Costa Rica Things to do

Costa Rica has an abundance of warm weather activities and vacation things to do. Try your hand at white water rafting on our wild and scenic rivers. Or, if you prefer, try river kayaking or ocean kayaking. Whatever class of river you want to run, you’ll find it here in Costa Rica.

Warm water surfing is great in Costa Rica! Leave your wet suit at home and enjoy our tropical water, beach breaks, reef breaks, point breaks, and river mouth breaks at any one of many spots on the Pacific or Caribbean side.

Wind surfing champions have called Costa Rica’s Lake Arenal area one of the world’s top five wind surfing spots! There, you can enjoy 29 mile rides across the lake.

While deep sea fishing along the Pacific Coast from the Gulf of Papagayo to Golfito, anglers will find some of the best blue water and inshore fishing in the world. Sailfish, Marlin, roosterfish, mahi-mahi, yellow-fin tuna, grouper and wahoo are among the common game fish. And, fresh water fishing at Lake Arenal and others could net you a local rainbow bass. If you like to SCUBA dive or snorkel, Costa Rica has an incredible underwater variety of species to view. The warm, nutrient rich water is home to an abundance of fish and sea life.

Here’s Our list of “Top 10 Things to Do or See”

Costa Rica has an abundance of warm weather activities and vacation things to do. Our list of “Top 10 Things to Do or See” is a guide to the best that Costa Rica has to offer. It’s not in any order, nor does it cover anywhere near all of the country’s attractions. However, it should give you some food for thought in planning your vacation.


Arenal Volcano towers above a lovely lake by the same name, and the area has plenty of natural activities and eco-adventures. Irazú Volcano is the highest in Costa Rica and still considered active. Filled with turquoise water, Poás Volcano’s crater is over a mile across and is said to be the second-largest active volcano crater in the world.


The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, nestled in moisture-filled hanging clouds, provides a home to thousands of species of plants, animals and insects. It offers a unique opportunity to experience, up close, the beauty of nature unspoiled – the reason we all come to Costa Rica. Suggested tours: Butterfly garden tour, Don Juan Coffee Tour, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserves Costa Rica tour.


This is prime real estate. Manuel Antonio National Park has three white sandy connecting beaches and a forest filled with a variety of monkeys. Sitting at the base of a mountain on a peninsula that eagerly stretches out to greet the Pacific Ocean beyond, it boasts magnificent flora and fauna, as well as fantastic views both in and out of the park.


Bordered by the Caribbean Sea, boats are the only way to get around. Tortuguero National Park contains an incredible network of navigable canals, and you can easily find wildlife in the mangrove forests that edge them. The park’s 37 km of beaches are protected nesting grounds for the green sea turtle, and in season (July to October), you can accompany a guide to the beaches and watch turtles lay their eggs.


Most of the rainforest’s life dwells in the canopy, high above ground, and consequently, there are a large number of canopy tours offered in Costa Rica. Basically, you slide from tree platform to tree platform, safely attached in a harness, on a thick cable. It is like zipping across the forest like a high-tech Tarzan, and it is thrilling for children and adults alike.


If you’re going north, by all means keep an eye out for the quetzal, the colorful native bird that is an enduring symbol of freedom. However, we think the best chance to find the elusive quetzal is off the Inter-American Highway that connects San Isidro and Cartago. Crossing Costa Rica’s highest mountains, there are several lodges along this highway that cater to birdwatchers. Nesting season for these magnificent birds is March through May, and that’s the best time for a sighting. But it is possible, if you’re lucky, to catch a glimpse of one any time of the year.


Cahuita National Park, guarded from the treetops by vociferous howler monkeys, Cahuita National Park offers it all – camping, biking, hiking, snorkeling, and more. It contains two inviting beaches, one white and one black, and is a hot spot for nighttime dancing. Cahuita is laid back and friendly, a place to rest and rejuvenate during the day and party at night.

Travel farther south to Puerto Viejo to find yet another inviting small beach town with an even more relaxed beat.


Designed by Belgian architects and decorated by Italian artists, the 1,000-seat stone and metal structure offers performances by the world’s most famous of artists. Don’t miss seeing its fabulous gold gilt interior, and be sure to have afternoon tea in the theater’s café. The Gold Museum is found below the Plaza de la Cultura, to the rear of the National Theater. You’ll see 2,000 pre-Columbian gold artifacts.


There are now many small butterfly farm imitators, but Dr. Richard Whitten’s Jewels of the Rainforest Exhibit is impossible to imitate. Headquartered at the Hotel Chalet Tirol, his extensive collection of weird and wonderful insects, butterflies, bugs and beetles are artistically displayed and accompanied by educational videos, brochures and, if you’re lucky, the personal attention of Dr. Whitten. Another biological attraction is InBio Park, a private project to categorize Costa Rica’s diverse insect and plant life, as well as educate and entertain visitors.


A plethora of beaches await you on the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean coasts of Costa Rica, also famous for its whitewater river raft trips through the rain forest. If sand between your toes is not your style, then swim, sail, whitewater raft, kayak or windsurf on the many rivers and lakes between coasts. Or choose the ultimate way to relax – soak in hot springs then cool down beneath a waterfall.

Diana Wilson