The 10 Best Things to do in Costa Rica

1. Zip lining

Imagen 151Also referred to as canopy tours, zip lining entails putting on a harness and attaching to a series of cables strung throughout the trees. These tours are everywhere throughout Costa Rica and run between $50-100 depending on the location and amount of runs you get.  Between 8-12 runs seems to be average.  High in both adrenaline and excitement!  As scary as it sounds, it’s actually very safe and the most difficult part is usually walking between the cables.

2. Hike a volcano

DSCN0333Costa Rica is littered with volcanoes.  Some are active, like the popular Arenal which offers visitors views of red falling lava at night and constant rumbles throughout the day.  Most volcanoes are located on federally reserved national park land and offer great hikes with amazing views.  The Poás Volcano is a popular day trip from the San Jose area and a big tourist draw.

3. River rafting

photo by BallGame68

With the amount of rainfall Costa Rica receives it’s no surprise that white water rafting is a popular activity.  Most rafters set out for Turrialba, about two hours from San Jose where they can ride the Pacuare or the Reventazon for anywhere from four hours to three days.

4. Surfing

photo by DLH Creative
photo by DLH Creative

It’s no secret that Costa Rica is one of the top surf destinations in the world.  Surfing legends like Robert August now make their homes in Costa Rica for it’s legendary surf.  Breaks like Jaco and Playa Hermosa provide surfers with consistent waves on the Pacific side while Puerto Viejo de Talmanca and many others are great in the Caribbean.

5. Play with monkeys

DSCN0785Who doesn’t love monkeys? They are everywhere in Costa Rica swinging from trees or digging through restaurant’s trash cans (please don’t feed the monkeys).  National parks like Manuel Antonio provide great opportunities for hikers to see capuchin monkeys swinging overhead or even sharing the trail with them.  Other areas like the Arenal Volcano are filled with Howler monkeys who can nearly deafen nearby visitors with their calls.

6. Watch turtles lay eggs

photo by Arthur Chapman
photo by Arthur Chapman

Turtle lover?  Head up to Tortuguero where conservationists are working hard to preserve the endangered turtles who make the beaches their nesting grounds.  Only reachable by boat or plane, Tortuguero is a prime example of eco-tourism.

7. Volunteer

photo by
photo by

There are lots of opportunities to volunteer in Costa Rica, especially if you are interested in animal conservation.  Tortuguero, mentioned above, is a wildlife conservationist’s dream.

8. Drink coffee

IMG_0256What better way to start your day than enjoying some Costa Rican coffee.  Stop by a grocery store and pick up a bag to take back home.  Not only does it taste better than anything you can find back home–it’s a lot cheaper!

9. Climb a waterfall

DSCN0749Climbing and rappelling a waterfall is an extremely fun and exciting activity in Costa Rica.  There are tour operators all over the country that offer waterfall rappels, but if you find yourself in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area, give Quepo Canyoning a call as they are the only one (currently) allowing you to climb a waterfall.  Believe it or not, going up is actually more exciting than going down!

10. Kayak through mangroves

photo by bawish
photo by bawish

If you’re looking for something a little slower paced but still plenty of fun, rent a kayak and explore the mangroves.  You’ll see wildlife you never imagined.

11 Replies to “The 10 Best Things to do in Costa Rica”

  1. I keep hearing great things about Costa Rica – lists like these are probably why they were recently voted the happiest country on Earth.

  2. Costa Rica is quickly climbing to the top of list of places I would love to visit. Some of the extreme stuff might freak me out (I’m still afraid of heights… or more accurately, falling) but stuff like kayaking sound awesome.

    And the photos are AMAZING!

  3. Here’s an endorsement for white-water rafting – easily the best WWR trip of my life near Arenal – more rapids jammed into a 4 hour float than I could have imagined, plus the one class V rapid (a drop really) where we flipped ourselves right into a rock face on the side of the river.

    Although my favorite Costa Rica experience was watching (and listening to ) Arenal volcano at night – its like a fireworks show that doesn’t stop.

  4. I have been to CR three times, but only once for pleasure. I would say yes a definite to Montezuma / Manuel Antonio, but bring bug spray. And, the cocido (beans rice plantains) is to die for. Also, I loved Arenal and hiking the volcano.

    I believe that CRica was actually named as the best country to live in last week.

    Check out my travel stories. Just back from Beantown for the 4th.

  5. Visiting Costa Rica is high on my to-go list ~ I would love to hike a volcano! Thanks for the great round-up and fabulous pictures!

  6. Love Costa Rican coffee for its high caffeine. Trouble with the stuff you can get up here in Canada is that the beans are often blended with inferior varieties. A shame.

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