We had a completely free Saturday over the weekend, and with my husband out of town for a bit I knew I wanted to go on a little adventure and get the kids out of the house. This time we headed to Costa Rica…in the Netherlands.
Trust me, you didn’t read that wrong. I can’t wait to tell you about this place—finding these little gems brings me so much joy, and I hope, if you’re reading this, you’ll get to enjoy it to.
Small Costa Rica is essentially a little tropical wonder filled with larger than life vegetation, butterflies, turtles, a pond filled with fish (including sharks, rays, puffer fish and more), meerkats, dozens of gorgeous birds, and more.
What to Expect
What a cool place! I was blown a way with how much is packed into Small Costa Rica in the Netherlands. First things first: it is smaller than I thought it would be (but then again, the word “small” is literally in its name, so it wasn’t a huge surprise.)
First up is the butterfly garden with dozens (hundreds in peak season, I’m sure) fluttering around us.
The kids got a huge kick out of them and they wished one would land on them.
There weren’t quite as many as when we visited Vlinder Safari last year, but I’m pretty sure this is due to the fact that we were at Small Costa Rica later in the season, and because the actual enclosure is smaller than Vlinder Safari.
The second area was the coolest.
It was like walking into a tropical jungle.
Exotic birds literally flying and walking around you; turtles inching their way around the habitat.
Then you start spotting other animals.
Meerkats and iguanas huge and small roam the area—some are caged, and some are….not.
We spotted the big guy (gal?) pictured below up on the bridge.
The girls were brave enough to go across while I let my fear of heights overcome me and stayed at the top of the stairs on “secure” footing.
Another cool part of Small Costa Rica was the man-made pond and the giant fish in it.
Truly, you wouldn’t think so many fish would be in that pond, but the little viewing area will shock you.
The kids could’ve stayed there for hours watching the fish, rays, and sharks swim by, but I knew other people wanted a chance to look through the window, so we moved along.
Pro tip: I think there was a “menu card” type thing that displays several of the animals in the habitat. Unfortunately, we never found one to see/use, but we saw people walking around with them, so keep your eye out. I should’ve asked for one, but I noticed them towards the end of our time there.
Our Overall Thoughts
I won’t lie: it’s smaller than I expected, and wish it was double the size, because it was a very cool place.
We spent about an hour wandering around the two sections, but that could easily be stretched into about two hours if you looped around again or spent more time looking for more animals. (But with three young kids, they didn’t linger and wanted to go-go-go.)
We paid around €20 for the four of us, which was slightly on the pricier side. However, I liked this more than a zoo. Zoos irk me since they’re usually huge and all the animals are locked up. Almost all the animals roamed free at Small Costa Rica in the Netherlands—you were there in their habitat.
Since we live near Small Costa Rica (45 minutes from our house), it was totally worth checking out. If you don’t live nearby, I’d recommend tying it in with a trip to see VlinderSafari nearby, a day trip from Eindhoven, or on your way to/from The Hague, Gouda, or Amsterdam.
Getting to Small Costa Rica
Small Costa Rica in the Netherlands is near the southeastern Dutch boarder, making it a super easy day trip for many.
Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base/JFC Brunssum: about 45 minutes away
Spangdahlem Air Base: about 2 hours away
Amsterdam: about 2 hours away
The Hague: about 2 hours away
Gouda: a little less than 2 hours away
Eindhoven: 30 minutes
Where to eat AND where to stay:
Making a trip out of this fun butterfly safari? You’ve gotta eat at de Brabantse Kluis. It’s perfect for families, and you can stay there, too!
If you check out Small Costa Rica, I’d love to hear about your experience!