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Stick insect | © Jenn Parker
Stick insect | © Jenn Parker
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The Most Unusual Experiences to Have in Costa Rica

Picture of Jenn Parker
Updated: 31 May 2017
There is no shortage of fun to be had in Costa Rica, with so many different areas to explore and so many activities to take part in. You can take a variety of approaches when planning your vacation: do you want to stay at a high-end boutique in the rainforest, where you can completely disconnect and relax? Do you want to set off on exhilarating adventures every day? Do you want to learn to surf and spend all your waking hours with sand between your toes? Or do you want to have some totally unique and unusual experiences that most people who visit Costa Rica don’t have? If strange is your game, then this guide is for you.

Take a mud bath

Volcanic mud, which comes from volcanic ash, is great for detoxifying and softening your skin, improving circulation, soothing sore or tired muscles and joints, and enabling a deep sense of relaxation. Volcanic ash is high in minerals and is great for your skin and body. In places such as Rincon de la Vieja and Arenal, you can cover your body in volcanic mud before soaking in a natural hot spring, for an exfoliating and revitalizing spa treatment straight from Mother Earth.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sunriseodyssey/20916386610/in/photolist-SK6vzy-dToSXe-gpocGG-7AZrqq-gpnVDi-dTwL71-dTwLnQ-T8ALmt-dTwKHf-o5QDM3-dTr7ET-dTop9e-dTwKMo-dTr7HH-GQbCDE-QAz2Fn-QHyVD5-QxPLej-QxQcZN-QLUbt8-QcQbjS-2Y3giA-nQoLrd-xSjZ1Y-xSiX2m-dTwLbm-xSjVHL-xSjVkG-uNwg64" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cleansing with mud | © Sunrise Odyssey/Flickr</a>
Cleansing with mud | © Sunrise Odyssey/Flickr

Cleanse the mind, body and soul

There are several detox and body cleansing centers in Costa Rica where you can detox the mind, body and soul. These retreats vary in length, but all provide guests with the guidance, resources, activities and environment to disconnect from their day-to-day lives, purge their bodies of impurities and toxins, embrace and learn to love themselves, and connect with other like-minded individuals from around the globe. Healing centers such as Pachamama host severals different types of retreat throughout the year. Think of this as giving yourself the space and permission to reconnect and rebalance your energy.

Positive vibrations | © Pachamama
Positive vibrations | © Pachamama

Walk through the world’s largest labyrinth

La Senda in Guanacaste is home to the world’s largest labyrinth. Energy work expert Sergio Sala discovered several energy points on the property of the owners, Ann and Griet, and after six years of planning, designing and building, a 1.8-mile- (3 kilometer)-long labyrinth was constructed out of 4,000 cacti. It takes approximately one hour to walk through the labyrinth. This spiritual journey is made even more rich by the surrounding beauty of the pristine dry forest. There is also an opportunity to go horseback riding on the property. This is a one-of-a-kind experience in the most unexpected of places.

Take a spiritual journey | © La Senda
Take a spiritual journey | © La Senda

Do paddle board yoga

Stand-up paddle boarding and yoga go hand in hand: both require core strength, balance and practice; both offer immense health benefits and an opportunity to realign your focus to the present and find your center. Doing yoga on a stand-up paddle board is a great combination and a fun new challenge. Costa Rica Stand Up Paddle Adventures offers this fun and challenging experience to all levels of paddle boarders and yogis. They have private classes and lessons, and multiple day retreats. This is a unique way to spend some time out on the ocean and do something that is wonderful for both your mind and body.

SUP yoga goddess | © Vajra Sol Yoga Adventures
SUP yoga goddess | © Vajra Sol Yoga Adventures

Go snuba diving

Snuba is one of the safest and easiest ways to experience diving. Unlike scuba diving, where you need a diving license/PADI certification, snuba requires no certification and no previous experience. A freestanding dive tank is placed on an inflatable raft with a 20-foot (six-meter) hose attached to a jacket and regulator. Divers simply put on their masks, place the regulator in their mouths, and off they go. The dive master takes snuba divers to the best diving spots for the time of the year and conditions. There is so much to see underneath the surface, including rays, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks and an immense variety of tropical fish.

Take a gyro tour

AutoGyro America is an ultralight company that specializes in unforgettable tours over the ocean and jungles of Costa Rica. The open-air, two-person aircraft can fly surprisingly low to the ground or ocean, offering views that you couldn’t get any other way. This unique bird’s-eye view of Costa Rica is sure to be one of the most incredible experiences you’ll ever have. Since there are no windows, you will have completely unobstructed views, which means you’ll be able to take some incredible photographs. AutoGyro America has been operating for over two decades and they are the best at what they do. If you’re a pilot already, there’s even an option to learn to fly one yourself.

Experience the cloud forest at night

Quite a few rainforest dwellers are nocturnal. In Monteverde, it’s possible to go on a guided night hike through the Monteverde Wildlife Refuge. The tour starts right after the sun sets. Each hiker is outfitted with a headlamp or flashlight, and an experienced naturalist and guide takes the group through the forest and points out the nocturnal or sleeping inhabitants, which include tree snakes, frogs, foxes, sloths, birds and monkeys. This tour gives hikers a completely new perspective on the cloud forest and what happens there after the sun goes to sleep.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marragem/5450163237/in/photolist-9iBvDF-TgRufh-9iBvFB-bg1a4Z-ffvLkj-7yqTAS-drmFR9-hkiRh6-awkCZ7-qsceYH-brnZKb-hsm2gQ-pMGkdY-irbHtb-irbt3W-8Mx2w1-b7y98c-9W2nGd-23x8Mh-7ha9bo-eePUka-dGZqLH-6mtuNb-bvWY14-kaeg1z-a4yBTS-grjJ4s-e9tC1D-eePUFB-pe6XWf-dsUuqa-eaReYT-7Uz3bf-hsmz9A-cXEr13-rBumhx-orPpCt-6zbiMw-rBoHj1-Eb4Jhv-5YyoZf-pmLE6j-P1e9t1-qfJpz5-5jGeii-dswgwR-9rz2fh-6nPgAJ-dGYSNk-dGYRoM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Creepers of the night | © Marragem/Flickr</a>
Creepers of the night | © Marragem/Flickr

Go on a walk with 900 dogs

Territorio de Zaguates (“Land of the Strays”) is an incredible non-profit rescue shelter for stray dogs up in the mountains of Alajuela. This no-kill shelter relies on donations and volunteers to take care of all of its 900 abandoned dogs. All the dogs get to go on a free-range walk through the mountains on the property every single day – dog paradise! Visitors are encouraged to come take a walk with these special and loving dogs. It’s a heart-warming experience to run alongside 900 dogs, who without this amazing shelter would be suffering or dying.

A heart-melting experience | © Territorio de Zaguates Oficial
A heart-melting experience | © Territorio de Zaguates Oficial