Costa Rica Adventure: Whitewater, Beaches & Volcanos - 8 Days

Explore Costa Rica's amazing natural scenery through a thrilling series of activities including whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, and more. This tour will take you to a wide range of coasts, jungles, and rivers, all while keeping your adrenaline pumping.

Highlights

  • Raft through river rapids and waterfalls, surrounded by canyons and lush jungles
  • Explore the breathtaking Arenal Volcano and Rio Fortuna Waterfall
  • Enjoy the beaches and wildlife of Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Try snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching, rock climbing, and zip-lining

Overview

This itinerary is slightly more active than other options but still includes plenty of time to explore Costa Rica's biodiversity. Some activities, such as rafting and hiking, will require a modest amount of physical rigor. Therefore, this itinerary is a great fit for any adventurous traveler who enjoys extreme sports and is looking for an active vacation in a less mainstream destination.

Most of the tour will focus on the outdoors in a tropical climate, so sunscreen, bug spray, appropriate clothing and shoes, and other preparations are recommended.

Brief Itinerary

Day Destination Activities
Day 1 San Jose (Arrival)  
Day 2 Pacuare River Whitewater Rafting
Day 3 Pacuare River/La Fortuna Whitewater Rafting
Day 4 La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano Hiking/Waterfalls/Hot Springs
Day 5 Manuel Antonio Nat'l Park  
Day 6 Manuel Antonio Nat'l Park Optional: Snorkeling/Scuba/Fishing/Kayaking
Day 7 Manuel Antonio Nat'l Park Optional: Snorkeling/Scuba/Fishing/Kayaking
Day 8 San Jose (Departure)  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in San Jose

National Theater of San Jose Costa Rica

Welcome to Costa Rica! Upon arrival, our representative will greet you at the airport and drive you to your hotel. Take the rest of the day to wind down or explore the nearby sights of San Jose, Costa Rica's capital featuring impressive colonial architecture and green plazas.

Day 2: Pacuare River – Rafting class II-III 10km/6mi

Whitewater rafting on Pacuare River
Whitewater Rafting on Pacuare River

Today, your adventure begins! Spend the morning traveling out to the Pacuare River, famed for its strong currents and spectacular views from La Cruz to the foothills of the Irazú and Turrialba volcanoes. After a quick lunch at the riverbank, take your raft out to the water and paddle your way into the depths of the rainforest.

Surrounded by canyon cliffs and the occasional waterfall, you will reach El Nido del Tigre, "The Tiger's Nest", by the afternoon. Here, set up camp and take the rest of the day to explore the thriving jungles. Be on the lookout for toucans, sloths, boa constrictors, and more! Take a break from the hiking in a riverside hammock, just return to camp by night fall and fall asleep to the sounds of nature.

Day 3: Pacuare River – Rafting class III-IV 25km/16mi

Class III-IV rapids on the Pacuare river

Get up early and continue your journey down the Pacuare River. The run down river is harder at the start, you will need to navigate the treacherous rapids. Towards the end, the river will slow down, and you will be floating peacefully. Step back on shore to have lunch, then the afternoon is yours to enjoy.

You can venture deeper into the virgin rainforests on foot or go for a refreshing swim in the river. Later in the afternoon, you will depart from Siquirres and head towards the quaint town of La Fortuna, right next to the towering Arenal Volcano. Try some of the local food options for dinner, and enjoy a well-deserved rest tonight.

Day 4: Arenal Volcano – Hanging Bridges / La Fortuna’s Waterfall / Hot Springs

Arenal Volcano

As the sun rises, trek out to the hanging bridges of Arenal for stunning views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Then, hike to the 120ft (35m) tall Rio Fortuna waterfall while passing through areas rich in flora and fauna. Below the falls is a natural pool where you can swim and approach some of the smaller cascades.

Afterward, spend the afternoon back in La Fortuna and relax at the butterfly garden or get a massage. If you're hungry for more adventure, go for a zip-line tour, drive an ATV, or go canyoning across waterfalls suspended by ropes and a harness. Finally, end the day by soaking in the famous volcano hot springs and enjoying dinner with a great view.

Day 5: Manuel Antonio – Free afternoon

Manuel Antonio National Park

For the first half of the day, you will be on the road to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The trip will take about 5 hours, ending at the Manual Antonio National Park, a hotspot for biodiversity and natural beauty. For the rest of the day, check out the beaches and nearby areas where you can spot howler, white-faced, and squirrel monkeys, as well as land crabs and iguanas.

Day 6: Manuel Antonio - Free day on the beach

Sea kayaking near Manuel Antonio National Park

Today is your chance to explore Manuel Antonio to the fullest. Make your way back to the beaches and snorkel around the coast to see colorful fish or scuba dive into deeper waters. You can even take a boat out to fish in the sea and watch dolphins, or kayak around the nearby mangrove swamps famed for a variety of local animals. All of this can be arranged by talking with staff, so you can plan a day best suited to your interests.

Day 7: Manuel Antonio – Free morning / Midday transfer back to San Jose

On your last full day in Costa Rica, take the morning to finish up any last activities in Manuel Antonio before the 3-hour drive back to San Jose.  If you prefer, we can also help you organize a flight back (30-minute flight). Then, the day is yours to spend in San Jose, where you can enjoy your last evening at local restaurants, plazas, and historic sites. 

Day 8: Departure

Say goodbye to Costa Rica after breakfast, and fly out from the San Jose airport. Transportation will be provided.