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With such a wide range of activities on offer, and so much to see and do, it’s no wonder Costa Rica is one of the best adventure destinations out there. But how do you know where to start? With so much to choose from, it can be tricky prioritising your choices, and ensuring you’re making the most of your time in Costa Rica.
We asked our Costa Rican local expert and tour guide Roberto if he could help you decide, and narrow down all the amazing adventure activities in Costa Rica, to his must-do favourites. Roberto was born and lives in Costa Rica and has been exploring the country for years, so he’s the perfect person to ask about the best adventures to be had on Costa Rican shores.
Here’s what he said…
“I always recommend going on a rafting trip, this is something that people often overlook. So rafting the Pacuare river is one of the best experiences, the season has to be right but it is one of the best day trips”
Rafting in the wilderness of Costa Rica is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’ve never been rafting before, it’s a truly exciting and blood-pumping experience and it’s incredible to be out in nature feeling the force of the elements too. Rafting is definitely something for adrenaline lovers, but lots of tours can offer child-friendly routes too that feel a little less daring!
“There’s many zip-lining experiences that are very good across the country. So it doesn’t matter where you are. It is something you should experience though, it’s a great way to spend the day”
Ziplining is a fun, fast and adventurous way to spend a day in Costa Rica. If flying through the rainforest, listening to the birds and seeing incredible birds-eye views sounds like your idea of heaven – then you’re in for a treat. Ziplining is popular in Costa Rica and as Roberto mentioned, there are plenty of places you can try it out. We recommend looking for ziplining courses that offer amazing views and vistas to enjoy – so you can soak in all the wildlife and countryside too.
“This area of Costa Rica has a little bit of everything… Rivers, mountains, muddy places. It has something for everyone”
If you’re looking to base yourself somewhere for a while during your travels, then Herradura might be a great choice. As Roberto mentions, this area has a little bit of everything, so it’s perfect for people wanting to try out lots of different adventure experiences. You’ll find ziplining here, boat trips, horseback riding and hiking here.
“There are some advanced hikes you can do: there’s a famous one called coast to coast where you go from the Caribbean coast to the pacific coast, which is a really good hike. They camp in the mountain or stay in one of the local villages along the way, there’s many stations people can stay at”
Climbing Chirripó (Costa Rica’s highest peak) is another fantastic choice for people who want a hiking adventure. Roberto tells us below, why it’s such a special experience.
“This is a really special trip as it goes to 3800m above sea level and it’s a really good hike. And you don’t even need to be an experienced hiker, you just have to be in good shape. The first day is a 14km hike to the base camp and to go to the actual highest peak there’s another long hike you need to make the next day. When you’re at base camp, you can go to different peaks and the landscape is different because it’s the highest mountain in Costa Rica and you see the paramo, which is like small, spiny, dry vegetation. And it’s the only place you can see like ice, rain/snow in Costa Rica because it’s really cold”
Costa Rica is a hiker’s dream location – and there are so many places to explore or hike around the country. Roberto talks about the more advanced hikes above, but there are also lots of smaller hikes that are accessible to beginners too. In our ‘Costa Rica – San José to Manuel Antonio’ tour, you’ll get the opportunity to do some mini-hikes along the way, including Corcoval National Park – one of the most biodiverse places on earth.
“I would have to say Corcovado is the best park in the country and it’s down to the wildlife and if you want to see wildlife I’d go there. National Geographic once called it one of the most diverse, intense places in the world”
“Mountain biking is really popular here, there’s so many hills and mountains to explore. I’m not a biker myself but there are loads. A popular one is around an area called University for Peace, in Colon, this is a place many people go to cycle – the trails here are really stunning, around the mountain to the rivers, it’s really adventurous”
If you prefer exploring using your bike, rather than your feet – you could have a cycling adventure during your time in Costa Rica instead. A lot of the Costa Rican nature trails lend themselves perfectly to mountain biking – and many places offer tour guides too.