With extreme biodiversity in its protected rainforest and jungle, not to mention its beaches, mountains and volcanoes, Costa Rica is an eco-tourist’s paradise. This Central American country offers countless outdoor adventures, from hiking through mountains to surfing the waves. We bring you 7 of the best things to do in Costa Rica in nature that you can organize prior to your Costa Rica vacation.
Costa Rica Day Trip Ideas
Start your full day tour in Guanacaste with seven canopy ziplines through the canyon treetops. Then mount your horse and ride through the tropical forest, learning about the diverse flora and fauna along the way. Keep your eye out for the active volcanoes, Miravalles and Rincon de la Vieja. After your equestrian jaunt, relax and refuel with a typical Costa Rican lunch. End your adventure with a visit to a hot spring, where you can lather on a mud bath, let it set in the sun, and rinse yourself off in the geothermal pool and unwind after an exhilarating day. This Costa Rica day trip departs from most Guanacaste hotels. Bring a swim suit, pants if you prefer for the horseback ride, and comfortable shoes.
2. Adventure Park
If you want to spend more time in the Costa Rican jungle, choose the Waterfall Canopy Zipline Tour Costa Rica day trip to jump from 25 zipline cables and over 11 waterfalls. You’ll also get to rappel down two maneuvers, more than 180 feet along a waterfall, and swing over a hanging bridge, not to mention swim in a mountain pool. Get ready for this adventure – that should last you 6-8 hours – with a small group of 10 people maximum. It includes an experienced guide, lunch at the park’s Tucan restaurant, and hotel pick-up and drop-off from numerous areas. You can also make like Tarzan and swing from ropes and bridges, platform to platform above the trees on the High Ropes and Hanging Bridges Tour at Adventure Park. With 33 platforms, a small group, and stunning views of the rainforest and ocean, this is one tour you won’t want to miss (just make sure you’re not afraid of heights…or unfit).
3. Whitewater Rafting
Get your adrenaline pumping to the beat of crashing waves as you battle rapids on the Pacuare River. Enjoy 3-4 hours of rafting among incredible scenery along the Talamanca mountain range, home to jaguars, monkeys, sloth, and remarkable bird and reptile species. For a calmer Costa Rica day trip on the river, take a gentle ride down the Corobici River. During the two hour ride you’ll learn about the eco-system and wildlife you’ll spot along the way, including iguanas, monkeys, ospreys, and herons. This Costa Rica day trip includes a lunch and visit to the Las Plumas Jaguar Rescue Center to see wildcats in their natural habitat as well as birds like parrots and tucans.
4. Combo Tours: Poas Volcano + Doka Estate coffee plantation
These two Costa Rica day trips are fantastic guided tours of Costa Rica’s natural beauty. The first, the Best of Costa Rica from San Jose starts off with an authentic cup of Costa Rican coffee and a mountain hike to Doka Estates, the 350-acre coffee plantation for a tour. Then, you’ll head to Poas Volcano National Park to see the towering crater at almost 9,000 feet tall before venturing to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, the Hummingbird Garden, and the Butterfly Observatory. Our alternative recommendation, the Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate, and Sarchi Arts and Crafts, combines natural wonders with a cultural visit to the town. This tour starts off at the Poas Volcano and Doka Estate, with a visit to the picturesque Botos Lake in between. After a local lunch, you’ll continue to Sarchi to browse the shops. Both tours are approximately 8 hours long and depart from major hotels in San Jose.
5. Beach Trips
A Costa Rica day trip to Manuel Antonio National Park takes you to the beach, known for its snorkeling and surfing opportunities. On the nature preserve, you can walk the trails and spot the monkeys, iguanas, and birds wandering along. This tour includes breakfast, lunch, a local guide, and hotel pick-up and drop-off. Others may want to opt for the Tortuga Island Cruise where turquoise waters and a day of relaxation in Jaco, Costa Rica await you. You can spend approximately four hours on the island tanning, swimming, or enjoying walking trails or beach sports like kayaking.
Before hitting the Irazu Volcano, the highest volcano in Costa Rica rising 11,000 feet above the sea, you’ll make a stop at its foot to discover the gold and silver art in the Basilica of Los Angeles in the city of Cartago. Later, you’ll visit one of the country’s oldest churches in the historic Orosi Valley and finally, a visit to Lankester for the botanical gardens.
7. Arenal Volcano
One of the best things to do in Costa Rica is to explore the spectacular Arenal Volcano and nearby natural Baidi Hot Springs. The volcano’s summit reaches almost 5,500 feet. Day trips are available from Guanacaste, Jaco Beach, and San Jose to learn about the area’s flora and fauna as well as the park’s thermal features, hike along the base of the volcano, and enjoy a lunch with your group. The crater has been active since 1968, so you may even witness a small eruption.
These are just some of the best things to do in Costa Rica but there are so many more – from horseback riding to La Fortuna Waterfall to kayaking on Lake Arenal. Whether your heart is set on exploring off the beaten path or lounging on a resort with a quick day trip to break up your week, we have so many options to help you organize your perfect Costa Rica vacation. Browse our full list and find the Costa Rica day trip for you.