In Costa Rica, it’s always summer, so any time you can get away from your busy life to enjoy some tropical relaxation is the right time to book your luxury vacation rental. The low-lying coastal regions are always hot while the mountains are breezy and cool, you can pick your climate and enjoy the beauty and adventure options that surround you. Most Costa Rica travelers choose a plan to experience both the beaches and mountains, and this is definitely our first recommendation for you.
There are so many things to do in Costa Rica that you won’t be able to do them all in one vacation! This list features our top 5 Costa Rica adventure activities–in no particular order–so that you can make sure not to miss anything really important during your stay.
Ready? Set? Go!
Costa Rica is a world-famous sportfishing destination, so we suggest you make sure you to take this chance to throw a line in! Sportfishing charters come in all sizes and price ranges. Whole-day excursions take you off-shore into deep water where big game fish like marlin and grouper hang out. Half-day trips, if a whole day on a fishing boat sounds like more than you’re ready for, are just as fun, cost a bit less, and can land you a dinner of fresh tuna or mahi-mahi.
You can fish in the Atlantic or the Pacific, depending on where your Costa Rica travels take you. Different parts of the country have better fishing at different times of the year, but you don’t need to worry about that. You have us and our expert local concierge to help you figure out where you want to be depending on when you visit us.
Costa Rica sportfishing charters include snacks or a small meal depending on the length of your fishing day, and drinks. You’ll want to be sure to wear sunscreen, bring a hat, and make sure your phone is charged so you won’t miss any photo opportunities. It wouldn’t be unusual for you to spot other types of marine life during your fishing trip: whales, dolphins, manta rays and sea turtles are friendly and curious animals that may come by boat to see what’s going on.
No trip to Costa Rica is complete without a visit to our live, active volcano. If observing hot lava and steam spew from a volcano’s cone is not on your bucket list–it should be! Arenal is one of the most-visited places in Costa Rica. The climate in Arenal is nothing short of ideal–warm sunny days, cool evenings, and plenty of year-round rainfall to keep the farmland and tropical rainforests green and lush.
There are tons of things to do in Arenal, and we aren’t going to tell you which ones are the right ones–we’re just telling you need to see this volcano. You can go horseback riding, hiking, take canopy tours, explore waterfalls, go whitewater rafting, go windsurfing or kitesurfing on the lake, visit orchid and/or butterfly gardens and tour farms in Arenal.
All of that is secondary to finding an Arenal hotel or an Arenal vacation rental with a view of the volcano. It’s true you aren’t going to be in your room looking out the window all day, but that’s alright: the best time to see the volcano’s cone is at night. The sky is a busy place in the Costa Rica’s mountains, and volcanos, by nature of blowing steam into a chilly sky, create their own cloud cover. But in the night, or in the wee hours of the morning when the air is still and convection is at a minimum, the sight of the stark black cone glowing red at the top against the starry sky is not something you will ever forget.
Costa Rica has lots of volcanos to visit, so if you can’t make it to Arenal on this trip, visit one of the other living mountains.
This is a no-brainer. Of course, you’re going to do a canopy tour while you’re in Costa Rica. A canopy tour is like going to the beach or eating gallo pinto–you can’t come to Costa Rica and not do it! A canopy tour is probably the easiest thing on this list to plan for because they are everywhere. You can hook up to a zip-line here in Tamarindo, up in the mountains, over on the Caribbean coast, just outside of San Jose–pretty much anywhere you go.
Costa Rica’s zip-line canopy tours are very safe. Before you take off through the tree-tops, you’ll receive a safety briefing in English, and have a chance to ask questions. Very young zip-line riders can enjoy the tour too, riding with a guide. If someone in your group is nervous about a canopy tour or has a physical limitation that makes it difficult to manage the ride, discuss the possibility of riding with a guide. No one who can get into a harness should miss the fun!
Even though advertisements will suggest that you might see exotic animals on a canopy tour, the truth is lots of squealing tourists zooming through the trees are not conducive to shy wildlife sightings. But iguanas are curious, lazy, and don’t mind the proximity of humans. Birds tend to do their own thing whether we’re making noise or not. And many canopy tours are part of adventure centers that have rescue facilities for animals in need, and attract curious friendly mammals like raccoons and coatis.
Tamarindo Surf Lessons
If you’re a surfer, you can skip this and move right along to the next stop on this list. We know we don’t have to tell you to surf in Costa Rica because you wouldn’t miss it. In fact, it may be hard to drag on onto dry land to experience some of the other marvels Costa Rica has to offer.
We know that surfing in Costa Rica is on your bucket list, so don’t miss the chance to take surf lessons in Tamarindo. Tamarindo is the perfect place to get started on the waves, or to work on perfecting your style. The Tamarindo Bay is a sandy beach break with only a few rock outcroppings that you can take note of at low tide. Our professional surf instructors teach children, young adults, older adults, men, women, groups, individuals…everyone. First lessons take place 100% of the time in the water where you can stand on the sandy bottom beside your board, so there’s no need to be nervous about your swimming capability. If you can duck your head underwater and you love to have fun, Tamarindo surf lessons are for you! Being able to laugh at yourself as you navigate the learning curve is another helpful skill.
Sea Turtle Watching
Costa Rica provides nesting grounds for various species of sea turtles. When you think of “wild animals,” wolves come to mind. Lions, tigers and fierce little things like badgers. Sea turtles are not anyone’s first image of a wild animal, but that is exactly what they are. They are cumbersome and vulnerable on land the way land animals are in the water, and yet they venture from their world into ours to dig nests with their fins, lay eggs, bury them, and lumber back into the water. The privilege of watching this process will be something you and your family will never forget.
A small sea turtle is about the size of the seat of the chair you’re sitting on. A large sea turtle is the size of a very small car. The excitement of turtle watching is different than the adrenaline rush of surfing or a canopy tour–this is experience of amazement that will leave you without words.
Playa Grande, on the north portion of Tamarindo Bay is historically a busy nesting ground for the endangered giant Baula (Leatherback) sea turtles. In recent years, due to development on the beaches and other factors that impact the population, fewer and fewer giant Baula turtles crawl out of the ocean to lay their eggs on Playa Grande. Depending on the season, Baula turtle watching tours may take place on Playa Grande or on other nearby beaches that the Ministry of the Environment authorizes for this activity. Baula turtle watching tours are held exclusively during the night because that is when Baula turtles emerge to lay their eggs. Special flashlights carried by trained guides allow you to observe the turtles without disturbing their instinct to lay eggs only in the dark.
Playa Ostional sees a monthly influx of Olive Ridley turtles that crawl onto the beaches by the hundreds to lay their eggs several times a year just before the new moon. This is another night tour, as turtles are shy and vulnerable to predators that love nothing more than fresh soft-shelled turtle eggs.
Playa Tortuguero is the place to go if this visit to Costa Rica takes you to the Carribean coast. Four different species of turtles lay their eggs on this vast sandy beach during the months of March through October.
Contact us right away to get your name on the list of the things you most want to do in Costa Rica!