Take a hike to see some of the strangest and/or cutest animals on the planet, including macaws, toucans, tapirs and iguanas. Head for one of the several National Parks in Costa Rica (covering almost 30% of the total land mass). In Corcovado National Park you can stay at a camp on the beach, snorkel, surf and horse-ride. Manuel Antonia National Park offers the heady combination of gorgeous beaches fringed by a jungle teeming with wildlife. Or enjoy a boat-trip along the narrow waterways of Tortuguero National Park, spotting brightly coloured birds in the trees and even the odd crocodile basking on the shore.
Hit the beaches for unforgettable family holidays. Playa Tamarindo in the province of Guanacaste is a surfer’s dream; with younger kids, Playa Uvita south of Dominicalis is a better swimmers’ beach, with the added benefit that you might spot dolphins and whales from its sands.
Discover the Nicoya Peninsula, one of a handful of worldwide ‘Blue Zones’ where people live longer and more healthily due to their environment. Forbes magazine recently voted its Malpais beach among the top 10 in the world, and local beaches as a whole score highly in Tripadvisor polls. Malpais and Santa Teresa are great places to learn to surf, whether at a surf camp or through individual lessons.
Keep the kids up late to watch turtles laying their eggs at the Refugio Nacional de Fauna Silvestre Ostional at night. Animal-lovers might also visit the hands-on butterfly gardens at Monteverde.
Whizz through the jungle on the zip-wire in Arenal Volcano National Park (for the less brave, there are sky gondolas).
With ages 9/10 and up, experience the thrills of white-water rafting, but make sure to ask around about a tour operator’s safety standards. The best spot is the Pacuare River, on the way to which you’ll travel through banana plantations and past volcanoes.
Take the hour-long boat-trip to the Isla del Cano, which might reward you with sightings of whales depending on the time of year.