Hiker walking across a suspension bridge in Costa Rica rainforest.

Why Adventure Lovers Should Consider a Vacation in Costa Rica

Extraordinary Landscape offers Numerous Options for Adventurous Travelers

If you’re contemplating an adventurous vacation, you may want to consider visiting Costa Rica. Adventure thrillseekers flock to the Central American country because of its national parks and protected areas, which include active volcanoes, lush rain forests, towering waterfalls and rapid-filled rivers.

In fact, Costa Rica – also a travel-agent approved honeymoon destination – offers a multitude of adventure activities, and a skilled travel agent can aid vacationers in pinpointing just where to find an ideal volcano-hiking tour, the wettest and wildest river rafting journey, or the perfect snorkeling excursion explore Costa Rica’s stunning marine wildlife.

... Costa Rica features a multitude of adrenaline-pumping options, including hikes, horseback riding, diving, surfing, mountain biking and sport-fishing excursions.

Heard often around Costa Rica, the phrase “pura vida,” which means “pure life” or “simple life,” describes the care-free lifestyle here and it also encapsulates the country’s progressive policies. The government has long emphasized respect for its natural environment and has been ranked as the top-performing country in the New Economics Foundation's “Happy Planet Index,” which measures environmental sustainability.

In addition to its environmentally-friendly reputation, Costa Rica features a multitude of adrenaline-pumping options, including hikes along suspension bridges set high amidst tall trees in a rainforest as well as horseback riding, diving, surfing, mountain biking and sport-fishing excursions.

Kayakers on Lake Arenal.
Kayaking: Plan an amazing kayaking excursion on Lake Arenal to get a jaw-dropping view of the spectacular volcano at a distance. 

Explore Arenal Volcano National Park

One place adventurous travelers should have a travel agent include as part of your Costa Rica vacation is a visit to Arenal Volcano National Park, a highlight among Costa Rica’s adventure-themed landscapes. Located in the country’s north, the protected national park features hot springs, wildlife including jaguar and tree frogs, and of course an active volcano. The volcano has two distinct sides: one with lush vegetation and wildlife, and a barren, rugged side covered in lava tracts and sandy stretches.

There are several ways for visitors to explore the park’s natural wonders. Las Coladas Trail, one of the park’s many trails for hikers, extends through Arenal’s rainforest to a cooled lava field. Sport fishing enthusiasts will find Lake Arenal’s waters teeming with rainbow bass. The lake’s reliable winds allow for year-around sport fishing excursions.

Arenal’s adventure-themed activities also include canopy tours that span the park’s tree tops via suspension bridges and zip lines. And charming nearby towns such as Tilaran, La Fortuna, Bajo del Toro, Caño Negro and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui offer horseback-riding excursions. Visitors can also opt for cycling tours along a trail between Fortuna and Monteverde, with panoramic Arenal views.

Looking for more water-based adventure? Consider a river boat tour in Frío, San Carlos, Sarapiquí or Puerto Viejo.

Manzanillo Beach in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Manzanillo Beach: Consider a trip to this beach in Puerto Viejo, where visitors can swim, surf, snorkel for hidden treasures, and you might spot wildlife like dolphins and sea turtles, too.

Adventures Above and Below

Explore the natural environments above and beneath Costa Rica. Spelunking - better known to laymen as cave exploration - is a popular adventure activity offered near Venado, which features the largest and most accessible cavern system in Costa Rica’s Northern Zone. Adventurers can explore the caverns and discover stalactite and stalagmite formations.

If scuba diving or snorkeling is more interesting to you, consider heading to the Southeast coast to visit the beautiful beaches in Cahuita and Puerto Vargas. Reef divers will have an opportunity to view elkhorn, blue staghorn, fire coral, angelfish, blue parrotfish, stingrays and more! A travel agent can help adventurous history buffs plan a diving trip to see the wreckage of a former slave ship, part of Costa Rica’s rich history.

After surveying Costa Rica’s colorful depths, adventure travelers can find a multitude of ways to survey the country’s awe-inspiring natural beauty via tree-top tours in various regions, including La Fortuna, La Virgen and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí.

In addition to its reputation for being a hot surfing destination, the Quepos-Manuel Antonio area – also a mountainous region – has several tour operators that offer four-wheel, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) excursions, canopy tours, mountain biking, kayaking and more. And remember, a savvy travel agent can customize your Costa Rica vacation to include everything, from rappelling and zip-lining to diving and spelunking excursions.

Toucan with an open bill perched on a tree in Costa Rica
Wildlife: Don't miss seeing some of the country's beautiful wildlife, including the toucan, red-eyed tree frog, three-toed sloth and the white-faced capuchin.

What You Should Know About Costa Rica Before You Go

When to Go: February through April – Costa Rica’s driest months (rain falls are heaviest between June and October). The annual average temperature is around 75 °F.

Currency: Costa Rica colon

Official language: Spanish, although English is widely spoken.

Getting around: Most visitors opt for a rental car in Costa Rica; driving around the country on you own is safe, flexible and among the most inexpensive options. Travel agents can arrange a variety of private transfers or tourist mini-bus excursions. Public buses are also an option for budget conscious travelers.

Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an adventure vacation in Costa Rica? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent to customize an itinerary you’ll love.

Hot Springs in Costa Rica
Adventure Break: Consider resting your weary bones in a hot springs like this one located near Arenal Volcano. An expert travel agent can also help you plan a relaxing stay at a luxe resort, too.