Sarapiqui sits in Costa Rica’s north-east region. It is part of the Heredia province and borders Nicaragua. It is always steaming humid and there’s quite a bit of rain too, even during the dry season. The area is named for its major waterway, the Sarapiquí River and during the rainy season it becomes popular for its white water rafting. However the Sarapiqui region still remains pretty unknown for mass tourism and there’s plenty of family friendly activities in the area that haven’t been ruined by large, rowdy tour groups. If you’re wondering where to go in Costa Rica with childre, Sarapiqui is a great place to show children an unspoiled Costa Rica where there are few resorts and plenty of local people.
Things to do with kids in Sarapiqui:
Playing in the Sarapiqui River
At the peak of the rainy season it can be incredibly high and fast flowing however it is still a good river for kids to explore and our two spent hours in it building dams, hunting for spiders, spotting fish, following butterflies and watching cormorants dive.
There’s a plethora of wildlife everywhere you look and howler monkeys can be heard nearby.
White Water Rafting
Various packages for different levels of rafting with prices starting at $65.
Lots of prices and different options including a family raft experience. Prices start at $60.
Explore the jungle
Tirimbina is a hotel and education centre with its own private forest. It offers self-guided and guided walks through the jungle. Prices start at $18. You can book and pay online.
If you opt for the self-guided tours you’re given an easy to follow map.
La Selva Biological Station
La Selva is predominantly a biological research centre but they do offer a number of eco-tourism tours (3 hour, 6 hour and night walks) and you can even stay here. You’ll need to contact them directly for rates and what they offer – although they can tailor tours to you. Costs start at around $35.
Selva Verde Reserve
This is another hotel which offers tours. Selva Verde has its own 500 acre reserve and employs knowledgeable naturalist guides. Their guided hiking starts at $25 for two hours.
Tirimbina offers a chocolate tour where you learn about cacao beans and the process of making chocolate from tree to cup. The tour is held on their reserve where you’ll be given several tastings. Prices start at $31 for adults, $21 for children and $17 for resident guests.
Best Chocolate Sarapiqui
A tour run by a local man and his family. Here you’ll learn about the cacao plant, flowers and pollination and then spend time in the Cacao Rancho in the middle of the Reserva Curare (a private protected forest). The cacao grows amongst the rain forest and you’ll see a large number of animals within the Reserve as well as have an opportunity for tastings.
You’ll travel into the fields on a specially designed trailer pulled by a tractor whilst learning about pineapple farming. Group sizes can be very large. You return to the farm afterwards for cakes, mocktails (containing milk), biscuits and juice. If you’re vegan you will only be able to eat the dehydrated pineapple and drink the juice. Prices start at $25 for adults.
A local farm which grows ornamental plants, pineapples and also has tilapia ponds.
They do offer fishing and eating the fish which is not something we agree with but we do want to support local families. You can arrange a tour through Chilamate Rainforest Eco Retreat or book in person. There’s a big sign next to the road where you can pop in.
Organic Farm el Paraíso
Don Daniel and his wife Doña Teresa are the owners and they work on the banana and pineapple farm alongside their children.
They offer a guided tour (in Spanish) of their farm and a home-cooked lunch.
Costs $30 per person and you need to book through Chilamate.
There are a lot of places offering night walks in Sarapiqui here are just a small selection.
La Selva Biological Station
Prices start at $55 for adults and $30 for kids. The tours take around two hours and you’ll be guided by a biologist at the station. Tours tend to start at 7pm.
During this tour you will be guided across Tirmibina’s suspension bridge in the dark! You may be able to spot animals like sloths, the red-eyed tree frog, porcupine, kinkayou and more.
$29 for adults and $20 for children. Resident guests $14.
The cost of this tour is $30 per person with kids rates upon request. A favorite find on the night walk are the red-eyed tree frogs and the kinkajou, but be prepared to see an array of spiders, amongst many other creepy crawlies.
The tour is frequently run by the owner of Best Chocolate Sarapiqui (as listed above).
Search the hotel grounds and surrounding trails for nocturnal wildlife – including tree frogs, leaf mimicking insects, and nocturnal mammals including kinkajous and bats!
Adults $23, Children 6-11 $11.5, under 6 free!
La Selva Biological Stations
As detailed extensively above, contact them for any tour you might like to undertake.
Dave & Dave’s
Dave and Dave’s is a bird paradise. The two tour begins with visits to Dave & Dave’s Toucan Mirador and the Colibri & Hummingbird Garden. The tour concludes with a walk in the park. Cost is $40 and reservations essential.
Designed in the back of José’s garden, this excellent example of eco-tourism was created for a BSc in biology. You can see birds, frogs, sloth and a number of local plants here.
Cost starts at $25 for a two hour tour. Photography groups are welcome and meals can be prepared too.
Tirimbina offers early morning bird and night bat watching.
Prices start at $25 for adults, $19 for children and $13 for residents. All tours can be pre-booked and paid for online.
Early morning bird walk starts at 6am! Cost: Adults $27, Children 6-11 $13.5, under 5 Free
Mi Cafecito coffee tour
Learn about the life of an organic coffee farmer at Mi Cafecito. Samples offered and fresh coffee brewed.
Email directly for prices.
Understanding the plants and forests
Tamborcito Eco Farm
Visit or stay on an eco-farm in the north near the border of Nicaragua. There are a number of farms all named after the founders’s daughters.
Book directly through the farm.
Ethnobotany Walk Curaré
Spend two hours in a unique and tasty tour where you explore the plants of the area and their medicinal and traditional uses.
The tour starts at Chilamate Rainforest Eco Retreat and is done partly walking through the community and partly at the tour guides ranch.
Prices start at $30 for adults with discounts for kids.
Sarapiqui is a great place for inquisitive children to learn about the rain-forest and all its animals.
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