Costa Rica is a country with a very exuberant nature; surely you already know that and it is possible that this is one of the reasons why you have decided to discover this corner of Central America, right? Thanks to its dense jungles, rivers, volcanoes, mountains and of course the Pacific and Caribbean coasts there is a huge variety of adventure sports in Costa Rica that you can choose from.
In this travel itinerary through Costa Rica we already suggested some, but here we are going to focus on putting on long teeth if you are looking for adrenaline. Keep reading and discover the best adventure sports to do in Costa Rica and where to practice them.
- Canopy or zip line in Costa Rica
This is probably the most popular adventure sport in Costa Rica. Due to the lushness of its jungles, moving at high speed over the treetops is an experience you will never forget. The grips are held on steel cables suspended between platforms that are usually camouflaged in the thickness of the jungle, but also cross river canyons or, directly, the coast.
There are plenty of places to zip line in Costa Rica. Ciudad Quesada, La Fortuna, the Pacuare River, the Poás Volcano, Drake Bay, Quepos or the Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge (Limón) offer you the chance to try this adventure sport in Costa Rica. However, the best known place is the Monteverde Extreme Park, in Santa Elena.
Here, you will find cables suspended 450 meters high and 2.5 kilometers long. Its two best-known activities are the “Superman”, which consists of doing a zip line lying face down for more than 1 kilometer at 90 kilometers per hour and going through a tunnel, and the “Tarzan swing”. Thanks to the latter, you will be able to swing like the character from The Jungle Book at a height of 143 meters.
- Rafting down the Pacuare River
This adventure sport in Costa Rica involves “letting yourself go” with an inflatable raft through the mighty and rapid rivers of the country, releasing huge amounts of adrenaline while rowing in the direction of the current with other adventurers like you. There are several kinds of rivers that translate into different levels of difficulty for rafting. Thus, class I is for those rivers with calm waters, in which even families with children can participate. Class VI is for the extreme level, that is, violent and very long rapids, only for experts.
What are the best places to go rafting in Costa Rica? Without a doubt, the best known is the one that takes place through the Pacuare River. Being class III-IV, it is an activity for both beginners and those who already have an intermediate level. In addition, it is possible to do it throughout the year, thanks to the good conditions of the river.
Other rivers that may interest you for a beginner-medium level are the Reventazón, the Sarapiquí, the Savegre or Peñas Blancas. If you have more experience in rafting, the Naranjo River (near Quepos), the Alta del Río Tenorio (Papagayo), and El General will captivate you.
- Bungee jumping in Costa Rica
Have you never done bungee jumping? Well then, we cannot think of a better place to do it than launching from the highest bungee jumping platform in Central America. In the Monteverde Extreme Park there is a base located 143 meters high between two mountains in the middle of the jungle. To get to it, you will have to get on an “aerial tram” and, once you have overcome the vertigo, put on the security system to jump into the void. Without a doubt, one of the adventure sports in Costa Rica that will make you scream the most.
Monteverde is not the only place to bungee jump in Costa Rica. In Alajuela you have Costa Rica Eco Bungee, where you can jump off a bridge 65 meters high.
- Diving and snorkeling: More adventure sports in Costa Rica
Being a country bathed by the Pacific and the Caribbean, surely it will not surprise you that two other adventure sports to do in Costa Rica are diving and snorkeling.
Certified divers have surely heard of Isla del Coco, one of the most famous diving destinations in Costa Rica. Getting there is not easy, since it takes 36 hours of navigation from Puntarenas, but this volcanic island has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO thanks to its biodiversity and its state of conservation. What can be seen there? Whale sharks, schools of hammerhead sharks, white tip sharks, tiger sharks or manta rays, as well as turtles and extensive coral reefs that are home to thousands of tropical fish. Take note: the best time to dive here is from January to March and from September to October.
Other diving spots in Costa Rica, on its Pacific coast, that you may like are Punta Gorda, Bajo Tiburones, Isla Negritos, Isla Cabros and Islas Murciélago. In the latter you have the possibility of spotting bull sharks from August to October. In the South Caribbean, the coral formations of the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and the Cahuita National Park stand out.
If you do not have a diving license yet, 2 of the best places to snorkel in Costa Rica are Corcovado National Park and Caño Island. The latter is considered “the Cocos Island in miniature” because from May to November it is the season for whale sharks, manta rays and humpback whales, in addition to the usual green turtles that inhabit these waters.
- Surfing in Guanacaste
We could not make a list of adventure sports in Costa Rica without talking about surfing, since it is one of the best-known destinations in the world to practice it. Although there are 4 different areas to surf in Costa Rica (Caribbean and the North, Central and South Pacific coasts), the best known area is the province of Guanacaste, to the northwest.
In Guanacaste there are 3 places in particular if you are looking to surf in Costa Rica. The first is Ollie’s Poing or Potrero Grande, accessible by boat from Playas del Coco and which lacks all kinds of services. In Playa Negra you will also find good waves, but also hotels and restaurants for a comfortable stay. Finally, Roca Bruja, in the Santa Rosa National Park, gives you tubular waves that delight the most experienced.
If you have never practiced surfing, do not worry, in almost any beach on the Costa Rican Pacific coast you will find waves, many of them ideal for beginners, where you can rent boards and receive classes from an instructor. In the Caribbean, specifically in Puerto Viejo and Cocles, there are also good conditions to practice this adventure sport in Costa Rica.
- Rappelling or canyoning in Manuel Antonio Park
Manuel Antonio is one of the best national parks in Costa Rica and almost all travelers are encouraged to visit it by taking a walk along its main trails and beaches. However, if you have more time and need more adrenaline, another way to enjoy it is canyoning or abseiling.
What does this activity consist of? After entering the deepest part of the tropical forest and a short walk, you will make descent through the rock –assisted with ropes– and then a descent in free fall until you fall into a calm pool. You will go down the canyon combining waterfall jumps with small rappelling accompanied by a guide who will tell you how to do it safely and who will tell you everything about this beautiful national park. It is an activity for all levels and ages, so do not hesitate to include it in your itinerary, even if you are traveling with children.
Other places to do canyoning in Costa Rica are the Avatar canyon, Monteverde or La Fortuna (Arenal).
- Kayaking in Tortuguero
Going kayaking may sound unadventurous, but if during the journey you have many chances of spotting howler monkeys, alligators, snakes, sloths and all kinds of birds, surely it seems more interesting to you, right? All this is what you can find in Tortuguero National Park, one of the most popular parks in the country. You can do the canoe ride through the park’s canals at your leisure, but it will be much better if you hire a guide, since, with years of experience, they are able to see many animals and you will be able to better understand the particularities of the flora and fauna from this part of the world.
Of course, this is not the only place to practice this adventure sport in Costa Rica. Other interesting places are the Piedras Blancas National Park, Lake Arenal, the Sierpe River (Drake, Corcovado) or Damas Island from Manuel Antonio.
- Walking on suspension bridges: An unmissable adventure sport in Costa Rica
If the zip line is not your thing, another of the essential adventure sports in Costa Rica are the walks through the hanging bridges located between its impenetrable jungles. The views from the height of the treetops are wonderful, giving you a relaxing experience as well as dizzying.
What are the best sites for this? In La Fortuna de San Carlos, in the surroundings of the Arenal volcano, and in Monteverde you have a lot of circuits. You can do it on your own or with specialized guides, who will make you discover the secrets of that fascinating flora and fauna that Costa Rica has.
- Paragliding: Another adventure sport in Costa Rica
Another way to get a liberal adrenaline rush and contemplate the marvelous Costa Rican landscape is to do it from above by paragliding. Many of the companies of this adventure sport are located in the Puntarenas area, which, being located by the sea, usually have the optimal conditions to make the flight. In addition, in this way you can enjoy the views of the Pacific and the green thickness of the interior.
In case you were wondering, several of these companies also offer parachute jumping, suitable only for the most adventurous.
- Hiking: Many more adventure tourism options in Costa Rica
With 26% of its national territory protected and 12 climatic zones, it is impossible for you to get bored of walking through Costa Rica. The options are almost endless and suitable for all types of travelers. Thus, you can choose between a relaxed trail of a couple of hours through Manuel Antonio or Cahuita, make the hard climbs of the peaks of the Cerro de la Muerte massif or lose yourself for several days in the impenetrable jungle of the Corcovado National Park.
If you like volcanoes, do not miss the chance to go up to sight the Poás crater or reach the base of Arenal and touch the old lava flows. Opportunities for adventure tourism in Costa Rica are always present.
- Costa Rica ATV Tours
We finish our list of adventure sports in Costa Rica with another activity that we are sure you will love: ATV, off-road or quad tours. With all types of terrain, including beaches, jungles and mountains, you have the opportunity to choose more or less rugged routes, depending on the level of difficulty you prefer.
For example, you can explore the cloud forest of Monteverde on an ATV, crossing muddy trails and streams while enjoying such a magical place. Other similar options are the surroundings of the Arenal volcano or the rugged mountains of Quepos. If the sea calls you, you can tour the Pacific coast in an off-road vehicle. Many are the travelers who do it for beaches such as Tamarindo, Isla Capitan, Playa Grande or Playa Langosta.