Travel Resources for a Costa Rica Adventure
Costa Rica: South America's Adventure Capital
So you want to go to Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is not only known for its beautiful biodiversity, but also as a major outdoor adventure hub. Whether you like water activities like surfing or stand up paddle boarding, or you're more into the jungle hikes and ziplining, there is an adventure waiting for you.
The Areas of Costa Rica
Costa Rica has mountains, jungles, volcanoes and beaches on both sides of the country. Within just a few hours of driving you can go from a cooler, rainy, jungle covered mountain to a very hot, dry beach.
Some of the major areas in Costa Rica are:
Located in the northwestern corner of the country, and bordering Nicaragua, Guanacaste is home to the most popular beaches and resort areas. This region has been built up over the past few years as more tourists use the LIberia airport as the entry-point for flights, compared to the busier San Jose hub. Even with the increasing tourists, this area will still give you the space and atmosphere of a jungle coastline that Costa Rica is famous for.
Known for its active volcano, the Arenal area is a great place for hiking, white water rafting and hot springs. You can catch views of the volcano from almost anywhere (provided its not covered in clouds), which makes for a magical time.
San José, Costa Rica's capital city and major hub of activity, sits at the center of the country, geographically. With a population of 1 million, the city is busy, packed and hard to navigate, but also comes with some of the country's best museums, fine restaurants and shopping areas.
Puntarenas & the Nicoya Peninsula
Just south of Guanacaste, the Nicoya Peninsula is an area of beautiful beaches and dense, humid forests. Less developed than the Guanacaste area, and harder to get to, the Peninsula creates a sheltered gulf that is great for fishing, and the area has a number of eco preserves. This is a great area for those wanting to get away from the tourist areas and take more of a off-the-beaten-path experience.
Ziplining through the jungle canopy is an essential activity when visiting Costa Rica. You feel like you're part of the jungle, seeing it from a monkey's perspective, but safely harnessed up and letting gravity do the work for you.
Even if heights aren't your cup of tea, you can enjoy a zipline experience. Some companies provide lines that are just high enough to give you a canopy view and are perfectly safe. Some other companies have ziplines that expand from one hilltop to another, letting you cruise over a valley hundreds of feet below.
Since ziplining is one of the key activities in Costa Rica, there are a large number of tour companies that provide this service, based on what area you're in. Use websites like Tripadvisor to make sure the company you choose has a good standing for customer service and safety.
Top Costa Rica Zipline Tours
Surfing and SUP Tours
Its well known that Costa Rica is big into water sports like surfing, Stand Up Paddleboarding(SUP) and snorkeling. The Pacific coast brings continual waves that are pretty much on a schedule, and provides a number of areas that range from beginner height to professional-grade waves.
Since most of the country depends on tourism as the source of income, there are hundreds of companies that are available for surf lessons and SUP tours.
If you've never been surfing before, here is the place to try it. With constantly rolling waves and instructors who live on the water, even the most unstable newbie surfer should be able to catch a wave or two.
If you're a seasoned professional on a board (or at least you tell your friends that), then cities like Taminarino are your 'place to be'. These coastal cities are filled with surfers, surf shops and restaurants with great local food.
For those who want to experience something unique on the water, but don't want the work of surfing, then a SUP tour will be for you. Stand Up Paddleboards are like surfboards, but are longer and wider and more stable. With minimal training and balance, you can stand up on the board in calm water and using a paddle, can navigate across the water, as though you're walking on it. You get to see the ocean/lake/river/coast in a way that you can't anywhere else.
In many places you can rent a SUP and take it out on the water yourself, which is a great experience, but if you want to see nature or the area from a local's perspective, then you should try a SUP tour. The guides on most tours will know the best places to catch sight of a dolphin or monkeys, while showing you areas that you can't get to on a normal boat.
Tours are normally made for beginners, so no experience necessary, and last a couple of hours, so you don't get too tired paddling.