Costa Rica Experiences

Edit experiences overview

Discover Costa Rica with kimkim's curated list of top-rated activities. Whether you're navigating the lush canopies of Arenal Hanging Bridges, feeling the adrenaline rush as you zip line through the cloud forest in Monteverde, learning to surf on the pristine beaches of Tamarindo, or embarking on a wildlife boat excursion in Tortuguero National Park, you're guaranteed an authentic taste of Costa Rica. Don't miss out on our recommended activities in Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, Tamarindo, Tortuguero, the Gulf of Papagayo, and more for your next trip to Costa Rica.

Arenal/La Fortuna
Whitewater Rafting on the Balsa River
4.9
(16)
5 hours
·
Small group
Embark on an adrenaline-pumping whitewater rafting adventure down the Río Balsa. You'll transfer from La Fortuna to the put-in spot on the river, where your guide will give you safety instructions and outfit you with a helmet and life vest. Then, push off into the current and start paddling...
Arenal Hanging Bridges
Arenal/La Fortuna
Arenal Hanging Bridges Guided Walk
4.9
(17)
4 hours
·
Small group
Explore the thrilling Arenal Hanging Bridges on this popular excursion. The trail system, located inside a rainforest reserve, features suspension bridges that take you high above the treetops before treating you to a once-in-a-lifetime view of Arenal Volcano. Venturing along these spectacular...
An adrenaline rush | Photo taken by seng K
Monteverde
Treetopia: Tram, Zip Lines & Hanging Bridges
4.8
(21)
5 hours
·
Small group
Venture into the cloud forest for an outdoor adventure that involves hiking, zip lining, and more. Start by boarding the open-air Sky Tram gondola at Treetopia Park Monteverde, an aerial amusement park set in the cloud forest. Take in the surrounding scenery as you ride up to the starting point...
Zip Line Tour
Arenal/La Fortuna
Sky Tram, Sky Trek & Sky Walk
4.8
(26)
5 hours
·
Small group
Begin the day with a scenic ride up a mountain in an open-air gondola. When you reach the top observation platform, you'll take in panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including Arenal Volcano. Next, you'll enjoy an adrenaline-pumping zipline ride from tree to tree and canyon to canyon...
Be prepared to get wet
Arenal/La Fortuna
Canyoning in the Lost Canyon
4.9
(11)
4 hours
·
Small group
Go waterfall rappelling, also known as canyoning, in the jungle. This activity is one of the most popular adventure sports in Costa Rica. In a canyon in the heart of the rainforest, your guide will provide brief safety instructions and outfit you with a harness. You'll then rappel down the side...
Surf lessons at Tamarindo
Tamarindo
Surf Lessons at Tamarindo Beach
5.0
(8)
2 hours
·
Private
Learn to catch a wave in Tamarindo, one of Costa Rica's prime surfing spots. Enjoy a private two-hour surf lesson at Playa Tamarindo and learn the basics of surfing outside of a large group setting. With the supervision of experienced guides, surfing at Tamarindo is safe and fun! At the end of...
Explore the dense jungle of the Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Guided Hike
4.7
(35)
4 hours
·
Small group
Explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the jewels in Costa Rica's ecological crown, on this guided hiking excursion. Known as the "green lung of Costa Rica" due to its rich biodiversity, this 26,000-acre (3,500-hectare) reserve is high in the country's mountainous northwest region....
The alluring, wildlife waterways of Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero
Boat Excursion in Tortuguero National Park
4.9
(10)
3 hours
·
Small group
Embark on a unique boat adventure through the waterways of Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica's Caribbean coastline gem, accompanied by a professional naturalist guide. Choose between a morning or afternoon/evening tour to witness diverse wildlife, such as howler monkeys, northern jacana...
Arenal/La Fortuna
Safari Float on the Peñas Blancas River
4.7
(26)
4 hours
·
Small group
Float slowly down the wildlife-rich Peñas Blancas River and experience the tranquility of the rainforest on a family-friendly boating excursion. This rafting trip is a golden opportunity to observe many species of wildlife, such as monkeys, sloths, iguanas, turtles, and alligators, as well as...
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Nature Hike
4.6
(74)
4 hours
·
Small group
Discover the natural beauty of the world-famous Manuel Antonio National Park on a hike with an expert guide. While trekking the two-mile (3.2-km) trail, keep your eyes open for monkeys, sloths, birds, reptiles, and butterflies in the wild. The path through the lush rainforest leads you to the...
Hike to dreamlike waterfalls
Arenal/La Fortuna
Río Celeste & Tenorio Volcano National Park Guided Rainforest Hike
4.9
(7)
7 hours
·
Small group
Venture into Tenorio Volcano National Park for a refreshing hike along the Río Celeste, one of the most stunning natural attractions in Costa Rica. As the legend goes, after God finished painting the sky, he washed his brushes in this river, resulting in its famous electric-blue waters. There's...
Baby sloth
Arenal/La Fortuna
Sloth & Bird Hike
4.9
(7)
2 hours
·
Small group
Embark on a two-hour hiking excursion along the "sloth trail" with a bilingual guide. Discover the tropical forest while spotting sloths, birds, and reptiles in their natural habitat.
A hot spring near Arenal
Arenal/La Fortuna
Arenal Volcano Hike & Tabacon Hot Springs & Meal
4.8
(8)
7 hours
·
Small group
Enjoy a day of hiking and relaxation on this popular excursion to the Arenal Volcano 1968 Park and the Tabacon Hot Springs. You'll begin with a guided hike around the base of the famed Arenal Volcano, keeping your eyes open for exotic birds and monkeys and taking in magnificent views of the...
The center nurses three-toed sloths back to health
Arenal/La Fortuna
Proyecto Asis Wildlife Rehabilitation Center - Volunteer Experience
4.8
(6)
6 hours
·
Small group
Visit Proyecto Asis, a wildlife rehabilitation and rescue center. A naturalist guide will lead you on a tour, introducing you to the resident animals and sharing their stories. You'll likely see anteaters, monkeys, snakes, parrots, sloths, and more. (Because the center's goal is to release as...
Hiking trail in Arenal National Park
Arenal/La Fortuna
Arenal Volcano & 1968 Reserve Guided Hike
4.6
(17)
3.5 hours
·
Small group
Embark on a guided adventure through Arenal Volcano 1968 Park, where you'll find the Arenal Volcano. As you navigate the path around the volcano's base, your expert guide will point out exotic birds, monkeys, and other creatures. You'll continue your hike through segments of the park that the...
The colorful yet lethal poison dart frog
Arenal/La Fortuna
Ecocentro Danaus Nighttime Rainforest Walk
5.0
(4)
3 hours
·
Small group
Experience the rainforest after dark on this unique guided excursion to Ecocentro Danaus, a private ecological reserve near La Fortuna. As the sun goes down, you'll venture into the jungle, exploring this haven for plants, insects, reptiles, and other nocturnal animals. Highlights your guide will...
The sea turtle, a magnificent and regal creature
Isla del Caño
Snorkeling or Scuba Diving at Isla del Caño
5.0
(4)
7 hours
·
Small group
Board a 30-foot Island Hopper for a scuba diving excursion in the Caño Island Biological Reserve. Dive into the waters surrounding Isla del Caño and explore the abundant marine life, including reef sharks, sea turtles, and various fish species.  
You might spot a sloth on the trail
Arenal/La Fortuna
Sloth Observation - Day or Night Walk
4.5
(25)
3 hours
·
Small group
See sloths in their natural habitat on this family-friendly excursion! During this two-hour tour in a private nature reserve just outside La Fortuna, you'll not only have the opportunity to view these slow-moving creatures hanging out in the trees, but you'll also learn all about the sloth's...
An exhilarating zip line ride takes you through the forest canopy
Monteverde
100% Aventura Adventure Park Zip Line
4.7
(8)
3 hours
·
Small group
Experience an exhilarating zip line adventure in the country where this thrilling activity was born! Your journey begins with an ascent, guiding you high above the jungle canopy via a network of trails and suspension bridges. Once securely fastened to a zip line cable, you'll zoom down several...
View of the La Fortuna Waterfall
Arenal/La Fortuna
La Fortuna Waterfall Guided Hike
4.8
(5)
2.5 hours
·
Small group
Located in the tropical rainforest, the towering La Fortuna Waterfall is an attraction you don't want to miss. Get up close with the cascades on this guided excursion that leads you down an outdoor staircase with various viewpoints and rest areas along the way. Your guide will point out rock...
Gulf of Papagayo
Nighttime Pacific Green Turtle Nesting Experience
4.8
(5)
4 hours
·
Small group
Witness hundreds of green sea turtles coming onshore to lay their eggs. First, you'll register at the ranger station before waiting for the turtles to come onshore. Once they do, you'll observe as they dig a hole in the sand and lay between 65 to 90 eggs before covering the nest with sand to...
Monteverde
Coffee, Chocolate and Sugar Cane Experience
4.4
(39)
2.5 hours
·
Small group
Visit a Costa Rican farm in the Monteverde area to learn about the process behind coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane cultivation. The tour begins with an introduction to the history of coffee in Costa Rica, including its cultural and economic importance. See how coffee cherries are harvested,...
Arenal/La Fortuna
Arenal Volcano Hike & La Fortuna Waterfall
4.6
(8)
5 hours
·
Small group
First, you'll head towards the base of the volcano to hike Arenal 1968. This is a network of trails named after Arenal's last major eruption. The event was so catastrophic it transformed some of the region’s topography, and lava fields now dominate one side of the volcano. The trails wind through...
Monteverde
Half-day Birdwatching Tour in Curi-Cancha Reserve
5.0
(3)
4 hours
·
Private
Bird-watching enthusiasts won't want to miss this early-morning excursion to Curi-Cancha Reserve, located near the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Beginning on the grounds of a private farm, the guided tour leads you along nature trails through various wildlife habitats. Your private guide will point...
Arenal/La Fortuna
Stand-Up Paddle Boarding on Lake Arenal
5.0
(3)
5.5 hours
·
Small group
After a boat takes you to the center of Lake Arenal, you'll enjoy a 2.5-hour SUP session, complete with stunning views of Arenal Volcano, mountain vistas, and an island teeming with waterbirds.
Manuel Antonio
Kids Saving the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary
5.0
(3)
2 hours
·
Small group
Tour Kids Saving the Rainforest, a non-profit organization based in Quepos. The sanctuary rescues over 100 animals each year with the primary goal of rehabilitating them to be released back into the wild. On an educational walk through the wildlife center, you'll learn invaluable lessons about...
Traditional Costa Rican cuisine
Manuel Antonio
Local Flavors Cooking Class
5.0
(3)
3.5 hours
·
Small group
Learn how to prepare a traditional Costa Rican meal on this gourmet excursion! After a stop at the local farmers’ market in Quepos, where you'll browse the stands and choose ingredients, you'll travel with your guide to a private ranch in the village of Londres. Source additional produce from the...
Crocodiles are common sites on the Tárcoles River
Tárcoles
Tárcoles River Crocodile Safari
4.8
(4)
5.5 hours
·
Small group
Once you arrive at the mouth of the Tárcoles River, get ready for a 1.5-hour boat ride through the wetlands around the river, where you'll spot different kinds of wildlife, including the largest American Crocodile population in Central America.
Coffee beans ready for the harvest.
Monteverde
Coffee Experience and Nighttime Nature Walk
4.4
(16)
3 hours
·
Small group
Experience Costa Rican coffee culture and wildlife observation on a single excursion. The tour starts with a stroll through a local coffee plantation near Monteverde, where you'll have the opportunity to identify and learn about the coffee plant first-hand. Your guide will walk you through every...
The elusive resplendent quetzal
Arenal/La Fortuna
Birdwatching in Arenal Mundo Aventura Park
4.8
(4)
4 hours
·
Small group
Get an "early bird" start for this popular bird-watching excursion to Arenal Mundo Aventura Park. There's a good reason for the early wake-up time: the park is home to a stunning variety of birdlife, and most species are at their most active in the morning. Follow a naturalist guide through the...

Best Experiences in Costa Rica

Rio Celeste Waterfall
Map of Best Waterfall Hikes in Costa Rica
Best Waterfall Hikes in Costa Rica

With ample mountains and rainforests, Costa Rica’s fortunate topography is a breeding ground for rivers and streams that turn into rushing waterfalls. Climbing these picturesque cascades will reward you with stunning views from the top and refreshing pools below. (In other words, pack a swimsuit and towel.) Here’s a list of the country’s best waterfall hikes ranging in difficulty for young and old alike.

Ziplining in Monteverde
Map of Monteverde Zip Lining—Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Best Option for You
Monteverde Zip Lining—Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Best Option for You

As the birthplace of modern zip lining, Costa Rica's Monteverde region is the prime location to zip through the jungle. With four main zip lining companies to recommend, you'll find adventure parks suitable for any traveler, including beginners, families with children, adventure-seekers, and nature lovers.

Costa Rica's beautiful scenery
Top Nature Experiences in Costa Rica

With 28 national parks, nearly 800 miles of coastline, over 300 beaches, and more than half of its land covered in forests, Costa Rica's nature excursions are its biggest draw. Spend your time trekking through rainforests, hiking along hardened lava flows, finding blue-hued waterfalls deep in the jungle, boating along rivers, snorkeling above reefs, spotting wildlife, and kayaking or canoeing in national parks.

Best Hot Springs in Costa Rica
Map of Best Hot Springs in Costa Rica
Best Hot Springs in Costa Rica

As a result of Costa Rica’s volcanoes and their geothermal activity, the country has a plethora of natural hot springs. These healing pools are a relaxing place to soak after a day’s worth of adventure activities, but not all of Costa Rica’s volcanoes hold the same praise. We’ve put together a list of the best hot springs near Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja, and lesser-known Miravalles.

Beaches of Puerto Viejo
Ultimate Guide to Puerto Viejo Beaches

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a beautiful stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Costa Rica and near the border with Panama. You'll find gentle beaches protected by vibrant coral reefs—perfect for snorkeling and swimming—next to some of the best waves in the region, attracting surfers from around the world. Whether you want an adventure or a relaxing getaway, read on for the best beaches in Puerto Viejo.

6 Family-Friendly Activities in San José
6 Family-Friendly Activities in San José

Costa Rica abounds with wildlife and outdoor activities, setting the scene for an ideal family vacation. But you don't need to head straight to the beach—travelers flying into urban San José will find plenty to do with kids upon arrival. Interactive museums, local markets, and more are a great way to spend a day in the city.

Leatherback turtle
The Best Turtle Nesting & Hatching Experiences in Costa Rica

One of the most popular experiences in Costa Rica is observing the mighty sea turtles. For thousands of years, several turtle species have used Costa Rican beaches to safely lay their eggs, with each turtle laying roughly 60 to 100 eggs at a time. About two months later, baby turtles wriggle out of the sand and make their way to the surf. Two of the best places to observe nesting and hatching are Guanacaste and Tortuguero, and kimkim provides details on which tours to choose.

Costa Rica's surf spots draw surfers from around the world
Map of Best Water Activities in Costa Rica
Best Water Activities in Costa Rica

Costa Rica certainly lives up to its name (literally 'Rich Coast'), blessed as it is with miles of beaches on both its Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The country has long recognized the value of preserving its stunning environmental assets, making this relatively diminutive nation a leader in conservation. As one of the happy consequences, Costa Rica's rivers, lakes, and seas provide abundant opportunity for endless outdoor adventures.

Wildlife of Arenal
Top Wildlife Experiences in Arenal/La Fortuna

Packed with dense rainforests, national parks, nature preserves, rivers, and rehabilitation centers, Arenal/La Fortuna is an excellent choice for wildlife experiences in Costa Rica. Take advantage of the forests with wildlife hikes and birding excursions—some by day and some by night—plus visit butterfly gardens and wildlife refuges and learn more about local conservation efforts. Enjoy animals on the water, too, with boat and kayaking experiences.

Ready to hit the waves?
Best Adventure Activities in Costa Rica

More than a quarter of Costa Rica’s total area is made up of national parks and protected rainforests making it a popular travel destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Below, we’ve put together a list of adventure activities to consider when visiting the nation of “pura vida” (pure life).

San José from above
Top Cultural Experiences in Costa Rica

From vibrant cities to humble artisanal villages, protected jungles to stretches of farmland, and sweet chocolate to rich rum, Costa Rica is a country full of cultural experiences. You can enjoy cooking classes to discover traditional recipes; learn how farmers grow and process important exports like coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane; visit hamlets known for artisan crafts; or tour museums and beloved neighborhoods in the heart of San José.

Monteverde Cloud Forest
Best Things to Do in Monteverde

Monteverde's cloud forests are certainly the area's highlights, and many visitors are surprised to discover there's more than one. Plus, you can experience these misty jungle and wildlife hubs in many different ways. Besides hiking through the forests, opt to visit the unique ecosystems via Latin America's longest zipline, on horseback, or with nighttime wildlife excursions. Monteverde is also a birding paradise and home to coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane farms.

Nicoya Peninsula
Best Things to Do on the Nicoya Peninsula

Known for world-class surfing, the Nicoya Peninsula is home to some of the best stretches of coastline for catching waves. But if you're not a surfer, you can still enjoy these idyllic beaches with horseback riding, relaxation, or stand-up paddleboarding. Then take your adventures inland to kayak through the mangroves, explore the jungles, and visit Costa Rica's famed Macaw Recovery Network, which is responsible for releasing over 200 of the colorful birds back into the wild.

Colorful wildlife of Costa Rica
Top Wildlife Experiences in Costa Rica

As a world leader in eco-tourism and wildlife conservation, Costa Rica is known for its abundance of wildlife. With half of the country covered in forests, an intricate network of waterways, and nearly endless coastline, wildlife spotting alone draws travelers to Costa Rica. You can spot beloved sloths, monkeys, and frogs in the rainforest, watch turtles nest on the beaches, go birding in national parks, explore the jungles by night, and visit wildlife rehabilitation centers.

Gulf of Papagayo
Best Things to Do in the Gulf of Papagayo

Enjoy the incredible scenery of Costa Rica's Gulf of Papagayo, a large stretch of coastline offering some of the best beaches in the country. Set along the Guanacaste region, you can enjoy water sports, including sailing, paddling, and snorkeling, or watch the famous Pacific green turtles nest on the beach at night. Explore natural parks with adventures like hiking, horseback riding, and soaking in hot springs, or view some of Costa Rica's most beloved wildlife, such as monkeys and sloths.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Best Things to Do in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Set your sights on Costa Rica's southern Caribbean coast, where you'll find coral reefs, white-sand beaches, rainforests, and agricultural lands. From active excursions to cultural experiences, you can snorkel in the sea, hike through jungles, spot wildlife, trek to waterfalls, explore the history of cacao, and learn how to surf at one of the world's most legendary wave breaks, all in one compact area.

The beauty of Arenal
Best Things to Do in Arenal/La Fortuna

Explore La Fortuna, a small town in Costa Rica's Arenal area, set at the base of the country's most popular volcano. Its surrounding region offers some of the best hiking, zip-lining, canyoneering, and wildlife spotting in the country. You can hike atop lava fields and through rainforests, discover electric-blue waterfalls, and spot critters like sloths and monkeys. Get your adrenaline pumping with white-water rafting or walking the Arenal Hanging Bridges. Then, dive into the area's culture with a visit to an organic coffee farm or soak in a hot spring.

Sunset on Tamarindo Bay
Best Things to Do in Tamarindo

Set in Guanacaste Province, Tamarindo is a dreamy coastal escape with long white-sand beaches known worldwide for surfing. It's idyllic for relaxing and offers several adventures, including snorkeling or diving in the nearby Catalina Islands, boating through the famed Tamarindo Estuary, and exploring dense wetlands teeming with wildlife. To make your visit a bit more cultural, try visiting a traditional hacienda and learn the secrets behind the region's rum-making techniques.

The natural beauty of the Osa Peninsula
Best Things to Do on the Osa Peninsula

Home to one of the largest rainforests in Central America (widely protected by Corcovado National Park), the Osa Peninsula is the wildlife and hiking jewel of Costa Rica. Dubbed "the most biologically dense place on Earth," you can see much of the country's famed wildlife by hiking through the jungle and watching whales and dolphins in Drake Bay. Then, take your adventures to the next level by surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving at Cape Matapalo and Isla del Caño Biological Reserve.

Beautiful beaches of Tortuguero
Best Things to Do in Tortuguero

Tortuguero sits on the northeast coast of Costa Rica on a rainforest-covered sandbar. This unique environment combines two of the country's biggest draws: powdery beaches and lush jungles. Tortuguero is also home to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, making it an ideal place to watch turtles nest and hatch. Explore the area's rich history and biodiversity with kayaking, boating, and hiking, all of which offer opportunities to see Tortuguero's famed wildlife.

Manuel Antonio
Top Active Experiences in Manuel Antonio

Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio region packs a lot of activity into one small area. It's a dream location for active travelers and adventure seekers, as you can combine coastal water sports with land-based excursions. Enjoy surfing at Playa Scull, scuba diving, kayaking, and snorkeling, all in one place. Then, take your adventures inland for activities like whitewater rafting, nature hikes, and horseback riding through the rainforests.

Hiking in the Rainforest
Top Active Experiences in Costa Rica

Sporty travelers, adventure seekers, and outdoor enthusiasts will find endless active experiences in Costa Rica, a country filled with rainforests, beaches, coral reefs, volcanoes, national parks, waterfalls, rivers, and more—all waiting to be discovered. In Costa Rica, you can rappel into canyons, raft through whitewater rapids, mountain bike near active volcanoes, hike through national parks, surf at world-renowned beaches, snorkel above reefs, zipline through the rainforest, and more!

Manuel Antonio
Best Things to Do in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio attracts visitors across the globe for several reasons: pristine beaches, a rainforest that stretches down the coast, and an abundance of wildlife. With the scenic Manuel Antonio National Park as the backdrop, you can visit wildlife sanctuaries, discover organic spice farms, enjoy trekking excursions, take boats on rivers and through estuaries, plus kayak and snorkel in the ocean. End your stay with a sunset catamaran cruise or a surf lesson at one of the best surf spots in Costa Rica!

Hiking in Costa Rica
Top Family Experiences in Costa Rica

Costa Rica offers adventures suitable for all ages, making it an excellent choice for a family vacation. Kids and adults alike love spotting wildlife, ziplining through cloud forests, learning how to surf, touring organic farms, and much more. The unique experiences you can enjoy in Costa Rica—a country leading the world in eco-tourism and wildlife conservation—will leave a lasting impression on the entire family for years to come.

Manuel Antonio
Top Nature Experiences in Manuel Antonio

It's no surprise that many nature enthusiasts make their way to Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio region. Located on the central coast, you get a little bit of everything here: white-sand ocean beaches, lush rainforests, mangrove estuaries, islands, nature parks, waterfalls, and more. Discover Manuel Antonio's nature with hiking, boat tours, snorkeling, wildlife safaris, and more.

Arenal/La Fortuna
Top Active Experiences in Arenal/La Fortuna

Thanks to its array of recreational opportunities, outdoor enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and those who prefer active vacations all make their way to Costa Rica's Arenal/La Fortuna region. Enjoy lively excursions with unique twists, such as trekking to aquamarine lagoons, rappelling down waterfalls, hiking along hanging bridges suspended in the air, or standup paddleboarding, biking, and horseback riding at the base of a volcano.