Thanks to generous rainfall in most parts of the country, Costa Rica’s rivers offer exhilarating rafting and kayaking adventures throughout the year. The country’s most renowned rafting spot remains the Pacuare River. Pacuare River is rated one of the top rivers in the world. Located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean slope, the Pacuare River borders the Talamanca Mountain Range. Optimum rafting season is from mid- May through March and, as the country’s longest river, it is best explored on a two- day trip. Known for its abundant flora and fauna, visitors can marvel at some of Costa Rica’s gorgeous wildlife while on a rafting trip. Capuchin monkeys, Toucans, and sloths are just some of the common sights alongside the Pacuare River. Regardless of skill level, the rivers of Costa Rica promise a memorable ride with eye-opening views of jungles, forests and the thousands of species that inhabit them.
Four zones comprise surfing in Costa Rica: the Caribbean coast; the Northern Pacific coast; the Southern Pacific coast and the Central Pacific coast. The Pacific coast boasts the most surfing locations, the majority of which are found in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Tamarindo Beach in the Northern Pacific is considered one of the country’s surfing meccas. Visitors will be able to find surf camps, rental shops and ding repair all throughout the beachfront.
Other standout beaches include: Hermosa Beach in the Central Pacific, known for having some of the most consistent waves in the world and the location of the 2009 World Surf Championship; Pavones Beach in the Southern Pacific, spanning waves more than half a mile long; and Puerto Viejo, also called Salsa Brava, advised only for advanced surfers due to its strong waves and enormous tubes. With more than 900 miles (1,466 km) of coastline and ideal surfing conditions year-round between the three coasts, Costa Rica offers a wealth of surfing opportunities for novices and experienced surfers.
Costa Rica’s long shores stretching along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea reveal coral reef formations, hundreds of species of multicoloured fish and underwater caves. On the Pacific shore, deep-sea divers can venture out to UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site Coco Island, home to 600 species of marine mollusks, 300 species of fish and 32 species of coral. Both experienced and beginner divers will enjoy the striking rock formations and underwater cave in Manuel Antonio National Park in the Central Pacific, in addition to the extensive variety of fish found especially during the summer months. In the South Pacific region, year-round humpback whale migration (from both the North and the South) makes for exciting company for divers.
Although Costa Rica accounts for just 0.03 percent of the earth’s surface, its rich land is home to an astounding five percent of the world’s biodiversity and its waters contain three and a half percent of the world’s marine life. 26% of the country is officially zoned-protected territory, which demonstrates the value Costa Rica places on preserving its environment and the natural plant and animal species that call it home.
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Costa Rica is home to a diverse selection of world-renowned beaches, with close to 900 miles of pristine coastline. The country’s Caribbean coast borrows the unique culture of the nearby Caribbean islands. With island-infused food, music and a laid-back approach it is easy for visitors to feel as though they have been transported to a beautiful Caribbean island.
Gandoca-Manzanillo Beach, located within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, is known as one of the country’s most beautiful snorkel spots thanks to its myriad of breathtaking coral reefs. With green mountains and tropical forests providing a picturesque backdrop, the turquoise waters and white sand beaches stretch for miles - the perfect place to kick back and relax.
Tamarindo, one of the most developed and popular beaches on the Pacific Coast, offers some of the best surfing and windsurfing in the world with a laid-back vibe to match. On the Nicoya Peninsula, picture-perfect beaches offer snorkelling, diving and windsurfing. Samara is one of the region’s most pleasant beaches and although it is peacefully secluded, there is no shortage of restaurants, shops, excursions or hotels.
Continuing south toward the mid-pacific, the beaches of Manuel Antonio are some of the country’s most immaculate. Surrounded by dense forest vegetation, the beaches of Espadilla, Blanca and Puerto Escondido are inside Manuel Antonio National Park, offering visitors often unexpected views of exotic wildlife.
Not content to simply lie on the beach? Why not explore the depths of Costa Rica’s marine world. Boat or kayak trips provide a wonderful way to discover the many beaches. Waters remain warm throughout the year with an average temperature of 28°C. For those who want a little more adventure, banana boat rides, parasailing and Jet Ski tours are also on offer!