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On the water in Costa Rica

Rivers, waterfalls and wetlands make Costa Rica a fabulous destination for water sports enthusiasts. Situated between 2 oceans, the country is covered in tropical rainforest and offers adventures galore. From turbulent white water rafting to spectacular fishing on the Pacific Ocean, these activities are a must for active travellers.

There is no shortage of water in Costa Rica thanks to its tropical wet climate. A 3,821-metre-high mountain ridge with several active volcanoes divides east and west. The west coast has a clearly defined rainy season, while the Caribbean side is wet and humid all year round. Beautiful rivers carry the rain water out to sea. As a result, you will find many outdoor activities in and around the water.

Waterfall in Rio Celeste, Tenorio Volcano National Park
Waterfall in Rio Celeste, Tenorio Volcano National Park

San Jose

Rafting on the Rio Savegre

Rafting on the Rio Savegre

Rafting is the most popular water sport in Costa Rica. A ride on the roaring Savegre River is an experience in itself: this challenging river snakes through the rainforest and takes you past some beautiful waterfalls. For real diehards there are rafting trips that range in length from 14 to 27 kilometres. Some stretches go along calm water and offer plenty of time to enjoy nature, the rainforest and the sounds of the animals. And when the next rapids approach, the raft plunges into the roaring water. Don’t worry if you tip over and end up in the water: the Rio Savegre is one of the cleanest rivers in Central America. The Rio Savegre offers a range of rafting itineraries, varying from Class II for beginners to Class III and IV that will give even more experienced rafters a real shot of adrenalin. Relax and recover over a cool drink and lunch in a rainforest surrounded by monkeys and birds. Pura vida! Complete your jungle experience with an overnight stay in one of the eco hotels along the river.

Rafting is the most popular water sport in Costa Rica

Kayak tours in Tortuguero

Tortuguero lies on the east side of Costa Rica. This national park is especially famous for its huge green turtles that lay their eggs here, but it is also a fabulous destination for a kayak tour. Take a kayak to explore the vast system of channels and rivers that is inaccessible to larger boats. Get up early for a morning tour to experience the jungle waking up and hear the loud howler monkeys pierce the silence. You can rent your own kayak or take a guided tour. You are likely to encounter an array of unique animals on your kayak tour: keep an eye out for crocodiles, ant eaters, sloths or one of the 4 species of monkeys that live in Costa Rica. In addition to howler monkeys, there are also capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys and squirrel monkeys.

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Kayak tour in Tortuguero

Tips for sea turtle fanciers

From late July to November, green turtles lay their eggs on the beach of Tortuguero. Join a park ranger for a guided tour at night to see the turtles come to shore. They dig a hole in the sand, lay 110 eggs the size of ping pong balls, cover the hole and crawl back to sea.

Roosterfish caught in the Pacific Ocean

Spectacular sport fishing

Marlin, tarpon, tuna, dorado or rainbow bass: the oceans on both side of Costa Rica are an angler’s dream come true. The Pacific Ocean in particular is home to a colourful selection of fish. Book a fishing guide to find the best fishing spots and guarantee a catch. With luck you will also spot dolphins, manta rays, turtles and even humpback whales. Close to shore is the best place to catch the beautiful roosterfish. A real fighter, this fish averages a metre in size and weighs around 15 kilos. It may take up to 30 minutes before the fish surrenders so you will need some perseverance. You may also catch snappers, mackerel and large gar. Bring your catch to shore and have a local restaurant cook them up. This is as fresh as it gets!

Diving with rays and sharks

Costa Rica is home to a diversity of marine life and offers fabulous diving opportunities. More experienced divers will love the Bat Islands and Catalina Islands. At Catalina Islands you can dive among manta rays, bat rays and spotted eagle rays; at Bat Islands, you will find yourself surrounded by bull sharks, black tip reef sharks and tiger sharks. Another very popular diving destination is at the National Park Manuel Antonio, which features spectacular underwater canyons and caves.

Costa Rica offers fabulous scuba diving

Photo credits

  • Rafting on the Rio Savegre: Autentico Adventures
  • Rafting is the most popular water sport in Costa Rica: Autentico Adventures
  • Kayak tour in Tortuguero: Pachira Lodge
  • Roosterfish caught in the Pacific Ocean: Costa Rica Vakantie: Toine Aarts
  • Costa Rica offers fabulous scuba diving: www.costaricavakantie.nl