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Costa Rica is a dream hiking location, and there’s no question as to why when you see the rugged and beautiful landscapes that make up the country and its stunning mountains and coastlines.
Hiding tucked away in Costa Rica’s borders are some of the world’s most fascinating national parks, filled with waterfalls, volcanos, mountains and beaches. Taking a day trip or tour to any of these wonderful hikes and trails is time well spent. It’s a paradise for anyone with a sense of adventure, and there’s so much to see and do here you might struggle picking which you explore first.
Here are some of the best hikes and tours Costa Rica has to offer…
The Dota Cloud Forest is so high above sea level, that you’ll see wildlife and birds here you won’t be able to see in other parts of the country. It makes the Dota Cloud Forest a wonderful choice for hiking, as it means you’ll be experiencing an area of Costa Rica that is both special and unique.
There have been more than 200 species of bird spotted in the Dota Cloud Forest, so if you have a keen interest in bird watching, this is going to be an amazing location for you to explore. For animal lovers, you may spot any of the following; monkeys, coyotes, deer, tayras, pumas and jaguars. Lucky hikers may spot more than one species and get to tick a couple off their bucket list.
Our San José to Manuel Antonio tour will give you the opportunity to explore this beautiful forest in detail, so could be a wonderful choice for you during your trip to Costa Rica.
Arenal Volcano is one of the most unmissable sights in Costa Rica and stands at an intimidating 1657m high. It’s an active volcano, and probably the most active in Costa Rica – so that should add a little adrenaline and awe to your hike around it. Of course, it’s prohibited to climb the volcano itself, but there are many hiking trails and paths that take you along the epic landscapes surrounding the base.
You’ll walk through thick rainforest, old lava tracks and fields. It’s generally advised that the best time to take a hike in Arenal Volcano Park is when the weather is good and predictable – so sticking to February, March and April is recommended. Some of the hiking trails to look out for are:
Our ‘San José to Manuel Antonio’ tour will take you to Irazú National Park on your first day for a small hike, and it truly does set the bar high for natural beauty. The Irazú volcano is one of the most prolific in the world and it is a magnificent sight to behold. Whilst the entire park is beautiful and mysterious, it’s the pure awe and epic nature of the volcano that will capture your attention.
For most, it’s the main crater in the national park that is most memorable. With bright green / blue water at the bottom, it’s more like something out of a fantasy book, than real life.
The Rio Celeste Waterfall is an enchanting rainforest hike, leading to a beautiful awe-inspiring waterfall. It’s a challenging hike that is generally recommended for those with good strength and stamina, especially during humid weather or tricky conditions.
The hike will lead you up through dense rainforest where you’ll spot glimpses of wildlife (look out for monkeys!) and you’ll fall in love with the colours and sounds of the rainforest floor. Waiting for you inside the rainforest is the river Rio Celeste, with blue-hued crystal clear water. It’s enough to take your breath away, and the sight of the bright blue water running through the dense green forest is something you’ll remember forever.
A popular national park to explore, there are multiple paths to hike, leading to lots of different viewpoints and photo opportunities. You’ll find countless species of wildlife along your hikes in Manuel Antonio National Park, as well as a waterfall and a beautiful beach.
The shorter hike Sendero La Catarata is also known as the waterfall trial, so you’ll get to see this beautiful part of the park by following it. Sendero el Perezoso is another short hike, known as the Sloth Trail – because it takes you into the rainforest where you’ll (hopefully) be able to spot these beautiful creatures hanging from the trees.
Some of the longer hikes in the park are Punta Catedral and Sendero Mirador, which both lead to beautiful sea views. You’ll definitely want to have your camera ready.
Another thing to note, is that in February 2018, Manuel Antonio National Park actually opened a ‘universal trial’ which is wheelchair friendly and open to those with disabilities. It makes it a unique place to visit, and somewhere inclusive and inspiring too (look out for the new signs in Braille). The universal trail starts at the entrance and leads down to the beach.
Exploring the Costa Rican rainforest from a birds eye view is something you have to see to believe and the Arenal Hanging Bridges provides just that. The fairytale bridges are suspended high in the air above the rainforest floor, so you can hike through with a completely new perspective on things.
Not only does the changed perspective change your view on the environment around you, but it changes the kind of animals, plants and wildlife you’ll see too. Birdwatching is extremely popular along this hike, and it’s because the birds are so much easier to spot!
A day trip to Catarata del Toro is well worth it for the incredible hike up to their hidden-gem waterfall. It’s a huge waterfall, and one of the lesser known ones on the island too – meaning you get to experience quieter hiking trails and soak in the sound of the rainforest, the wildlife, and your footsteps.
The waterfall is as dramatic as you’d hope for, and the cascading water tumbles into an old volcano crater, making it immensely photogenic (so make sure you have your camera ready).
The hike to the Catarata del Toro waterfall is pleasant at the beginning, but becomes more difficult and challenging at the end. It starts as a meandering path through the rainforest, and there are plenty of opportunities to spot animals and insects along the way. When you get towards the end of the hike, it becomes a steep set of stairs down towards the base of the waterfall. This is tricky in good weather, near impossible in bad weather, and certainly not recommended in rain. As the steps are so steep, it’s also a challenging climb back up when you’re ready to leave, so keep this in mind and plan accordingly.