Costa Rica might be known as one of the most biodiverse countries on earth, but with this abundance of nature comes a magnificent natural playground that host a wide range of adventure activities guaranteed to get the pulse racing.

From surfing on the Pacific coast to zip lining through the cloud forest canopy, there’s no better feeling than relaxing in your stunning eco-accommodation with a cold beer after a long day exploring the pristine landscapes that dominate Costa Rica.

To inspire you for your next adventure in Costa Rica, we’ve put together a list of our favourite adventure activities you can throw yourself into, as well as when and where the best time and places are to enjoy them.

1.     Surfing

surfers in costa rica at sunset

Surfing in Costa Rica, particularly on the Pacific coast, is less of a hobby than a way of life. With white-sand, palm fringed beaches and completely uninterrupted swells straight from the largest Ocean on earth, there’s no wonder surfers from all over the world flock to places like Puntarenas Province for a surfing holiday, or in some cases, a new life.

And it’s not simply the natural features of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast that make it a haven for surfers. The coastline is also dotted with beautifully laid-back surf towns and villages, where the locals are famed for their slow pace of life and endless hospitality.

With Not In The Guidebooks, you can easily find one of these such havens, and get out in the waves with a local and other, likeminded travellers to enjoy a slice of local Costa Rican culture.

2.     White Water Rafting

white water rafting in costa rica

Throw together a wet, tropical climate, rugged mountain terrain and rivers that have been left untouched by human activity, and you have yourself white water rafting heaven. In Costa Rica, you have all of those things in abundance, and unlike rafting in places like Canada, the US or Norway, you’ll actually be able to enjoy a white-knuckle ride in relative warmth.

There are rivers with sections for all intensities, so whether you’re a true adrenaline junkie hoping to experience some class IV rapids, or a family looking to try white water rafting for the first time as part of you Costa Rica adventure, there is the ideal activity out there for you.

The ideal time to head out white water rafting in Costa Rica is once the rainy season really begins, between the months of May through to October. Some of the best rafting rivers include Rio Balsa, the Rio Toro, and Costa Rica’s white water rafting capital, Turriabla.

3.     Hiking

person hiking in costa rica

Whether you want to visit the craters of active volcanoes, hidden lagoons and waterfalls deep in the rainforest, or spot some spectacular animals on a wildlife holiday in Costa Rica, generally the best way to get about is on foot.

For some of the best hiking trails and holidays in Costa Rica, head to Monteverde and the cloud forest for walks that take you through the otherworldly mist of the canopy, or to Arenal Volcano for a truly unforgettable hike far above the green carpet of the rainforest.

Wherever you choose to go exploring on your Costa Rican adventure, it’s always worth seeking the help of a local guide who can help plan you a route that takes in all the highlights you’re expecting, as well as introduce you to the hidden gems that many tourists might miss.

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4.     Zip Lining

zipline in costa rica

Costa Rica is a country where the fairly niche adventure activity of zip lining is surprisingly prominent, thanks to the vast expanse of forest canopies that cover the majority of the country. And speeding through the canopy 100 feet from the ground is a pretty exciting way to journey through this seemingly endless tropical paradise.

Gliding through the canopy, sharing the perspective of tropical birds, monkeys, and other creatures that make their home in the branches above the forest floor feels truly exhilarating, and is an experience likely to last long in the memory once you return home from your Costa Rican adventure.

You can find zip lining experiences all over the country, with some of the best found in Monteverde National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, and Jaco, where you can drink in views of waterfalls, from a truly unique perspective.

5.     Snorkelling and Scuba Diving

turtle in costa rica

It’s not only on land that you’ll find thrilling adventure activities in Costa Rica. Of either coast you’ll find magical submerged worlds boasting not only brightly coloured tropical fish an intricate coral reefs, but also wildlife as spectacular as sea turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, dolphins, and even humpback whales.

For those who want a more relaxing experience, there are countless snorkelling opportunities where you can view the reefs and inlets from the surface of the water. In terms of recommendations, Caño Island is by far one of the most spectacular places to dive on the Pacific coast, whilst Cuahita National Park on the Caribbean side protects the largest coral reef in the country.

If you have flexibility and you hope to make scuba diving a key part of your adventure in Costa Rica, we would probably recommend visiting in the months of August through to November, when the seas will be at their calmest and visibility at its best.

Here at Not In The Guidebooks, we are always on the lookout for unique experiences that help you experience the very best of a destination, whilst getting you off the beaten track and away from the hordes of tourists. To do this, we reach out to the people that know a place best, the locals. Once you experience a holiday that’s been curated and led by someone who knows their home intimately, you’ll understand why you will want to travel local for all your future adventures.

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