Arriving at Pacuare Lodge (Pacuare Lodge)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 02 July

9 action-packed Costa Rica adventures you'll want to book now

Costa Rica squeezes an abundance of amazing wildlife, scenery and outdoor activities into its compact borders. Here’s how you can experience it all

1: Trek through hidden Costa Rica

Rio Celeste waterfall (Dreamstime)

Rio Celeste waterfall (Dreamstime)

Combine high-adrenaline activities with real local insight on this epic trek into the green heart of Costa Rica. There are plenty of opportunities to surf, raft and rappel, as well as experience intimate homestays where locals will share their knowledge of the jungle and all that it provides.

Along the way, you’ll trek through rainforest to a remote jungle homestay; spot wildlife and rare medicinal plants; and bunk down behind a massive waterfall in a hidden cave.

You’ll make sugar cane candy, visit local schools, and swim in the river that flows past your homestay. Upon reaching Uvita, you’ll have the option to surf, snorkel and ride horses. Alternatively, you can simply tuck into a delicious feast of seafood, freshly plucked from the ocean.

Trip: Trek Hidden Costa Rica

Who: G Adventures

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 12 days

How much: From £1,020 (exc. flights)

2: Costa Rica Dive Experience

Underwater in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

Underwater in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

With seven dives in seven days, taking you to some of the most spectacular underwater sites in Central America, this is a great-value scuba adventure.

As well as dives at Catalina Island and in the Gulf of Papagayo on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, you will have plenty of time to explore the beaches here and visit Irazú Volcano, the largest in Costa Rica. 

You’ll also have the opportunity to extend your Costa Rican dive adventure with a trip to Cano Island and Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica’s remote southwest.

Trip: Costa Rica Dive Experience

Who: Dive Worldwide

When: Flexible departures Nov-Apr

How long: 9 days

How much: From £2,045 (inc. flights)

3: Costa Rica coast-to-coast

Central Highlands in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

Central Highlands in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

What better way to experience all that Costa Rica has to offer than by traversing the country from coast to coast? Following a selection of handpicked walking trails, you’ll experience lush rainforests, smouldering volcanoes, tropical savannah, steamy hot springs and bubbling mud pools.

Each trail will reveal another facet of this beguiling country, introducing you to its wildlife and spectacular scenery. Most lead to waterfalls, where mineral-rich pools will soothe your weary muscles after all that walking.

Trip: Costa Rica Coast to Coast

Who: Exodus

When: Departures Jul & Aug

How long: 13 days

How much: From £2,349 (exc. flights)

4: Experience Costa Rica’s most sustainable adventure

Eco lodge in Puerto Viejo (Dreamstime)

Eco lodge in Puerto Viejo (Dreamstime)

Created by the Costa Rican Tourist Board and recognised by the World Tourism Organisation, the Certificate of Sustainable Tourism (CST) is a seal of approval given to tour operators and lodges that promote a positive impact on the environment, culture and society in Costa Rica. Participating properties and service providers are awarded one to five green leaves.

This tour is the first in Costa Rica that only uses operators and lodges that have been awarded the maximum five leaves. You can be certain that you are ‘giving back’ to the country, and having the least impact possible as you explore each of Costa Rica’s different eco systems. 

You will experience it all: from the jungle wilds of the Central Valley and the spectacular Arenal Volcano, to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the rainforests of Manuel Antonio National Park, and the forest-fringed beaches of the Osa Peninsula.  

Trip: Costa Rica Sustainable Wildlife Tour

Who: Rainbow Tours

When: Flexible dates throughout the year

How long: 13 days

How much: From £3,740 (inc. flights)

5: Costa Rica under your own steam

Crossing a jungle bridge in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

Crossing a jungle bridge in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

Get up-close and personal with Costa Rica on this adventurous traverse of the country. You’ll bike, walk, raft and kayak through spectacular natural wilderness, past farmlands and foothills, over the peaks of the Central Highlands, until you reach your final destination: Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.

Make no mistake: this is a challenging adventure. The trails are often slippery and poorly defined, and involve several river crossings, but the rewards are immense. You’ll encounter indigenous settlements deep in the cloud forest, and glimpse rare wildlife and birdlife in pristine tropical rainforest. 

You will also experience the thrill of rafting the class 2-5 rapids of the Pacuare River, one of the world’s classic white-water experiences.

Trip: Costa Rica Traverse

Who: World Expeditions

When: Departures Jan-May & Sep-Dec

How long: 12 days

How much: From £1.995 (exc. flights)

6: Walk with the wildlife

Squirrel monkey in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

Squirrel monkey in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

With its incredible diversity of flora and fauna, Costa Rica is arguably the world’s premier wildlife destination. It boasts over 615 species per 10,000 sq km – the highest density on the planet – and this tour is designed to introduce you to as many as possible.

Whether you’re climbing the slopes of Arenal Volcano, traversing Corcovado National Park by boat, or trekking through the rainforest to reach spectacular waterfalls and beaches, you’ll encounter abundant birdlife and unique wildlife such as coatis, sloths and tapirs. It's enthralling, exhilarating stuff.

Trip: Costa Rica Walks and Wildlife

Who: KE Adventure Travel

When: Departures Feb-Apr & Nov-Dec

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,155 (exc. flights)

7: Costa Rican adrenaline adventure

Sunset at Playa Dominical (Dreamstime)

Sunset at Playa Dominical (Dreamstime)

Push yourself to new limits with this adrenaline-fuelled exploration of the country’s famous rainforests, rivers and oceans. 

You'll kayak your way through Tortuguero National Park, conquer the white water rapids of the Pacuare River, and hike and snorkel in Cahuita National Park. Throw yourself into all that Costa Rica has to offer, and you’ll be rewarded with views, thrills and encounters that you'll never forget.

Trip: Adventurous Costa Rica

Who: TravelLocal

When: Flexible dates throughout the year

How long: 16 days

How much: £1,710 (exc. flights)

8: Explore, hike... then relax

Relaxing on a beach in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

Relaxing on a beach in Costa Rica (Dreamstime)

This tour hits the ground running with an adventure through the jungle waterways and mangrove forests of Tortuguero National Park, before decamping to the Monteverde Cloud Forest with its rich bird and animal life. Then test your head for heights by walking along the hanging bridges in the shadow of Arenal Volcano.

Thankfully, this tour is all about balance, combining outdoor adventures with relaxation on the beach. Don't like sitting still for too long? Your beach resort is close to a coastal national park – perfect for one more adventure...

Trip: Explore and Relax in Costa Rica: Volcanoes to the Beach

Who: Journey Latin America

When: Flexible dates throughout the year

How long: 12 days

How much: From £3,495

9: Short, sharp and action-packed

Sea turtle in Tortuguero National Park (Dreamstime)

Sea turtle in Tortuguero National Park (Dreamstime)

Pint-sized but packed with wildlife and adventure, Costa Rica’s Tortuguero National Park is the perfect place to experience the best of the country in a short time. Accessible only by boat or small plane, it’s far from the maddening crowds too.

After arriving by boat, you’ll spend three days exploring the canals, beaches and jungles of this pristine nature reserve in search of turtles, birds, caiman and the famous ‘Jesus Lizard’.

From your secluded lodge, you’ll enjoy guided jungle walks in search of monkeys ­– spider, howler, and white-faced Capuchin – and sloths, as well as an optional nocturnal animal-spotting boat trip in the evening. 

Short but sweet, this wildlife tour is perfect for time-poor travellers.

Trip: Tortuguero National Park Tour

Who: G Adventures

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 4 days

How much: From £309 (exc. flights)