Costa Rica is renowned for its take-it-easy vibe, but thrill-seekers will find exhilaration in the Extreme Activities in Costa Rica. From whitewater rafting and zip-lining through cloud forests to waterfall rappelling and cave spelunking, this diminutive Central American country boasts some of the most unique and challenging outdoor adventures in the world.
Navigating river rapids surrounded by towering gorges and lush rainforests is a wonderfully scenic way to see Costa Rica’s nature in all its splendor. Each river has a set of rapids which cater to different skill levels. For example, Class I, II, and III rapids are calm and tranquil and require only gentle paddling, whereas Class IV and V rapids require lots of skill and physical strength and can be challenging even for experts.
Balsa River near La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano caters to beginners with incredible lush greenery, exotic birds and animals dotted along the riverbank. A qualified guide ensures you’re equipped for the challenge as you navigate 10 kilometers of foaming, rolling rapids!
Another ideal place for beginners is Corobici River in Guanacaste Province. Nestled close to the Puma Rescue Centre and surrounded by wildlife including over 300 species of tropical birdlife, it’s the perfect starting point for adventure and wildlife seekers.
Savegre River has excellent intermediate Class III and IV rapids – ideal for high-level adrenaline seekers. These clear waters close to Manuel Antonio National Park offer unique challenges with between 14 and 27 kilometers of whitewater rapids, taking up to 4 hours to complete the journey from start to finish.
Pacuare River meanders through virgin tropical rain-forest and canyons of eastern Costa Rica boasting Class II, III, and demanding Class IV rapids. The river provides whitewater enthusiasts with 2 whole days of rafting adventures. The rain-forest setting is perfect if you wish to stay overnight in Eco-lodges and immerse yourself in the natural, unspoiled beauty of Costa Rica. Pacuare River is one of the most scenic in the world, so if you’re experienced and serious about the sport, this is the place to be. With rapids names like Pinball, Terciopelo Snake, and the Double Drop, you can only imagine the daring escapades you can have here. For the ultimate convenience, join a tour and get ready for an adventure!
Almost any age group can enjoy a ziplining adventure in Costa Rica. It’s not a strenuous sport and throughout the experience you’re attached to a strong cable and secured into a harness.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
One of the most attractive places to try ziplining for the first time is in Monteverde Cloud Forest. This magnificent forest is home to over 50% of flora and fauna in the entire country and as you soar through the skies you can catch a glimpse of it all. Early morning is the ideal time to partake in this pastime when the forest is free of tourists and sounds of Howler monkeys and birdlife echoes through the trees. The zip line stretches across 1.9 miles, taking you on a breathtaking birds-eye journey of this verdant tropical paradise.
At the foot of a simmering volcano surrounded by rainforests and colorful plant life, this is a popular destination for zip line enthusiasts. Taking an aerial tram to an elevated platform above the canopy, you gain spectacular vistas of the scenery even before you begin your escapade.
Diamante Eco-Adventure Park, Guanacaste
Diamante’s Superman Zipline in Guanacaste uses state-of-the-art carbon lines, so you always feel secure and safe as you glide through treetops towards the deep blue waters of the ocean. In addition to your zipline adventure, you can also visit wildlife in the eco-park and learn about cacao, sugarcane, and coffee production in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica offers some of Central America’s most fascinating caving experiences. These subterranean wonderlands boast labyrinth networks each with their own unique formations that have existed for thousands of years.
Barra Honda National Park
If you are a newcomer to caving or ‘spelunking’ as it’s also known, you can enjoy a guided session with a professional at Santa Ana Cave in unspoiled Barra Honda National Park on Nicoya Peninsula. Alongside your guide, you will navigate your way through one or more of the parks 42 ancient limestone caverns (including a bat cave with over 5,000 bats) decorated with natural stalactite and stalagmite formations. The caves have been sites of incredible archaeological finds throughout the years including a selection of Pre-Columbian artifacts which were discovered in 30-meter-deep Nicoa Cavern.
Bungee is not for the faint of heart. It’s a nerve-wracking, spine-tingling experience not suitable for everyone. Under the instruction of a certified guide, and following a safety briefing, you climb to a high bridge or platform. There you are attached to a secure bungee cord with everything thoroughly checked to prepare you for your leap of faith. When you’re ready, simply walk off the platform and free-fall, soaring quickly towards the valley below. When the cord is fully stretched you begin to slow and start to bounce back towards the platform again – a process which continues until the tension has gone and you come to a complete stop.
Monteverde Extremo Bungee
If you’ve already tried ziplining through Monteverde Cloud Forest and loved it, why not take the next step on the adrenaline pyramid! This verdant cloud forest has the highest bungee jump in Central America, however, there are a few restrictions. You must be over 18 and weigh between 50 and 113 kilos in weight, and if you’re over 50, you will need to provide a medical certificate to show you’re fit and healthy. A certified guide will talk you through the jump prior to your leap of faith and help you conquer any last-minute fears before you plummet on your bungee cord towards the lush valley below, before bouncing back up and guided back to the platform. This is an addictive, once-in-lifetime experience set in one of the most stunning locations on the planet, so when in Costa Rica…why not?
A unique way to see the natural beauty of Costa Rica from a different perspective is via rappelling. This extreme sport is a cross between abseiling and mountaineering, which involves attaching to a secured rope above and tying another rope around your body. When you’re secure, descend down the waterfall or cliffside observing magnificent views and birdlife as you go.
The rainforests and lake at the base of Arenal Volcano host myriad extreme sports activities including fabulous waterfall rappelling experiences. One tour in particular involves hiking through dense tropical rainforest and rappelling down a towering waterfall cliff edge as a cooling mist from the cascades refreshes you. Afterward you can enjoy a thrilling zipline adventure, so in effect you’re getting a 3-for-1 experience in a single location!
One of the most popular year-round activities in Costa Rica is scuba diving. Costa Rica’s natural wonders are not just situated above ground. Beneath crystal clear waters, colorful fish, subterranean wonders, and hidden caves are waiting to be discovered. The majority of dive schools in Costa Rica are dotted along the west coast, although you will also find several along the Caribbean shores near Limon and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
This national marine park located 342 miles off the Costa Rican west coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island is uninhabited and only accessible via liveaboards on dedicated dive trips. Waters are deep; therefore the dive is only suitable for seasoned experts, but if you make the trip you’re guaranteed to see hammerheads and silky sharks, plus the location is a main cleaning station for manta rays.
Known as the mini Coco Islands, this protected park lies just off the Osa Peninsula. There are several dive sites with exceptional visibility up to 25 meters and divers of all skill levels can expect to see coral reefs, wrecks, tropical fish, whale sharks, turtles, and dolphins.
The island off the Caribbean coast has great diving from February to April each year when conditions are calm, and you can obtain great visibility below water. In several Caribbean dive locations, you can explore sunken shipwrecks, turtles, sharks, rays, parrotfish, and angelfish and marvel at vibrant species of coral.