An Adventure Traveler's Guide to Costa Rica

Diving in the Caribbean Sea Rich
Diving in the Caribbean Sea Rich | © Carey/Shutterstock
Jenn Parker

Costa Rica is the perfect destination for travelers looking for a rush of adrenaline, some heart-pounding moments, and the giant smile that follows a flush of excitement. Costa Rica has a wide variety of adventure activities available all over the country for all different types of thrill seekers. Embarking on one or multiple tours is a great way to see some of the most beautiful parts of the country from rainforests and cloud forests to waterfalls and coral reefs.

Canopy zip line tour

Zip lining is one of the most popular activities in Costa Rica. This thrilling activity offers a completely unique view of the rainforest; a bird’s eye view. Long cables take you through the canopy from platform to platform. This completely safe and professionally guided activity is an excellent tour for the whole family. Some of the best zip line tours are Arenal Reserve, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, and the San Luis Canopy tour. There are zip line canopy tours offered all around the country, though.

Zip line through the rainforest

White water rafting

There are at least six different rivers in Costa Rica that offer between class one and class four rapids to those looking for an adrenaline pumping activity. Costa Rica receives high levels of rainfall between the months of May and October, which only helps to make the rapids more exhilarating. In order of least to most difficult, the following are the most well known rivers for rapid tours: Peñas Blancas, Corobicí River, Rio Balsa, Pacuare River, Tenorio River, and Naranjo River.

White water rafting on the Naranjo River

Waterfall and canyon rappelling

Waterfall and canyon rappelling is not for the faint of heart. However, it is a truly unique way to become completely enveloped in the rainforest. Rappelling magnificent waterfalls and down deep canyons to the lush and verdant forest floor will be an experience like no other. The tour will be a mix of hiking and rappelling alongside an experienced guide who will have a great wealth of knowledge about the local flora and fauna. There are breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls all around the country.

Waterfall rappelling in La Fortuna


The Costa Rica Sailing Center in Playa Portero in Guanancaste is a must for adventurers. The location is absolutely perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, snorkeling and, of course, sailing. There are sailing lessons available for all different levels and boats for rent for those who already know how to sail and just want to set out to sea. There are often bonfires on the beach for sunset and live music, karaoke, bingo nights, and other family friendly events varied throughout the week. The restaurant offers some delicious, locally-inspired dishes and the beers are always icy. This place has it all for someone who is looking to spend an active (or relaxing) day on the water.

Set sail at the Costa Rica Sailing Center


Costa Rica is synonymous with surfing. Costa Rica has both world-class waves and gentle beginner breaks. There seems to be a surf shop, school, or camp on every corner, which makes it a breeze to rent a board, book a lesson, and start shredding. Tamarindo is one of the most popular places to go to learn how to surf. SALT (Surf As Life Therapy) Surf School and Tours is one of the best programs for beginners and more advanced surfers alike. If you are new to the sport, it is very important to learn safety and surf etiquette first in order to ensure a safe (for everyone in the water) and enjoyable experience.

Surfs up


What’s beneath the surface in Costa Rica is often as beautiful as what’s above. Costa Rica is bursting with thriving rock and coral reefs, abundant marine wildlife, such as sea turtles and stingrays, and a vast collection of tropical fish. Scuba diving, snorkeling, and snuba diving tours are available around the country on both the Caribbean and Pacific side. The Catalina Islands, Bat Islands, Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, and Cocos Island are some of the most famous dive sites in Costa Rica.

Parrot fish

Horseback riding

What better way to explore the countryside, mountainous jungles, and beaches than by horseback? Pretty much anywhere that you go in Costa Rica there will be a horseback riding tour available. It is a great way to experience firsthand the vast beauty of the country at a pace where you can really take it all in. Oftentimes, guides will be bilingual and knowledgable about the local surroundings, both natural and culturally. Most Costa Ricans take very good care of their horses, but avoid tours where horses look emaciated, dehydrated, and dirty, as this is a sign of a bad operation.

Take a ride through the mountains

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,395 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article