas, coyote, jaguar, mountain goat, or the peccary. By leaving no trace behind and respecting the forest and all its inhabitants, we can ensure that future generations can also enjoy the park's rich biodiversity and natural beauty.

Have the experience of a lifetime in Costa Rica

Along with hiking and wildlife-watching, visitors can head over to the heart-pounding action side of the rugged and magical park. They may find themselves flying high through the canopy by zipline via  Rainforest Adventures  while taking in the experience. This tour operator offers full-day or partial-day tour packages. If speed isn't in the cards while in the jungle, visitors can also enjoy the sights and sounds from a few feet to 170 feet above the ground as they slowly cruise the forest by way of a family-friendly aerial tram.

Take a guided tour or visit educational sites like  La Selva Research Station ; there are plenty of activities catering to the needs of different types of visitors. The photo opportunities just can't be passed up. Whether you prefer peaceful quests or adrenaline-rushing activities, Braulio Carrillo National Park has precisely the perfect medicine for what ails your heart and soul. 


Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

summer travel with kids

A Snob's Guide to Summer Travel With Kids

We know your standards for the ultimate family vacation are high. Lucky for you, ours are too.

The Educational Trip

It sounds boring, until you tell them they're going to see giraffes in their natural habitat—and will get to brag about it to all their friends.

giraffe and hot air balloon

*Perfect for: little kids

Unlike the vast Serengeti, the Maasai Mara is small enough that you are practically guaranteed to snap all the top sightings in a few nights’ stay. Unpack into an interconnected tented suite specially configured for families at Angama Mara , then learn the art of keeping quiet as animals parade below in the Great Rift Valley. Days can begin with a hot air balloon ride or a game drive through the savannah to spy the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo) and end with parents at a sundowner and the littles in the Beading Studio. Maasai naturalists take everyone out on walking safaris, where they teach about medicinal plants on the escarpment and explain the relationship between the Maasai people and the wildlife that surrounds them. Come in July during the Great Migration, the largest land-based movement of animals (in this case, wildebeest and zebra) on the planet. Your kids will never see The Lion King with the same eyes again.

ruins of machu picchu, inca trail, andes, peru

*Perfect for: big kids

Fly from the country’s capital of Lima to the Sacred Valley’s capital of Cusco, where you can ride on Paso horses through the Andean valley’s lush pathways. Dine at a working farm, called Hacienda Huayoccari , which has been run by the same family for 100 years, then spend the night at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas , the 17 th -century monastery-turned-hotel. Lazy tweens can take the luxe Hiram Bingham train all the way up to nearly 8,000 feet, or test their strength by disembarking at Km 104 and hiking up to enter Machu Picchu through the Gate of the Sun, just as the Incas did. Marvel at the citadel built into the steep slopes of the Andes, to this day their techniques and origin unknown. Then sleep above the clouds at Sanctuary Lodge , the Belmond property up there, and enter the 15 th -century UNESCO World Heritage Site before the crowds, with mostly only llamas in your company. Back in Cusco, tour the baroque churches and stay warm with hot chicha drinks, made from local corn. Can’t be bothered to book this all yourself? Blue Parallel can orchestrate the whole shebang, from flights to park permits.

The Adventure Trip

Adrenaline-pumping thrills to test their boundaries and spike their dopamine (in a good way).

deplar farm

Tossed into the North Atlantic just one degree below the Arctic Circle, this volcanic island of just 387,000 inhabitants feels like the best of far-flung New Zealand and the most exciting of snow-swept British Columbia. It’s also Scotland, Norway, Yellowstone, and Alaska, and all just a five-hour flight from the East Coast. The capital has been experiencing volcanic activity lately, so you may have to skip the best red-eye cure: A dip in the Blue Lagoon , a natural geothermal hot spring set conveniently between Reykjavik’s two airports and open at 8am. Either way, hop a flight to Akureyri, the second-most populous city in the country, and prepare to be awed by the vast mountain landscape of Deplar Farm . The grass-roofed wooden structure belies the luxury you’ll find within, including meals of local lamb and just-caught salmon prepared by Michelin-trained chefs. Included in every stay in summer is surfing, whale watching, fat-tire bike riding, hiking glaciers, lake fishing, and a peek at the single geothermal borehole that gives power to all 2700 residents of the Fljót Valley. Headed back toward the international airport, take the kids on a drive around the Golden Circle, a 190-mile loop of road that connects the geyser that literally gave all others their name (yes, it’s called Geysir) with Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the location of the Mid-Atlantic Rift (in which you can snorkel in dry suits), and the stunningly beautiful, 100-foot-tall Gullfoss waterfall.

white faced capuchin , costa rica

You couldn’t possibly hit all the high-octane attractions in Costa Rica — the howler monkeys barking from the treetops of Tortuguero National Park, white-water rafting down the Pacuare River, zip-lining or horseback riding near the Arenal volcano, tapir- and ocelot-spotting on the Osa Peninsula—but if you pick two destinations in this bicoastal isthmus country, you’ll sneak a lot in. Park yourself first on the Osa Peninsula’s Cielo Lodge , a six-suite eco-lodge spread across 380 acres where guides will take you hiking through the rainforest to rushing waterfalls ripe for the jumping, get you catching waves on the second-longest left-hand break in the world, and frog-walking by moonlight. Then head up to Nayara Gardens , where the newly built Arenal Casitas come with private walled gardens and plunge pools surrounded by rain forest. From there, it’s an easy trek to go horseback riding at Arenal, ziplining in the cloud forest, and testing fate on an inflatable that takes you down class IV rapids. No kid comes home from Costa Rica without scheming a plan to return.

reflection lake

*Perfect for: all ages

Haters will hate, but there’s honestly no better way to tour the highlights of the largest state in the union than via cruise. To see it all, sign up for one of Oceania ’s Seattle-to-Seattle routes, each of which comes with an Alaska Explorer Youth Program that lets kids ages 5-12 head out with high-energy counselors and learn a little more about the 49 th state. But kids of all ages will start and end in Seattle, then cruise to ports like Ketchikan (ziplining!), Juneau (Mendenhall Glacier canoeing!), Sitka (sea kayaking and wave running!), and Victoria, British Columbia (bike tours!), but you can expand on this excursion by adding a pre- or post-cruise stay in Denali National Park, all stress-free and orchestrated by Oceania and including a four-hour scenic train ride into the interior and a hike to Denali’s Primrose Ridge with a naturalist who will explore the 10,000-years-long history of this Native American landscape. This is Alaska done right, trust us.

The Beach Trip

Heading out on a beach holiday doesn’t have to mean dumping the children in camp and working your way through the latest Plum Sykes novel.

a group of people around a pumpkin

West coasters have a straight shot to the Big Island, which offers about as far-flung a culture as you can find without needing to update your passport. There are tons to do outdoors—from surfing to exploring Volcanoes National Park to hiking through a lava tube—that will introduce your kids to the outer limits of Mother Nature’s wild imagination. The challenge will be picking a home base. There’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel , which was originally built in 1965 by Laurance S. Rockefeller, and is the property that really put this destination on the map. Set on the Kohala Coast, the resort offers activities like lawn games and lei-making, an authentic luau with hula dancers, plus direct access to white-sand Kauna'oa Bay, where you can swim with the manta rays. Alternatively, snag a suite at the grand Mauna Lani , now part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, set in the middle of King Kamehameha’s royal fish ponds. Whichever you choose, carve out some time to learn to surf in Kona, visit a black sand beach like Punaluʻu, indulge in some shave ice at Ululani's , and just soak in all that untouched beauty. Now that's aloha.

woman on coastal rocks of cala portals vells, near magaluf

It may be one of the most visited islands of Spain, but Americans typically never make it to this Balearic Island (though that’s changing with United Airlines’ new direct flights to Palma de Mallorca from JFK). There are plenty of family-friendly hotels on the sparkling beaches, but come summer they will likely be flooded with tourists. So instead book one of the new Garden Suites at Castell Son Claret , a 19th-century castle-turned-hotel with just 43 rooms, all set on 326 acres. Awaken to unimpeded views of the UNESCO-protected Tramuntana mountain range and a soundtrack of the braying sheep who will be neighbors for your stay. The Moorish architecture and glam jet-set design (not to mention the restaurant, Sa Clastra , run by native son Jordí Canto) will dazzle parents, while the pool (and those sheep) will keep the kids busy. Because the retreat is located in the middle of the island, it's an easy trek to one of the 20 hiking routes that wind through the terraced hills of the Tramuntanas (don't skip the adorable town of Valldemossa, ideal for that holiday card photo!), or down to beloved beaches like sandy Palmanova and the hidden cove of Cala Portals Vells. Don't miss that 13 th -century cathedral in Palma, or the chance to indulge in chef Santi Taura's prix fixe menu at Dins (we suggest hiring a sitter for this one).

a deck with chairs and tables overlooking a body of water

This tiny islet in the Caribbean was first colonized by the Huguenots, and it still retains a très sophisticated French vibe. Little kids will love the gentle white-sand beaches, but this is a place for dining and shopping, too, so families with tweens and older are the best audience for this refined destination. Pack the D'Ascoli caftans and Vilebrequin trunks and book a villa through Le Barth Villa Rental , which gives you access to all the facilities—including the new kids club and the spa—at Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa . (Our pick: the 10-bedroom Villa Unik , designed by Philippe Starck.) Or go traditional and stay at the casual-chic Le Sereno , whose beachfront villas overlook the pristine Grand Cul de Sac sands. Book ahead for classic dining spots like the upscale Bonito and Hotel Eden Rock ’s Jean-Georges restaurant, but don’t skip local favorites either, like the laid-back Ti' Corail . Indulge in life’s simple pleasures, like perusing the fresh produce at Marché or the Gustavia fish market. Then splurge on mother-daughter outfits at Clic and swimsuits at Delfina for your journey to Anse du Gouverneur beach. The shells (and the memories) are gratis.

The Nature Trip

Two foolproof ways to inspire genuine awe in even the most jaded tween.


walk through grindelwald

Words can barely capture the magic of summertime in the Swiss Alps. There’s the chocolate and cheese, of course, but the infinite shades of green that blanket the mountains and pines, the jagged edges of the mountains that scrape the sky, and the intimate connection to the environment that locals have (and happily share) will turn even the most jaded outdoors adventurer into a Swissophile. Experience it all at Tschuggen Grand Hotel , an exceedingly modern retreat on the edges of the mountains that’s accessed by a private train only a child could dream up. (Seriously.) Summer is a season for biking and hiking, and even small limbs can make the trek to the Bergkirchli, a church from 1492, or make the sunrise climb to spot bears and birds. Imagine long, leisurely days that begin with a frigid mountain-lake swim and end with a delicious hot tub and—for Mom and Dad—a muscle-melting massage at the 54,000-square-foot Bergoase Spa, set beneath glass-and-steel “sails” that twinkle in the mountain light. A south-facing Junior Suite with a sun loggia is the ultimate spot for that much-deserved cup of hot cocoa.

people riding horses in a field with cows

Horseback riding, fly fishing, archery, oh my! Montana’s state tagline is “Get Lost,” and it’s possible to actually lose yourself in one of the nation's largest—and least populated—states, but it can be hard to narrow down precisely how. So park yourself for a week at the Resort at Paws Up , just outside the town of Greenough, and you’ll gain access to 37,000 acres and all the amenities of a traditional dude ranch, but at a seriously luxe level. Choose a kitted out two-bedroom glamping tent on the banks of the Blackfoot River or one of the mountain homes, and have the concierge orchestrate the Wild West week of your dreams, with activities ranging from survival training and pony rides for little kids to cattle herding and chuck wagon dinners for the older ones. Confident kids can also pave their own path on an ATV adventure or take aim at the shooting range, or just learn the patience it takes to catch trout with an expert. Don’t be surprised if your city rats long to be country mice once they’ve trotted on a trail in the shadow of those spectacular Bitterroot Mountains. This just may become the start of an annual tradition.

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one way cruise to costa rica

Best Beaches in Costa Rica - 20 Pacific Coast Beaches You'll Love

T here are so many beaches in Costa Rica that it can be hard to narrow it down to just one place to stay in Costa Rica. But if you are serious about finding the best beach for you, you’ll want to read this review of 20 of the best beaches in Costa Rica on the Pacific side. Since Costa Rica’s beaches are as varied as they are gorgeous, on this list, there’s a beach for every personality!

RELATED POST: Costa Rica With Kids- The Complete Guide

There’s a reason Costa Rica translates to “rich coast.” From end to end, the Pacific coast of Costa Rica spans three provinces and over 16 hours of driving. This post breaks down the best of the best along that coast.

Do note, this post does not include any Caribbean Coast beaches . If you are flying into the Liberia International airport and want to stick just to Guanacaste, check our list of Best Beaches in Guanacaste .

Finally, if you are looking for beaches that are best for families with young children, I’d hop over to our Top Costa Rica Beaches For Families post.

Related post: 10 Awesome Reasons You Need To Visit Costa Rica This Year

Northern Guanacaste Region of Costa Rica Pacific

Many people fly into Costa Rica’s newest international airport in Liberia . Liberia is a strategic point as it is about 20 minutes from the nearest beach. If you are going this route, there are several different clusters of top beaches we recommend.

Many of these beaches are within an hour’s drive of Liberia, but if you are flying in late or flying out early, you’ll want to check out our great list of Where To Stay in Liberia . Ok, here’s the list.

Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo Beach is one of the most developed and beautiful beaches in the northern Guanacaste area. – there are countless hotels, restaurants, tour operators, surf schools, and even a brewery .  A long swath of golden sand beach with waves that are perfect for those learning to surf is what best characterizes Tamarindo Beach.

The town of Tamarindo is also one of the busiest tourist centers in the region. It has everything from a farmer’s market to food trucks beachside to international cuisine. There are countless tour operators, surf schools, and even a brewery . Add tons of places to stay (everything from budget hostels to high end luxury villas) and you’ve got a recipe for success. Basically, if you want it, you can most likely find it in Tamarindo.

However, even though Costa Rica is very safe , make sure to keep a very close eye on your belongings, and expect a party/Spring Break vibe here year-round. It’s still safe for families though, and a great place to spend a week!

Playa Grande 

Playa Grande is home to a pristine white sand beach that seems to stretch endlessly. Lined with shade trees and palm trees that are just begging for a hammock, Playa Grande is often deserted. That means it is perfect for families looking to relax and enjoy the beach. High tide brings in great surf and lots of surfers , which is fun to watch!

There are several restaurants on the way in and out of the main parking area, so you can easily pack up and grab a bite before heading back to the beach for sunset. With few hotels and a host of high-end private residences, Playa Grande is super chill, and a popular destination with surfers.

Playa Avellanas

Playa Avellanas may very well be my favorite beach in Costa Rica. It’s well off the beaten path, and up until recently, most people didn’t even know it was there. Home to one of my favorite restaurants- Lola’s- you will often find the big pink pig named Lola wandering the beach.

There are tons of shade trees along the beach, tidepools, and perfect surfing and boogie-boarding waves. Apart from Lola’s, there isn’t much in the way of services at this beach, so make sure to pack in what you need for the day.

Playas del Coco

Playas del Coco is one of the closest beaches to the Liberia airport, making it a preferred home base for many tourists. Boasting a Hard Rock Café, a huge American-style supermarket, and countless bars and restaurants, Coco Beach is definitely the happening place to be.

This beach is also a hub for international visitors looking for scuba diving in Costa Rica as it’s near some of the most crystalline waters and some of the best places to find coral reefs in the area. It’s also a unique black sand beach , which is pretty fun to see.

Coco Beach is a great home base to beach hop, so that’s why it’s on this list. The beach itself isn’t my favorite, although the sunsets are epic. There are several amazing beaches nearby (like Playa Ocotal) where you can spend a calm day before heading back into the fray.

Make sure to watch the sunset at Bar El Ancla or Cafe de Playa. You won’t regret it!

Playa Hermosa

There are not one, not two, but three Playa Hermosas in Costa Rica, all on the Pacific Coast. So… don’t get confused! The Playa Hermosa that I am talking about here is to the north, in the Guanacaste province.

One other is adjacent to Jaco, and one is even further south at Marino Ballena National Park, about a 6-hour drive from Coco Beach. When renting a car in Costa Rica, make sure you put in the correct Hermosa Beach to your GPS, Waze, or Google Maps.

Now, this Playa Hermosa is a tiny little inlet home to crystal blue waters, local restaurants, and tons of local Costa Rican families. There’s a local banana boat driver who often comes offering inexpensive rides that keep everyone laughing.

The waves are calm, and there are tons of mini supermarkets just steps from the beach, so you can just keep going back for cold beer and you don’t even need a cooler! The sunsets here are EPIC.

You’ll also like: Driving In Costa Rica – Complete Guide

Playa Panama

Another one of my favorite beaches, Playa Panama is an easy trip from Coco Beach. The beach is groomed to a gorgeous wide flat area lined with palm trees leading up to the small beach. The water is warm, the waves are small, and the atmosphere is super calm.

Not much in the way of services here either- but don’t leave too soon. The sun sets right over the water most times of the year, making the end of the day at Panama Beach the place to be.

You might also like: All about Mosquitos In Costa Rica: How Bad Are They Really?

Playa Ocotal

Playa Ocotal is a tiny little hidden gem just about 4 km from Playas del Coco, making it a great taxi trip for the day. The beach is relatively small and shaded, and there are lots of tiny tide pools for snorkeling and exploring. Starting at about 11 am there are two professional massage therapists who offer beachside massages at very reasonable prices. Cash only.

Another reason to visit Ocotal Beach is its restaurant, Father Rooster. Father rooster is located right on the beach, and there are hammocks, swings, and tables in the sand. Offering a wide variety of typical Costa Rican cuisine, the prices are excellent for a beachfront restaurant. Expect to pay between $7-10 a plate. With an extensive beer, wine, and cocktail list, also expect to stay awhile. Father Rooster also offers a nice kid’s menu and high chairs.

Playa Conchal

Playa Conchal is one of my favorite beaches in all of Costa Rica. It’s named so because the beach is made entirely of shells. The water is blue and warm, and the weekend vibe here is festive with DJ’s, a small food vendor and more. In fact, it was recently named the best beach in the world .

Conchal Beach is located adjacent to the Westin Beach Resort, one of the best all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica and they’ve got all the parking.

The best way to arrive at Playa Conchal without staying at the Westin is to park your rental car at the public parking lot at Braslito Beach. You’ll pay a few dollars and then hike over to Conchal at low tide. Stay for the day and hike back at the next low tide. You’ll love it- I promise!

Playa Nacascolo

Playa Nacascolo is a hidden beach in the Four Seasons complex. It’s a great place to see howler monkeys, and enjoy calm waters and complete silence.

Getting there can be a bit of a headache as you need to park near the Four Seasons and then take a shuttle. But I promise- it’s well worth it! We go here when we stay at the Planet Hollywood All-Inclusive Resort .

Playa Flamingo

We love the Flamingo Beach area. The beach itself is really pretty, and the little town nearby is quaint and charming. There are lots of international restaurants here too. Many people come to dive or snorkel off the coast, and Flamingo can be a great alternative to Playas del Coco because it’s so much calmer.

Stay at the Margaritaville Beach Resort – they even have an all-inclusive option. We love to beach hop here- Playa Potrero, Playa Danta and Playa Dantita aren’t far and they are oh-so-pretty.

Playa Cabuyal

Want a beach with no one? Playa Cabuyal is not even that far off the beaten path (just about 30 minutes from Liberia) but it’s deserted. That’s because very few people know about it.

Rumor has it there are tons of sting rays dancing in the water in the summertime. We loved the parking right on the beach, and the fact that there were bathrooms and showers.

Beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula- Costa Rica Pacific

The Nicoya Peninsula sits about in the middle of the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica and is home to the longest-living people on Earth. It is also easily accessible from both San Jose and Liberia , making it a highly visited region for travelers and Costa Ricans alike.  Here are some of our favorite beaches on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Playa Samara

Playa Samara has long been known as one of the best beaches for families in Costa Rica- and locals love it here. The beach is crescent-shaped, lined with palm trees, and the water is relatively warm.

There are plenty of accommodations for families with kids to fit every budget, same for restaurants. Samara Beach is a favorite- with ample parking and a great family atmosphere. You could boogie board here, but probably not surf. It’s the perfect beach for families.

Playa Carrillo

Next to Samara is Carrillo Beach- a picture-perfect half-circle of a beach lined with fantastic palm trees. The water is bathwater temperature and the waves are nearly non-existent. You can take a pool float and just relax.

There are no services at this beach, and little shade.  Pack what you need and avoid arriving at the heat of the day. We love to use a big beach umbrella to cut down on the sun’s rays between 10 am and 2 pm.

Playa Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Beach is a popular site for tourists given how many amazing restaurants, hotels and activities are here. The beach is wide white sand with turquoise water and big waves.

The palm trees are set pretty far back from the beach so there isn’t much shade.  The vibe here is very relaxed and laid back, and this is definitely a popular surf beach . Prices at Santa Teresa tend to be a bit on the higher side, so we love to pack snacks and rely on restaurants for fewer meals.

Read also: TOP PICKS- Where To Stay in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Playa Tambor

This beach is located just about a 15-minute drive from the ferry that connects the Nicoya Peninsula to the mainland, making it a great weekend trip for ticos living in the Central Valley. The beach is extremely calm- and home to lots of Costa Ricans who make great food. The all-inclusive resort Barcelo Playa Tambor is also located on this beach.

Related post: 30+ Foods To Try In Costa Rica

Playa Coyote

Off the beaten path you will find Playa Coyote and Playa San Miguel. Next door to each other, the beaches are similar- lined with private homes and tiny restaurants. There aren’t gas stations for miles, and lots of tico families spend extended time here.

Playa Coyote houses a couple of supermarkets and restaurants, so stock up on your supplies here. The beach is long and wide, with tan sand and gorgeous waves.

Join me over at my favorite place- Instagram.

Playa san miguel.

Playa San Miguel is one of the eight cleanest beaches in Costa Rica, garnering the prestigious Playa Azul flag. Turtles nest here and come home year-round, and the beach is three miles long. Perfect for walking!

You can boogie, surf, skimboard, or just enjoy the view. There isn’t a ton of shade near the water here, so bring an umbrella and chairs.  Finish the day with a beer and a bite at the only restaurant on the beach- Cocos Locos. It’s made from a shipping container! Prices are a bit high so ask how much things cost before you buy.

Related post: Tipping in Costa Rica

Playa Junquillal

This beach is a hidden gem for families, and one of the best beaches for kids in Costa Rica . We love it because there are several great places to stay right on the beach, like Junquillal Eco Resort.

At the north end of the beach, there are countless tide pools for spotting tiny fish and crabs- this will keep your kids entertained for hours. On top of that- you can see turtles nesting year-round at this beach.

Playa Montezuma

Montezuma Beach is a surfer’s paradise, and one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica. If you get tired of the beach (which I never do), the hike to the Montezuma Waterfalls is definitely worth it- it’s one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica .

Playa Nosara

Playa Nosara is the place to be. It’s within minutes of some of the best beaches in Costa Rica, and retains a small-town feel without sacrificing amenities. There are tons of things to do in Nosara – even kid’s camp and nannies are available. There are also great hotels here- check out our list of top places to stay in Nosara.

Puntarenas Region of the Costa Rica Pacific Coast

For these beaches, you’ll want to fly into the San Jose International Airport.

Jaco is the quintessential Costa Rican tourist beach. Located just about 90 minutes from San Jose, it’s where people go to party and relax. The North end of the beach is hopping- surfers, Spring Breakers, bachelor parties- it’s nuts. Don’t miss Rioasis for pizza or the fun little soda Marea Alta just off the main drag for cheap typical foods. 

We recently discovered the South end of the beach, home to family-friendly lodging and some awesome restaurants , as well as close to the famous hike to the beach overlook. Jaco is home to every type of shopping, food, tours, and other amenities imaginable.  We think Jaco with kids is the bee’s knees.

Jaco Beach Costa Rica recently became the first Central American beach fully accessible to people with disabilities. The beach access is open Monday through Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm and includes parking, bathrooms, and the accessible beach walk. The boardwalk is made entirely from recycled plastic bottle tops and plastic bags.  

You might also like: Where To Eat In Jaco Costa Rica

Overwhelmed with planning your Costa Rica trip? We can help!

Playa Mantas

Just 15 minutes north of Playa Jaco is Mantas Beach , one of the best-kept secrets in the area. Located near the famous Punta Leona resort complex, Playa Mantas is a hidden gem for families and those wishing to escape the craziness of Jaco.

There are no services at Playa Mantas- but there is a pizzeria, ice cream shop and mini supermarket just about 3/4 of a kilometer off the beach. Expect almost no waves, water so clear you can see your toes, and tons of shade trees lining the beach.

Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca is apty named. This white sand beach is just adjacent to Playa Mantas and the turquoise waters are breathtaking. You’ll have to hike over at low tide to get there, but it is worth the short walk!

Costa Rican Pacific Beaches- South Pacific/Southern Tip

Manuel antonio national park .

Manuel Antonio National Park is located just south of Quepos, and is one of the most popular and famous national parks in all of Costa Rica. The Manuel Antonio beach itself is relatively small. Still, visitors from all over the world flock to Manuel Antonio to see the birds, iguanas, monkeys , sloths and insects that make their home in the national park.

Plan your visit to Manuel Antonio well in advance, and expect large crowds. This is a must-see area for many visitors to Costa Rica, but if you are looking for tranquility, you are better off heading a bit south to Dominical or Marino Ballena National Park.

Dominical Beach

Dominical Beach is a long rocky beach located about an hour south of Manuel Antonio. Waves are large and there is a relatively large rip current, but the beach is generally pretty deserted and there are restaurants, shops and accommodations for every taste and budget. We love to eat lunch at the beachfront Tortilla Flats- which also has very basic accommodations for under $25.

Bahia Ballena Beach and National Park

Even further south from Dominical is Bahia Ballena- or whale bay. It’s named more for its geographical structure- the bay looks like a whale tale. Whales can be spotted offshore here, but not year-round. Recently the beach has gained lots of popularity for its Instagrammable whale tail formation at low tide.

Parking is ample at whale bay, it’s located near the national park, and there are nearby restaurants and few services at the small town. Whale watching is August- November and December-April.

I recently visited here for the first time and I just think it’s one of the top laces to visit in Costa Rica for families with kids. You can see tons of wildlife in the national park, and it’s way way way less crowded than Manuel Antonio. I adored it and can’t wait to go back.

For the adventurous, Drake Bay is the place to go. It’s the last town before Corcovado National Park, home of every single Costa Rican bird and animal species imaginable. Drake Bay is accessible by car only during the dry season.

If you are headed to Drake Bay in the rainy season you’ll have to go by boat through the mangroves and then through the mouth of the river to the town by the beach.  Drake Bay is about 6 hours south of San Jose- you can take jumper planes there if you are short on time.

It’s only been about 10 years since Drake Bay has electricity and internet, and the vast majority of the inhabitants still live a very off-the-grid, laid back lifestyle. There are tons of accommodations and restaurants for every taste and budget here.  

Expect to find an endless number of beaches to explore via the vast trail system that leads into Corcovado. You can also spot whales and dolphins on the way to Cano Island- the perfect place to snorkel and dive.

Join the Costa Rica With Kids Facebook Group. Ask all the Costa Rica Travel questions you want- we will answer them!

The post Best Beaches in Costa Rica – 20 Pacific Coast Beaches You’ll Love appeared first on Pura Vida Moms .

There are so many beaches in Costa Rica that it can be hard to narrow it down to just one place to stay in Costa Rica. But if you are serious about finding the best beach for you, you’ll want to read this review of 20 of the best beaches in Costa Rica on the...


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