Geoff McCabe

Best Kids Activities in Santa Teresa

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Adults in Santa Teresa often are happy to sit around all day by the beach, in a hammock, relaxing, etc, but what about if you have kids? What can you do with them to explore the wonders of Costa Rica and keep them entertained? Here are several good ideas:

Butterfly Gardens in Montezuma

Amy at Montezuma GardensOfficially it’s a B&B called “Montezuma Gardens”, and in Spanish it’s called La Mariposario. They have a netted enclosure where you and the kids can see lots of different butterflies, including the spectacular Blue Morpho from the famous kids movie, The Blue Butterfly. They will give you a tour and show the various stages of cocoon to butterfly development.

Canopy Tours / Zip Lines

Most love the “canopy tour” which is a set of zip lines high in the jungle trees. We have one in Malpais and one in Montezuma, and each has its benefits. Kids may be allowed to do some of the lines themselves once they demonstrate that they can handle it. My daughter, at age 7, was allowed to do the entire set of them on her second run, but perhaps that’s because the employees there know me pretty well. The Montezuma canopy tour includes a visit to the waterfall.

Montezuma Waterfall and Bridges

Montezuma Falls Upper PoolHead over to Montezuma and park at the Sun Trails office, where the Montezuma canopy tour starts. This is located just up the hill from Anamaya Yoga Resort. From there, you can pay $5 per person and walk down a path to the top of Montezuma Falls, where there are two huge, deep pools. Kids can play in the top pool if they’re old enough to climb up and down… perhaps age 6. Younger kids can be carried down to the water or swim in the river just above the pools.

Piedra Colorado Pool

Playa Piedra ColoradaPiedra Colorado is a very popular hidden beach which is a 15 minute walk from Montezuma to the north. The journey is great fun for kids, and you’ll arrive at a small white sand cove on the right, and the left has freshwater pools and a small waterfall. It’s very scenic and popular with the families who live in the area.

Piedra Colorado Beach

Playa Los Suecos

Puffer Fish in Costa RicaPlaya Los Suecos is at the very end of the Malpais road, to the south. It’s a few hundred meters past where the fishermen have their boats. There are no large waves, and lots of fish and sea critters to see if you’re snorkeling. At low tide you can walk out and find many tidepools too. More info:

Playa Manzanillo

Costa Rica sandcastle competitionGreat for kids and families, Playa Manzanillo is a 15-min drive up the beach road north of Santa Teresa. It has a rocky reef that protects it from ever getting big waves. There aren’t too many people here, and it has a couple of Tico restaurants nearby for snacks and drinks. This is the way Santa Teresa was 15 years ago so it’s bit of a trip back in time. Manzanillo is also the best place to make sandcastles based on the type of sand they have there.

Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary

Howler Monkey BAbyRainsong is a wildlife hospital in Cabuya for injured monkeys, squirrels, porcupines, etc. They also have a breeding program for jungle turtles. Highly underfunded, they need a lot of help, so don’t go expecting a modern zoo. Most animals are healed and released as quickly as possible, and many die due to extensive injuries (usually mauled by dogs or electrocuted on high wires.) Please make a good donation when you go, and be sure to call first to make sure they’re open.

Rocamar Family Sunday Gathering

Playa La LoraEvery Sunday from 2pm until dinnertime or so, a few hundred people, mostly the foreign families who live here, go with their children to this best of beaches. DJs are playing music, parents are chatting about the week’s events, and packs of kids are running around playing. Sometimes people are teaching hula-hoop, or aerial silk, and lots of kids are in the ocean, boogie boarding and swimming. It’s a lot of fun for families. Rocamar is a restaurant in north Santa teresa, about 300-400 meters north of La Lora Amarillo nightclub, at the beach entrance where you find Blue Surf Sanctuary.

Rio Lajas Rivermouth and Beach

Rio Lajas Cabuya

Rio Lajas Rivermouth

A great place for kids, when there hasn’t been too much rain, is to head to Cabuya and find the Rio Lajas bridge. Park there by a huge tree and walk under the bridge. Costa Rican families always go there for their kids to play in the many freshwater pools, and it’s close to the beach as well. Be careful, it can be slippery!


malpais-tidepools-7There are two great tidpool excursions in the area. The best one is in Playa Hermosa and its huge (only visible at low tide.) Lots of families go their with kids and learn to swim and snorkel since it’s never more than waist deep. Fish and other things can be found swimming around. My daughter learned to snorkel here. Malpais also has great tidepools at Mar Azul. Here, there are dozens of them, with bright colors and all kinds of interesting sizes. Many are nearly perfectly circular and very photogenic. Click below for more details about each: