Just about every adventurous activity imaginable can be found in Costa Rica: kayaking, zip-lining and surfing, to name a few. Plus, there’s the opportunity to see fascinating wildlife — monkeys, sloths, hundreds of bird species — right outside your door. Bonus: This exotic destination won’t bust your budget.
NosaraNosara – Costa Rica
DO: Surfers flock to the fantastically consistent waves of Playa Guiones, on the country’s Pacific coast, but you don’t need to be Laird Hamilton to experience Nosara’s excellent surf. Safari Surf School caters to all levels, even those who’ve never been on a board, and the gentle white water makes it ideal for beginners. Two lessons per day over six days, plus accommodations, most meals and all equipment starts at $2,875 per person; safarisurfschool.com.
STAY: Olas Verdes is the area’s first LEED-certified hotel, and its location near Playa Guiones makes it ideal for beach-lovers. The flexible layout lets you connect suites, depending on your family’s size. From $420 for a two-bedroom that sleeps seven and includes daily breakfast; olasverdeshotel.com.
La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano
DO: Zip-lining, mountain biking, whitewater rafting: that’s just some of the GoPro-worthy action you’ll find at Sky Adventures Arenal Park.
Too extreme? Try the three-hour walk across hanging bridges high in the canopies or glide 3,200 feet above the rainforest in the Sky Tram. Take a break from the hot Central American sun with a day pass for the waterslides and pools at Baldi Hot Springs Hotel Resort & Spa. From $23 for adults, ages 6-10 from $11.50 and kids under 5 are free; baldihotsprings.cr.
STAY: In La Fortuna, at the foot of the Arenal Volcano, you’ll find a variety of lodging options; many boast hot springs and natural pools on the property. Hotel Los Lagos offers villa rentals that can sleep up to nine and feature a full kitchen, dining room and volcano views. From $299; hotelloslagos.com. Arenal Kioro has spacious family suites with two queen beds and a daybed that can sleep a small child, as well as options for connecting or adjoining rooms and free cribs on request. From $381; hotelarenalkioro.com.