Costa Rica Activities

A easier task than answering the question “what are some things to do in Costa Rica?” would be to compose a list of things you cannot do in this country. The “rich coast’s” international reputation as one of the best countries to explore in Latin America comes from its bounty of natural resources; mile upon mile of pristine beaches facing both the Atlantic and Pacific, lush rain forests, wild rivers and even wilder animals ranging from jaguars to the most elusive butterflies. Hiking, birdwatching, and bungee jumping are just a few things to do. In Costa Rica, there really is a limitless array of adventure and volunteer options, not to mention urban adventures in its pleasant coastal cities. See below for a more comprehensive list of things to do in Costa Rica.

  • Río Fortuna waterfall
    Aside from the volcano this high waterfall is one of La Fortuna's main attractions. A steep walk through rainforest, where you may see toucans, takes you down to the huge pool where you can watch the water cascading powerfully down the green moss-covered rocks. It is too dangerous to swim here but t
  • Volcán Arenal Trek
    Overview This is a must-do in some form or another. There are varying tour offers, some combining the hot springs, but most set off around 3:15 pm for a walk in the rainforest then arrive at a viewpoint close to the volcano for sunset to watch the red rocks spewing out of the crate
  • Arenal Lava Fields Trek
    Overview This trek begins at the top end of the Parque Nacional Arenal, or can be done from the Volcano Observatory Lodge for $3 trail fee. You first cross a river then head through rainforest, where it is possible to spot raccoons and anteaters, before climbing up onto the 1992 la
  • Aventuras Bravas Surf School
    A well established and respected school at the El Parquecito end of town, Aventuras Bravas books surf lessons with professional instructors. It also offers various tours and kayak lessons. Prices for surf lessons start at $30 and include all equipment. They're so confident about their instructors, s
  • Kayaking Dominical
    Both sea kayaking and mangrove kayaking tours offer unique experiences for both beginners and experts. Mangrove tours take you at an easy pace through calm waters where you can spot a variety of land and sea wildlife such as crabs, birds, and if you're lucky, the odd crocodile or monkey (but do not
  • Hacienda Barú Wildlife Refuge
    Spanning beaches, rivers, mangroves, wetlands, pastures, tree plantations, primary, secondary, and selectively logged forests, the refuge is literally crawling with life. In a country famed for ecosystems within ecosystems, this place is no exception. As of January 2006, 351 different species of bir
  • Hiking in the Park
    The best time of day to hike is typically early morning. It's not as hot, generally less crowded, you can avoid afternoon rain and often have a better chance of spotting wildlife. If you want to hike in the park without a guide, ask for a free map at the entrance. However check to make sure it is to
  • Surfing
    Prepare to be spoiled with options, as this town is all about surfing. You can rent a board from pretty much anywhere. Dominical Surf Adventures guarantee you'll be able to stand up by your first class. They offer surfboard rental, private lessons (beginners to experts), one-day classes, mul
  • Cerro Tortuguero trek
    Overview Just a short taxi ride up river from the village is the drop off point for this trek on what can be a slippery and muddy trail. Don the boots and you will have fun slip sliding up this small hill to two fantastic lookout points. Trails are easy to follow but watch out for s
  • Shopping Summary
    Most shops here are focused on surfing. The South Wave Surf Shop rents boards for $10-$15 for 24-hours and also sells a huge variety of boards, boogie boards, surfing accessories and beachwear, in all the most popular brands. You can also buy ding repair kits, wax, leashes, pads, fins, bags, roof ra
  • Things to see and do summary
    Typical beach activities include swimming, fishing, surfing and relaxing. You can take a horseback tour along the beach or ride into the surrounding forest: Book through Arco Iris 506-2787-5133. Some accommodations and restaurants are happy to make a commission off selling you tours, which could inc
  • Twilight Walk, Children's Eternal Rainforest
    Overview Walking through jungle at night is a very different experience to walking by day, and this tour enables you to compare the two by starting at sunset and ending in torchlight. It takes place on the Bahia del Tigre trails in the the Children's Eternal Rainforest, which is the
  • Bungee Jumping
    3 adventure activities in a tower! -Bungee Jumping -Rocket Launcher -Big Swing
  • Raindrop Spa
    The Raindrop Spa's tranquil setting gives you permission to stop the clock and savor yourself. Resembling a temple, the retreat is surrounded by gardens, trees, and running water features, in the private grounds of Manuel Antonio Estates. Emphasizing a holistic approach to health, Pilates and yoga c
  • Morning wildlife canoe tour
    Overview Any trip to Tortuguero must include the early morning wildlife trip, which usually begins around 5.30-6am. Motorized boats or paddle canoe take tourists around the canals and although both mix together on the water the paddle canoes can go into so
  • Canopy Tours
    The canopy tour consists of six zip lines which take you flying more than 1200 meters through gorgeous primary rain forest. There is only one set of lines in the Osa, and they are actually nearer to Drake's Bay than Jimenez, so watch out - don't take the same tour twice! Don't pay more than $45 per

  • Sport Fishing
    Sports fishing is excellent all around the Osa, and Puerto Jimenez is no exception. Just fishing inshore in the Golfo Dulce you can hope to snag snapper, grouper, pampano, roosterfish, jack, amberjack and snook. If you go deep sea you may catch sailfish, marlin, wahoo, tuna and dorado. Most tour ope
  • Canopy Tour
    The canopy tour, located in nearby Los Planes, consists of nine platforms and six cables which take you flying more than 300 feet through primary rain forest. This is the only set of lines in the Osa and is utilized by various tour companies in and near Drake Bay. Tours with a local agency last thre
  • Turtle Watching
    Turtle watching tours to nearby Ostional can be arranged at most of the tour operators in town. This protected beach is where the olive ridley turtles arrive in masses, known as arribadas, to nest. The typical tour takes you to Ostional in the afternoon or early evening, where you can then wan
  • Horseback Riding
    Most hotels can arrange horseback rides if you ask. You have to travel a bit outside Zancudo to ride, since there is no place to pasture horses here, but transport will be provided with the tour.

  • Farm Tour
    Nature takes a delicious turn on the Villa Vanilla Flavor Tour, where you literally learn to â??taste the rainforest.â? Designed to be sustainable and organic, the cash crops grown here include vanilla, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, cacao (chocolate!) and essential oil plants. After the tour
  • Surfcasting
    If deep sea fishing is out of your price range then try your hand at surfcasting. As the name suggests, this is fishing from the shore. Rocky outcroppings are the best spots to tackle this activity, but be aware that these areas can be particularly dangerous. Experts recommend wearing a life-v
  • Overview
    Nosara is a haven for outdoorsy types and if you're looking to do something a little more active than tanning on the beach then you won't be disappointed. The surf here is the best in the area and there is no shortage of surf schools and instructors in town. Yoga is also a popular activity here, as

  • Golf
    Tamarindo is not famous for golfing; however, there are a few options nearby for those that need their fix. The most well known is the Hacienda Pinilla, which is just out of town and features its own 18-hole golf course. Prices start at about $125 per person for the day and clubs can be rented for
  • Yoga
    Like any good Zen-inspired town, Montezuma has plenty of yoga options. Montezuma Yoga operates out of the Hotel Los Mangos, just before the entrance to the waterfall, and offers a morning class Monday-Friday at 9:30 a.m., open to all levels. On Sunday there's a candlelight class at 6:30 p.m. u
  • Wildlife Watching
    Wildlife watching opportunities occur both above and below ground here. In the caves, you'll most likely see some bats, especially in and around the Trampa Cave chamber known as Stink-Pot Hole. This chamber is made odiferous from deposits of bat guano (feces), and houses the la
  • Tayutic farm tour and hacienda experience
    Check out the traditional sugar mill (powered by oxen!), stone wheeled coffee mill and macadamia nut harvest. Set in the mountains, right outside of Turrialba, 4th generation Ortuno family will give you a tour of their extensive farmland and natural landscape. Full day tours include breakfast and
  • Hiking
    The unique draw to Volcan Turrialba is the solitude the second largest active volcano in Costa Rica presents, along with the three craters that sit in the bowl. Volcan Turrialba is presently undeveloped for tourism, and though a few unmarked trails exist, it is best to hire a guide for a full tour
  • Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo Walk
    Overview The walk starts at Manzanillo, which can be reached from Puerto Viejo by an inconveniently timed local bus, taxi ($10e/w) or bike ($5/day). The trail begins along the beach until you can walk no more then heads in through the fores
  • Keködi Indigenous Reserve
    The smallest of the three Indian reserves is found just 15 minutes inland from Puerto Viejo where the local people stick to traditional customs and ways of living. This 5,000+ hectare reserve is part of the Talamanca-Caribbean Biological Corridor, which has more than 36,000 hectares of land under pr
  • Aquarries waterfall hike
    A pristine waterfall along the river Rio Turrialba makes an adventurous daytime activity. Take a taxi from Turrialba, roughly 6km one way. The cab can drop you off, pick you up, and will explain the short route. Another option is to take the public bus to Santa Rosa, and get off at the last stop.
  • Hiking
    The four trails in the park vary in destination and level of difficulty. Three of the four trails lead you to the river Rio Grande of Orosi, while the third winds up the hillside through slippery mud and hanging vines, followed by a steep descent. All four trails are easily accessed from the main
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
    "Monteverde" literally means "Green Mountain" and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the most spectacularly verdant sites in Central America. Tall trees host blooms of orchids, ferns, vines, and other growth. Streams, rapids, and waterfalls cut through the forest which is home to jaguars
  • Monteverde Rainforest Walk
    Overview This impressive cloud forest is the main reason to come to the Monteverde area. The pricey entrance fee buys you a map and instructions on the best walks to do in the amount of time you have. There is a circular route through many
  • Barra Honda National Park
    Parque Nacional Barra Honda

    Located 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) northwest of noisy Nicoya is the oasis of calm and tranquillity that is Barra Honda National Park. Founded in 1974, the
  • Waterfall Hike and Nanos Plantation Tour
    For the adventuresome spirit and those wishing to spend time with the locals. Ask for Nano, a local farmer who will give you a tour of his nifty farm and take you to see the secluded waterfall. The hike is a loop that begins in Orosi and can be difficult to find. Visit the Otiac information center
  • Cahuita Hiking
    Hiking inside the National Park is a popular activity, as the path is mostly flat and easy to follow. Entrance is from both the Puerto Vargas end and from Cahuita town itself, by the white beach. One end of the trail to the other is 8.3km, which can usually be completed at an undemanding pace in li
  • Hiking
    You can do a little self-guided hiking around Agujitas, but the big hiking destination near Drake Bay is Corcovado National Park. The simplest way to hike through Corcovado is by guided tour, although you could also arrange boat transportation to and from the park and do the trails yourself. However
  • Puerto Humo
    This small town is about 27 kilometers northeast of Nicoya. There is little to see in the town itself but the area is known for excellent bird-watching opportunities. This isn't too surprising, since it's just across the river from Palo Verde National Park, which is home to a huge variety of b
  • Wildlife Watching
    With 100 different species of mammals and almost 200 different species of birds (not to mention all the plant life), you're almost guaranteed to spot something in the park. Explore on your own or hire a guide for approximately $25 (sometimes they undercut each other) - they're worth it if you're ser
  • Caves
    The caves are the highlight of Barra Honda, and if you want to explore them, you'll have to hire two guides (about $52). They work in pairs because they use a two-person belay system for helping you descend a cable ladder, which is the only way to enter the cave. This non-invasive entry method
  • Lankester Gardens
    Run by the University of Costa Rica, Lankester Gardens includes three kilometers of walking trails through 11 hectares of ecological diversity. Used as a center for education, conservation and research, the gardens contain roughly 3,000 species of living plants and orchids. Cost is $5.00, $3.50 f
  • Cerro Chato Hike
    Overview This climb is a long and tough one but the views make it well worth it. Cerro Chato sits right beside Arenal as its shorter and inactive cone. It makes a good day hike, which can be started at the waterfall in town, and at the summit is a picturesque crater lake into which

  • Nighttime Insect Tour
    Drake Bay's original insect tour was created by etymologist Tracie Stice, “The Bug Lady,” although other local guides have since created their own excursions. Tracie's tour lasts 2.5 hours, during which time you are likely to see a fun variety of creepy crawlies like scorpions, spiders, li
  • Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
    Located on the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula just a few kilometers southeast of Santa Teresa, the Cabo Blanco nature reserve stretches for 1172 hectares of well-protected land and sea and is the oldest protected area in Costa Rica. Once restricted to scientists and park rangers, the park
  • Canopy del Pacifico
    A fun and adrenaline filled way to get a taste of the rainforest and feel like Tarzan. The folks at Canopy del Pacifico will strap you in a harness and send you soaring over the treetops through a maze of zipline cables. Knowledgeable and amusing guides point out wildlife along the way, though movin
  • Waterfall
    Comprised of three cascading waterfalls, this short uphill hike is a must when visiting Montezuma. The trail quickly arrives at the first small waterfall, and though there's a decent swimming hole, you'll probably want to save your energy for the main attraction. The highlight of the hike is t
  • San Blass Church
    This quaint, humble church was originally built in 1644, but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1822. Nine years later it was completely rebuilt, and the church today remains barely updated since that time. Mass is held at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday and 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, but noti
  • Adventure Tour
    Despite its tiny size, Costa Rica has a large number of adventure tours to quench any thrill seekers thirst for adrenaline. There is a tour that explores every inch of the tropical country whether it's on the dry land, in the sky, above or below the water surface, deep in the jungle or atop a volca
  • Diving
    Snorkelling and Diving are popular in Tamarindo and lessons are available from most tour operators. Anyone looking to get a little more serious might be interested in becoming a certified diver; in which case packages can be bought for around $560. You need at least 4-5 days to become certified, as
  • Diving And Snorkeling
    On a good day, when the water's clear, the reef in the center of the bay makes for some excellent snorkeling. This can be done as part of a tour or you can rent some gear and head out on your own. If you're looking to scuba dive, head to one of the local operators, where they can arrange dives
  • Kayaking
    Most kayak excursions in Drake Bay will be limited to leisurely paddles down the Sierpe river, but Corcovado Expeditions and a few of the local lodges also offers sea kayaking and sometimes whitewater. Some hotels such as Pirate Cove have kayaks available for guests to use on their own, free of char
  • Kayaking
    Most companies rent kayaks for the day in two-, four-, or six-hour increments. If you're doing this, it's probably best to head to the river where there's a little over 8 kilometers to explore. You'll see plenty of birds and possibly a howler monkey or crocodile. The ocean's a bit murky close
  • Snorkeling and Diving
    The majority of snorkeling and diving excursions take place around Isla del Caño because of the island's corals and the diversity of marine life they attract. Isla del Caño is one of the best dive sites in Costa Rica, along with Isla del Coco. At Caño, you have the chance to see a variety of trop
  • Horseback Riding
    Brisas del Nara offers half or full day tours, for all ages, whether you've been on a horse before or not. Riding time on the day tour is 3 hours, plus you spend time at a ranch where there's a swimming hole and waterfall. Half day tours can be taken in the morning or afternoon. They include 2 hours
  • Horseback Riding
    Many of the hotels and tour operators around Drake Bay offer horseback rides that last between a few hours to half a day, taking visitors along the beach and through the rainforest. Some horseback excursions double as guided nature and wildlife-spotting tours. Horseback riding is one of the cheaper
  • Horse Treks and Guayami Indian Reservation
    Finca Estrella, located near Pavones in Cuervito, offers four hour or all-day horseback tours. The four hour tour is $30 per person and goes from the Finca down the beach and then back along the river, with an ice cream and swim break in the middle. The all-day tour is $45 dollars a person and inclu

  • White Water Rafting on the Pascua and Pacuare, class IV
    With this tour I experienced the full explosion of excitement which is the thrill of white water rafting! The scenery while rafting is just marvelous. The vegetation that will surround you plus the power of the waters that transport you is just fantastic. All equipment is given, as well as an explan
  • Biking
    Tamarindo is a great place to explore by bike; the town itself is reasonably flat with wide roads and, of course, endless stretches of smooth beach. For those looking for something a little more challenging, the surrounding hillsides, which are much more rugged, might appeal. Mountain bikes can be

  • Canopy Tour
    If you're not feeling hearty enough for the waterfall hike, then the canopy tour offered by Sun Trailz is a less strenuous option. A vehicle will transport you to the top of the hill, well above the falls, and then you'll zoom your way down on eight different cables. After the sixth there is a
  • Landmarks/ruins
    For a small country, it has a lot to offer during a tour of landmarks and ruins. Just an hour outside of the San Jose capital is the Poas volcano, a must-see on any list and a great day excursion. It is has two popular lakes at the summit crater, one cold and one geothermal. If you do not su
  • Mountain Climbing
    With three prominent mountain ranges and over 100 volcanoes spread throughout the tropical region, Costa Rica offers climbers an almost infinite amount of routes to tackle. Most of the mountains in the country, which is no bigger than Vermont or New Hampshire, are actually volcanoes covered in de

  • Mountain Biking
    Costa Rica has countless intricate series of mountain biking trails that weave themselves through the diverse ecosystems that make the tropical country an attractive adventure-sport destination. Every type of terrain can be experienced as you ride through the cloud forests, rain forests, valleys,
  • Fishing
    Red snappers, tuna, and marlin are just some of the fish found close to the shores of Tamarindo. A longer trip into deeper waters will land you in the habitat of mahi mahi, yellow fin tuna and sail fish. Plenty of tour operators in town offer full or half day fishing trips under the supervision of
  • Dolphin Tours
    Bottelnose dolphins, Spinner dolphins, Pantropical Spotted dolphins and common dolphins are just a few of the species of, ahem, dolphins that are regularly seen along the Sámara coastline. A dolphin tour will not only give you the chance to get close to (and even snorkel with) these incredible cre

  • Horseback riding
    A popular pastime in Cahuita, horseback tours appeal to all ages and fitness levels. Trips can be arranged to go horseback riding along the beach, through the woods and through the jungle to waterfalls. Almost all tours go along Playa Negra, on the north side of Cahuita, where many animals and bird
  • Cahuita Surfing
    Cahuita's Black Beach, Playa Negra, and the white beach at the beginning of the National Park are both popular spots for surfers. Although the surf is calm enough for beginners to try their hand, be advised that none of the beaches have lifeguards. Ask your hotel about renting boards, or alternative
  • Boat Tours of Golfo Dulce
    The Golfo Dulce is one of the most important fjords and one of the deepest gulfs in the world. Most tour companies in Puerto Jimenez offer boat tours of the gulf, which is also home to large numbers of dolphins and a stop on the annual migration path of humpback whales that come here to breed. Many
  • Rio Coto Colorado Swamps
    The Rio Coto winds its way past Zancudo, through a muddy mangrove forest whose innumerable channels turn to swamp at low tide. The mangroves and the river are home to a plethora of creatures such as monkeys, waterfowl, raccoons, crocodiles and caymans. You can tour the swamps by kayak or by motorboa
  • Boating
    Most boat tours will be of the Rio Coto River and mangroves, although some operators also go to the Golfo Dulce. Whale watching tours are available if you visit Zancudo anytime from September to December, and you can go dolphin watching all year round. Eladio Gonzalez offers four-hour dolphin tours.
  • Dolphin and Whale Watching
    Whales migrate to Drake Bay from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres to calve, which makes the bay a fantastic place to go whale watching. You see dolphins and whales here year-round, but the best months for seeing whales are between December-March and July-November. Species you may see inclu
  • Sport Fishing
    Drake is known for great sport fishing. The waters here are full of sailfish, tuna, shark, dorado, mahi, marlin, red snapper, rainbow fish and roosterfish, among others. Fishing is one of the most expensive activities as it requires a great deal of fuel and equipment. Half or whole day trips can be
  • Rainforest Tour
    Venture deep beneath the green canopies and between the trees of the Costan Rican rain forest with a tour that will let you experience one of the tropical country´s best geographic areas. A forest tour will complete any trip to Costa Rica and there are many that provide certain types such the
  • Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi
    Built in 1766 out of adobe bricks and wild cane, the Orosi church is a look into Latin Americas history, especially the period of the Franciscan colonization in Costa Rica. Still holding services, the chapel is worth a visit, and an adjacent museum still smells of the 18th century, with impressive
  • Guayabo National Monument
    Experience the ruins of an indigenous community that thrived in the heart of the rainforest from 1000 B.C. to 1400 A.C. The most important archeological resource to Costa Rica, the ruins of Guayabo include rock steps, aqueducts, tombs, and grassy mounds. The site was declared a National Monument
  • Boating
    Boating excursions on the Golfo Dulce are usually oriented toward dolphin and whale watching. You can also find kayaking or boating trips down the nearby Coto Colorado River, whose mangrove forests make for good wildlife spotting. The tour operator Land Sea Services organizes a few different types o

  • Surfing
    Zancudo beach has some good waves on the Southern end, close to Pavones. The beach is safe, sandy and rock-free, with swells ranging from two to six feet. Here you get right and left beach breaks. Coloso del Mar and Oceano Cabinas provide surf lessons and rent boards.
  • Cahuita Swimming
    The beautiful white beaches of the National Park are an idyllic place to spend the afternoon in and out of the warm Caribbean Sea. In 1996 they were given a Blue Flag Ecological Award, and although it's very inviting, please heed the precautions outlined at both entrances to the park. Rip-tides are
  • Playa Negra
    Playa negra, the Black Beach, is located on the north side of Cahuita, the opposite end of the main street from the National Park. Less popular with tourists who prefer the white beach of the park, this beach quieter, and is frequented more by the locals. Just as much wildlife can be seen here, incl
  • Playa Blanca
    The long white beach, Playa Blanca, is part of the National Park and is popular with tourists coming to relax on the beautiful white sands under the palm trees. The beach is kept clean, and people are expected to give a donation when signing in at the entrance. Many different species of monkey are s
  • Costa Rica's Beaches
    Costa Rica's beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coast are known for excellent surfing, relaxing and wildlife-watching, especially for spotting six of the world's eight species of green sea turtles nesting and hatching. We have included some of Costa Rica's best beaches below. If we are missi

  • Surfing!
    Many if not most people come here for the waves, and the area continues to not disappoint. Relatively consistent surf, perfect water temps, and plenty of breaks to go around place Santa Teresa and Mal País among the best surf spots in Costa Rica, with conditions and waves to suit every level. Smack

  • Blue Surf Adventures
    Surf on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Surf Packages, Surf School, Surf Camps, located near Mal Pais in Santa Teresa Costa Rica. We are extremely proud to be the only Billabong sponsored, upscale surf school and surf camp in Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula! We can advance your surf

  • Cahuita Snorkling
    It's no wonder that snorkeling is one of the most popular activities here, as Cahuita National Park is home to the best developed coral reef on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. The first Submarine trail in the country was created on this reef, funded by Nature Conservancy, leading tourists, scientifi