Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforest, fantastic outdoor adventure and abundant wildlife. With over 25% of its land protected, Costa Rica is one of the best destinations in the world for nature, outdoor adventure, wellness and wildlife watching!
Some of the top attractions in Costa Rica are Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio National Park, La Paz Waterfalls, Papagayo Peninsula, Tamarindo beach, Rio Celeste, Monteverde Cloud Forest and Corcovado National Park. Top things to do in Costa Rica are hiking, waterfalls, surfing, ziplining and relaxing.
If you plan to visit Costa Rica and are wondering what to do in Costa Rica, here is our list of 50 best things to do in Costa Rica.
What to Do in Costa Rica
For more Costa Rica fun, subscribe to our Youtube channel! Also, if you want to do any of these activities, get our exclusive Costa Rica tours discounts in La Fortuna, San Jose, Guanacaste, Manuel Antonio and more!
Ziplining is a MUST DO in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is world famous for its long cables and spectacular views. Don’t miss a chance to fly over the rainforest!
The best places for ziplining in Costa Rica are Monteverde, La Fortuna and Guanacaste. However, there are many ziplines throughout the country. You can find beginner and family friendly ziplining tours to adrenaline ziplines with extra superman cables and tarzan swings!
You can read about some of our favorite ziplining tours in Costa Rica: Vista Los Sueños (Jaco), Hacienda Baru in Dominical, 100% Aventura and Sky Adventures in Monteverde, SkyTrek in La Fortuna, Selvatura Park in Monteverde and Diamante Eco Adventure Park in Guanacaste. (We have discounts for Diamante and Vista Los Suenos which you can get in the link).
Ziplining tours cost from $35 to $80 USD per person.
Tip: In Costa Rica, we call ziplining tours “canopy tours” so if you see the word “canopy”, that is the same as ziplining.
2. Sunset Sailing Cruise
If you’re planning a beach vacation, you must book a sailing cruise! Sunset cruises are one of the best things to do for families, friends and couples in Costa Rica because you sail underneath a beautiful sky while watching the sun go down. Eat, snorkel, swim, relax and enjoy the fresh ocean air.
Similarly, you can opt for a morning cruise which offers better snorkeling. This is an excellent half day trip in Costa Rica to see the stunning tropical coastlines.
Recommended Catamaran Sailing Tours
You can find sunset sailing cruises in nearly all tourist beach towns on the Pacific coast such as Playas del Coco, Flamingo, Potrero, Tamarindo, Samara and Manuel Antonio. We did a catamaran cruise in Manuel Antonio and a sunset sail with Kayak Jaco out of Playa Herradura (near Jaco).
Sunset sailing cruises run from around $70-95 USD per person and usually include snorkel equipment, fruit, water, drinks and snacks or lunch.
3. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Thanks to having both Pacific and Caribbean seas, Costa Rica has good snorkeling and scuba diving. Therefore, if you love the ocean, snorkeling or scuba diving is definitely a must do in Costa Rica!
We recommend to take a snorkeling tour because most snorkeling off the beaches aren’t that good in Costa Rica. The sunset sailing cruises mentioned above offers opportunities to snorkel.
For scuba diving, the best dive sites are Bat Islands, Las Catalina Islands, Cocos Island, Gulf of Papagayo, Tortuga Islands ship wrecks, Cahuita National Park, and Caño Island.
A PADI certified 2 tank dive costs roughly $115 USD and the best towns to stay at for scuba diving are Drake Bay, Flamingo, Playas del Coco, Uvita, Playa Ocotal, Manuel Antonio, Cahuita and Tamarindo. You actually don’t need to be certified to try scuba diving as there are “Discovery dives” which are dives specifically for those who don’t have their certification.
4. Private Boating Tour in Gulf of Papagayo
The Gulf of Papagayo up in the north Pacific coast of Costa Rica is in our opinion, one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica. Made made up of many small bays, the Papagayo Gulf has a myriad of boat access only white sand beaches and amazing snorkeling spots. So the best way to experience the Gulf of Papagayo to the fullest is a private boat tour.
It’s one of our favorite things to do in Costa Rica and always on the itinerary whenever we have friends or family visiting!
One of our friends has a boating company in Playas del Coco and we love going boating with him since he knows the best snorkel spots and hidden beaches. Check our link to read more about it and request a boat tour!
5. ATV Tour
Add some adrenaline to your vacation on an ATV tour! Drive through forests and jungle to reach beautiful viewpoints. It’s even more fun in the rainy season when you can get a bit muddy!
You can find fun ATV tours in many places like La Fortuna, Tamarindo, Monteverde, La Cruz, Flamingo, Samara, Herradura, Jaco, Santa Teresa, Uvita and Manuel Antonio.
Many ATV tours go up mountains to beautiful view points or waterfalls.
People from all over the world come to Costa Rica just to surf as it has some of the best waves in Latin America.
Some of the best surf spots in Costa Rica are Pavones, Jaco, Santa Teresa, Playa Hermosa (Jaco), Playa Cocles, Dominical, Playa Matapalo (Osa Peninsula), Nosara, Playa Avellanas, Playa Tamarindo and Playa Grande. However, this is just a small sampling of the great surfing beaches here.
Likewise, if you really want to learn to surf, sign up for a surf camp! For lessons, a 2 hour group surf lesson costs around $55 USD per person. You can also rent a board for around $20 USD a day.
Canyoning (rappelling down waterfalls) is an incredible adventure activity in Costa Rica. It’s one of my personal favorite things to do in Costa Rica since it’s a heart pumping adventure in the middle of a beautiful rainforest. So exhilarating!
One of our favorite canyoning tours in Costa Rica is in La Fortuna. The first waterfall they take you to is nearly 200 feet tall!
Want to go canyoning? Get 7% off the Arenal canyoning tour here!
Additionally, other great places for canyoning is the Gravity Falls with Desafio in La Fortuna, Explonatura in Turrialba and Finca Modelo in Monteverde.
8. Try a Copo or a Churchill
A copo is a sweet Costa Rican beach treat that you must try. It’s shaved ice with kola syrup, powdered milk and condensed milk. Some versions called the churchill are more intense with ice cream and fruit added on top! You can find copos in nearly all beach towns and cities. Look for a man or woman pushing a cart that says “COPO” on it!
Also, the town of Puntarenas is famous for churchills so the best place to get one is there. You can’t get a more local dessert than that and it’s a yummy way to beat the heat!
9. Partake in the Fiestas Civicas (Local Parties)
Costa Ricans sure do love to party and you can join the fun in the fiestas civicas, or the local parties. In these parties, they have rides, games, food, music, dancing and bull riding. For those who want to experience local culture, this is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica.
These fiestas are held all year long throughout the country and you will see signs for them in town. The most common months are December, July, February and March. If you’re in the Brasilito/Tamarindo area, the fiestas are usually mid March. December has epic ones for Christmas parties in a district called Zapote in San Jose. Other popular festivities are the Palmares Fiestas and Puntarenas Carnaval.
One of the highlights of the parties is the bull riding, a long standing Costa Rican tradition. Costa Rica does not partake in bull fights so instead, they ride bulls and then once the rider is bucked off, they let the bull run around the ring and chase people for entertainment. Once the bull is bored chasing people, they do not kill it. They put him back in the corral and bring in the next rider.
So if you feel daring, for just $10-15 USD per person, you can hop into the stadium with other daring locals and get chased around by a bull!
10. Cruise Through the Gulf of Nicoya to Tortuga Island
The Gulf of Nicoya is home to several beautiful islands and you can take a day trip to Isla Tortuga, which has a stunning white sand beach. The day trip cruises 1.5 hours through the Gulf of Nicoya for spectacular views. Then you’ll get to enjoy the island for 5 hours and then cruise back at sunset.
The Tortuga Island cruise is an excellent day excursion from San Jose, Puntarenas and Jaco. If you want to do this tour, we have a $10 USD discount. Check our post on the Tortuga Island day tour here to get it!
11. Take a Cooking Class
Delight your taste buds and learn about Costa Rican food and traditional cooking methods on a Costa Rica cooking class. We did a La Fortuna cooking class and farm to food tour that was incredibly interesting and enlightening as we learned all about the “farm to table” concept.
If you love food tours and are interested in learning about Costa Rican food culture, then you have to take a cooking class!
12. Walk Through the Zarcero Topiary Gardens
Zarcero is a cute little Costa Rican town, about 1 hour outside the capital city. Zarcero is famous for its beautiful topiary gardens and church.
Visitors can walk through the gardens, visit the church and try the local cheese, tortillas and hot chocolate. It’s such a cute little town for a less touristy destination to experience local culture.
13. Rincon de la Vieja Combination Adventure Tour
In the Rincon de la Vieja area, there are several adventure parks that allow visitors to experience the best of the tropical dry forest and volcano in one day.
We love the Guachipelin 1 day adventure combo tour which is a full day of ziplining, horseback riding, lunch, river tubing, hot springs and mud baths.
Other great adventure parks are Rio Perdido, Buena Vista and Vandara. For a full day of fun, relaxation and adventure, get 10% off your Vandara passes here! (30 minutes from Guanacaste Airport).
The parks are about a 1.5 hour drive from Gulf of Papagayo and Tamarindo/Conchal area and definitely worth a day trip. If you rented a car, you can purchase park passes and visit on your own. If you don’t have your own transportation, the best way to visit is by booking a tour that includes roundtrip transportation, activities and a bilingual guide. Interested in booking the Guachipelin 1 day adventure tour? Get our discount here!
14. Stand Up Paddle Board
Stand up paddle boarding is very popular in Costa Rica. It’s a ton of fun, great exercise and a fun way to enjoy the ocean. Many SUP tours will go to a beautiful secluded beach to do some snorkeling or through a bay for nice views.
I did a 2 hour SUP tour with Kayak Jaco from Playa Agujas. We stand up paddle boarded to Playa Mantas and the beautiful white sand beach Playa Blanca.
You can also SUP on rivers and lakes! You can do a SUP tour on the Baru River by Dominical or stand up paddle on Lake Arenal.
15. Llanos de Cortes Waterfall
This is one of the best waterfalls in Guanacaste, the stunning Catarata Llanos de Cortes. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Liberia, Costa Rica since it’s only 20 minutes from the city and the best way to cool off on a hot day.
You can swim, have a picnic and take lots of very nice pictures at this waterfall. It’s only a 5 minute walk down from the parking lot so it’s easily accessible for everyone. Here is our guide to visiting Catarata Llanos de Cortes.
16. Del Toro Waterfall
Catarata del Toro is a stunning 270 foot (83 meters) waterfall in an extinct volcano crater in Bajos del Toro. The Del Toro waterfall is one of the tallest waterfalls in Costa Rica and is a must see for those who love waterfalls and visiting off the beaten path destinations.
This waterfall is in the small rural town of Bajos del Toro, about 2 hours from San Jose. You can stop by on your drive from San Jose to La Fortuna but we highly recommend to stay a couple nights in Bajos del Toro if you love hiking and waterfalls. The town is a non-touristic destination with tons of excellent waterfall hikes.
For more information, check out our post on Catarata del Toro.
17. See Sea Turtles at Ostional Wildlife Refuge
Costa Rica is home to some very important sea turtle nesting beaches so if you have ever wanted to see a sea turtle in the wild, you have several opportunities in Costa Rica. Furthermore, Costa Rica has two beaches that experience mass turtle nestings, called arribada in Spanish.
One of them is open to visitors, the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. The best time to visit Ostional Wildlife Refuge is May – December as that is when the biggest sea turtle nestings occur. Visitors can only enter the refuge with reservations and a guide.
Other excellent places to see turtles are Tortuguero, Osa Peninsula, Tambor Bay, Hermosa Wildlife Refuge and Montezuma. Learn more about where and when to see turtles in Costa Rica here.
18. Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center in Puerto Viejo
If you want to learn more about the wildlife of Costa Rica, the Jaguar Rescue Center is one of the best places to do so. It is a rescue center in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca that takes in injured animals and then rehabilitates and releases them back to the wild.
They offer guided tours so visitors can learn about the work they do and learn more about the animals. The center does great work when it comes to conservation and educating the public on how to interact with wildlife.
Other excellent rescue centers and animal sanctuaries to visit are Toucan Rescue Ranch, Centro de Rescate Las Pumas, Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary and Proyecto Asis. You can take guided tours to learn more about their programs and animals.
Costa Rica is one of the best countries for fishing with healthy waters and knowledgeable locals. Sport fishing in Costa Rica is purely catch and release and you can catch fish like marlin, rooster fish and sail fish.
If you go in shore fishing and catch tuna snapper or mahi mahi, you can keep it. Many restaurants will cook the fish for you too which is nice!
Best places to go fishing in Costa Rica are Playa Flamingo, Tamarindo, Playas del Coco, Quepos, Paquera, Playa Herradura, Mal Pais, Puntarenas and Drake Bay.
20. Take a San Jose City Tour or Walk Through Downtown On Your Own
Although San Jose isn’t a huge capital city, it’s the best place to get a glimpse of the typical city life as over 1 million Costa Ricans out of of a population of 5.3 million live and work in San Jose.
Usually 1 or 2 days in San Jose is enough time to see the city and get a taste of what it’s like. There are a handful of small museums and cultural sites, and also excellent shopping. If you’re interested in learning more about San Jose, take a San Jose city tour.
If you don’t want to take a tour, we recommend to walk through Central Avenue (Avenida Central). That is the main street that goes through downtown San Jose. You can visit places like the Central Market, National Theater or the museums on your own.
For a full day of Costa Rican culture, we highly recommend a dinner show which is the next thing to do in Costa Rica on our list.
21. San Jose Dinner Show
A dinner show is an excellent way to end a day full of Costa Rican culture. There are a couple of great ones in San Jose: Mirador Tiquicia and Ram Luna.
We have visited Mirador Tiquicia which has a dinner show on Fridays and Ram Luna Restaurant which offers a buffet and dinner show on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Additionally, they both have a spectacular view of San Jose!
For a full day of Costa Rican culture, we recommend to do a San Jose city tour and then the Ram Luna or Mirador Tiquicia dinner show.
22. Kayak in Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park, or the “Amazon of Costa Rica” is a place like no other in the country, famous for turtle nestings and rainforest canals. Additionally, the national park is boat access only so it’s quite an adventure to get there!
Once in Tortuguero, you can take boat rides through the national park to see wildlife but our favorite way is to go by kayak.
Kayaking allows you to go to areas that motored boats can’t go. Furthermore, you don’t disturb the wildlife so you can get very close as you glide quietly on the water, surrounded by lush jungle with no one around. Kayaking in Tortuguero is one of our favorite things to do in Costa Rica!
Want to visit Tortuguero? Check our Tortugero National Park guide. It is on the Caribbean side so the best time of the year to visit is September and October as it is drier and it’s the peak time for turtle nestings.
23. See a Volcano
Visiting a volcano is a MUST SEE in Costa Rica! Thanks to Costa Rica’s location and its tectonic plates, there are many inactive and active volcanoes in the country. The best ones to see are Arenal, Turrialba, Irazu and Poas Volcano.
They are all active at some level and the national parks are open for visitors. Make sure you put at least one volcano on your itinerary!
24. Hike Arenal Volcano National Park
And speaking of volcanoes, one of the best ones to see is Arenal Volcano. Arenal Volcano National Park is the best volcano for those who want to see the “cone” shape. This volcano erupted back in 1968 but nowadays, visitors can hike through the remaining lava beds for beautiful views of the volcano and Lake Arenal.
This is a great national park for first timers since it’s easy to get to and the trails aren’t too tough or long. If you walk the Coladas trail, you will reach a viewpoint to see Lake Arenal and the volcano. Visiting Arenal Volcano is a must when in La Fortuna!
25. Ride a Tram Through the Rainforest
There are a few trams in Costa Rica that take you through the forest up to stunning views. For those who aren’t big hikers or can’t do a lot of strenuous movements, the tram is the best way to experience the lush tropical rainforest.
Along the way, it’s possible to see various birds, monkeys and other wildlife and it’s great to go with a guide who can point out the different plants and flowers you see.
Sky Tram at Arenal and Monteverde are excellent ones and Rainforest Adventures Park Atlantico has a wonderful tram. Veragua, a research center and adventure park on the Caribbean coast has an aerial tram too.
26. White Water Rafting Pacuare River
For a full day of fun and adventure, the Pacuare river white water rafting tour packs all that and more. Paddle through class 3 and 4 (and 4+) rapids in the canyons of Costa Rica, bathe in the cool fresh waters and experience a trip of a lifetime.
This is my favorite tour I’ve ever done in Costa Rica and there are also multi-day white water rafting trips for the more adventurous ones. You can even go white water as a way to get around Costa Rica as many companies pick up in San Jose and drop off in La Fortuna or Puerto Viejo! This is definitely one of the top adventure activities in Costa Rica.
PS. If you want to do the tour, we have a Rio Pacuare white water rafting discount!
27. Explore Mangroves
Mangroves are an incredibly important in this natural world as they support coastal and marine ecosystems. They are home to a myriad of wildlife such as birds, crocodiles, snakes, crustaceans, fish and much more. In Costa Rica, there are many mangroves that you can explore by boat or kayak.
Popular mangrove tours are Damas Island Mangrove in Manuel Antonio (boat or kayak), Rio Baru (kayak/SUP), Sierpe Mangrove (boat) and Las Baulas National Park (boat/kayak) in Tamarindo/Grande.
28. Take a Guided Walk at Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see wildlife thanks to its lush rainforest and small park size. A visit to Manuel Antonio National Park is a must do if you are visiting the Central or South Pacific Coast.
You can visit Manuel Antonio National Park on your own or book a guided tour which is the easiest option. Guided park tours include roundtrip transportation, park tickets and a bilingual guide to point out flora and fauna. (Get 7% off your Manuel Antonio National Park guided tour here).
29. See Rio Celeste Waterfall and River
One of Costa Rica’s most magical places is Rio Celeste, a sky blue river in Tenorio Volcano National Park. This bright blue river is stunning and it’s even more beautiful in person. It’s hard to believe the water is that blue but it really is!
You can hike through Tenorio Volcano National Park to see the waterfall and the union of the two rivers which creates the blue color. You’ll be in awe of this spectacular natural beauty when you see for yourself just how blue the water is!
Read our guide to visiting Rio Celeste for more information on how to best experience one of the top sights in Costa Rica. We also highly recommend to stay a night or two in Bijagua, the town that is the gateway to Rio Celeste. It’s a beautiful, small rural town that is excellent for birdwatching, nature and wildlife. Also don’t forget to visit the Rio Celeste Free Pool to swim in the sky blue river!
Rio Celeste is one of the MUST SEE places in Costa Rica!
30. Wildlife Watching Safari
One of the best things to do in Costa Rica for families is a wildlife watching safari. In Costa Rica, they offer it by motorized boat or raft.
From La Fortuna, we did an incredible safari float by raft in the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, which is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see wildlife. Floating down the river in a raft allowed us to get up close to animals without disturbing them.
There are two safari floats from La Fortuna: Penas Blancas, the most common one and the Rio Frio tour which is operated exclusively by one of our tour partners. Both are wonderful! If you’re short on time, Penas Blancas is the best choice. For a more intimate and personal experience, Rio Frio is quite special. Get a discount off both these tours here!
In Guanacaste, there is a safari float down the Corobici river which offers the same experience. You can also do river boat rides like in Palo Verde National Park, Damas Island in Manuel Antonio or at Hacienda El Viejo in Guanacaste in a motorized boat.
31. Learn about Costa Rican Coffee
Costa Rica grows some of the best coffee in the world and if you’re a coffee lover, you’ll want to take a tour of a coffee plantation to find out why it’s so darn good.
It’s an incredibly educational and enlightening experience as you learn how a cherry gets from the plant into your cup. Plus you get to sample delicious coffee at the end!
Our favorite coffee tour is Doka Coffee Estate but there are many others. Golden Bean in Turrialba, Britt in Heredia, Coopedota in San Gerardo de Dota, Espiritu Santo in Naranjo, El Cafetal in Monteverde and Finca Rosa Blanca in Heredia are all excellent.
You can even visit Hacienda Alsacia, Starbucks’s coffee plantation! Since coffee grows best in higher altitudes, the best places for coffee tours are San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia, Grecia, Heredia, Turrialba and Monteverde.
The best time to take a Costa Rica coffee tour is October – March as that is the production and harvest season. Coffee tours are a must do in Costa Rica!
32. Take a Chocolate Tour
In addition to coffee tours, a chocolate tour is an excellent cultural experience. For the past several years, Costa Rica has seen a resurgence in their chocolate production. Cacao grows very well in the tropical climate and you can take tours to see how they grow and process cacao to make chocolate.
The best places to take a chocolate tour is Puerto Viejo and La Fortuna. We did a chocolate tour with the BriBri indigenous community outside Puerto Viejo which was fascinating since cacao plays an important part in the BriBri culture. The Puerto Viejo chocolate tour is another excellent one.
We also did one with Rainforest Chocolate Tour in La Fortuna and Costa Rica Best Chocolate in Sarapiqui which was really fun and informative.
33. See the Crocodiles at the Crocodile Bridge
The Crocodile Bridge is famous for one reason which you can guess: crocodiles. As you walk across the bridge and look down, you can see up to 10 or 15 giant reptiles laying around just a little below you.
The bridge is in the town of Tarcoles, a little bit before Jaco and it’s worth stopping to see the giant crocodiles.
However, please be very careful walking on this bridge. There is now a small pedestrian path but please do not act like a stupid tourist and climb over the bridge. Do not dangle off of it, climb over it or jump off. Those crocodiles are right under the bridge for a reason!
34. Walk to the Whale’s Tail at Marino Ballena National Park
Inside Marino Ballena National Park is a section where two beaches come together. In low tide, it looks like a whale’s tail! And this part of the national park is appropriately named “Whale’s Tail” because Uvita is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see humpback whales!
Make sure you visit during low tide so you can walk to the whale’s tail.
Another nice thing about this national park is that it’s not very popular but it is very big. You will feel like you have the entire beach to yourself and the sunsets there are spectacular.
35. Try Gallo Pinto and Salsa Lizano at a Local Restaurant
Food is for us, the ultimate way to know a country’s culture. So when you are in Costa Rica, make sure to go to a soda, which is what the locals call a traditional restaurant. They’re usually a small, open air family run restaurant serving only Costa Rican food.
As for what food to eat, the most traditional breakfast is gallo pinto, which is rice and beans. This is usually paired with eggs, plantains, a tortilla and cheese. You will also see a brown sauce on the table called “Salsa Lizano.” It’s Costa Rica’s classic sauce and I recommend to put some on your pinto. Delicious!
Then if you go for lunch, you can order a casado which is a plate of rice, beans, salad, meat and usually plantains or a picadillo or some sort. You can have that for lunch or dinner.
36. Go to a Local Bar and Get an Imperial and Chifrijo
And continuing on the topic of food, if you like to drink, then you must visit a local bar. Not the tourist bars, the bar in the small village outside the touristic destinations. There you can have the ultimate Costa Rican bar experience, surrounded by local farmers enjoying a beer after a hard day’s work and singing old Spanish ballads on karaoke night.
We recommend to try a chifrijo which is a mix of rice, beans, pico de gallo and chicharrones (fried pork) with chips. This is a classic Costa Rican bar food.
You can find it on the menu at most Costa Rican bars and sodas but it may be under another name. If you don’t see it, just ask. A chifrijo and Imperial beer is just about as Costa Rican as you can get at a bar.
37. Eat Rice and Beans
If you go to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, particularly Puerto Viejo, you’ll be surprised to see that the culture, food and people are completely different thanks to the Afro-American influence on the Caribbean coast.
Instead of gallo pinto, they eat rice and beans which has coconut milk in it. Their culture is highly influenced by the nearby Caribbean islands so you’ll find plenty of jerk chicken and other yummy dishes.
Our favorite place to get rice and beans in Puerto Viejo is Soda Lidia’s Place. Get the chicken and add some hot sauce, it’s heavenly!
38. Beach Hopping
The coasts of Costa Rica are full of gorgeous beaches and you can find beaches of all characteristics: white sand, dark sand, turquoise waters, clear waters, and much more. Make sure you take a day to explore up and down the coast to see the stunning beaches in Costa Rica.
The best part is that no beach is ever so full that you can’t find a spot to lay down and if you explore a bit, you may even have a beach all to yourself. And all beaches are public by law so it’s one of the best cheap activities to do in Costa Rica.
Find out what the best beaches in Costa Rica are!
39. Enjoy the Hot Springs in Arenal
La Fortuna has some of the best hot springs in the country with the Tabacon river supplying natural hot water to the springs. Some hotels have their own private hot springs or you can go to free access part of the river where the locals go.
Tabacon, Baldi, Ecotermales and the Springs are some of the most popular hot springs in Arenal. So if you’re visiting La Fortuna, going to the hot springs is a must! You can read more about the best hot springs in Arenal in this post.
40. Go Whale Watching
Costa Rica has the longest humpback whale watching season in the world so your chances are pretty good to see these magnificent creatures. If you love whales, this is a must do activity in Costa Rica.
The best places for whale watching is down in Uvita, Drake Bay, Golfo Dulce and Gulf of Papagayo. The best months are August and September but in you have a chance to see them from July – November and January – March since both northern and southern humpback whales pass through.
We have seen humpback and pilot whales in the Gulf of Papagayo, Las Catalinas and Uvita. It was amazing!
41. Try a Cold Coconut Water (Pipa Fria)
You’ll see signs for cold coconut (pipa fria) at every beach town and you definitely want one. It’s cold coconut water and is oh so delicious on a hot day!
I love watching the vendors hack off the top with a huge machete. They are coconut experts! You can find vendors at nearly every beach and it costs around 500 colones a pipa fria. You can even upgrade your coconut and get a coco loco with rum!
42. Go Bird Watching
With over 800 species of birds living in Costa Rica, any bird lover will be in paradise. Snap photos of hummingbirds, toucans, macaws, parrots and other gorgeous tropical birds all throughout the country.
Wildlife and bird lovers have to put a bird watching tour on their “things to do in Costa Rica’ list. And if you’re a birder who wants to see the Resplendant Quetzal, January – April are best times in Monteverde, particularly the Curi Cancha Reserve. We saw several Resplendant Quetzals there in March. For a more “off the beaten path” birding destination, check out San Gerardo de Dota, San Ramon or San Vito.
For the hardcore birders, stay at one of the eco lodges built specifically for birding such as Trogon Lodge, Maquenque Lodge, Villa Lapas or Selva Verde Lodge.
43. Hang Out in the Town Square
To experience a bit of local life, head to the town square and park. Here is where you’ll see locals hanging out and relaxing in the evenings. La Fortuna is one of our favorite town squares to get an ice cream and people watch. It’s so picturesque with the church and volcano in the backdrop!
Other places we like to people watch is at Plaza de la Democracia in San Jose, the park in Playas del Coco, topiary gardens in Zarcero, the park in front of the red church in Grecia and in front of Amy’s Restaurant in Monteverde.
44. Go on a Night Walk
The jungle changes drastically when the sun goes down and the best way to experience it is to go for a guided night walk. Guides will point out creatures that are only seen in the dark such as insects, spiders, frogs, snakes and more.
We’ve done several night walks in Costa Rica. In La Fortuna, we did an exclusive night walk (get 7% off this tour). In Osa Peninsula we did a night walk at Leona station with La Leona Eco-Lodge, in Braulio Carrillo we did a night walk with Rainforest Adventures and in Monteverde we did one at Finca Santa Maria. For night walks in Manuel Antonio, our partner offers jungle night walks (get 7% off in the link).
45. Watch a Futbol Game at the National Stadium in La Sabana
Futbol is a huge passion of all Costa Ricans and there are games held in the stadium year round. Cheer for the local teams and experience one of the country’s favorite past times.
La Sabana in San Jose is their biggest stadium but they also have stadiums in Heredia, Puntarenas, Alajuela, Limon and Cartago. We watched the Panama vs Costa Rica game in La Sabana (qualifiers for World Cup) and it was really fun to see all the Ticos cheering and going crazy!
46. Try Costa Rican Local and Craft Beer
Costa Rica has a few locals beers to try, Pilsen and Imperial are the most popular. Head to the bar to have a beer and you’ll also get a great glimpse into Tico life since beer is heavily ingrained in their culture. All bars in Costa Rica offer some sort of happy hour, some places even have happy hour all day!
Costa Rican craft beer is growing immensely in Costa Rica. Now, many bars and restaurants serve craft beer! In San Jose, you can even take a beer tour with Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Co to learn more about it. Micro-breweries are popping up all throughout the country which is great for beer lovers.
47. Nauayca Waterfalls
I’ve already mentioned a few waterfalls in this post but I can’t forget the majestic Nauyaca waterfalls! These two stunning waterfalls lie deep in the rainforest up in the mountains of Dominical and it’s an incredible place to visit!
The waterfalls are on a private property owned by a local family. You can hike (4 kilometers or 2.5 miles) one way, take the local horseback riding tour or ride their 4×4 truck. Definitely a must if you’re in Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Uvita or Ojochal.
48. Hike Corcovado National Park
As one of the most biologically diverse places on earth, Corcovado National Park is an absolute must for hikers and wildlife lovers. It’s such a unique place in Costa Rica! You’ll feel like it’s a different world with the sheer amount of wildlife around. Corcovado National Park is in the Osa Peninsula, which holds around 6% of the world’s biodiversity.
You can do a one day hiking trip to the ranger stations such as La Leona, San Pedrillo and Sirena but the ultimate way to experience the national park is to do an overnight hiking trip. The most popular one is from La Leona to Sirena where it’s possible to see tapirs, pumas, anteaters and more.
You have to go with a guide to visit Corcovado National Park and purchase tickets in advance. If you want to visit Osa Peninsula, check our Osa Peninsula guide for more tips on how to visit.
49. Walk the Hanging Bridges in the Monteverde Cloud Forests
Walking the hanging bridges in Monteverde gives you a great view of the cloud forest. You can see lush green forest all around you and even some wildlife if you have a good eye. It’s an unforgettable experience and let’s be real. The bridges are one of the most instagrammable places in Costa Rica!
All these bridges are very stable and is one of the best ways to take in the forests. Many of the adventure parks have their own hanging bridges like Selvatura and Sky Trek. Additionally, there is one hanging bridge inside the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.
There are hanging bridges parks in other places in Costa Rica such as Mistico Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna, Rainmaker by Parrita and Heliconias Lodge in Bijagua.
50. Enjoy the Pura Vida Life!
Pura vida is the slogan of Costa Rica and directly translated to English it means pure life. Costa Ricans use this as a way to say anything good. Life’s good, pura vida. That guy’s my friend, he’s very pura vida.
They also say it as hi, goodbye, thank you and you’re welcome. So above all, the most important thing to do in Costa Rica is to enjoy the pura vida life.
Costa Rica is a country full of love and peace and their people know how to live and enjoy. They’ll teach you how to be grateful for what you have and you’ll take all those things with you when you go back to your home country. Hopefully your trip here will give you a new perspective on life and to appreciate what is given to you.
Need some Costa Rica travel planning tips? Check these articles out!
Best destinations in Costa Rica for 1st timers
10 mistakes to avoid traveling in Costa Rica
15 things to know before you visit Costa Rica
2 week Costa Rica itinerary for first timers
This post “50 things to do in Costa Rica” has affiliate links.
We live in Seattle and want to visit CR for the first time in Feb 2020. My husband wants to surf but my kids will want to do the ziplining and hot springs etc. Do you have a recommendations or a1 week itinerary example for the northern area from Liberia? I know my kids won’t want to drive long hours after flying so far. Thanks
Here is a list of our favorite itinerary ideas for your trip
Hey. Some great suggestions in here for sure!
We’re planning a visit (for three weeks!) in April next year. We plan to drive all over the country, see and do as much as we can.
In your opinion, bearing in mind we cross over into May (we fly back on the 6th), what way round would you do the trip? Clockwise or anti-clockwise? Does it matter?
Honestly it doesn’t matter, whatever works for you guys and which international airport you guys fly in and out of
I can’t wait to get out to Costa Rica now. I’ve had so many people say to just go do it, now I can see why.
This is a great list – thank you for sharing! Costa Rica has always been on my bucket list and I’m considering visiting last week of August 2019.
I understand its rainy season, yet very green.
Would we able to do many of the adventures you’ve listed above? Is there a particular area we should spend more time in?
I don’t mind summer rains and drizzles, as long as they are not heavy and daily and impact my ability to explore beautiful CR.
To add –
I want to zipline
Explore the rainforests
and little beach
Has June been heavier than usual rain this year? That my indicate what to expect from August. With climate change these days, weather is getting harder to gauge.
June has been heavier in rain (as well as May). Tropical weather is hard to predict especially with the climate change which is really affecting the seasons here. You can still do the activities but make sure you do all of them early in the morning as it usually starts raining by afternoon.
I would stick to the Pacific coast as that area tends to be drier than the rest of the country. If you go to the Caribbean, up in the mountains or South Pacific, those areas tend to rain more that time of year. You can read more about Costa Rica weather here.
Hi Bhatt, it’s a bit much for 10 nights but you can do Rio Celeste on your way from la Fortuna to Tamarindo and just stay one night in Jaco. You’ll only be able to stay a couple nights in each place though and keep in mind that San Jose – La Fortuna, la Fortuna – tamarindo and Tamarindo – Jaco are long drives (if your flying in travel days are included in the 10). Many activities in those areas you can do on your own unless you want to do activities like ziplining, rafting, etc. I do recommend to do one guided hike, either in La Fortuna or at Manuel Antonio.
You can read our posts on those places here:
Things to do in Manuel Antonio
Things to do in Arenal and La Fortuna
Things to do in Jaco
Things to do in San Jose
Things to do in Tamarindo
We love your post. Learned a lot about Costa Rica. We will be there in May for 10 nights. We just booked a car from your website.We are planning to go to San Jose- La Fortuna-Rio Celeste- Tamarindo-Jaco-Manuel Antonio and back to San Jose. Do you think we have enough time for all the stops? Do you recommend any tours to any of these locations or we can do it ourselves ? We are family of five with teenagers. Thank you.
hi! i love your site. i’ve gotten so much information from it. i’m heading to costa rica at the end of february for my birthday! im so excited and through my research i’ve found so many things that i’d like to do there. we will be renting a car and i think i have finally narrowed our trip down to 4 stops being, arenal, monteverde, manuel antonio, and uvitas. i would like to see a couple of waterfalls, probably la fortuna and nauyaca, hanging bridges, zipline, take a dip in the hot springs, hike, and scuba dive off cano island. now for the tricky part. i only have 7 full days! is it possible? how many days should i spend at each stop? i know that the trouble is that there are 4 stops instead of 3 which means one stop will have to be for one night only. do you think there is a way we can perhaps stop and pass through one of them? for instance when going from monteverde to san manuel. is there a way we can drive down to san manuel. spend the day at the park/beach and then drive on through to uvita? would it be safe to drive that route after sundown? many thanks for any insights you can provide.
Hi Barbara, that’s definitely way too many places for only 4 days and all the destinations are very far apart for driving (arenal – monteverde around 3.5 hours, monteverde to MA is 5, MA to Uvita is around 1.5 and Uvita back to San Jose is around 3.5-4). I would cut out a couple places, for only 7 full days we usually recommend two destinations. You could stop by MA on your way to Uvita but Monteverde to MA is already a 5 hour long drive (and to and from Monteverde is a long, windy, curvy mountainous road that can be very tiring to drive because you have to go slow and carefully) and you would want to spend at least 3-5 hours in the park to get a good experience and the park closes at 4 PM. Remember it also gets dark by 6 PM every day.
I would take out Monteverde and do something like La Fortuna days 1-2, Manuel Antonio 3-4, Uvita 5-7.
Atisha Edwards says
I really enjoyed this list. I am looking to go to Costa Rica and January for about 5 days. My friends and I are looking to stay in San Jose. Is there any activities you’d recommend that is within close proximity.
Hi! You can read in this post for things to do in San Jose: Things to do in San Jose and day trips: Day trips from San Jose
How far is Territorio de zaquates from guancaste region?
Hi, it’s about a 4 hour drive. They are currently closed right now though and don’t have any public walks schedule for 2018 so far. You can check their websites for updates
Thaks for this blog!
I am going to CR for 16days alone.
Should I rent a small car (no 4wd)? Or try to travel with bus/shuttle?
And one more quetion: i am not a big beaher, but i will lay down there, how could You manage values during swimming etc.? Can not left in the car, how is the beach theft safety?
Thanks, Ferenc from Hungary
It will depend on where you’re going in Costa Rica, you can check in this post the road conditions for popular routes and destinations: Costa Rica road conditions. If you’re going to places like San Jose, Arenal, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Samara, Coco, Tamarindo, Puerto Viejo, then you don’t need to rent a 4wd or 4×4. A sedan will do for those destinations. But if you’re going to places like Monteverde, Osa Peninsula, Uvita or up in the mountains, then a high car like an SUV will be necessary.
As for swimming at the beach, definitely don’t leave your valuables at the beach unattended. Find a place where there are a lot of people and try to bring minimal valuables as possible. You can ask people near you to keep an eye on your stuff and always swim close to your things, don’t swim off far away and always look at it every couple minutes, if it’s a popular beach with lots of people. We don’t recommend swimming and leaving your things at a beach where there is nobody because it only takes a minute for the thieves to take your stuff and unfortunately, beach theft is something to be concerned about if you are going to an empty beach.
Great Blog! How many days did you this over? We’re planning to visit in December and can’t decide if we should do 7 or 10 days
This was over several years haha but if you can, visit for 10 days. 7 days is a good amount of time to visit 2 destinations without wearing yourself out but with 10, you can either stay longer in each place to experience it more or visit another close destination.
I am going to costa rica for one week in November. It seems this may be the end of the rainy season, or not?
Hi Robert, yes it will be the transition time from rainy to dry. You can read more about it in this post:
We are looking into visiting Costa Rica in December of 2017. We have two children that will be 16 and 14. We love beach time, hiking, and would like to try deep sea fishing. Any specific recommendations? Just starting to look so we have a lot to learn.
Hi Amy, I suggest Guanacaste as it has great sport fishing and beautiful beaches. You can drive to a national park for hiking one hour away. Here are some things to do in Guanacaste for more information:
Kho lạnh says
Costa Rica is a beautiful land. I went this place last year with my boyfriend.I love cold coconut water and is oh so delicious on a hot day! I will back soon
Hello! I’m planning a trip to Costa Rica this July, I really wanted to visit Territorio de Zaguates but when I looked them up on google it says they are permanently closed. I was just wondering if you knew if this were true or not?
Hi Michelle, they stopped doing open visits and they only do I think 1 public visit a month. You need to reserve the spot, the best way to contact them is through their Facebook.
We have visited and it was a wonderful experience. Their Facebook account will give the dates of their walks,but probably not until May or June. We are also going again in June and appreciate this site for ideas. Costa Rica is amazing! Thank you!
Katie - Round The World Magazine says
Oh my god, Rincon De La Vieja, one of our favourite places in the whole world. Thanks for the overview of this wonderful country and for binging back the memories of our lone jungle hike.
Rincon is one of our favorite places too, glad you guys love it and that we could help stir up some good memories 🙂
Did mostly everything mentioned in here, pura vida! A thing that I figured is important, no matter how much repellent you use, you’lo still get some horrible mosquito bites. I find something that works just great with that, it’2 micellar water. I use it mostly to clean my face, but now I find that works better then anything else on my legs! Try it, really works
Hi Mickey, I recommend reading this post: Best places in Costa Rica for first timers to help decide which destinations to go to (I list how long it takes to get there from both airports, things to do and convenience). Costa Rica is very family friendly and there’s a lot to do everywhere but for your specific requests, I’d look into Gulf of Papagayo (families love Playas del Coco and Playa Panama) as you’re close to beaches, volcanoes and hiking and there’s great seafood of course.
Wow what an awesome post! Thank you for all this information! I am heading down for 8 nights in mid May with my husband and 3 littles – almost 2, 3 & 5 – so we’ll be limited by their activity level, yet still so much we can do and see. I have a lot of parsing through to figure that all out so we don’t drive 3 hours and end up not being able to do something. Hiking, beaches, bridges, volcanoes, jungle, and some boating are on the list, as well as lots of fresh seafood! Any suggestions on areas we should avoid because of their ages? I am hoping we can find a boating excursion that doesn’t have an age minimum, as well as maybe horseback riding. Oh and dolphins! That’s my oldests’ request 🙂
We are here in Coco Beach. A lovely town with over 65 restaurants! At least 3 grocery stores, and most palces have free wifi. We are here for 8 weeks, and have been here one. Coconutz is a favorite Gringo hangout with NFL games and specials every night. The best is Wednesday nights- 9.00 pp gets you all you can eat salad, spaghetti and pizza plus a new current movie. Last week was The Accountant and this week is Masterminds. We love Thursdays with a live band. Other good restaurants are the Z lounge and on the beach Bamboo. They also have live music on Sundays. It is only 40 minutes from Liberia airport and a lovely town. We were able to find sim cards at a local shop and are set for Pure Vida!
Great to hear you’re enjoying yourself, have a lovely time!
Hi Debby, public transportation from San Jose is pretty great actually since they have the main bus stations in the city and you can get to pretty much anywhere in Costa Rica from San Jose. You can read our tips for taking the bus here: Public transportation in Costa Rica . As for where to stay, a hostel is great for solo travelers and you can find a bunch in both San Jose and Manuel Antonio. I heard the pura vida hostel in Manuel Antonio is pretty awesome as well as Vista Serena.
Love your story!
I will be in CR end of Jan for 10 days and looking into spending time a few days in Manuel Antonio and wondering about using public transportation from San Jose and recommendations on where to stay? Solo female traveler.
Hi SOnu, February is a great time to visit! It’s middle of dry season so it’s very nice and sunny. You can read more about best times to visit Costa RIca in this post: Best time to visit Costa Rica
All of these activities are spread our throughout the country, so depending on where you’re visiting you can plan activities around that.
Sonu reddy says
Hey! So, is February good time to visit Costa Rica? And yes, are all these places you mentioned in the article in a same place or different places in and around? If yes, how far are they?
We are coming to Costa Rica in January and flying into Liberia and staying at the Riu Guantecaste. Is there a tour agent right at the hotel I can contact to set up excursions with . Also are there shuttles from airport to hotels or do have to arrange them in advance? Can’t wait to get there,
Hi Karen, you can book everything through the Riu: tours, shuttles, transportation, etc. 🙂
Hi Stuart, the path from the entrance to the volcano is really easy, it’s a nice concrete trail actually and not very steep. The entrance fee is $10 for foreigners. You can read more about the national park in this post:Poas Volcano National Park
Thanks for reading!
Hi Yeison and Sammi,
Thanks for your blog and the periodic emails. They help us round-out our trip which is coming up at the end of February next year. I hope you can answer my questions.
1. I’d love to see the volcano at Poaz National Park but I cannot do any steep climbing. What is the path like from the visitor’s center/cafeteria to the observation platform?
2. Is there a fee to enter the Park? Do you know how much it is?
Love this! It’s definitely helping me plan my CR trip and getting me so excited! How long did you stay there and which airport did you fly into?
I haven’t looked into things in great detail but some of the things I’m thinking of doing are: Arenal, Tamarindo, Rincon de la Viejo, Monteverde cloud forest, Guanacasta, Rio Pacuare, Manuel Antonio national park. How many days do you think would be suffice?
Thanks in advance!!!
Hi Aeri, I’d give it at least two weeks if you want to spend more than 2 days in each place.
“Pura Vida” me trajo muchos recuerdos de haber estado en algunos de esos lugares!!!!! Realmente las fotos son bellìsimas!!!!!
Raquel Arias Moya says
Also Las Eolicas de Santa Ana in Escazú has one of the most beutiful views I would recomend you that place for a picnic and watch the windmills there
Hi Janine, it depends on what you want for your vacation. June is the shoulder month (transition period) from dry to rainy season, so depending on where you are in the country, it could rain a lot for your trip. However, if you go to areas like Guanacaste, the rainy season is shorter and usually arrives later, so there’s a good chance you won’t run into rain in June in that area. We personally love the shoulder months like June (I don’t know why they told you it’s not a great month to go!) because there are way less tourists, prices start going down for hotels and everything starts turning green again. You can read our post 6 reasons why we love rainy season here: Why visit Costa Rica in rainy season and to prepare yourself for rainy season we have a packing list here: Rainy season packing list Costa Rica
However, if you don’t want any chance of running into rain and want a completely sunny vacation, then you might consider going a couple months earlier like March or April, where it is still the peak of dry season. It is pretty hot but you won’t have to worry about rain.
Also remember that the Caribbean side gets rain almost all year long, except October which is their drier month.
So it all depends on what kind of vacation you want. Hope this helps.
Hi guys! I want to go here on honeymoon in june but been advised it’s not a great month to go. Anyone been in June and disagree? Xx thanks xx
Hi Veronica, you can read our post about tips for renting a car in Costa Rica here: hCosta Rica car rental tips We also have an exclusive 10% and more discount for car rentals you can check out here: hCosta Rica car rental discount
It depends on where you are going for what kind of car you need since there are some places in CR that you need a 4X4. We have recommendations in the tips for renting a car post.
Hi, I’m so glad I found your site! We will be heading to C.R. in a couple weeks. I’m wondering about car rentals? Do you have any recommendations for best places to rent them and what type of car for getting around?
Nice list for my next visit to Costa Rica. I have never been there yet and this would be a great list to try and try to get done at least 1/3 if it.
Thanks Marc! Definitely try to do as much of the list, Costa Rica has a ton of fun stuff to do!
Hello! Awesome list! I’m interested in the Guachipelin combo tour. What website can I purchase/make reservations. Thank you!
Hi Priscilla! If you are in the Papagayo/Tamarindo area and need transportation, feel free to email Randall from Shaman Tours, a tour company operating in that area. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org and he can set you up for the Guachipelin tour!
What a great site! I have lived in Costa Rica since June 2013 (Cobano, Puntarenas, and Heredia) and I have done many of the things you have done, but how well documented so many of these are! How did you film the arial views, with a kite or hover drone?! SUCH A COOL VIDEO AND PICS!
Thanks Joe! We have a Phantom 3 DJI drone with 4k camera we use for aerial shots. Our first drone used a GoPro which was good for video but pictures weren’t so great so we upgraded to the 3 which has a way better camera quality.
I will be going for 3 to 4 days, whats you’re recommendations.
Well depends of where you are going and what you like to do but if you go the north pacific area I highly recommend you to do the Guachipelin combo tour and visit some beaches
I am planning a trip to CR for December. Planing on staying in San Jose for a couple days then heading to Jaco. I read something about a Rastafarian Beach…. are you familiar with this place?
I am planning a trip to CR for December. Plaaning on staying in San Jose for a couple days then heading to Jaco. I read something about a Rastafarian Beach…. are you familiar with this place?
Hi Carl, no I haven’t. I actually have never heard of a Rastafarian beach here…you could ask around to the locals, they will probably know
Betty & Jim S says
Dear Sammi @ Jeison, we have been following your blog for about 3 months, & have been absorbing as much as we can.We are spending February/16 in Coco & love all your helpful information.
Will you be in CR at that time?Would love to meet you!
Thanks so much for a wonderful read every week!
Hi guys!! Hmm honestly we don’t know where we’ll be at that time but we’re leaving Coco for good in a couple of months. Hope you guys have a great time here though and glad to hear you enjoy the blog 🙂
Isn’t it fun? Those birds are so pretty! You can read about the whale watching season in Costa Rica here: Humpback whales Costa Rica
Tricia @ The Adventure List says
Photographing hummingbirds was an addiction of mine while I was on Roatan island in Honduras last month. So many. So beautiful. When is whale watching season in Costa Rica?
Hi there! Visiting Costa Rica in about 2 weeks and I’m looking into the Selvetura Adventure Park for the ziplining tour! I was just wondering if one was able to do a self tour of the hanging bridges or if it was necessary to go through one of the parks in order to experience them? Your website has been so helpful in planning our trip! And also looking forward to using Adobe rentals for our car!
Hi Alessia! Selvatura Park is super fun, you don’t have to have a guide with you for the hanging bridges, you can walk the ones in Selvatura on your own. If you want to do just do the hanging bridges, you have to pay for the entrance so for example if you go to Sky Adventures and you just want to do their hanging bridges, you’ll have to pay the entrance fee to that. At Selvatura you can pick which activities you want to do is you can do zipline + hanging bridges if you like.
Leaving for CR in 4 days. Staying in Manzanillo on the Carribean for first half and LaFortuna, Arenal second half of our trip. So many choices of things to do and see. Can’t wait to experience the wildlife and jungles. Thanks for the list.
Your trip sounds amazing! Hope you have a wonderful trip Maryanne! I am sure you will get plenty of wildlife and nature 🙂
What an awesome list! My favourite was rafting the Pacuare and eating gallo pinto everyday. I’ve always wanted to volunteer on a coffee plantation. I saw your list in perfect timing…I’m trying to make up my mind on where to move abroad in January!
Rafting the Pacuare was an amazing experience right? One of the best activities we’ve done so far in Costa Rica. So where are your top choices? We’re going to be back in January too!
It’s a tough choice. Between DE Asia and CR of course. I want to take up yoga and volunteer. I also want some beach time to relax 🙂
Cristina ✈ (@travelingjourno) says
opps! *SE* as in South East 🙂
Ohhh yea CR is definitely great for that but I know there are some really spectacular beach areas in SE Asia as well!
Great List! About the only thing I would add is “Take a flight on Nature Air.” Little planes, big windows, beautiful scenery.
Good one! Yeison has but I haven’t yet. Looks fun !
Megan Claire says
Seriously love Costa Rica – there is just so much to do!!
Yes there is!
Marysia @ My Travel Affairs says
This is a great list! But slight overwhelming, now wonder how much time I would need to do all this! Crazy! 🙂
If you were really really adventurous probably a few months! haha
Sammi! You convinced me, next stop Costa Rica:) What a great list and you have so much valuable info about Costa Rica on your site. I am book marking this one.
Thanks Tracey! Costa Rica is pretty awesome 🙂 Hope you get to experience it soon!!
Sarah Fazendin says
Wow! Great list, will be sharing with my Costa Rica-bound friends for sure!
Jen Seligmann says
This post is AWESOME! You guys really are the experts on Costa Rica and I wouldn’t even think of going anywhere else for advice on what to see and do there. Can’t wait to check it out myself someday.
Aw thanks Jen! Yeah Costa Rica is an amazing country with something for everyone, literally. Definitely ask us if you have any questions when you go!
One of my favorite things to do in Costa Rica is eat haha. But aside from that, I love going zip lining and snorkeling. Going through the jungle on the lines is always so fun! Last time I did it in Quepos.
Snorkeling is so much fun there! Ziplining too. We’ve done a good handful of ziplines in Costa Rica but each one is different!
Wow what a list! All those outdoor adventures look so great, I should definitely try more of them!
You should 🙂 let us know if you need any information have a great day !
Looks AMAZING! My niece went and said it was gorgeous. I loved all your pics and info.
Thanks deborah I am glad you like it !
Number 48 would be amazing to do in this region of the world! I’ve always wanted to do number 34 as well as an avid coffee consumer. Fabulous post. Clearly a plethroa of seemingly never ending activities to do in this amazing country!
I’m not a huge yoga fan but I know some people who are obsessed and they love doing it in Costa Rica. There are some great retreats for it.
HI Regina, Costa Rica is beautiful there are some many things to do, whenever you know let us know and we will help you to set up the perfect trip.
Thanks for commenting
Love this list! I’m heading to Costa Rica tomorrow and I certainly hope to tick more than a few of these off! 🙂
Hope you’re having fun Beth!!
I looooved my short time in Costa Rica and can’t wait to go back. I would like to try canyoning and rafting the Pacuare next time I’m there.
Canyoning was soo much fun! So was rafting. Both super exciting!
Julie (The Red Headed Traveler) says
I studied in Costa Rica (I lived in San Jose) for a semester in college and boy, I didn’t even come close to doing all the wonderful things on your list. The highlights for me were probably visiting the Arenal/La Fortuna area, la catarata there, and really just enjoying everything that makes la vida de pura vida so wonderful. I’ll leave out the cockroaches that were often visitors at my first host family’s house 🙂
Arenal is gorgeous! Love it. Haha, yeah I definitely left out “killing cockroaches every morning when I go to the bathroom” Didn’t think people would like that one lol
Chris Boothman says
I am about to start a series on our site that shows our “Top 10 Reasons for visiting xyz” but it looks like you guys have gone above and beyond with the Top 50!! This is really cool and definitely makes me want to explore Costa Rica.
This is just a teeny tiny sampling of the things you can do here, we’ll have a 50 things part 2 in the future!
Anne Lisenko says
Thank you so much for creating the amazing list of 50 things to do in Costa Rica. I can’t wait to be there already. I know that I will love the white water rafting trip as well as the zip lining. Since I’m an animal lover, I look forward to seeing the dogs on the beach and playing with them. Awesome pictures, well done!
All the best, Anne
Hi Anne, thank you for the kind words! You will definitely have a blast in Costa Rica, and this list is just the beginning of soo many more fun things to do. I hope you have a great time there!!
Wow this is such an extensive list. I can’t believe you can waterslide in the jungle! I love tropical beach destinations but I prefer to be active rather than lay on the beach. Costa Rica sounds like a perfect fit!
Watersliding in the jungle was so much fun! So different. I’m the same way, I get bored just laying on the beach, I need to be active!
Suzanne - Travelbunny says
Wow – there’s so much to do! I went through the list and ended up with around 30 that I’d love to do/experience! Page is now bookmarked 🙂
Awesome!! Glad to give you some ideas 🙂
This is such a great list! I loved Costa Rica and there is soooo much there. Have you ever been to Rio Celeste? That was one of my favorite stops when we were in the Arenal area. It’s such a beautiful country!!
I haven’t yet! It’s been on my bucket list but after we sold our car, it’s hard to get there from Coco just by bus and they had closed one of the entrances to re-do the road. When we move back, we’re definitely going there though!
Dave Cole says
How did you guys every narrow it down to 50? From your list, the sunset cruise, hanging bridges everything food-related call out to me the most. I’m now dying for a giant taco! A perfect reward after a day of exploring for sure.
It’s 50 of our favorite things we’ve done so far. There’s still tons more to do which we hope to do in the future!
Angela Travels says
Great post. I would really like to do the white water rafting. Good list to save for when I get to Costa Rica 🙂
White water rafting was amazing. You’d love it! I loved the one in Leavenworth (if you’ve done that one) but the water was too cold to jump in. The water is crazy warm in CR!
This is such a fantastic list that would be a must-read for anyone visiting Costa Rica!! I would love to see all of the natural sites, do yoga, learn about how coffee is made, eat rice and beans, and so many more!
Ryan Biddulph says
Love this list! CR is one of my fave places in the world. We did San Jose, Playa Potrero, Quepos, Monteverde, Nueva Arenal and Atenas over a 2 month stretch. We loved it.
The beautiful are so nice and the country is so clean. Cleanliness-wise, the only place I’ve seen that’s cleaner is here in Fiji…and we’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no land influences around, so they’re pretty much cheating 😉
I snapped a picture with the same monkey – or group of – in Manuel Antonio, right by the little bay, I betcha. Quepos was amazing. We fed the Capuchins and adorable Titi/squirrel monkeys from the porch of our apartment as we were in the jungle, on the fringe of Quepos, right by where you head up the hill.
We also saw Jesus Christ lizards there, 4 times, and a beautiful Ibis, and howler monkeys, and iguanas, and sloths. So much wildlife in such a small area. Amazing.
Thanks guys. This brings back awesome memories.
Tweeting through Triberr.
Manuel Antonio is so beautiful – kind of sad that it’s insanely touristic now though. One of my friends who visited 10 years ago was absolutely shocked at how touristy it’s become. Still gorgeous but it was crazy crowded when we were there.
There’s so many more places in CR that are equally as beautiful with only 10% of the people. So many amazing hidden spots! When we come back I’ll make a 50 things to do part 2 🙂
Discovered your site after visiting CR in February and have been following ever since. You guys are truly inspirational. Keep up the great work.
Hi Chris! Thanks so much for the kind words and we’re so happy you like the blog! We’ll do our best 🙂
Sammi Wanderlustin' says
Beautiful photo’s and what a great list!
Love this list! I have done 40 of the 50. The fishing and more adventurous items are the ones I have yet to experience… little kids are my excuse. Enjoyed discovering your blog!
One day when your kids are big you can do the adventurous ones with them! They’ll love it 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Lisa!
Beautiful pics and great things to do.
What I also really enjoyed was a gyrocopter ride starting near Samara, Guanacaste. Flying over the beaches, jungle and rivers in an open gyrocopter was really amazing.
You can find them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ultralight-Tours-Gyrocopter-Rides-Costa-Rica/493136747370929
Thanks for sharing your Costa Rica experiences.
Pura vida !
Enjoying the pura vida lifestyle… drinking pipa… But you know, I really agree with you when you say San Jose isn’t that bad. Funny thing is i was not even planning to go. Then I had to, for some reason. And spent a whole week there just because it was so chilled 🙂
True! It’s actually nice to go and wander around San Jose, it’s fun to see all the city Ticos just doing their thing, much different than the beach.