costa rica baby

Costa Rica with a Baby

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(Last updated on: 28/11/2022)

When I was planning our first adventure as a threesome, I was nervous about where might or might not be appropriate to take a four-month-old baby. Is it too hot? Too cold? Too many mosquitos? Is it a Malaria area? What is the hygiene like? The list of concerns seemed never-ending! Eventually we decided on Costa Rica after having read extensively about how Matt and Jenn, who blog over at Two Weeks in Costa Rica, have travelled throughout the country with their baby. As brilliant and informative as their blog was, I was surprised that they were the only people who appear to have written about travelling to Costa Rica with a baby in tow, aside from the usual Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet forums. So I thought I’d share the details of our three and a half week trip as a guide for any families planning a similar trip in the future.

Planning your trip to Costa Rica with a baby 

First of all, I will give you a few details about the planning of our trip to Costa Rica with a baby. 

Travelling to any destination with children requires a little more planning than it might without children, but that doesn’t make it any less fun – it just requires a few extra hours on Google. First of all, you will need to find great flights. My go-to has always been Skyscanner, which I have been using for years to check flight prices, times etc. I find that this comparison website always finds me the best deals. I also like that it gives you an all-inclusive price for the family in the search results! If you’re looking for good deals on flights you can visit Skyscanner here. If your baby is small you will probably be fine with an infant ticket, although some parents choose to pay for a full price seat for larger babies. You can read more about my tips for flying with a baby in this post

Monteverde with a baby

I live in England so it’s a given that I’m not a huge fan of the rain. Usually I would avoid destinations during their rainy season, but after reading that in Costa Rica this generally equates to a daily afternoon storm, I thought this could work for us. It would allow baby Isla the opportunity to have her afternoon nap. So after stocking up the USB with films and packing our raincoats we prepared for a couple of hours a day of rain….

This is not what we found on our first stop in Costa Rica, however! Monteverde is located high in the mountains and is literally in the clouds. Whilst the views on a bright sunny morning (the clouds were generally beginning to emerge as we woke up at about 7am) are beautiful, you are more likely to spend your time watching spectacular thunderstorms than you are gazing across the mountain-scape.

Costa Rica with a baby

Rain aside, this was actually a pretty good start to the trip for our baby. It wasn’t too hot or humid and there are lots of opportunities to go out hiking (with our Babybjorn carrier which we LOVE- read my review here) and wildlife spotting, which is one Isla’s favourite things to do!

Arenal with a baby

How many babies do you know who had been swimming in thermal jungle waters, visited a volcano and seen a huge waterfall by age five months? Well we ticked all of these off on our visit to Arenal!

Costa Rica with a baby

There is also tonnes to do here without baby – mum and dad just might have to take it in turns! We did zip-lining, and my husband did canyoneering and white water rafting while bubba and I had a chill day at the waterfall. 

Montezuma with a baby

This town reminded me of how Phi Phi, Thailand may have looked 30 years ago and it surely one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. This is a quaint little town with a cool hippy vibe. There are beautiful secluded beaches and amazing scenery. Isla loved relaxing on the beach here while mummy and daddy caught up on their vitamin D shortage after all of the rain at the beginning of our trip!

Samara with a baby

The highlight here was surfing. Obviously this was not something Isla could take part in but we took it in turns to look after her while the other rode some waves, or attempted to!

Costa Rica with a baby

Tortuguero with a baby

This is the most remote village in Costa Rica and you have to take a motorised canoe to reach it. This was a cool experience – Isla was so engaged she had a feed and fell asleep! How many people can say they have breastfed on a canoe huh?! The village itself is very basic and I was not very happy with our accommodation here. Lesson learned: spend more money when travelling with baby as you will spend more time in your room and you will be bothered when your little one is crawling in dirt! You do get to see turtles laying their eggs though… which was really cool!

During our stay here the village had no electricity and no water for approximately 20 hours… and it was quite possibly the most humid place I have ever visited! Fortunately I think this bothered my husband and I more than it did the baby, but perhaps wasn’t the most ideal situation!

Accommodation is limited here so if you are travelling with children I would recommend you book in to one of the resorts (this is the one place that we didn’t use an Airbnb). Make sure you book early though as they fill quickly! 

Costa Rica With A Baby

Puerto Viejo with a baby

This was a nice place and it was great to experience the Caribbean culture in Costa Rica – who knew it was so different from the West Coast!? Isla enjoyed dancing to Bob Marley and chilling on the beach but it wasn’t the best place that we visited in terms of suitability for children due to the strong rip currents in the sea and the general cleanliness. This part of the country was far less clean than the other areas we visited and there was a constant lingering smell of cannabis!

There isn’t much to do here aside from surfing and visiting the many wildlife refuges. We were particularly impressed though when this sloth came to say hello as we walked along the beach!

Costa Rica with a baby

Manuel Antonio with a baby

This was the last stop on our Costa Rican travels and was very relaxing. There is the most beautiful beach in the country here, although it was very touristy, and there were plenty of things to do in Manuel Antonio. Personally, we preferred the secluded beaches of Montezuma. There were lots of resorts here so I think many people stay around their hotel a lot of the time, especially seeing as the tide comes in so high that there is no beach in the afternoon, or at least not at the time of year we were there!

There are lots of nice bars and restaurants here, more so than anywhere else we visited in Costa Rica. Unfortunately with baby in tow we couldn’t drink too many cocktails, but we did find this unique bar that was really cool!

Tips for Travelling to Costa Rica with a Baby

All in all this was a great destination to travel with baby. There was enough to keep her stimulated, without over-tiring her and the distances to travel were not too great. Here are a few lessons I learned about travelling Costa Rica with a baby!

  • Roads are TERRIBLE, so make sure you have a good car seat
  • Rental cars aren’t so great either so make sure you go with a reputable company and check the condition of the car thoroughly
  • There isn’t a huge variety of food if you are weaning – we found we ate the same stuff a lot when self-catering. Most restaurants do have high chairs though
  • There are a lot of mosquitos in the rainforest so make sure you have protection for your little one. We used these organic mosquito stickers which worked a treat – baby Isla didn’t get a single bite!
  • People in Costa Rica love babies, so your little one will be adored and will get a lot of attention!
  • Most places don’t have changing facilities in the toilets, but they don’t seem to care when you wipe your precious one’s dirty bum on the restaurant table…
  • Accommodation is expensive and not always the highest quality, plan carefully to get the best deal
  • Costa Rican bathrooms often come with a ‘death shower’. Google it, that’s all I will say…
  • There are a lot of insects, so if your little one is moving around there is every chance he/she may eat a centipede, or spider, or God knows what else
  • Take an umbrella with you for the sun as beaches don’t tend to have shade (for my tips on how to shade a baby on a deserted beach click here)

Wherever you go on your next trip, whether you choose Costa Rica or elsewhere… have fun!

Costa Rica with a baby

For more on travelling Costa Rica with children you might also find this post helpful. 

Psssst! By the way, I have recently designed a flight log book to allow your kids to record all of the journeys! If you’re looking for a special way to record your children’s travel memories then head over to Amazon to take a look!

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  1. lexandneek

    What precious photos of you and your wonderful family! Thanks for sharing your adventure in Costa Rica.

    • Hayley

      Ah thank you! It was an amazing summer!

  2. Teresa Wheeler

    This is amazing thank you for sharing. We are planning our first trip to CR with baby so great to hear about your experiences. Looks lots of fun 🙂

    • Hayley

      It’s a great place to go! Enjoy!

  3. Maria Tierney

    Hi Hayley,
    We booked a trip with our little one to Costa Rica this coming July, she will be just over 9 months old. My husband and I were very excited as we travelled to Costa Rica a few years back and have been just waiting on a chance to return. However we have become a bit doubtful that we are doing the right thing as the more we read, the more we realize that with rainy season the mosquito count is greater and therefore a greater chance of our baby contracting a disease. We also had a consultation with a doctor regarding immunization and she made us feel a bit guilty to bring her at this time. I think by your timeline you may have been there during rainy season with your baby and would love if you could tell me how it really was? Also how did you protect your baby, were you constantly having to use a mosquito net and other methods. Right now I am worrying and overthinking it, we are considering not going, but we do know that kids also live in Costa Rica so must be manageable. Also apart from scheduled immunization did you opt for other vaccines, measles and Hep A have been recommended by the doctor. Sorry for the long message but would appreciate your thoughts.

    • Hayley

      Hi Maria, yes we did travel in rainy season. We use mosquitan patches for Isla who has now travelled to Costa Rica, Spain, Sri Lanka, Mexico and Nepal-4 of which during rainy season! She has never had a single mosquito bite! We did have a mosquito net for the cot but didn’t really need it in most places. 9 months is too young for any travel vaccines. Don’t worry, you will fine and have a great time!

  4. Sam

    Being able to look back with your child when they are old enough to remember events will be so precious. Well done on documenting this trip so well!

    • Hayley

      Thanks Sam, these moments are definitely precious!

  5. Rachel

    These pictures are too adorable. These are going to be great to look back on especially when she grows up. Also very nice to see for other couples who want to travel with young children. Super cute family!

    • Hayley

      Thanks Rachel, we have started making videos now too, I love our travel memories!

  6. Edward

    What a beautiful family! The pictures are so cool! And Costa Rica looks an amazing place to visit!

    • Hayley

      Thank you! You should definitely visit if you haven’t already!

  7. Morgan

    My family has been planning to go on a tropical vacation with our cousins who have a baby, but haven’t determined where yet. This article has been SO helpful! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Hayley

      I’m glad it’s helped, the baby will love Costa Rica!

  8. Paul

    Costa Rica looks beautiful! I’ve been to Panama, but I really want to experience the cloud forest in CR. Great pictures!

    • Hayley

      Thanks Paul, pictures don’t do it justice-it was wonderful! I would like to visit Panama too!

  9. Lauren Edmondson Sanders

    Thanks for this post! It has been so helpful. My husband and are are traveling to Costa Rica this November with our 2 year old and 10 month old. We will be there for only 5 nights. Do you recommend just one city to stay in? Or rent a car and stay a night in several cities? If just one town, which one?

    • Hayley

      Monteverde and Arsenal were our favourite places and they’re not too far apart, you could probably do both in 5 nights?

  10. Sara

    You really did see it all! How wonderful to take this trip with your little one and she looked like Pura Vida suited her. Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast attracts a lot of backpackers and I’d always suggest the quieter town of Cahuita with its beautiful national park for families. Maybe next time?

    • Hayley

      It was a wonderful trip! We were actually in one of the quieter nearby towns, it was lovely and peaceful

  11. Lindsay

    Hi, we are thinking about taking a trip to Costa Rica with our young baby. Were y’all able to still do some of the adventurous things? I see your husband went white water rafter and zip lining…did he just go alone? Or were you able to do it too?

    • Hayley

      Unfortunately I had to miss out on the rafting etc and stay with the baby although I did get to go zip lining as we took it in turns

  12. Sabine

    Hi there,
    your post is very helpful! We intend to visit Tortuguero NP but we are a family of four. Our girls are 2 and 4 years old. You visited the park even with a baby – wow. So I assume it’s also possible with 2 yound children. Do you know if we can take all our 2 suitcases with us on the boot? Is the boot “safe” for young kids who are “active” all the time! 😉 What do you think? Can you recommend a accomodation for us?
    Thanks so much in advance!
    All the best
    Sabine from Munich! 😉

    • Hayley

      I saw other kids that age there so I’m sure you will be fine! You will need to hold on to them on the boat though! The place we stayed at was terrible so I don’t have any recommendations unfortunately!

  13. sean

    hi there.
    After the year 2020 has been, we are hopefully trying to get away for the last month of my months maternity leave (baby will be 1 year old). We are toying up between – costs rica, south africa or sri lanka (for 3-4 weeks). I can seen you have been to both costa rica and sri lanka. would you have a recommendation out of the two? thanks in advance enjoyed your blogs.

    • Dr Hayley Stainton

      Hi there, both trips were brilliant! Sri Lanka was a lot better value for money and the weather was better for us so I would probably choose there. But I’m sure that you will have a great time which ever you choose!



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