Finding what to do in Costa Rica is not hard at all. No matter what city, town, or province you happen to find yourself in there will be something fun to do! Costa Rica takes pride in its tourism industry and the variety of wildly different choices available for travelers. But besides this, Ticos just love having fun! Any excuse is good enough for throwing a party in Costa Rica, and if you spend enough time here it won’t be long before you find yourself in one!
The first step in planning your activities is deciding on what you want to do. Sounds simple enough, but the truth is there’s a lot to choose from. Looking for some outdoors adventure? Picture yourself rappelling down a waterfall canyon, rushing through tree top zip lines, and hiking among the biggest tree trunks you have ever seen-and that’s just day one! Are you drawn to the sea? Imagine sailing on sparkling waters to Tortuga Isle, finding the perfect spot, and letting down a line for a little fishing. Or just taking your surfboard and catching some epic waves in Mal Pais. Maybe you’re more of a bookworm and you’re idea of fun is learning about Costa Rica’s culture and history on a guided museum tour. How about doing all of them? We can’t think of a reason why not!
While you are at it, feel free to indulge in some “me” time. Costa Rica offers exquisite spa treatments and massages centers that cost a fraction of what you would pay in the states. Don’t feel guilty, vacations are for relaxation and enjoyment! On a budget? No problem! Catching some sun at the beach with a good book or sitting under a tree in a beautiful park are free!
To help you discover fun activities we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite things to do in Costa Rica. These are just a few suggestions of the most popular activities that locals and visitors alike enjoy. The Tours section offers more detailed options and booking information for activities in specific locations.
Zip Lines and Canopy Tours
Canopy Tours with Zip-lines have become one of the most (if not the most) popular outdoor activity not only for tourists, but for locals as well. Canopy Tours consist of a series of stations usually built at the very top of tall trees and connected through steel cables. Visitors are strapped into a harness that allows them to rappel from one station to another. Aside from the adrenaline rush of zip-lining through tree tops it’s also a great way to experience the abundant Flora and Fauna that exists all throughout Costa Rica. There are Canopy Tours pretty much all over the country but travelers going Monteverde and Arenal will be able to find some of the biggest Canopy areas in Costa Rica. This is one activity you will not want to miss while you’re here!
Without a doubt Costa Rica’s greatest treasures are its oceans. With the Pacific on one side and the Atlantic on the other Costa Rica offers visitors hundreds of beautiful beaches to choose from and any form of aquatic activity you could think of! Surfing is particularly popular especially in areas like Playa Grande, Mal Pais, Dominical, Pavones and Playa Hermosa. Many beaches also offer Dolphin and Whale Watching Tours, Manzanillo and Manuel Antonio are good for this. Another popular activity is Sport fishing. Costa Rica’s seas are plentiful with thousands of species of fish, making it one of the best kept secrets for fishermen from around the world. Or, if you prefer scuba diving and snorkeling, try the beautiful pristine waters of the Caribbean where you’ll find hundreds of species of tropical fish. For those looking for an adrenaline boost we recommend White Water Rafting in the Reventazon and Pacuare rivers.
No trip to Costa Rica is complete without visiting at least one volcano! This small country is well known for its high amount of volcanoes, with six that are active and 61 dormant ones, it’s safe to say that you will have lots to pick from. Some of the most popular volcanoes are the Arenal, Irazu, Poas, Rincon De La Vieja, Tenorio, and Turrialba. Areas surrounding active volcanoes also have the added bonus of being home to hot springs, making them a tourist favorite. If you’re staying in San Jose you can easily visit a volcano like Poas or Irazu in a day, a good tip to keep in mind in case you have a day off in the capital.
If there is one thing you’re guaranteed to find anywhere you go during your trip it’s hiking trails. Over 30% of the country is protected land, made up of national parks, wildlife refuges, forest reserves, and more. Aside from public spaces there are also many private hiking spots that are open to visitors. With so much diversity it’s no surprise that you can have your pick of hiking terrain: rainforests, mountains, beaches and much more! Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the most popular destinations for hikers. Extending over 7,114 acres of primary rain forest and gorgeous views, it is one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country. Another popular destination is the Arenal Hanging Bridges Hike, a truly unique experience which allows visitors to trek across hanging bridges through tree tops teeming with all sorts of wildlife. Manuel Antonio National Park has been described as one of the best parks in the world despite its small size. This little park is home to over 109 species of mammals and 184 of birds, making it a perfect spot for bird watchers. Experienced hikers can climb Cerro Chirripó, Costa Rica’s highest peak at 10,000 feet. Other popular sites include, the Monte Verde Cloud Forest, Corcovado National Park, Carara Biological Reserve, Santa Rosa National Park and many more!