Costa Rica has plenty of outdoor activity for adventure-loving teens, and a tour operator who specializes in this age group.
Seeing Howler monkeys atop tall trees and magnificent Blue Morpho butterflies flying about, not to mention several awesome volcanoes; these unusual sights might even lure your teenage son or daughter away from their computer and TV screens!
If a family trip to Costa Rica interests you, contact Costa Rica Expeditions (506/257-0766), the first eco-adventure company based in the country with several trips for families with kids 13- to 18-years-old. Choose from 10 active journeys for mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and an introduction to Costa Rica's amazing biodiversity, or explore the Internet for other companies that offer guide family tours to this great destination.
Hydro-biking (a bicycle mounted on floating pontoons) allows you to enter areas where wildlife is abundant. Highlights include Tortuguero National Park, nesting ground of the Atlantic Green Sea Turtle, and a Tree Canopy Platform tour 115 feet above the floor of Corcovado National Park.
Less strenuous tours visit the Monteverde Cloud Rain Forest and the Poas and Arenal Volcanoes. CRE's guides, bilingual naturalists and biologists, are trained to engage kids and are savvy at fighting boredom on long, tiring van rides. At the end of every exciting day, you will stay at environmentally sensitive, but very comfortable lodges, several of which were designed and built by CRE.
Sample Family Itinerary
For example, CRE's "Tortuguero, Corcovado & South Pacific Beach" itinerary allows families to explore the best of the country' s north and south coasts in 10 days. The fully escorted adventure begins in the capital of San Jose, where the group meets at the Real Inter-Continental Hotel.
The next day, there's a driver to take you to the Atlantic lowlands near Limon to board a boat for the 2 to 4-hour guided trip to Tortuguero. If you're there between June and October, you may see the region's green sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach. Year-round, two nights are planned at the company's first custom-built lodge, the Tortuga Lodge & Gardens (named the "favorite family resort" in April 2005 by T & L Family magazine). It's been totally renovated to take advantage of the many eco-adventure opportunities on the 50 acres of private Caribbean coastline.
Next, your family will board a chartered plane to Carate via San Jose, then hike from the airstrip through the park to the Corcovado Lodge Tent Camp. This is the place for a zip-line adventure.
The trip mellows once you reach Costa Rica's beautiful Pacific beaches. After flying into Palmar Sur, families will check into the Cristal Ballena Hotel where they can relax, or plan on participating in optional activities (at additional cost) such as kayaking, diving, surfing, and whale watching.
Rates are reasonable and vary according to the number of people in your group and the selected activities, and each itinerary can be customized — including much more active fun — to suit your needs.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.