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12 Things to do in Costa Rica

Updated: Sep 5

Many would consider Costa Rica to be paradise. Costa Rica's landscape is incredibly diverse and breathtaking, with everything from lush green jungles to strong waterfalls to pristine beaches. This relatively small Central American country provides a wide range of adventures, like birding in cloud forests, hiking in the mountains, and participating in water sports.

Costa Rica is a wonderful place to get a taste of Latin American culture. Costa Rica continues to uphold the fundamental aspects of Latin American culture despite the fact that it is teeming with tourists. Reggaeton blares from nightclub speakers, traditional food is authentic and affordable if you look in the right places, and locals can be friendly and welcoming.

There are many incredible things to do in this country, and without further ado, here are 12 best things to do in Costa Rica.

1. Take a day trip to a waterfall

There is no more thrilling plunge than one beneath the downpours of a waterfall. And there are plenty of magnificent cascades in Costa Rica, several of which are swimmable.

One of the best things to do in Costa Rica is to marvel at the La Fortuna, Bajos del Toro, and La Paz Waterfalls in the Cloud Forests, but there are also other, less well-known waterfalls close to the coast. Visit the Guanacaste region's Llanes De Cortes Waterfall and the Rio Celeste Waterfall. Venture down to the central Pacific to see the Bijagual Waterfall and the Tocori Waterfalls.The double-layered Nauyaca Waterfalls, which are fantastic for swimming, are located in the south Pacific region.

Any of these waterfalls would make a fantastic day trip, especially if you want to swim in the cool fresh water to cool off on a hot day. Before visiting a waterfall, pick up some refreshments at the local market because there are not a lot of shops available out there.

2. Lounge on the beach or go beach-hopping

It would be a shame to go on vacation to a country with so much coastline and not spend at least a few days at the beach. Just lazing on the beach is one of the nicest things to do in Costa Rica. There are countless picture-perfect beaches where you may engage in watersports and other activities or simply unwind by lying on the sand and being a beach bum. In any case, seeing the beach is a must-do on every vacation to Costa Rica.

Punta Uva Beach and Manzanillo Beach are two distinctive beaches along the Caribbean coast. They are situated on the southern Caribbean coast, have calm waters, and are excellent for kayaking or snorkeling.The Pacific coast of Costa Rica is home to the majority of the country's notable beaches. Visit Conchal Beach, which has many stunning shells, and Flamingo Beach, which has sand that is practically pink, both in the Guanacaste Region of the north. The Nicoya Peninsula, which is also in the Guanacaste Region, offers breathtaking coastal views at San Juanillo Beach and Santa Teresa Beach. Herradura Beach, which is a must-see destination in the central Pacific and features stunning blue sea, is fashioned like a horseshoe. Smaller, less developed beaches in the central Pacific Coast are Matapolo Beach and Linda Beach. They are both underdeveloped and uncrowded. Take a trip down to the southern Pacific Coast to complete your beach-hopping tour of Costa Rica. One of the nicest beaches here is Uvita Beach, which is formed like a whale's tail due to a sandbar that protrudes into the water.

Whether you visit one beach or all of them, you will undoubtedly be in awe of the tropical beauty you find where the sand meets the sea.

3. Go snorkeling

Snorkeling is another water activity you may enjoy in Costa Rica. The southern Caribbean Sea in Costa Rica offers some of the best snorkeling options, and September or October are the ideal months to visit. The Caribbean shore is tranquil, and the waters are crystal clear despite the fact that this is the rainiest period of the year for most of the country.

Additionally, try to go to Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and Cahuita National Park to snorkel in some amazing coral reefs.

The Osa Peninsula in the south offers the best snorkeling on the Pacific side. There are many small islands in the region with plenty of wildlife to see, and Playa San Josecito in Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park are both fantastic snorkeling locations. Due to its pristine water, Cao Island has established a reputation as one of the best. Visit the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Papagayo in the northern Pacific coast of Guanacaste to go snorkeling.

4. Try canyoneering

Try canyoneering in Costa Rica if you have an adventurous spirit. This generally entails climbing, jumping, and scrambling up and down a rocky landscape while utilizing ropes and harnesses to explore a canyon. Only go on this adventure with a reputable, knowledgeable tour organization that knows what they are doing because it is a high-risk activity. Always be more cautious unless you are an expert yourself.

On the southern Pacific Coast, close to Dominical Beach, at the Diamante River, there are waterfall rappelling tours available. Also on the southern Pacific Coast, in Uvita, you may go canyoneering with Costa Canyoning. There are also a ton of reputable canyoneering businesses in the inland. You can choose from highly regarded businesses like Arenal Volcano Canyoneering and Monteverde Canyoning or the Family Brenes Finca Modelo Waterfall Rappelling Company in the Monteverde area.

5. Try white water rafting

There are many rivers near Costa Rica that are suitable for white water rafting because there is so much jungle and humidity. This is an exciting way to explore the jungle; just be sure to stay inside your comfort zone and find out in advance how intense the rapids will be.

One of the best river rafting spots in Costa Rica is the Pacuare River close to the Caribbean coast, and the Ro Naranjo near the central Pacific coast is another excellent choice. You may also go rafting on the Tenorio River in the Guanacaste region. If you want to spend more time inland, the Arenal Volcano is close to several incredible whitewater rafting locations. For rafting in the rapids, the Toro, Balsa, and Sarapiqu rivers are the best options.

6. Zip line through the forest

Costa Rica is the perfect location for a zip line because of its abundance of greenery and different elevations. Imagine feeling like you can fly as you soar through the jungle while safely strapped in.

Although zipline courses may be found all over the country, with some being higher, faster, or longer than others, the Santa Elena canopy tours are special. More significantly, there's something magical about soaring over the treetops with the clouds swirling all around you. This is where the Costa Rican canopy mania began. Enjoy the magical mists of the cloud forest while experiencing an adrenaline rush.

Another choice is to go to the Arenal Reserve: Aerial Tram and Canopy Zip Line or the Monteverde Sky Aerial Tram and ZipLine to try to zip line through the jungles of Arenal or Monteverde. If you want to attempt zip lining close to the shore, you can also go to Diamante Eco Adventure Park in Guanacaste, Jacó Canopy Zip Line Tour, or Manuel Antonio Canopy Safari Zip Line Tour on the central Pacific coast.

7. Learn how to make coffee

Some of the world's best coffee comes from Costa Rica. The coffee produced here is of the highest caliber due to the fertile soil, steady rainfall, and favorable environment. If you're a coffee connoisseur, Costa Rica has a ton of fantastic coffee to offer. In order to discover even more about this special beverage, you may also take a plantation tour. All of Costa Rica's coffee is arabica, with the majority of the country's production centered in the Central Highlands, where there are more mountains and fertile soil due to volcanic activity.

If you're a chocolate lover, it could be worthwhile to look into doing a chocolate tour as well since Costa Rican chocolate is also wonderfully rich and delectable.

8. Take a city break in San José

Most likely, you came to Costa Rica to go on an outdoor adventure and see some wildlife. But guess what? San José is a hip, creative center that is full of old-world buildings, unique museums, and cool cafes and clubs.

Don't miss the Teatro Nacional for its artistic misrepresentations of Costa Rican culture or the Museo del Jade for its fascinating exhibits of pre-Columbian cultures. The greatest part is that Barrio Escalante boasts the best dining scene in the city, if not the whole country, so take advantage of this opportunity to chow down before leaving.

9. Explore an active volcano

There is a row of hissing, steaming, sputtering volcanoes in the mountains of northern and central Costa Rica, some of which are open for exploration. Explore the steaming fumaroles and boiling mud pots of Volcán Rincón de la Vieja; trek the lava flows of Volcán Arenal and relax in the volcanically heated pools; see the steaming crater of Poás; and leave your mark on the lava fields of Iraz. Although every encounter is a little different, they are all sure to leave you in awe of the earth's untamed strength.

10. Soak in some hot springs

Numerous natural hot springs have developed into some of the top tourist destinations in Costa Rica as a result of the region's active volcanoes.

As most of the volcanic activity is concentrated in central Costa Rica, the majority of the hot springs are there as well. There are many natural hot spring options available to you if you're staying close to the Arenal Volcano or in the La Fortuna Area. The Tabacon Hot Springs, which are close to the La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano, are one of the most well-liked locations.

One more hot spring area is found outside of central Costa Rica. Visit the Vandara Hot Springs in Rincon de La Vieja National Park in northern Guanacaste. People enjoy applying the nutrient-rich clay and mud from these natural hot springs to their skin as a natural skin treatment.

11. Surf the waves