Costa Rica has been on the radar for holiday makers for some time now. While many tourists flock to the Pacific beaches of Tamarindo and the many mountainous volcano towns in the north, there are plenty of hidden gems across the country. Costa Rica offers more than just a relaxing holiday on a pristine beach. With endless activities, extreme adventures, and plenty of natural wonders and wildlife, Costa Rica provides travellers with some of the best activities and adventures in the world. Since it is closely located near the equator, the weather in Costa Rica changes throughout the regions, however, it is generally hot and humid, and there always seems to be a chance of rain. Check out the best activities and adventures in Costa Rica, no matter the season or your mood!
When You Seek Adventure
When you are looking for the ultimate adventure, head to the small mountain town of Monteverde, also known as the home of the Cloud Forest. Literally located in the clouds, it is possible to explore the forest by day, seeing a variety of different wildlife, including birds, quetzals, wild animals, and large cats. With drawstring canopy bridges hanging high up in the air between the trees, there are plenty of incredible views in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. If you dare to do the ultimate extreme activity, head to the tallest bungee jump in the Central Americas, which is conveniently located in Monteverde. Jumping over 140 metres into the depths of the forest below, the bungee jump is not for those who have a faint heart! If that doesn’t suit your fancy, you can also try using the zip line and plunging through the trees.
If the bungee jump or zip line is too extreme, head to one of the coastlines of the country where you can spend your days scuba diving. On both the Caribbean Sea coastline and the Pacific Ocean coastline, there are incredible places to scuba dive. With sharks, turtles, octopus, eel, puffer fish, angel fish, and sting rays, among many other sea creatures, scuba diving is an incredible adventure in Costa Rica. Many of the national marine parks provide access to the best scuba diving sites, including Manuel Antonio, Manzanillo, Tortuguero, and areas in and around Tamarindo. Whether you are a seasoned scuba diver or a beginner, the dive shops in Costa Rica cater to all types of divers.
Costa Rica Surfing Locations
Surfing is one of the biggest activities in Costa Rica, and particularly on the Pacific coast, the waves are large all year round. In the sleepy town of Santa Teresa on the Pacific coast, many surfers hole up to surf year round in Costa Rica. Many of the beaches north of Santa Teresa, including Tamarindo, draw in surfers from across the world.
There are some surf spots on the Caribbean coast including Puerto Viejo and its surrounding beaches of Punta Uva and Playa Grande. However, the waves are not as big as those found on the Pacific coast. Many resorts and hotels cater to surfing holidays, and provide guests with all-inclusive packages, transportation to and from the beach, and many other amenities, ensuring you can relax and focus on your surfing during the day.
Watch this quick video showing surfing in Tamarindo.
Wildlife In Costa Rica
Costa Rica has an incredibly diverse landscape, and with that diversity comes a vast amount of wildlife, both in the sea and in the many jungles and forests. If you are looking to experience wildlife in their natural habitats, head to one of the national parks, which can be found on both coastlines.
If you are looking to see sloths in the wild, the Pacific coast national park known as Manuel Antonio, offers visitors the chance to see hundreds of sloths in the wild. TheAviarios Del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary is a great place to visit to see sloths in captivity.
There are many other wild animals here including jungle cats, snakes, spiders, birds, tucans, and countless others. It is best to go with a guide in order to stay safe.
On the Caribbean coastline, it is possible to watch giant leatherback turtles nest their eggs at nighttime during the right season. From the months of February until June, the giant leatherback turtles nest on beaches in Tortuguero, and south of Puerto Viejo on Gandoca Beach. Just before midnight, the turtles generally make their way onto the beach to dig holes and lay many eggs. It is possible to watch the turtles up close under the moonlight with a small group of people.
There are many places to snorkel and scuba dive in both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. You will see hundreds of different types of fish, eels, puffer fish, sharks, turtles, sting rays, octopus, squid, and occasionally whale sharks, depending on the season.
When You Want to Relax
As with any vacation away, you will be looking to relax on pristine beaches with stunning clear turquoise waters. Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the region, and provides visitors the chance to experience two different coastlines: the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. There are stunning beaches on both coasts, however, some regions cater more towards tourists, and others more towards locals.
If you are looking for a more authentic local experience, head to the beach town of Puerto Viejo, near the town of Limon. Many locals flock to these beaches on their days off, however, the entire coastline is very empty most of the year. Beaches south of Puerto Viejo, including Chiquita, Punta Uva, and Playa Grande, are beautiful beaches with almost white sand and no sea weed. The waters are very clear and there are minimal waves. North of Puerto Viejo, there is easy access to the roadless region of Tortuguero. Consisting of many canals and over water accommodations, Tortuguero offers a different type of relaxing holiday, away from the noise of the world. With no cars, minimal technology, and plenty of piece and quiet, it is easy to relax in this region.
On the Pacific, Tamarindo is arguably the busiest and most popular tourist beach. With clean sand, pristine waters, and epic sunsets, Tamarindo attracts many tourists. This area also has incredible snorkelling and scuba diving. There is plenty of nightlife in this small city, and tons of great restaurants and activities. If you are looking for something less busy, head to the beaches north or south of Tamarindo, which attract slightly less tourists and more locals.
When You Want to Explore
If you are looking to spend your days hiking and exploring jungles and rain forests, Costa Rica provides endless locations to experience this activity. Near the capital city of San Jose, the Poas Volcano allows visitors to hike from the base, to the top, or you can simply drive up near the top, if you decide the hike is too much. A few hours north of San Jose, many adventure seekers visit Arenal Volcano, one of the biggest volcanoes in the country. It is not possible to hike Arenal Volcano due to many dangers, however there are many incredible hikes around the forests surrounding the volcano, which provide incredible views of the vast and active volcano. Nearby, there is a large crater lake that provides experienced hikers with an intense few hours of hiking, and plenty of wildlife along the way.
Around the country, there are incredible places to zip line, rappel, kayak, canoe, surf, and do a variety of other water sports. There are many zip lines found in national parks, near volcanoes, and through jungle areas. Many of these sites offer incredible views of jungles, waterfalls, mountains, and volcanoes. It is possible to kayak and canoe around the many rivers and bodies of water across the country. For those seeking unusual views, there are many mangrove rivers that visitors can kayak and canoe down.
Costa Rica’s tourism has been growing steadily over the last few years, and the country is becoming increasingly easy to navigate around and find excellent quality accommodations. With endless outdoor activities, Costa Rica has something to offer every type of vacationer, ensuring there is never a dull moment during your holiday.