15+ Things To Do in Costa Rica: Must-Do Activities

15+ Things To Do in Costa Rica: Must-Do Activities

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If you’re looking for things to do in Costa Rica, you’ve come to the right place!

Costa Rica is well-known for it’s lush beaches, volcanoes, and spectacular wildlife!  If you’ve booked a trip to Costa Rica (or are in the process of planning one), you’re in for a real treat!

Things to do in Costa Rica

1. Volcano Adventures

Volcan Arenal

Central America is loaded with volcanos and Costa Rica is no different. April 2017 saw activity from the famous Poas Volcano which shut out visitors ever since, but it’s no reason not to explore the others in the area. Volcan Arenal, dormant since 2011, is Costa Rica’s most famous volcano site. Towering over 5,000 feet into the sky, Volcan Arenal is surrounded by lush green jungle, and the famous Arenal Lake. Hike the volcano, visit the La Fortuna waterfall, and explore the adventures in this area.

Where to stay: From upscale hotels to backpacker hostels, the La Fortuna area near the volcano has accommodations for all budgets. Most come with amazing views of the volcano.

When to go: December-May

What to pack: Hiking boots or sneakers, comfortable hiking gear, a swimsuit, sunscreen, a backpack filled with snacks and water

2. Mangrove Kayaking

Mangrove Kayaking

Mangroves are a remarkable ecosystem which has maintained and adapted to the harsh tropical conditions of the coastlines. Rooted into mud soil or sand, the plant species in mangroves survive through high tides when the trees and shrubs are fully covered by salt water.  The ecosystem is home to exotic wildlife which thrive in these environments.

Where to stay: Costa Rica has plenty of beautiful mangroves to explore, but the Osa Peninsula is by far one of the most exotic, diverse, untouched environments in the country.

When to go: September-October—though this is the height of rainy season, wildlife is exceptional during this time.

What to pack: Rain boots, a poncho, comfortable gear, a swimsuit

3. Dance with Hummingbirds

hummingbird garden

Monteverde cloud forest is definitely a highlight for a trip to Costa Rica, but make sure to check out the hummingbird garden located in the area. Here you can witness up to 14 different species of the tiny, colorful, and lively birds, which are sure to amaze.

Where to stay: A number of inns, lodges, cabins, and traditional hotels are found in the area.

When to go: December-April

What to pack: Comfortable shoes, camera, insect repellent, jacket.

4. Waterfall Rappelling

Waterfall Rappelling

Waterfall rappelling is an excellent option for adventure seekers of all ages. Secured at the waist, you’ll bounce on and off a waterfall until the final descent, where you can swim and lounge in the pool at the end.  Most adventures are paired with rock climbing and cliff jumping for an unforgettable adrenaline rush.

Where to stay: Arenal, Monteverde, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Domincal

When to go: December-April; rainy season typically gets dangerous

What to pack: Tennis shoes or closed-toe water shoes, insect repellent, easy to dry clothing

5. Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater Rafting

Raft Class I, II, III or IV, depending on your experience and preferred adventure. Some tours can be as long as two days, acting as your main transportation between two regions of Costa Rica, making for a fun adventure in the process. These tours can also be combined with canopy tours or horseback riding.

Where to stay: Rafting tours can be coordinated from San Jose, Manuel Antonio, Arenal, Sarapiqui, or Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

When to go: December-April; rainy season typically gets dangerous

What to pack: Sunscreen, swimming suit, strap-on sandals/shoes that can get wet (no flip flops), change of clothes.

6. Save the Sea Turtles

Sea Turtles

Six of seven sea turtle species are in danger of extinction, and four of those six call Costa Rica home. The leatherback sea turtle population has declined by over 90% since the 1980’s on the Pacific Coast. In hopes of reversing this trend, Costa Rica has established turtle conservation efforts along both the East and West coast of the country.  Join a program to help protect the endangered species from further damage.

Where to Stay: Homestays/ program boarding

When to go: On the Caribbean, they nest from March to July; On the Pacific, they nest from September to March.

What to pack: Swimsuit, sandals, sunscreen, bug repellent

7. Hiking

Hiking trails are located all over the country. From mild flat lands to overnight hikes, there’s something for every ability in Costa Rica. Volcano hikes, waterfall hikes, hanging bridges, mountain hikes, night tours, and of course national parks, are all hiking options.

Where to Stay: Pick your poison! There are hikes to explore in every province.

When to go: Year-round; Dry season runs December-April; Rainy season is May-November

What to pack: Tennis shoes, comfortable hiking gear, sunscreen, bug repellent, backpack with water and snacks

8. Camp on the Beach

If you’re interested in an experience camping on the beach, Costa Rica is the place for you. You can camp soundly at one of the many national parks, reserve your camp space, and even request hot meals for an additional cost. Who doesn’t want to wake up with the sea at their finger-tips? Or toes…

Where to Stay: Corcovado National Park, Barra Honda National Park, Ballena National Marine Park, Braulio Carrillo National Park, San Agustin Rain Forest Reserve, Santa Rosa National Park

When to go: No one likes a wet tent—stick to the dry season, December-April

What to pack: Tent, sleeping bag, tennis shoes, comfortable hiking gear, swimsuit sunscreen, bug repellent, water, snacks

9. Canopy Zip Line

Canopy Zip Line

Fly hundreds of feet above the tallest trees in the rain forests, dry forests, and cloud forests. Combine this adventure with waterfall rappelling, hiking, or rock climbing, or complete a full zip line canopy zig zagging you from one location to the next.

Where to Stay: Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Jaco, or Monteverde

When to go: December-May

What to pack: Tennis shoes, comfortable clothes, a sense of adventure

10. Explore the National Parks

Corcodavo National Park Costa Rica

Costa Rica has protected over 25% of the natural terrain through reserves and national parks. In total, the country has 27 national parks to choose from located all over the country. With over 615 wildlife species per 10,000 square km and 12 key ecological zones. Most parks are loaded with a variety of the adventures previously mentioned. So, pick your park(s), and book your adventure(s) for an unforgettable trip.

Where to Stay: Depending on your park choice

When to go: Year-round

What to pack: Tennis shoes, comfortable hiking gear, sunscreen, bug repellent, water, snacks

11. Take a Surf Lesson

Surf Lesson

The Pacific coast provides great surf points year-round, making Costa Rica a prime destination for surfers across the globe. The recent rise in surf camps, guides, and surf friendly accommodations makes it a perfect location for learning how to surf or advancing your skills.

Where to Stay: Manuel Antonio, Jaco, or Tamarindo

When to go: Year-round

What to pack: Swimsuit, surf gear, sunscreen

12. Study Spanish

What better way to learn Spanish than by spending time in a Latin American country? Costa Rica offers the most variety when it comes to language institutes, however most are located in the capital city of San Jose. But there are options to study on the beautiful beaches, while still being able to participate in all of the adventure Costa Rica has to offer.

Where to Stay: Home stay/ Manuel Antonio

When to go: Year-round

What to pack: Swimsuit, sunscreen, Spanish dictionary

13. Tour Territorios de Zaguates

“Land of the Strays” is a paradise for dog lovers. This “No kill” shelter houses hundreds of strays, rescuing them from dangerous situations, and providing care for the remainder of their lives, or until dogs are adopted. It’s an amazing mission every dog lover wants to be apart of.

Where to Stay: San Jose

When to go: Year-round

What to pack: Tennis shoes, old clothes you don’t mind damaging, a camera, water

14. Visit the Sloth Sanctuary

Sloth Sanctuary

Costa Rica is known for their slow-moving sloth friends, but their preference for staying high in the trees make them hard to spot. The Sloth Sanctuary protects their natural habitat and provides a “slothspital” where baby sloths and the injured are treated. You’re guaranteed to set your sights on an abundance of sloths at this location.

Where to Stay: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Limon or Cahuita, Limon

When to go: Year-round

What to pack: Tennis shoes, camera, binoculars

15. Watch the Sun Set

Sunset costa rica

Costa Rica boasts some of the most beautiful, magical sunsets in the world. Year-round the sun is completely set by 6pm, so beginning at 4:30 you can grab a great spot to enjoy the view. Hop around some well-known spots and judge the best for yourself.

Where to Stay: Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Tamarindo, Playa San Juanillo, or Santa Teresa

When to go: Year-round

What to pack: Your drink and person of choice

Have you been to this lush oasis in Central America yet?  What are some of your favorite things to do in Costa Rica?

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