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Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

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By Sonja Bolger

Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a slice of tropical paradise, but this top destination in Central America doesn’t just offer stunning beaches and beautiful rainforest.

In a land blessed with enough roaring rivers, giant volcanoes, lush jungles and unspoiled beaches to captive any visitor, Costa Rica is an oasis for the body and mind, and the perfect choice for an affordable yoga retreat. But it’s also an adventure lover’s playground!

The biodiversity of Costa Rica is wide-ranging, and the best way to experience it is to be amongst it. Adventure activities in Costa Rica are a great reason to visit, and the compact nature of the country means you can be swinging in the trees and then scuba diving off the coast within days or even hours.

Here are the top nine best adventure activities to get you planning your next action-packed trip to Costa Rica!

Ziplining & Canopy Tours

Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 species of flora and fauna, and getting amongst the treetops is one of the best ways to experience as much of them as possible. Ziplining as we now know it was first created in Costa Rica, thanks to a Californian graduate who wanted a better way to get around the canopy. So what better place to start your canopy tour than Costa Rica?

Ziplining involves gliding along a wire from one station to another in the treetops. You can go in pairs, or alone, upright or upside down, be pushed off the platform or jump yourself. Whatever way you do it, ziplining a great way to see more of Costa Rica up close. And if you choose somewhere like Monteverde or Arenal you’ll be able to enjoy scenic views outside the forest too.

Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

Hiking & Walking

Don’t be fooled into thinking that hiking and walking in Costa Rica is a tame activity (although it can be if you like) because there are mountains to be climbed! And not just any mountains, because for a small country, Costa Rica is packed with volcanoes. There are 60 that are considered dormant or extinct, and six which are still active.

Arenal Volcano is a great place to start your walking and hiking adventure in Costa Rica. You can explore hidden valleys, ascend peaks and journey through forest landscapes, all against the backdrop of the volcano.

Costa Rica is also home to many hidden waterfalls that can be reached only on foot. After hiking through the heat of a tropical rainforest you can cool off beneath one of nature’s beautiful and powerful creations.

If you’re not up for raising your heart rate too much then you can always amble along the well-maintained paths of Costa Rican national parks, or the sun-soaked and dazzling coastline. Check out Manuel Antonio National Park for some of the best beaches and plenty of wildlife to keep you entertained.

Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

Mountain biking

If you want to go mountain biking in Costa Rica then be prepared for lush forests and picturesque views with trails often ending at the beach. Perfect for a post-ride swim!

The climate of Costa Rica makes it a great mountain biking destination because it’s not too hot or too cool to get out on the trails. You can choose from less taxing undulating rides or set yourself a challenge with high elevations on some paths. Cycling around Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the most popular and easy level trails, or take a shuttle to the top of Irazú or Turrialba volcanoes for a long downhill ride.

Be aware that some rental bikes for mountain biking in Costa Rica might not be of a high standard or maintained for extreme riders. Judge the bike against the type of trail you’re taking and make sure it’s up for the job!

Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

Surfing

Costa Rica literally means “rich coast” and it certainly lives up to the name, especially when it comes to surfing. Be sure to spend time on the coast with its white sandy beaches, endless waves and abundant wildlife making it’s home nearby forests. There are towns and secluded beaches all along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts just waiting for eager adventure seekers to come experience surfing in Costa Rica.

Whether you’re an experienced surfer or want to have your first taste of riding the waves, then surfing in Costa Rica has options for you. The Caribbean Coast is best for experienced surfers, with waves coming off the back of storms near Mexico. On the North Pacific Coast, you’ll find one of the least populated regions, but a great spot to learn how to surf in Costa Rica. The Central Pacific Coast is the most accessible with all sorts of different conditions for a diverse surfing experience. There are surf schools in the Manuel Antonio area too!

Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

White Water Rafting

The rivers in Costa Rica offer white water rafting adventures of all classes, from Class I to V, so you can opt for a leisurely paddle through paradise, or an exhilarating race through the gorgeous landscape.

Rio Pacuare is considered to be one of the best white water rafting spots in Costa Rica and the world. Costa Rica has a both a dry and rainy season, and if you visit during the latter the rivers will be even more adventurous. Be sure to check out what season you’ll be in when you’re planning your trip because that can change the category of the river!

Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

Windsurfing and Kitesurfing

In the north of the country, Lake Arenal has some of the most consistent high winds in the world during the dry season, making it ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing in Costa Rica. At that time of year this adventure sport is best left to the experienced, but in the rainy season it’s a great place for beginners to learn.

If you want to learn how to windsurf or kite surf during the dry season, then try the Pacific Coast with it’s gentler winds and calmer waters.

Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

Canyoning

What’s better than taking a dip at the base of a waterfall? Rappelling down one of course! This adventure activity in Costa Rica isn’t for the faint of heart, especially if you choose to go in the popular Arenal, where they send you down the tallest waterfalls at 200 ft.

Canyoning involved rappelling down waterfalls and jumping into rivers, which will take you through some of the best of Cosa Rican nature. It can also be combined with ziplining or white water rafting, to really raise the adrenalin!

Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

Snorkeling & Diving

A visit to Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete without getting into the ocean. Snorkeling is a must and can be done from the beach or on a boat trip. Immerse yourself in the ocean to experience the colorful tropical fish, as well as chance an encounter with turtles.

If you’re a certified diver then diving in Costa Rica should be on your bucket list. There are amazing diving opportunities along the coast and further out at sea. Some recommended spots are Catalina Islands, Bat Islands and the Gulf of Papagayo on the Pacific Coast, and Cano Island in the southwest.

Taking a boat along the coast of Costa Rica can be a great way to beach hop, snorkel, dive, or just enjoy the ride. You might catch a glimpse of humpback whales, as well as dolphins and hammerhead sharks.

Top 9 Adventure Activities to Experience When You Visit Costa Rica

Yoga Retreat

Adventure doesn’t have to mean pitting yourself against the elements, but if you do then joining a yoga retreat in Costa Rica will help you recover after those hair-raising experiences! Yoga retreats combine relaxation with adventure, in the form of optional activities, so why not book yourself in for the whole package?

Costa Rica is the perfect place to plan an adventure holiday. Whether you join a group trip, go alone, or even plan your own group adventure, make sure you fit in some of these top adventure activities!

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Sonja Bolger

Article by Sonja Bolger

Sonja is a perpetual expat who has finally settled in Edinburgh Scotland, after living in 5 other countries. When not exploring new places and seeking new adventures she can usually be found in a cafe, writing about her expat and travel adventures on her blog, Migrating Miss. Sonja is WeTravel's Blog Editor.