Destination Guides

12 reasons you should consider taking the family to Costa Rica for Christmas

.Trade snow for sandy beaches and carolers for tropical birdsong on a trip to Costa Rica for Christmas. With stunning locations, amazing nature and warm locals, this tropical paradise is a unique Christmas retreat which has something for the whole family; the perfect destination for multigenerational travel.

“From beaches to jungles to volcanoes, and all the weird and wonderful wildlife in between, I could never choose just one favorite place in Costa Rica. Relax and enjoy the pura vida, mae!” 

Unlock the best of a Costa Rican Christmas on either Monkeys, Jungles and Volcanoes or Costa Rica Eco Adventure

1. It’s a sunny holiday-season escape

Beach in Costa Rica with the sun shining through the clouds

December is the start of Costa Rica’s dry season, making it perfect weather for exploring and hiking. Average temperature in coastal areas is around 30°C (86°F), while in the mountains, it’s 18-22°C (64-72°F). Say goodbye to a shivering, frosty Christmas and welcome the warmth of the sun as you celebrate the holiday season on sandy beaches under clear, blue skies.

2. Landscapes you’ll never forget

A volcano in Arenal, Costa Rica, towering up in the sky with a ring of clouds around it. Another beautiful landscape you'll see if you go to Costa Rica for Christmas

Costa Rica is a gift that keeps on giving when it comes to natural beauty. From lush rainforest canopies to majestic volcanic peaks, pristine beaches and tropical lagoons, this little paradise has so many incredible landscapes to explore.

Trafalgar’s two tours to Costa Rica differ slightly in the landscapes you’ll unlock. Both are 8-day adventures that start in San José and venture into Tortuguero National Park. Meaning ‘turtle catcher’, this archipelago of volcanic islands where freshwater meets the sea is filled with lagoons, canals, wetlands and beaches where several species of turtle make their nest. On both tours you’ll learn all about the biodiversity of the region at a remote Eco-lodge only accessible by boat.

Towards the end of both tours, their paths go separate ways. On Monkeys, Jungles and Volcanoes you’ll head to Manuel Antonio National Park, renowned for its warm blue waters, beautiful beaches and abundant exotic wildlife soundtracking your visit – whooping howler monkeys and chattering mischievous squirrels filling the air. Choose from boat trips through sprawling mangroves, kayak tours to tiny islands, a catamaran ride along the coast with snorkeling, and even surf lessons!

On Costa Rica Eco Adventure you’ll go to Monteverde instead, an evergreen canopy of lush ‘Cloud Forests’ and dense jungle thickets. Here you can take a ‘Sky Walk’ atop a chain of six suspension bridges at canopy level with complete views of the forest. You’ll discover a completely different ecosystem that can only be found at the highest points of trees. A naturalist guide will point out intriguing plant and animal life, so you won’t miss out on any amazing details these forests offer. You can also visit a coffee and sugar farm, go horseback riding through the plantations and forest, and zipline along the forest too.

We think you’ll also like: An Insider’s Guide to Costa Rica 

3. Close Encounters with Wildlife

A tree frog dancing a top a flower bud

A family vacation in Costa Rica promises more than just beautiful landscapes. Say hello to nature’s wonders up close as you encounter sloths, playful monkeys, colorful birds, and other fascinating creatures in the country’s numerous national parks and reserves. You have so many opportunities to enjoy MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences on both Trafalgar tours:

In Sarapiqui, discover the family-run Snake garden wildlife center, and help support a local community and the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Look out for the nesting sea turtles in Tortuguero National Park while you cruise along its natural canals, as well as the monkeys in the treetops, toucans and egres flying through the air, and crocodiles sunbathing from afar.

On Costa Rica Eco Adventure you’ll have the chance to go to Arenal National Park‘s Ecological Park. This includes an adorable frog sanctuary, bird watching, a serpentarium (home to different species of snakes found in Costa Rica), a reptile lagoon (to observe crocodiles) and a heliconia garden.

4. Thrilling Adventures for All Ages

A girl ziplining and smiling to the camera

Adventurers young and old will find their perfect playground in Costa Rica. The land of pura vida offers a wide range of exhilarating activities. We spoke about the Skywalk in Monteverde, where you walk on bridges suspended above the rainforest canopy. How about the Skytrek – a series of 10 ziplines atop the rainforest canopy that provide the ultimate adrenaline rush. You could also ride the waves with some glorious Pacific surf, go horseback riding through open fields and tropical forests, and for the real thrill seekers… There’s the option to go White Water Rafting on Costa Rica Eco Adventure. You’ll go on a class II and III river and navigate nearly 13 km (over 8 miles), a great introduction for first-time paddlers and families interested in a fun, wet rollercoaster ride. Get ready for an action-packed Christmas!

5. Family-Oriented Accommodations

A birds eye shot of an Eco lodge nestled on a forested peninsula.

Rest assured, Costa Rica has your family’s comfort in mind. Family-friendly resorts and eco-lodges are abundant, catering to your specific needs. One of our favorites is your Arenal accommodation, where the hotel boasts natural hot springs where you can relax and take in the surrounding volcanic landscape. Another stunning spot is the eco-lodge in Tortuguero, only accessibly by boat, surrounded by ancient mangroves and lush wetlands. Enjoy quality family time in these cozy accommodations, available on both tours, while surrounded by the Costa Rica’s natural beauty.

6. Christmas in the Rainforest

Sun shining through dense rainforest thicket.

Picture this: Christmas in the heart of the rainforest. The sounds of humming frogs, whooping monkeys and cawing tropical birds are your carol songs. Celebrate under the lush canopy, surrounded by the soothing sounds of nature. It’s a unique experience that’ll create lasting memories and bring your family closer to the wonders of the natural world.

7. Local Traditions and Festivities

A festival float of an owl, bee, and other forest critters lit up with lights parading down a street in Costa Rica for Christmas

The Festival of Lights marks the beginning of Christmas in Costa Rica, a tradition spanning 25 years. It commences on the second Saturday of December. Festivities commence with a pasacaglia, a vibrant street parade featuring live music, stilt walkers, masks, bands, and more, kicking off at 3:00 p.m. As the sun sets around 6:00 p.m., the Festival of Lights transforms San José, Costa Rica’s capital, into a dazzling spectacle. Local companies craft illuminated floats that captivate the streets, accompanied by live music and fireworks, igniting the festive Christmas spirit.

As well as this, there’s the cherished Central American tradition of Las Posadas, celebrated from December 16th to 24th. Here, revellers reenact the journey of Mary and Joseph in the days leading up to the birth of Baby Jesus as they sought shelter for Mary to give birth.

During Las Posadas, people visit the homes of their neighbors and friends to pedir posada – to ask for lodging and sing villancicos (traditional Christmas carols). This ritual encourages the hosts to invite the participants inside, where they share warm punch and delightful traditional foods together. Las Posadas symbolizes the search for refuge and serves as a heartwarming and communal way to honor the spirit of the season. With the locals you’ll meet on both tours, maybe you’ll make some friends to share your own Las Posadas celebrations with?

8. Educational Experiences

Hands holding a pile of coffee beans

Costa Rica’s amazing nature and unique culture provides a wealth of educational experiences. Enrich your family’s understanding of the world by learning about rainforest ecology, conservation, and the vibrant local culture, all while enjoying a thrilling vacation. On Costa Rica Eco Adventure, you’ll visit a coffee plantation and farm, and learn about the coffee making process. One of our favorite experiences on Monkeys, Jungles and Volcanoes is the Tortuguero Village visit, where you’ll meet the village’s first pioneers and hear stories of what life was like in Tortuguero. You’ll also learn about all the sustainability efforts that have taken place and how the community has changed their perceptions of the environment around them. 

We think you’ll also like: How these Costa Rica tours are inspiring the next generation of environmental guardians

9. Savor the Flavors of Costa Rica

A dish of seafood ceviche

Costa Rican cuisine is a treat for the taste buds. With tropical fruits and local dishes like seafood ceviche, you’ll unlock the very best of Central American flavours. There are some pretty unique dining experiences on both tours, like at Sarapiqui, where you’ll get to have a special BBQ meal with the owners of your hotel. And in Tortuguero, you’ll meet master chocolatiers Julio Fernandez and George Soriano at their workshop. You’ll learn about the history of Costa Rican chocolate and how it is produced. 

10. Welcoming Ticos

Two 'Ticos' arm in arm, smiling and lughing at the camera

The warmth of Costa Ricans, affectionately known as “Ticos,” is contagious. Meet a local Tico family at their palm plantation to learn about, and sample, the delicate heart of palm. Christmas is a time to come together, and you’ll feel embraced as you explore this welcoming country.

11. Safety and Peace of Mind

A smiling man in a Trafalgar gilet

One of the best reasons to take a tour with Trafalgar is safety. Travel with peace of mind knowing your Travel Director, driver, and Local Experts make sure everything is taken care of.  Experience all the excitement of Latin America, safe in the knowledge you’re being looked after by a professional team.

12. Create New Traditions

Two men wading out into the sea with a kayak at sunrise

A Christmas spent in Costa Rica paves the way for new family traditions. Embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle as you relax on pristine beaches and delight in thrilling adventures. In this tropical paradise, you can create memories that will bind your family together and endure for generations to come. Maybe this unique Christmas experience could open the door to a new family tradition?

Three people smiling and holding a red sign that says 'Feliz Navidad' in Costa Rica for Christmas

Break free from the ordinary in enchanting landscapes, tropical weather, rich biodiversity, and a welcoming culture. Costa Rica is the perfect place to celebrate the holiday season. Whether this becomes a yearly tradition or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, Costa Rica for Christmas is family vacation you won’t forget.

Unlock the best of a Costa Rican Christmas on either Monkeys, Jungles and Volcanoes or Costa Rica Eco Adventure

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