From north to south, east to west, every region in Costa Rica is a haven for adventure seekers, sports enthusiasts, and outdoor-minded travelers. With 28 national parks covering the country—three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Costa Rica offers active experiences in its virgin rainforests, intricate network of waterways, and nearly 800 miles of coastline, featuring about 300 beaches. From surfing on the coast to mountain biking under the gaze of a volcano, you can't get bored in Costa Rica!
Some favorite active experiences in the country include cycling and mountain biking, whitewater rafting, birding and wildlife spotting, surfing, and exploring volcanoes and rainforests with kayaking, hiking, and ziplining excursions.
Of course, you can't go wrong with water sports in Costa Rica, thanks to hundreds of miles of coastline, world-famous beaches, and a network of rivers and waterways stretching across the country.
Kayaking Tortuguero National Park
The rainforests of Tortuguero National Park feature a unique network of interconnecting canals, making it one of the few places in Central and South America where you can kayak through the jungle! You'll stick to the Caño Chiquero or Caño Mora, peaceful canals designated for non-motorized boats only. Keep an eye out for nature in action, such as river otters nibbling on crustaceans or manatees chewing on seagrass. Read More
Canyoning in the Cascades of Arenal
One of the most popular adventure sports in Costa Rica is waterfall rappelling, also called canyoning. Arenal/La Fortuna is a region known for its beautiful cascades, and you can learn how to rappel down them with a professional. After a scenic hike into the rainforest, you'll strap on a harness, learn a few techniques, and enjoy the adventure. Your expert guides will help you make the most of your experience, whether you're a beginner or seasoned pro. Read More
Surf Lessons at Tamarindo Beach
Tamarindo Beach is one of the best surfing locations in both Costa Rica and Central America, which means it's a perfect place to learn how to surf. With the help of a professional instructor, you'll discover the foundation of the sport (if you're a beginner) or polish your skills (if you're a seasoned surfer). Then, even if it's your first time surfing, you'll be able to stand on your board and ride a few waves! Read More
Whitewater Rafting on the Río Pacuare
The Río Pacuare flows 67 miles (107 km) from the Talamanca Mountains to the Caribbean Sea, twisting through a scenic gorge that offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the world. Although you'll tackle thrilling rapids, you'll also enjoy serene moments in nature, where you can spot wildlife, view waterfalls, and swim or drift down the river. Opt for an overnight in an eco-lodge to make the experience even more memorable! Read More
Rainforests & Volcanoes
Two of Costa Rica's biggest draws are its dense, virgin rainforests and active volcanoes. Explore this incredible nature with zip line excursions, hiking adventures, and mountain biking on some of the best trails in the country.
Zip Line in Monteverde
Ziplining originated in Costa Rica, and Monteverde is home to Latin America's longest zip line, stretching 5,216 feet (1,590 m) through a series of cables. After a scenic hike, you'll strap into the first extension and fly high above treetops, canyons, rolling hills, and lush rainforests. At each stopping point, your guide will point out interesting flora and fauna that rely on the intricate biodiversity of the cloud forest. Read More
Mountain Biking at Lake Arenal
Cycling in Costa Rica is a favorite sport, and you'll quickly understand why after tackling one of the best mountain biking routes in the country. This track takes you around Lake Arenal and through farmland, forests, and across rivers along the base of the Arenal Volcano. As you pedal, keep an eye out for wildlife, such as monkeys, toucans, coatimundis, and more. A highlight of the route is crossing the Caño Negro River by bike! Read More
Corcovado National Park Hike
Set on the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park is a spectacular swathe of rainforest and pristine coastline covering much of the peninsula. It's home to many unique species, including the endangered giant anteater, harpy eagle, tapir, jaguar, and puma. After a boat ride down the peninsula's western shore, you'll start your hike into the dense rainforest. Along the way, enjoy spotting wildlife, relaxing on the beautiful beach, and swimming in waterfall pools. Read More
How to Craft the Perfect Active Itinerary in Costa Rica
Regardless of where you plan to go in the country, in which season you visit, or how many days you spend in Costa Rica, adding active experiences into your itinerary is an easy task. Even if you're planning a honeymoon in Costa Rica or have your eye on a luxury escape to the country, you can still easily tack on outdoor excursions. In fact, it would be more challenging not to enjoy active experiences while in Costa Rica!
Some travelers prefer to visit numerous regions under one theme, such as hiking, visiting national parks, surfing, or cycling. Others like to combine activities and stick to one or two areas. Regardless of what you choose, nearly every region in the country offers an assortment of exciting activities. For example, you'll find plenty of active experiences in Arenal/La Fortuna and endless active excursions in Manuel Antonio. But you can also explore regions like the Osa Peninsula, Tortuguero, Monteverde, Tamarindo, and more!
Some popular regional combinations include: Osa Peninsula, Manuel Antonio, & San Jose; Talamanca, Tortuguero, & San Jose; Nicoya Peninsula, Monteverde, & Arenal/La Fortuna; or Monteverde, Arenal/La Fortuna, Tamarindo, & Nicoya Peninsula.
Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that include active experiences in Costa Rica: