Best Adventure Experiences in Costa Rica

Angela Wood

Senior Contributor

With temperatures rarely dipping below 80 degrees, rare wildlife species, coffee plantations and cloud forests, there’s plenty to occupy avid adventurers in Costa Rica. But what many people don’t know is that this diminutive central American country is also a great place for activities. With scuba diving and canyoning to white water rafting and zip-lining on offer, we show a different side to Costa Rica.

Zip-line Through Cloud Forests

If you love nature and want to discover the wildlife and birdlife of Costa Rica, it’s time to go zip-lining! One of the best places to zip-line in Costa Rica is in the heart of Monteverde Cloud Forest. Monteverde is home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity and 50% of flora and fauna in Costa Rica, and throughout the tour you’ll gain a bird’s eye view of it all. You can experience breathtaking canopy views as you soar through the skies, catching glimpses of animals and birds which live in the upper echelons of the trees. With 100 mammals, 400 bird and 2500 plant species in the forest, a Sky Trek Tram and Walk Tour takes you on a magical journey above the jungle. Gaining views from observation towers, suspension bridges and aerial tram rides, it’s the ideal place for GoPro filming in lush, natural surroundings. You should allow around 3 hours for the activity as their zip-lines stretch across 1.9 miles in total, meaning you see more of this verdant paradise than you ever could on foot!

Zip-lining in Costa Rica

Credit: Evocation Images

Go Horseback Riding

If your dream day involves cantering along beaches and through rainforests on horseback as a gentle breeze whips through your hair, this is the perfect experience for you. Horseback riding tours are available all across Costa Rica, however, Horse Jungle Tours in Guanacaste province feature a little of everything. With riding tours that last between one hour and a full day, you can trot through verdant jungles, gallop through meadows, make daring river crossings and even complete your journey on a secluded sandy beach at sunset! As you make your way along dusty pathways and through lush jungle landscapes, listen for distinctive sounds of Howler monkeys and marvel as rare butterflies gather around you. This is the perfect experience for avid adventurers as you can discover the ever-changing Costa Rican landscape and make new friends along the route.

Horseback riding on a beach in Costa Rica

Credit: Maverick

Scuba Dive on the West Coast

With crystal-clear coastal waters and great visibility below the surface, Costa Rica is one of the best places for diving and snorkelling in Latin America. Even if you aren’t a seasoned dive enthusiast, there are scuba tours which can cater to your experience level. There are many dive sites in Costa Rica, but Caño Island Biological Reserve on the Osa Peninsula is perhaps one of the most rewarding. You can achieve between 30 to 100 feet visibility year-round and are guaranteed to see a wide variety of marine life. As you explore this subterranean world of wonders, look out for spotted dolphins, bull and white-tip sharks, manta rays and tropical fish such as the blue and gold snapper. As the island is a biological reserve, with only a handful of dive locations, just ten divers can grace the water at any one time, ensuring your underwater adventure is totally unique.

Scuba Diving off the west coast of Costa Rica

Credit: Ethan Daniels

Go White Water Rafting

Famous for its beautiful steep green gorges, Pacuare River in unspoilt Limón Province, Costa Rica is one of the best places in the country for white water rafting. The location is paradise on earth with virgin tropical rainforests, waterfalls and colourful toucans soaring above. For experienced white-water rafting enthusiasts, the river offers plenty of twists and turns and the 18-mile run has 52 rapids in total. Many of these are class II and III rapids suitable for first-timers, then after around 45 minutes, you enter Pacuare River Gorge, home to more demanding class IV rapids with names like Double Drop, Pinball and the Terciopelo Snake. As you navigate your way through crashing foam waves, towering waterfalls cascade into the river beside you and you realise you’re blessed to be part of this awe-inspiring natural wonderland. 

White Water rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica

Credit: Pafnuti

Take a Sunset Sailboat Cruise

You’ve traversed the rapids, zip-lined through cloud forests and experienced horseback riding across jungle terrain - now it’s time to take a breath, sit back with a cocktail and relax on a sunset sailboat cruise. Sunset Sails operate catamaran and trimaran cruises from picturesque Manuel Antonio on Costa Rica’s west coast. Onboard you’re provided with fruit, snacks, lunch or dinner and snorkelling equipment if you can’t let go of your adventurous spirit. Private Tours are available on the Afternoon Sunset Tour where, if you’re lucky, you will see whales, dolphins and sea turtles, so don’t forget your camera! Cruises explore the unspoilt islands of Olocuita and Isla Verde with their rich Quepo history and the coastline of verdant Manuel Antonio National Park. It’s the perfect finale to your Costa Rican journey.

Yacht at sunset

Credit: zstock

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