Costa Rica is quickly becoming known as a hot spot for travelers looking for adventure. This small Central American country offers something for everyone, no matter your adrenaline level. From white water rafting, to horseback riding, to jumping off waterfalls, you’re sure to find plenty to do to feed your adventure-seeking travel bug.
Here are 5 must-do epic adventure tours to take in Costa Rica.
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1. White Water Rafting
White water rafting is something I recommend everyone try at least once in their lifetime. My first time was in Costa Rica and it was an absolute BLAST! Manuel Antonio is a popular town that offers great white water rafting tours. This is an activity that can accommodate all ages and levels of adventure-seekers.
If you get very nervous around water or have children and are worried about the danger level, you can do a level 1 or 2. This will be in much calmer waters and the possibility of anyone getting injured is very low. If you’re a first timer and looking for a bit of a thrill, I recommend doing a level 3. which is a mixture of choppy and calm waters. You’ll definitely feel an adrenaline rush but shouldn’t feel nervous about falling out or getting injured. If you’re a bit more experienced and want a high adrenaline rush, level 4 is the way to go. I do not recommend level 5 unless you are an expert!
This can be done anytime of the year, but wet season (May-August) is usually better as the water levels will be higher.
White Water Rafting near Manuel Antonio
Ziplining is much like white water rafting in that there are multiple levels to suit every type of thrill seeker. Arenal, in the northern part of Costa Rica, is a great place to take a ziplining tour. Near the recently inactive volcano, you can soar high above the clouds and witness amazing views.
You can opt for a tour that offers higher and longer lines for a more thrilling experience, or one with lower and shorter lines for those who have a fear of heights. If you’re particularly nervous, most guides will let you ride with them, but I promise after your first line you’ll be ready to take on the rest on your own!
I recommend ziplining in the dry season (October-March) because zipping through heavy rains is not exactly fun. If you do go in the wet season, make sure to take an early morning tour as it doesn’t usually rain until the afternoon.
Ziplining near Arenal
3. Horseback Riding
If you’ve ever gone horseback riding in the United States, it’s nothing like it is in Costa Rica. The rules are much more lax…in that there aren’t really any rules. Tours are usually private and the guides let you go as fast as you want. In the U.S. you usually have to stick to a single file line and there’s definitely no trotting allowed! In Costa Rica, you can ride how you want to. This was my first time trotting on a horse and it was actually pretty thrilling!
Riding through the mountains you see vast expanses of vivid green trees and plants. Costa Rica is so green! Some tour guides will surprise you by taking you to a waterfall and letting you swim for an hour or so. And again with the relaxed rules here, our tour guides
allowed us encouraged us to jump off the waterfall! Now this was a thrill and definitely not for someone who’s afraid of heights or nervous in water.
You can go horseback riding anytime of the year here, just make sure if you’re going in wet season you go early in the morning to avoid getting rained on!
Horseback Riding near Manuel Antonio
Cliff Jumping near Manuel Antonio
4. Waterfall Rappelling
Adrenaline seekers! This one’s for you. There are so many waterfalls in Costa Rica and the best way to experience them is to go waterfall rappelling. Standing over a 100 foot waterfall, backwards, and being pushed off “This is Sparta” style, is absolutely terrifying. As you rappel down, your guides swing you in and out of the rushing waterfall, which is why helmets and jackets are provided. If you had too many cervezas the night before, this will cure your hangover immediately! You can expect to rappel down 4-6 waterfalls depending on what town you take your tour in.
This can be done anytime of the year and anytime of the day because you’re getting soaked regardless of if it rains or not.
Waterfall Rappelling near Arenal
5. Guided Rainforest Tour
Taking a guided tour of the rainforest is not necessarily an adrenaline rush, but it’s certainly adventurous! Your guide will walk you through the rainforest with a telescope and allow you to see so many hidden animals you would have never seen on your own. If you came to Costa Rica to see sloths and monkeys, then this is the tour for you! You’ll be able to spot sloths asleep and hanging from high branches not visible with the naked eye. Depending on the time of year, you’ll hear monkeys howling loudly which is quite an experience. Costa Rica is teeming with wildlife and there’s no shortage of it in the rainforest. You can expect to see large lizards, brightly colored insects, huge spiders (yikes!), and if you’re really lucky you might see an armadillo.
In Manuel Antonio, the end of the rainforest tour leads you out to a beautiful secret beach that is COVERED in little monkeys running around! You can spend as much time here as you want, eating fresh fruit provided by the tour guide and swimming out in the very warm ocean waves. This can be done anytime of the year, but I recommend doing it earlier in the day so you have enough time to enjoy the beach before catching the last shuttle back.
Sloth, Manuel Antonio Rainforest
Monkey, Manuel Antonio Rainforest
There are so many adventure tours to take in Costa Rica and tons of other fun things to do without a tour guide. Most of these tours take up to 3 hours so you’ll still have plenty of time to relax at your hotel pool, surf on the beach, and check out the local bars. A meal of local Costa Rican food is usually offered with most tours, but depending on the time you pick it may just be a snack of fresh local fruit. Choosing which tour company to go with can be a daunting task as there are quite a few out there (Costa Rica relies on tourism to bring in the money). Your best friend is going to be TripAdvisor. Here you’ll find top ranked tour companies with loads of detailed reviews from participants.
If you’ve taken any adventure tours in Costa Rica please comment below, I’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions! If you’d like help finding cheap flights to Costa Rica from your home destination, please email me directly at email@example.com or read more on my Work with Me page.