Costa Rica Adventure: Whitewater Rafting and Surfing - 5 Days

Make your trip to Costa Rica one to remember! From a rafting adventure through miles of tropical scenery on the Pacuare River to an excursion in one of the country's top surf spots in Puerto Viejo, this short itinerary is jam-packed with thrilling experiences.

Highlights

  • Raft your way down to Pacuare River through class II, III, and IV rapids.
  • Stay at an eco lodge nestled within virgin rain forests
  • Try surfing at one of the many beaches in Puerto Viejo
  • Hike, snorkel or stop by a sloth sanctuary 

Overview

The Pacuare River flows for about 70 miles (108 km) towards the Caribbean Sea. Its rapids are some of the best in the region, making it a popular destination for whitewater rafting. Puerto Viejo, a surfing destination famous for its colossal waves at Salsa Brava, is located nearby on the Caribbean Coast. Latino, Afro-Caribbean, and Indigenous Bribri cultural influences are all present in Puerto Viejo, and many locals speak Patois (pronounced “patua”), a creole language derived from Afro-Caribbean English, Spanish and French. 

This itinerary will include both destinations, starting off in the capital of San Jose, moving on to the Pacuare river, and ending at Puerto Viejo before your flight out back at San Jose. Although this itinerary isn't as focused on wildlife, there will be plenty of chances to spot the biodiversity of Costa Rica while rafting.

Whether you are a hardcore fan of extreme sports or just want to get out of your comfort zone, this tour is right for you.

Map

Brief Itinerary

Day Destination Overnight Details
Day 1 San José (Arrival) San José  
Day 2 Pacuare River Pacuare River Lodge Rafting 6mi (10km), 3 meals included
Day 3 Pacuare River/Puerto Viejo Pacuare River Lodge Rafting 16mi (25km), lunch included
Day 4 Puerto Viejo/San Jose Puerto Viejo Surfing
Day 5 San José (Departure) San José  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Costa Rica

San Jose's National Theatre

Welcome to Costa Rica! A local representative will meet you at the airport and escort you to your comfortable hotel in San Jose, the country's capital. Make sure to get plenty of rest for the upcoming adventure.

Day 2: Pacuare River – Rafting (class II-III) 

Rafting past a waterfall on the Pacuare River

Wake up early, meet your guide, and begin the 2½-hour drive out through the city and countryside. Stop en route for a classic Costa Rican breakfast before you arrive at the Pacuare River put-in, where you will start your rafting excursion.

After a guided orientation, you will embark on today's exciting 1-1½ hour river rafting trip (class II-III rapids). Paddle past impressive tropical scenery through rushing rapids, all the way to a riverside eco lodge. Here, you will check into your accommodation, and have the rest of the day to explore the surrounding area with your guide.

Day 3: Pacuare River – Rafting (class III-IV) to Puerto Viejo

Rafting through a canyon on the Pacuare River

Today, you will tackle a more challenging route that lasts approximately 3½ hours over class III-IV rapids. Depart after breakfast, and brace yourself for an exhilarating whitewater rafting experience. Once you travel further down the Pacuare River, you will encounter canyons, waterfalls, and virgin forests around you. During the calmer stretches, be on the lookout for various species of birds and other wildlife that roam around the region.

Around noon, you will reach the edges of the riverbank and your rafting journey will come to an end. Eat a deli-style lunch, change into dry clothes in the private facility, then hop onto a minibus. After lunch, you will drive towards the east coast to Puerto Viejo, our final destination.  You will have the evening to explore the local town.  Don't forget to try to local, creole style rice and beans, cooked with delicious coconut milk and served with fresh fish, it is something that you won't find anywhere else in Costa Rica.

Day 4: Puerto Viejo - Surfing and return to San Jose

Surfer near the beaches of Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is well known by surfers for Salsa Brava, but only the most experienced of surfers can tame the waves there. If you don't want to risk leaving with a broken board, try visiting the beaches of Playa Cocles, Playa Negra, Cahuita, or Manzanillo, which are ideal for surfers of all levels. Additionally, the sandy bottoms of Playa Cocles and Playa Negra make them great for beginner and intermediate surfers as well.

If surfing isn't quite on your radar, there are plenty of other activities around. You can go on a guided hike, snorkel in Cahuita National Park, scuba dive at the nearby reefs, visit the waterfalls of the Kekoldi Indian Reserve, go horseback riding, or visit the Sloth Sanctuary. In the evening, head back to San Jose to your hotel overnight and prepare for your flight out tomorrow.

Day 5: Departure

It's time to say goodbye to Costa Rica. A local representative will send you to the airport for your departing flight.