Six bucket-list activities to try in Costa Rica

Known the world over as a place of unparalleled natural beauty, Costa Rica beckons visitors year-round with its lush rainforests, exotic wildlife and award-winning beaches. Lately, it’s also been climbing the ranks as a thrill-seeker’s dream destination with a line-up of action-packed activities sure to appeal to your inner Bear Grylls. Here’s a list of what’s in store.

Ziplining through the cloud forest

Ziplining is an extreme sport at the best of times but imagine hanging upside down from a harness 2,000 feet over Monteverde’s expansive cloud forest, and you’re in for a pretty adrenaline-inducing experience. Not only will you get to enjoy jaw-dropping views of this incredible area of natural beauty as you whizz through its network of sky-high cables, you’ll also have the chance to live out your daredevil fantasy as you reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. Be sure to find a reputable company who will put your safety first, then all that’s left for you to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

White water rafting

For hair-raising thrills, nothing gets the blood pumping like a white water rafting experience. Costa Rica boasts some of the best rapids around, whether you’re charging downriver past the lush rainforests of Sarapiqui or navigating the more well-known waterways of the Pacuare River. Water levels differ depending on the time of year you’re visiting, and the rapid classifications vary from the super easy class 1 to class 4+ for experts but no matter your paddling prowess, adventure is always guaranteed. Grab a paddle, don your life vest and drift downriver while your guide signals for your next manoeuvre. With any luck, they’ll pause to point out some of the wild inhabitants you pass along the way.


With 1,290 kilometres of rugged coastline and a laid-back surf culture that wouldn’t feel out-of-place in a Beach Boys song, it’s little surprise that Costa Rica has fast become a verified surfing hotspot, synonymous with beach dwellers on the hunt for the best waves. There are plenty of places to get in on the action, whatever your level of expertise. For novices, idyllic Playa Tamarindo serves up plenty of beginner-friendly white water – perfect for honing your technique. For those after something a little more challenging, Manuel Antonio is known for its high-octane swells and with its award-winning beaches and nature reserve, there are plenty of places to catch your breath when you’ve had your fill of wave-chasing.

Helicopter ride

Little is as impressive as seeing a place from the dizzy heights of a helicopter, and when it comes to scenery worth taking in from a once-in-a-lifetime perspective, Costa Rica is a prime candidate. Lush jungle? Tick. Breathtaking coastline? Yes. Towering volcanoes? You’ve got it. Simply buckle up and let your expert guide glide you through tropical skies as you drink in your incredible surroundings. If the thrill of a chopper isn’t enough of an adrenaline rush in itself, getting the chance to see this magical landscape from a Toucan’s-eye view will have you feeling like you’re on cloud nine, even when you touch back down on dry land.

Nature hiking

For those wishing to keep their feet firmly on the ground, a waterfall hike is a great way to add a sense of adventure to your Costa Rica getaway, without getting too ‘stunt double’ about the whole thing. There are plenty of waterfalls and nature reserves that are well worth the trek, from the breathtaking La Fortuna waterfall in volcanic Arenal, flanked by bubbling hot springs and verdant rainforest, to the thundering Rio Celeste waterfall in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.The best thing about a waterfall hike? The one-of-a-kind wildlife you’re likely to see on the way to the summit, from vibrant poison dart frogs to keel-billed toucans and if you’re lucky, ever-smiling sloths curled up under a shady branch.

Horse riding

To really make the most of your evergreen surrounds, a horse riding experience is a great way to spend a few action-packed hours. Although a little lower-octane than some of the other activities on the list, it’s just as worthy of a place on your bucket list. For one thing, you can cover more ground on horseback than you can on foot (more scenery for the taking, yes please) and you’re able to go at your own pace to take in as much (or as little) as you’d like. One of the best places to saddle up is on the Caribbean coast in idyllic Playa Negra. You’ll traverse across glittering beaches, tropical rainforests and waterfalls along easy-to-follow trails, spying a patchwork of exceptionally beautiful flora and fauna as you go.