Top Adventurous Things to Do in Costa Rica for the Thrill Seeker

Top Adventurous Things to Do in Costa Rica for the Thrill Seeker

April 1, 2021 8 By Kerry

Are you looking for the most adventurous things to do in Costa Rica? Look no further! Costa Rica is located in Central America and is a tourist haven for nature, animal lovers, and the more adventurous traveler. Ever seen a sloth in the wild? The chances are that you will do in Costa Rica. If you’d prefer some white-knuckle adventure and extreme thrills, kayaking and white water rafting are just a few adrenaline-filled activities you can experience!

Costa Rica’s perfect tropical climate provides everything you need for a fantastic vacation. Whether you’re bordering the extreme or just looking for fun activities, read on for an extensive list of the best Costa Rica adventures in Costa Rica.

Adventurous Things to do in Costa Rica Contents

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Is Costa Rica Adventurous?

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people that is always anxious and scared of things (especially heights!). However, I also know that if I don’t do it, I’ll look back and regret it. If you’re wondering, “Is Costa Rica adventurous” then you haven’t seen what is in store for you yet! Read on and decide for yourself.

Great things never come from comfort zones.

If you want to experience one of the best places to visit in Central America then the most adventurous things to do in Costa Rica needs to be on your bucket list. It’s the unparalleled excitement we all crave that makes us do some of the craziest of things.

Don’t let me put you off; I feel like I’m about to die when I trip over (I’m tall, and tall people land hard!). However, I can say that all the adventurous activities I did felt genuinely safe. In fact, it felt much safer than many adventure experiences I’ve had in Europe, where it sometimes feels that your money is valued more than your life.

Costa Rica must do adventures

If you’ve a bit of a daredevil and want an adrenaline fix from an experience you’ll never forget, then you’ll love the list of Costa Rica must do adventures below:

  1. White water rafting
  2. Kayaking
  3. Zip Lining
  4. Canyoning
  5. Sky Diving

White Water Rafting in Costa Rica

White Water Rafting was by far my favorite adventure in Costa Rica! This beautiful country has weather and landscape to make for a fantastic white-water rafting experience. The rain from the wet season in Costa Rica swells the rivers, enabling a steady flow and perfect conditions for white water rafting all year round.

Deciding on where to go white water rafting in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has several main rivers that all cater for white water rafting, so it depends on whether you’re looking for a certain level of rapid or want to try it out as you travel the country. Most of the main ones are within the North Central Region or in relative proximity to the capital of San Jose.

Top adventurous things to do in Costa Rica - white water rafting on Penas Blancas River with two waterfalls in the background
One of the ‘tamer’ parts of the river
Peñas Blancas

Peñas Blancas provides more of a leisurely rafting experience that is more scenic and slower. This experience offers a better opportunity to spot wildlife such as monkeys, iguanas, birds, and even sloths if you’re lucky!

Balsa River

Basla river combines calm, easy-going waters and class II & III rapids. This activity will give you a thrilling experience without being too intense. Perfect for a first-timer or someone wanting to take in more of the views.

Toro River

Toro river is for the adventurous, with rafts up to class IV. The word Toro means ‘bull’ in English, so as you can expect with something known as ‘bull river,’ you will be gripping onto your paddle in this fast-paced, white-knuckled adventure.

Rio Pacuare River

Rio Pacuare is the river I rafted, one of the best rafting rivers in the world. It not only has class III and IV rapids, but it also has tremendous scenery. Water is the highest between October and December, meaning this will be the fastest (and therefore most exciting) time to raft. The views were stunning. Small waterfalls along the journey created the feeling of immersing in a jungle escape. River rafting the Rio Pacuare rapids were challenging, and there were a few moments we nearly flew out, but our perseverance and the skill of our guide helped us through the day. 

You will be given the knowledge about the type of rafting you can expect in advance. An experienced guide will be allocated and the one steering the raft and helping keep you safe. The tour will be hassle-free as they usually include all appropriate safety equipment, breakfast or lunch, and guides. You can also pay for the photos/videos they take around the route. Whitewater rafting truly is one of the best adventures in Costa Rica, give it a try!

You can find out more about the prices and different rafting options available here.

Kayaking adventures in Costa Rica

When you think of kayaking, you might think of a lazy river experience. However, when I went kayaking in Costa Rica, it rained constantly, and the rivers were much higher, faster, and more dangerous than usual. One of my kayaking trips was canceled for this reason, but two others went ahead. One thing is for sure, consider the skill/strength involved in kayaking, particularly on a challenging river. If you’re planning a kayaking trip, check out extremepedia’s post, which provides excellent advice about what to wear. 

Kayaking the Canals of Tortuguero

Tortuguero is known for its turtle beaches and conversation areas, so make sure to experience some kayaking while you’re there. It is common for people to take a tour from San Jose to Tortuguero. 

Kayaking in Tortuguero typically starts on a large wide river where you leisurely navigate to beautiful canals. Expect to see a dense green forest canopy where you can take it slow and enjoy nature and wildlife. The water flowed calmly, and aside from the obstacles of hanging trees, branches, and natural debris, this trip would suit someone with limited to no previous kayaking experience. I saw many monkeys, tree pythons, and birds on this trip. It felt like I was in a movie; the views were surreal.

Kakaying in Sarapiqui

Now, Sarapiqui provides some of the most adventurous things to do in Costa Rica. Kayaking here is challenging and requires a much greater level of experience (which I didn’t have). We received general training on how to operate the kayak before we were let loose into the river, but the current was strong and required great strength to avoid the many large rocks, trees, and rip tides thrown at us throughout the journey.

I capsized, not once, twice, but three times. Our guide even overturned and lost his kayak halfway down the river. There were moments when I genuinely hated this experience (probably when I had a face full of river water), but overall it was one of the best memories on my trip, no, in fact, my life! The scenery was stunning and immense once you got the hang of how much thrust you needed to give it to steer yourself from danger (without capsizing). If you want adventure, then you will find it here.

If you’d like to see what kayaking options are available for your trip, click here.

Ziplining in Costa Rica

There is no doubt about it; Zip lining is one of the best adventures in Costa Rica. There are many cool places to Zip Line and many different ways to experience the thrill of it. Even though I went to Costa Rica in the dry season, it still rained heavily, and many other adrenaline experiences got called off. Not ziplining, though! Providing it is not raining too heavily, ziplining is still something you can experience through more minor showers.

Jaco Rainforest Aerial Tram.

If you’re looking for a canopy tour, head to Jaco on the pacific coast. You will experience the tree tops in a train carriage with the rest of your group. This adventure gives you the experience of zip lining through the jungle but at a more leisurely pace where you can take in the sights of the area.

Ecoglide Arenal Park.

Tarzan swing

No trip to Costa Rica is complete without a visit to the adventure capital of La Fortuna. If you’re in the area, then head to Ecoglide Arenal Park. There are 12 cables, 13 platforms, and the option of a Tarzan swing, all within the rainforest of the Arenal Volcano. The Tarzan swing is fantastic, even if it will take all your courage to jump off the platform! It was a unique experience to get that ‘superman’ feeling while gliding from one tree to another in such a beautiful rainforest.

Canyoning / Canyoneering in Costa Rica

Canyoning is a Costa Rica must do adventure, but the experience is heavily weather dependent. The last thing you want is for the rocks/terrain to come loose while you’re Canyoning! For those unfamiliar with Canyoning (or canyoneering), this is where you rappel down some incredible jungle waterfalls down a canyon. This adventure is for you if you enjoy hiking or abseiling or are just willing to try something new. The journey to the canyons can be just as fun as the abseiling itself! Be prepared to be taken on a rocky 4×4 adventure through the jungle before you get to your starting destination.

Canyoneering the Lost Canyon.

This incredible canyon is located in Arenel. You can expect to abseil several waterfalls ranging from 20-220 meters within the intense rainforest. You will usually get transport and lunch included in your trip, as well as all the equipment and training you would expect. Check here for reputable companies that will create an excellent tour for you.

Top adventurous things to do in Costa Rica - a group geared up ready to go canyoning in the Arenal area
Geared up ready to go abseiling down canyons and waterfalls

Other top adventurous things to do in Costa Rica

While I didn’t attempt the following activities myself, this was more due to time than desire. If you have the time (and the money), then some of the other adventurous things to do in Costa Rica are:

Sky Diving

While I didn’t have the time (or the wallet) to experience this, if you want an unraveled, spectacular view of Costa Rica, consider sky diving. Whether it is your first time or you are an experienced skydiver, you will have everything you need to experience the thrill of free-falling in Costa Rica. The best spot for skydiving is in the Manuel Antonio area. Expect to see the city sights and the lush green foliage of the Costa Rican rain forests. I’m sure it is an experience you will never forget.


The best thing about surfing in Costa Rica is the warm water all year round. You will be able to experience surfing on most beaches across the pacific. I have admired the waves from afar and spent my time on the beaches looking for turtles…

Diving / Snorkelling

When heading to the beaches, you will find many opportunities to dive or snorkel. You might even spot sea turtles! Look here for relevant tours and trips for ocean and sea-life lovers.

ATV Tours

You will be able to find ATV tours and similar types of excursions in the most popular locations throughout Costa Rica. You can choose beach or jungle rides, depending on how adventurous you are. Get my Guide has a great tour where you can book ATV and rafting together! Check it out. 


Where can’t you hike? Hiking is something you can find everywhere. Many of the things I’ve already mentioned include an element of hiking. Still, if you want longer, more strenuous hikes, you can find them in the most popular destinations. La Fortuna and Arenal will be your best bet – take a look here to see if there is anything you fancy.

Costa Rica Travel & Tours

I did these activities while on the Costa Rica Kayaking Adventure tour from G-Adventures. If you’re interested in traveling to Costa Rica and want the stress taken out of your trip, then consider taking an organized group tour. The travel, accommodation, itinerary, and many meals are taken care of for you. Better still, you will meet other like-minded travelers that will become friends for life. Some of their other popular tours are below, but there are many more to suit all budgets and interests:

I hope you have read this and feel inspired to try the best adventures in o Costa Rica. I strongly recommend that you head to Arenal, which is known as the adventure capital of Costa Rica. You can find out all about this and other experiences in the country in my posts below: 

Whether taking an adrenaline-filled holiday full of extreme activities or taking it a little easier but still wanting adventure, you will find top adventurous things to do in Costa Rica.

Tips for your top adventurous things to do in Costa Rica

  • Book in advance – these activities book up quick, therefore book early so you don’t miss out.
  • Take a dry bag – a lot of the activities will provide these, however it rains a lot in Costa Rica and its always good to have your own for when you need it.
  • Take extra clothes – it sounds obvious but you will need to change several times a day if you’re doing these activities. Don’t find yourself short for dry, clean clothes.
  • Invest in a go-pro – while you can buy photos/videos of your adventurous activities, the costs soon rack up. Make your own memories with your own kit.

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What do you think?

Are you a seasoned adventurer, seeking out the next thrill or extreme activity? Or are you thinking of making the first steps towards some heart racing experiences? I’d love to know! Please let me know in the comments.

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