Top Adventure Activities in Costa Rica

If you’re seeking a vacation that is adventurous, Costa Rica should be top on your list of destinations! You can have the best of both worlds by hitting adrenaline-packed activities during the day while relaxing in a beautiful yet relatively inexpensive hotel at night (maybe even one of the many Costa Rica mansions). It doesn’t get any better than that!

So what’s up next? Just deciding which adrenaline activities you’ll be crossing off your bucket list on your Costa Rican adventure, of course! Luckily, I’ve tried my fair share, and can give you advice to help you make these tough yet oh-so-fun choices.

Which adventure activities should you be sure to hit up on your Costa Rican extravaganza? Read on!

Volcano hiking

La Fortuna Arenal Volcano Hike

It’s hard to get more adventurous than hiking up an active volcano, and Costa Rica happily supplies this adventure.

One of the best (and safest) places to try your hand at volcanic hiking is at Arenal Volcano, just 3 hours outside the capital city, and conveniently situated near the adventure capital of La Fortuna. Arenal Volcano is a andesitic stratovolcano (and yes, it’s active) with its last eruption in 1968. While you can’t go too far up, you can hike around the trails, seeing the lava’s former paths of destruction.

After your hike, you can pop into some of the local hot springs for serious relaxation fueled by the volcano’s heat.


Costa Rica Ziplining

Costa Rica is one of the absolute best places in the world to go zip lining. The incredible, lush scenery combined with super strict Costa Rican safety standards means that you’re ensured to have an awesome ride that blows your mind while also keeps you safe.

After strapping on your helmet and stepping into your harness, you’ll be whizzing away above the towering trees below. You might even get lucky enough to see some wildlife!

Some of the best places to go zip lining are in Monteverde’s cloud forest and around La Fortuna.

Rappelling / Canyoning

Ziplining, Canyoning, and Waterfall Rappelling Jaco Costa Rica

What’s more scary than stepping backwards off a waterfall into oblivion? Not much.

Luckily, you’re strapped in, but that doesn’t keep your stomach from doing somersaults as you step your way down the face of a free-flowing waterfall.

Rappelling or canyoning are an ideal way to challenge a fear of heights (mine included), especially when you choose experienced operators who make you feel safe and comfortable to explore your limitations and worries.

One of the best places to go canyoning or rappelling in Costa Rica is the beachside town of Jaco, which may usually be known more for spring breakers and drinking than adventure activities, but trust me on this one.

Horseback riding

Horseback Ride La Fortuna Waterfall

While I didn’t have the best Costa Rica horse riding experience (more on that here), it could be an awesome experience if done correctly. There are many gorgeous trails, and Costa Ricans have a history of being talented equestrians.

Make sure to research your options in advance and don’t just go with the first or cheapest tour operator you come across.

Most towns in Costa Rica will offer some sort of horseback riding adventure, though I specifically went in La Fortuna, which affords incredible volcano views.

Hanging bridge exploring

Costa Rica Monteverde Hanging Bridge

If seeing animals on your trip to Costa Rica is a top goal, you MUST plan a hanging bridge excursion. The bridges float HIIIIIGH above the ground (eek), putting you at eye-level with all sorts of animals, from monkeys to toucans and more.

The bridges also provide a beautiful breeze that the ground level misses. I even had to wear a sweater!

Monteverde’s cloud forest is the perfect place to try the hanging bridges.

Chasing waterfalls

La Fortuna Waterfall

Costa Rica has an almost endless number of waterfalls to explore. Whether you’re rappelling down the face of them, or swimming at their crystal clear bottom, you won’t be disappointed.

Many times, getting to the waterfall itself is an adventure. Most waterfalls require you to navigate down a trail or a steep-stepped path. Remember to bring your dry bag!

La Fortuna and Montezuma have two especially noteworthy waterfall-chasing trails.

Ready for even more adventure?

Take your adrenaline-thumping adventures to the next level with an additional layer of excitement: the night! These activities are done under the cover of darkness, adding an eerie vibe to the already exciting activities.

Night safari float

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

I didn’t really know what to expect, but a night safari float is exactly what it sounds like. You jump in a blue inflatable raft, and float down the river looking for animals as the sky sinks into continuously darkening night.

Your eyes slowly but surely adjust, and your guide’s flashlight helps light the way when he (or she) spots an interesting critter for you to see.

These dark conditions are ideal for seeing some kinds of monkeys, bats, birds, and poison dart frogs. I tried the night safari float in La Fortuna.

Night hiking

El Bosque Hotel Monteverde

If you want to see some serious creepy crawlies, a night hike is the place to do it. Make sure to wear sturdy, close-toed shoes (in case you step on something, but seriously).

Ask your guide if you should (or should not) bring or wear anything else. Your guide might advise natural bug spray, a flashlight or phone light, and a waterproof coat or bag depending on conditions. If you normally wear glasses, you’ll want to do so for the night hike as well.

Costa Rica has night hikes all over the place, and I tried several, with my preference being for the one at El Bosque in Monteverde.



A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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