With easy access to active volcanoes, lush rainforests, bubbling hot springs, and diverse wildlife, the best Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts are never far from the top of most family vacation ideas wish lists. And while it’s home to some of the top all-inclusive beach resorts in the world, this small Central American country of just 19,700 square miles also boasts an impressive 29 national parks, including the world-famous Arenal Volcano National Park. It’s not unusual to spot sloths, anteaters, monkeys, tree frogs, sea turtles, and perhaps even a jaguar in the wild, either.
Inland, adventurous families can go zip lining through the forest canopy, horseback riding, mountain climbing, and rappelling. On the water, surfing, diving, and whitewater river rafting are popular vacation activities. Of course, for those who want to do nothing but relax, there’s plenty of sun, sand, beaches, and resorts.
The Best Costa Rica All-Inclusive Resorts
Costa Rica has beachfront resorts on both its Caribbean and Pacific coasts, but the Pacific side is where you’ll find many of the best Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts for families. Here’s a list of the top all-inclusive properties and rainforest resorts in the country where the national motto loosely translates to “live life” or “enjoy life.”
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1. The Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort and Spa
Playa Conchal, Costa Rica
About an hour’s drive from Liberia International Airport (LIR), the 2,400-acre Westin Reserva Conchal is an eco-friendly Costa Rica all-inclusive situated between the rainforest and the beach on country’s north Pacific coast.
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The resort’s all-inclusive dining package includes a la carte or buffet breakfasts, as well as lunch, dinner, snacks, and beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) from any of the onsite bars and restaurants. The Westin Family Kids Club is also included in your room rate, as are non-motorized water sports, tennis courts, table games, nightly entertainment, and Wi-Fi.
Golf, spa treatments, and other water sports (motorized boats, diving, and fishing) are available for an additional charge. The resort’s family suites are an especially nice perk, as are the multiple freshwater swimming pools that allow families to isolate and swim together.
2. Planet Hollywood Cost Rica
Culebra, Costa Rica
On Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, the nearly 300-room Planet Hollywood Costa Rica watches over a lush and vibrant hillside at the base of the Papagayo Peninsula in the Guanacaste region. This highly themed Costa Rica all-inclusive resort is especially appealing to kids and teens with its movie memorabilia, walk-of-fame, red carpet, and Stars Kids Club. Other family-friendly amenities include two swimming pools, a splash zone, fitness center, spa, and seven different onsite restaurants.
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To help guests experience more of Costa Rica, Planet Hollywood curates a selection of excursions around the Papagayo Gulf, including canopy tours, zip lining, horseback riding, snorkeling, sailing, and even a jungle dinosaur encounter. The all-inclusive package rate includes unlimited reservation-free dining, 24-hour room service, and all drinks (domestic beer, cocktails, and select international brands).
3. Fiesta Resort All Inclusive
Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Only 50 minutes from Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose, Fiesta Resort in Puntarenas is close to the international airport (SJO) yet still right on the beach. Located beachfront on dark volcanic sand along the Pacific Ocean, this all-inclusive Costa Rica resort has more than 400 rooms, many of which come with two bedrooms—ideal for family vacations.
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The all-inclusive plan covers most meals and drinks at the resort’s four restaurants, kids’ club for ages four to 12, teen club for ages 13 to 17, recreational activities, use of land and non-motorized water sports equipment, nightly entertainment, and gratuities. And not only is Fiesta Resort budget-friendly compared to many of the more luxurious Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts, it’s also owned and operated by a Costa Rican family—making it a great option for families looking to support local residents.
Puntarenas is a port city for large cruise ships, but the cruise ship dock area is about 20 minutes from the resort at the furthest end of the beach. An advantage of the cruise line port city is easy access to shops, restaurants, and tours and excursions created for cruise ship passengers.
4. Occidental Tamarindo
Playa Langosta, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
The Occidental Tamarindo is an all-inclusive 200 room beach hotel located just outside the town of Tamarindo in the northwest province of Guanacaste. The hotel sits on Langosta Beach overlooking Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas (Las Baulas National Marine Park). Its all-inclusive rates include all meals in the buffet restaurant, snack bars, and quick-service food in the swimming pool area.
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Other activities and amenities included are sand volleyball and soccer, tennis courts, a tour concierge, entertainment programs, live evening shows, taxes, and tips. Langosta Beach is popular with surfers and an important nesting site for the leatherback sea turtle. The beach is Blue Flag certified for exceptional cleanliness and safety.
5. Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica
Playa El Jobo, Costa Rica
Families familiar with the all-inclusive Dreams Resorts and Spa brand found throughout Mexico and the Caribbean will know what to expect at Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica. Surrounded by lush green mountains and jungles, Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica occupies an exclusive spot alongside the El Jobo beach and bay.
The resort’s Costa Rica all-inclusive rates include spacious accommodations, unlimited access to eight restaurants, kids club, teen zone, pool and beach access, non-motorized watersports, scuba lessons, and live nightly entertainment.
6. Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica
Playa Matapalo, Sardinal, Costa Rica
At the 538-room all-suite beachfront Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica, kids love the Splash Water World water park and slides (and the other four swimming pools) as well as the RiuLand Kids Club. Parents appreciate the Renova Spa and two-bedroom family suites with a bathtub.
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Situated on the edge of Matapalo Beach in the Guanacaste Province next to its sister resort, Hotel Riu Guanacaste, inclusive options at this Costa Rica beach resort cover all meals, snacks, beverages, 24-hour room service, sports and activities, daytime and evening entertainment, and one introductory scuba diving lesson.
In addition to its buffet restaurant, Hotel Riu Palace has four themed restaurants on site for families to enjoy.
7. Hotel Riu Guanacaste
Playa Matapalo, Sardinal, Costa Rica
The sister hotel to the newer Riu Palace Costa Rica, the 700-room Hotel Riu Guanacaste sits right next door overlooking Matapalo Beach. Riu Guanacaste also has the Splash Water World water park and slides as well as the RiuLand Kids Club. Riu Guanacaste has more room options than Riu Palace, and like its sister property it also offers two-room family suites.
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Similar to Riu Palace, the resort’s Costa Rica all-inclusive rates include meals and snacks at five different restaurants, beverages, 24-hour room service, sports and activities, daytime and evening entertainment, and one introductory scuba diving lesson. The Hotel Riu Palace is the newer and more contemporary of the two Riu all-inclusives, but also more expensive than the Riu Guanacaste.
8. Barcelo Tambor
Tambor, Costa Rica
Surrounded by lush gardens, waterfalls, and a rainforest, the 400-room Barcelo Tambor resort overlooks Ballena Bay, one of the most scenic coastal regions in Costa Rica, and offers direct access to Tambor Beach. Standard rooms at this Costa Rica all-inclusive resort include two beds and can accommodate up to four people. Its two-room suites include a living room with sofa bed that a perfect for families.
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The resort’s all-inclusive rate includes three buffet meals per day as well as other a la cart restaurants available for an additional charge. Children’s activities include a kids club for ages four to 12 and a teens’ house for teenagers ages 13 to 17. The expansive swimming pool features a waterfall, and the water sports center offers windsurfing, boogie boards, and kayaking.
9. Margaritaville Beach Resort Playa Flamingo
Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica
Anyone familiar with Jimmy Buffett’s Parrothead lifestyle brand will be comfortable lifting a frozen beverage at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar and Grill inside Margaritaville Beach Resort Playa Flamingo, a 120-room resort in Guanacaste Province. Located across the street from Flamingo Beach, the Costa Rica all-inclusive resort’s accommodations include a number of family-style rooms, such as a studio with kitchenette, bunk bed suite, and two-bedroom suite.
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Margaritaville’s all-inclusive options includes three meals a day and snacks at one of the resort’s four onsite restaurants, beverages, popcorn and drinks in the resort movie theater, use of beach boogie boards, and one complimentary bicycle rental.
10. Best Western Jaco Beach Resort All Inclusive Resort
Jaco, Costa Rica
The locally owned Best Western Jaco Beach Resort is a smaller, more budget-friendly all-inclusive Costa Rica resort option compared to some of the larger, more luxurious properties. The all-inclusive rate provides unlimited access to food and drinks, and families can dine at three different on-site restaurants, including the buffet-style El Puerto.
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Oceanfront rooms feature two beds, private balconies, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The resort also boasts multiple swimming pools—including one just for kids—plus a playground, volleyball and tennis courts, and plenty of beach fun. (The hotel is steps away from Jaco Beach and a short 10-minute walk into the town of Jaco, where there are even more shops and restaurants).
Hotel staff can help arrange tours and excursions to other Costa Rica attractions and national parks as well.
Costa Rica All-Inclusive Vacation Options
If you’re the type of family that doesn’t want to sit in one location on the beach during your whole Caribbean family vacation, there are other accommodations options for you. A number of companies provide guided tour packages of Costa Rica that will allow your family to experience multiple aspects of the country on one vacation, including the Arenal Volcano, rainforest tours, and zip lining in addition to your beach time.
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For example, Il Viaggio Travel is a local Costa Rica operator that creates tailormade experiences for families. Stephanie Sheehy owns Il Viaggio Travel, and her Tico family (i.e., Costa Rican) specializes in creating “Pure Vida” family tour packages as inclusive as you want them.
I spoke with Sheehy to get answers to some frequently asked questions about Costa Rica. Read on for her responses.
Is Costa Rica a Good Place for a Family Vacation?
Costa Rica is a safe country with no army, free education, and very good healthcare, Sheehy says. “Basically the country is an open-air classroom with tons of wildlife, nature, cultural experiences, gastronomy, and volunteerism.”
Is Costa Rica Safe for Americans?
Costa Rica is safe for everyone, including Americans, but like anywhere in the world, it’s possible to find yourself in a bad situation if you’re careless or go looking for trouble. “But if you travel with local experts, with a planned itinerary, with suppliers that have all the permissions, you will have an amazing and safe experience,” Sheehy advises.
What Is the Cheapest Time to Go to Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has three seasons. The peak times to visit are the holiday weeks of Easter, Christmas, and the New Year. Holiday time is the most expensive of all to travel to Costa Rica. Next is high season, which is the dry season on the Pacific side of the country where most of the all-inclusive Costa Rica resorts are clustered. High Season runs from December to April.
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The cheapest time to visit is low season, which is the rainy season on the Pacific side but the dry season on the Caribbean side of the country. “The low season when you can get deals and the lowest prices,” says Sheehy. “Low season runs from May to November.”
Which Part of Costa Rica Is the Best to Stay?
The best location depends on what you’re looking for in your vacation: beach or rainforest, adventure and volcanoes, or culture and food. Twenty-five percent of Costa Rica’s land is protected, and the tiny county is home to five percent the world’s plants and animals.
“We have tons of micro climates between wetland sites, rainforest, dry forest, cloud forest, high-altitude forest,” notes Sheehy. “Name it and we have it. That’s why we have travelers that come at various times of year. Any time they visit, they can do and visit something different.”
As for Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts, however, you’ll find most of them clustered on the Pacific side of the country.
Is Four Seasons Costa Rica All-Inclusive?
The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo is not all-inclusive. Rates are per room, per night, and there is an additional resort fee of 12 percent of your room rate. The resort fee includes bellmen and housekeeping gratuities, transportation within the Papagayo peninsula, access to daily resort activities, and non-motorized water sports.
However, there is a bed-and-breakfast rate at the resort that includes a daily Costa Rican buffet breakfast for two at Bahia. In addition, Four Seasons Costa Rica does offer fully-inclusive luxury estate homes on Peninsula Papagayo.