All posts by Alexandria

(Infographic) Guide to Turtle Nesting on Costa Rica Adventure Vacations

Costa Rica is one of the world’s best turtle nesting sites and its beaches are protective ground for six distinct species, namely the Olive Ridley, Atlantic Green, Pacific Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill and Loggerhead. Watching the spectacle of colonies of sea turtles nesting on a beach, or little ones hatching and rushing into the surf, is one of the most coveted ‘must-do’ experiences on adventure vacations in Costa Rica.

Interestingly enough, given the fact that both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines of the country are prime spots for nesting, and also considering that different species nest at different times, there is actually a nesting and hatching event happening somewhere in Costa Rica, at any time of year you visit. However, whilst some sites are easily accessible and reliable enough to be considered ‘prime turtle nesting watching spots’, others are remote and, at times, completely inaccessible. To increase your chances of witnessing this incredible event, you’ll want to set your sights on the most prominent spots.

Check out the infographic below, which highlights where each species of turtle is likely to be found.

https://www.costaricarios.com/costa-ricas-magical-arribada-olive-ridley-turtles/

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A quick glance of the above map highlights the three most prominent turtle-watching destinations in Costa Rica: Tortuguero National Park on the north-eastern Caribbean coast, and the north-western Pacific Coast, and the western coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, most especially on Ostional Beach – where current arribadas (mass nesting events) over the last week have been absolutely astonishing.

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When it comes to arribadas, it’s always worth mentioning that although nesting events are timely and dependable, they are still dictated by Mother Nature so there’s never a way to actually guarantee a sighting. You can read more about the magical arribadas of Olive Ridley Turtles seen nesting above on Ostional Beach, where you’ll learn that nesting instincts are still mysterious to scientists and that, although turtles nest in their favourite spot all year long, there are periods when they turn up, over a matter of a few days, in their thousands.

Here’s a quick overview of the prime nesting (large turtle icon) and hatching (small turtle icons) in Costa Rica:

https://costa-rica-guide.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Turtle-Nesting-Hatching-Calendar-Locations.png

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You can easily combine the info on the two graphics to ascertain when the best time of year is to see nesting of various turtle species. Considering that most visitors will probably not be too focused on a specific species – but rather the greatest chance of seeing mass nesting events of any turtle – the very best time to visit on Costa Rica adventure vacations is:

  • between August and November to see nesting on the Pacific side, for Olive Ridley Turtles, renowned for having the largest arribadas of all

 

  • in March and April (Leatherback) and again August and September (Green) in Tortuguero on the Caribbean side. Tortuguero boasts the largest nesting site for Green turtles in the western hemisphere

 

Adding a Turtle Nesting Visit On Your Adventure Vacation in Costa Rica

At Costa Rica Rios, we are experts at including incredible turtle nesting events to our itineraries, depending on the time of year you visit (and where) as well as up-to-date information we get on the ground. Although it is impossible to pre-plan a visit solely for the purpose of seeing an arribada (you could try but you’d want to stay in one spot for a few weeks!) we are constantly updated on current events, as they unfold, nearby our prime spots.

Witnessing turtle nesting events in Costa Rica is (and should be) a highly regulated affair, as overcrowding on beaches (by visitors) can have detrimental effects on the wildlife. Always visit a nesting beach with a guide and always follow their instructions. This way, you’ll have the best and most rewarding experience of all: you’ll witness one of nature’s greatest spectacles and know your visit will not have any negative impact.

For this and everything else you’d like to know about adventure vacations in Costa Rica, contact us today.

 

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Snorkeling in Costa Rica – ALL You Need to Know

With more than 800 miles of spectacular coastline consisting of coral reefs, volcanic beaches and pristine forests that tumble into the ocean, Costa Rica is unsurprisingly rated one of the best diving and snorkeling countries on earth. Framed on the west by the cool Pacific and the east by the balmy Caribbean, the tropical country also offers quite distinct underwater experiences. Where you go snorkeling will determine the kind of treasures you’ll get to see, and the time of year you visit will determine just how good the underwater visibility will be.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions in regards to snorkeling adventure vacations in Costa Rica.

Can You Go Snorkeling Anywhere in Costa Rica?

Not quite. The country’s coast may be long and inviting yet not all of it is accessible to snorkelers. The eastern (Caribbean) side is notoriously remote, which is gorgeous in one way but also means that, essentially, there are only a few choice spots for exceptional snorkeling. Mind you, these few select spots serve up exceptional sights, with a multitude of tropical fish, reef sharks and even eagle rays making regular appearances for (very delighted) snorkelers.

When you get to see THIS, do you really need to go anywhere else?

snorkeling

Over on the Pacific side, the sea isn’t as calm – in fact, this side is revered for its surfing waves – and the movement of sediment means that sometimes visibility can be a bit hit and miss. Luckily, however, the Pacific coast also boasts a few spectacular islands offering sublime snorkeling galore. When the coastal waters seem a little murky, just hop on a boat trip to one of the islands, you’ll likely find much better visibility away from the coast.

 

Where to Find the Best Snorkeling Spots in Costa Rica

Generally speaking, the best snorkeling spots in the country offer world-class rewards although to really see the best, you will need to join a boat excursion. Free-shore snorkeling, whilst still very good and genially convenient, still doesn’t offer the kind of amazing sights you’ll get when you explore uninhabited areas that have never been built up.

For all these reasons, few people head to Costa Rica solely to snorkel. That’s the primary reason multi-adventure vacations are so popular here. On a week long adventure, you can snorkel a couple of exceptional places PLUS enjoy zip-lining, whitewater rafting and kayaking, canyoning, horseback riding and so much more.

This is, after all, what Costa Rica does best.

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What Can You See Snorkeling in Costa Rica?

From sea turtles to rays, starfish, reef sharks, dolphins, whales and thousands of colorful tropical fish, the seas lapping Costa Rica host an abundance of marine life. Pick the right place at the right time of year, and snorkeling in Costa Rica really is unparalleled.

 

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica for Snorkeling

Underwater visibility is hampered by rain so it reasons that you’ll want to head to Costa Rica during the driest months (the first four of the year) when seas are calm and the sky crystal clear. This bodes well for snorkeling excursions on the Pacific side (December to April) whilst, on the Caribbean side (renowned for receiving a lot more rain, all year long) the driest months are usually September and October. All that gorgeous tropical rain forest is nourished by copious rain so you should actually expect some rain at any time during your adventure vacation in Costa Rica. Chances of it being a downpour, however, are very low during these drier months.

Sea temperatures are consistently warm although consider renting a wet suit if you’re heading out for a long time or to an island lapped by colder seas.

 

Can Anyone Go Snorkeling?

Generally speaking, yes. Snorkeling doesn’t require any special skill set although whether you’ll feel immediately comfortable floating face down with a mask on your face and a snorkel in your mouth is a subjective matter. It’s fair to say that snorkeling just feels ‘weird’ for everyone at first but, after a bit of trail and error, 90% of people get used to the feeling of it very quickly. Being able to see outstanding underwater life is a wonderful incentive!

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Costa Rica is perfect to master the art of snorkeling – If you’re not a confident swimmer and have never even tried snorkeling, you may want to give it a go somewhere with exceptionally calm seas or even take a private class with an instructor. Sometimes, it helps to not be taught by your travel partner and, instead, take a time-out with a professional. Taking that pressure off your shoulders by spending an hour or so with an instructor will likely make you relax in the water a lot more and that’s what will help you get the hang of snorkeling. When heading out into the sea on a snorkeling excursion, it is always imperative to let your guide know if you’re new to snorkeling, this way they’ll keep a special eye out on you, tell you about the best places to practice and bring a floatie vest along.

There’s an ideal snorkel spot for everyone here – In our list of favorite snorkeling spots in Costa Rica detailed below, we offer an array of destinations suitable for all sorts of skill-set and highlight a few very special places you can reach right off the beach. Whilst it’s true that some of the most special snorkeling spots in the country are remote and only accessible on a boat trip, there are still plenty of ‘local’ secret spots that cost no money to reach at all. You know, aside the rental car and gear rental fee! Moreover, given that it’s highly unlikely you will visit Costa Rica only to snorkel, we’ve divided our list by region (Pacific, Caribbean and island-based) to make it even easier for you to home in on the closest best snorkeling spot depending on where you intend to vacation.

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Best Snorkeling on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

Manuel Antonio National Park – It’s crazy to think that the most-visited national park in Costa Rica is also its smallest yet if there’s a wilderness haven that proves size isn’t everything, it would have to be Manuel Antonio. Ultra-rich in biodiversity, the park cascades into the sea – this is the kind of place where you might spot a sloth or monkey just hanging on a tree overlooking the beach. That very beach, called Playa Manuel Antonio, boasts marine-enriched rocks on its southern end and is particularly revered for its large schools of fish. The only downside is that the seabed is prone to sediment movement after rains so, unless the sky has been bone-dry for days on end, you may not be able to see much. If you’re visiting the park and staying around the Central Pacific region, this really is your best free-shore snorkeling bet.

Marino Ballena National Park – Home to the largest coral rock reef on the Pacific coast, this spectacular southern belle attracts sea turtles, rays and fish galore. Although it’s not possible to snorkel right of the beach here, you can join a boat trip to the closest island that’s part of this marine reserve, and snorkel from there. This is the most spectacular snorkeling destination in the southern Pacific coast and about the best place to see whales in migration – fantastic visibility usually lasts from December all the way to July but the earlier in the dry season you go, the better.

Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge – Mostly renowned as a birdwatcher’s paradise, Junquillal is actually an off-beat snorkeler’s dream. Lesser-visited, peppered with coastal mangroves and bursting with sea (and land) life, the reserve is a gorgeous place in which to spend a whole day drenched in nature. Just an hour’s drive from the Liberia Airport, the refuge boasts virgin wilderness, a tranquil vibe and a stunning 1.5-mile long sandy beach where you can swim and free-snorkel at leisure.

Calzon del Pobre Beach – This secluded, white sandy beach is on the southwestern end of the Bahia Hermosa, and its turquoise waters are a haven for angelfish, damselfish, butterflyfish and porcupine fish. The water is consistently translucent during dry season and the fact this section of the bay is totally wild (so pack a picnic lunch and everything you’ll need for the day) just adds to the appeal. Occasionally, you’ll have visitors on snorkeling boat trips popping in for a visit, but head here in the morning, snorkel right off the beach and enjoy having this paradise all to yourself.

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Best Snorkeling on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

Cahuita National Park – The largest coral reef on the eastern coast of the country is a vibrant canvas of colors, home to a startling number of fish, rays, reef sharks and amazing coral, as well as calm waters that suit novices to a tee. Remember to head here in September or October for the best visibility of all and enjoy spending an entire day exploring this incredible 3.5-mile-long treasure-trove of underwater wilderness.

Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge – A gorgeous maze of walking trails leas visitors to sublime remote beaches, from where you can snorkel to your heart’s delight. The idyllic waters attract turtles, fish and dolphins and is one of three places in Costa Rica that is a sanctuary for the endangered West Indian manatee, the gentlest elephant of the sea. Just note that if you can hear any kind of motorized boat, you will probably not see a manatee anywhere near it, so keep an eye out if the park is particularly quiet during your visit.

beach

 

Best Snorkeling on Costa Rica Islands

Avid snorkelers and SCUBA divers who want to be blown right out of the water (pun intended) ought to plan a boat trip to one (or several) of Costa Rica’s islands.

It is right here that the underwater magic happens.

Cocos Island National Park – UNESCO-listed Cocos is what put Costa Rica on the snorkeling and diving world-map and if you’re looking for that ‘ultimate’ snorkeling destination, then you can stop looking, right now. Over 300 miles off the Pacific Coast of the country, Isla de los Coco is rated the best dive and snorkel site in Central America and attracts explorers from all over the world. The downside is that you can only visit Cocos on week long live-aboard boat trip since the island is not developed. The upside is that the island is not developed (ha!) and it is, essentially, a paradise for the wildlife both in and out of the water. We’re taking way over 1,000 species of marine life and jaw-dropping coral. Revered for attracting scalloped hammerhead sharks, Cocos is a bucket-list snorkel spot that’s only suitable for experienced snorkelers.

Islas Santa Catalina – This cluster of islands off the Pacific Coast attracts all marine life great and small, including whales, dolphins, turtles, reef sharks, octopus and at least half a dozen species of rays. These spectacular rocky islets are world-known, attracting international experienced divers and snorkelers to Guanacaste every year who find it an astonishing alternative to the Cocos, mentioned above. These islands are easy to reach from Tamarindo.

Islas Murciélagos – The Bat Islands of Guanacaste are nearby Santa Catalina and offer equally rewarding snorkeling. Given the strong currents, snorkeling in both archipelagos is really only advised for experienced divers and snorkelers.

Caño Island Biological Reserve – The prime snorkel spot in the wild Osa Peninsula is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gem just a few miles off the coast. Brightly colored coral frames the shores, teeming with a cacophony of fish. This is the spot where beginners can also have a field day as waters are calm and inviting.

Isla Tortuga – If you’re after a family-friendly snorkeling spot in Costa Rica, then consider Turtle Island your ideal escape. Hop on a boat from Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula and explore the calm waters here, brimming with a wealth of tropical fish. Take a whole-day boat excursion and you can soak up whale and dolphin watching on your way there, plus plenty of swimming and time on the glorious beaches.

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Snorkeling is just one of an amazing array of water sports on offer in Costa Rica. Combined with plenty of land-based adventures, your Costa Rica Honeymoon, Family or Adventure Vacation will be like nothing else you’ve ever experiences. Ask us how to help you plan the absolute trio of a lifetime.

 

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Costa Rica Hanging Bridges – Which One is Best?

Costa Rica’s hanging bridges are among the most coveted of the country’s many highlights. Although you may well want to visit them all whilst here (who wouldn’t?!) it’s safe to surmise you’d want to home in on one, primarily, so you have enough time, energy and funds to also try out everything else on offer in this adventure-packed country, activities like kayaking, whitewater rafting, canyoning, mountain biking, horseback riding and SO much more.

First up, if you have absolutely NO idea what we’re talking about…

What is a Hanging Bridge in Costa Rica?

Arenal Hanging Bridges park of Costa RicaWind back the history-clock a few decades and you’d see a bunch of curious scientists studying unique flora and fauna in the remotest nooks of Costa Rica’s virgin jungles. They concocted these ‘hanging bridges’ in order to reach the highest points of the luscious canopy and, back then, they were nothing more than haphazardly tied-together ropes, swung between trees and interspersed with wooden planks. The death-defying ‘heavenly highways’ certainly did their job, and the tradition of using suspension walking bridges to enjoy superlative wilderness experiences has now become an unmissable part of all adventure vacations in Costa Rica.

 

What is so Magical about Hanging Bridges?

Hike in Costa RicaHanging bridges get you up close and personal with what is, essentially, impenetrable wilderness. When you leave the walking trails behind (or rather, below), you enter a whole different kind of natural kingdom, one that you wouldn’t otherwise ever get to see. Hanging bridges often stretch across deep valleys and gorges, places you’d need hours of hard hiking to even reach, if at all possible. It is up in this startling remoteness that monkeys swing and toucans rest, where sloths hang out and where the essence of the jungle is intensified, ten-fold. Moreover, this is where the views really get out of this world, where the horizon is not blocked by an impermeable layer of thick forest foliage. Hanging bridges offer vistas that span across the jungle, something you simply won’t ever get to see, any other way.

Oh, and don’t worry: modern-day hanging bridges in Costa Rica are some of the best, safest and most famous in the world.

Here, you can swing to your heart’s delight with peace of mind.

 

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Are All Hanging Bridges Tours Created Equal?

Canopy tours with hanging bridges in Costa Rica can vary quite a bit, mainly in length and agility-requirement which means some are better for families with smaller children, for example, whilst others offer exhilarating extras like zip-lining, ideal for adrenaline seekers. Some also include a fair bit of walking in between the bridges; however, they are still considered the least strenuous way to immerse yourself in pristine wilderness here. If you’re on a family adventure vacation in Costa Rica, for example, and want to bring your elderly parents along for the amazing ride, they can enjoy a stunning day on a hanging bridge trail whilst you battle out on a whitewater river. Alternatively, they simply make for amazing family excursions you can all enjoy together.

Each of Costa Rica’s best hanging bridges is located in a very special forest, be it a wilderness and wildlife reserve, rain forest or cloud forest. Entrance fees allow varying organisations to continue to maintain and protect all these incredible corners of paradise so whilst you’re up there having the time of your life, you’re also contributing to precious and very necessary causes.

It’s also worth remembering that some hanging bridges offer night-time wildlife-spotting tours and these are some of the most rewarding animal-watching tours you can take. This offers a totally distinct experience so, if you have time, you should consider doing one daytime and one night-time visit.

Knowing a little about every option will help you decide which hanging bridge course is right for your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica.

Where are Costa Rica’s Best Hanging Bridges?

hikingEvery single one of Costa Rica’s best hanging bridges offers something unique and, for many, the choice simply comes down to convenience. Where you choose to base yourself, or travel to, will likely have a big impact on your ultimate choice. Having said that, some people specifically seek the longest trail or the one with the most bridges or, in the case of two options below, the one with the most ‘extras’ like zip-line, hummingbird garden and so forth.

Here’s a quick lowdown of the options – we’ll include one ‘point of note’ for each that makes it stand out from the rest. Please note that each one offers refreshments (café/restaurants) and the option of a private tour as well.

Sky Adventures Park, Arenal

About half an hour’s drive from downtown La Fortuna, the Arenal Sky Adventures Park offers a spectacular walking trail that crosses eight bridges (four of which are suspended) as well as two observation decks and two gorgeous waterfalls. This is a leisurely 3-hour excursion but can also be combined with an aerial tram and canopy tour. There’s a lovely café that serves food (YES!) and although you have the option of taking a guide along and going self-guided. This Sky Adventure Park doesn’t offer night-time tours, unfortunately, but is perfectly suitable for all ages.

NB – This option offers some of the most magnificent canopy views of all plus you pass two waterfalls

 

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Mistico Hanging Bridges Park, Arenal

Right by Lake Arenal is where you’ll find Mistico, a trail that offers night-time tours and very early morning bird-spotting tours as well. This trail should take about two hours to complete, is suitable for all ages and will guide you over 16 bridges (six of which are suspended) as well as a lovely waterfall. Both guided and self-guided options are available here too, as well as a great little restaurant so you can really take your time.

NB – This is the park with the most bridges (16 in total) and offers outstanding canopy views. Moreover, there is an ‘easily accessible’ trail that’s perfect for those with limited mobility and although it does skip a chunk of the whole trail, it at least offers the experience to absolutely everyone

Sky Adventures Park, Monteverde

Over in the ethereal cloud forests of Monteverde is the Sky Adventures Park, a multi-adventure center that combines hanging bridges with canopy tours, aerial trams and even a herpetarium that showcases some of Costa Rica’s most unique reptiles and amphibians and a splendid hummingbird garden. A two-hour visit will see you walk over five suspension bridges amongst breathtaking clouds. SAP Monteverde offers guides, self-guided and night-time tours and is open to all ages.

NB – This is the park with the longest suspension bridge – 774 feet!

Selvatura Park, Monteverde

Not to be outdone, Selvatura also offers a myriad of experiences, combining its hanging-bridge-trail with a thrilling zip-lining course, as well as a butterfly, hummingbird and herpetarium enclosure. It should take you about 2.5 hrs for a visit and you should expect to cross eight stunning hanging bridges. Self-guided and guided tours are available and open to all ages although, unfortunately, there are no night-time visits offered here.

NB – There’s something magical about the cloud forest views here and, what’s more, an entry ticket included round-trip transport, which is handy. If that; snot enough, you also have the option to add a zip-line tour!

100% Aventuras, Monteverde

This remarkable nature reserve offers half-day guided visits that combine both ground-level trails with eight hanging bridges, for a very comprehensive forest experience. The trail is about 2-mile long and although it does require moderate fitness, it isn’t too demanding. You also have the option of a 10-line zip-line tour, as well as ATV, rappelling and rope swings.

NB – You can go nuts with all the adrenaline-packed adventures here OR simply take a leisurely walk along the hanging bridge trail, which is suitable for all ages. The choice is yours!

Montezuma Waterfall Canopy Tour Trail, Nicoya Peninsula

monkey on bridgeHead west to Nicoya and you can take a walking trail to Montezuma’s beautiful waterfalls on a short but rewarding excursion. The three-tiered falls are just lovely, immersed in wilderness whilst also offering a great chance for a swim. This is a local hang-out and totally off the commercialized-trail. There are two ways to reach the falls: one along a riverside trail and the other (the one you’ll want) is on a canopy trail that’s easily accessible. The Sun Trails canopy tour isn’t just a super easy way to reach the top falls (so you don’t need to tackle the steep climb up from the riverside trail) but it also guides you over a couple of outstanding hanging bridges. A thrilling zip-line tour is also available if you want to add an adrenaline-rush to your visit. This no-bling option is perfect for nature-lovers who prefer a more rustic hanging bridge experience and, obviously, those who are planning an adventure vacation over on the Nicoya Peninsula.

NB – This is probably the cheapest way to experience hanging bridges because you can access the canopy trail for just a few dollars. Take a guide with you, however, and you’re likely to spot a lot more wildlife than you otherwise would, on your own.

 

Costa Rica’s Best Hanging Bridges – Summary

Although we’ve detailed the most famous and popular hanging bridges in Costa Rica, do note that suspension trails are actually found all over the country, and in almost all provinces. Some have even been constructed within the boundaries of private eco-lodges and these lesser-known options can be among the most rewarding.

At Costa Rica Rios, we incorporate hanging bridges tours in many of our adventure vacation packages and, besides our very popular group tours, we also organize bespoke private tours if you want to have dedicated itinerary and expert guides for you and your loved ones alone. In Costa Rica (and with Costa Rica Rios) everything is possible!

Contact us to know more.

 

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7 Best Things to Do in Tortuguero

boatTortuguero is the most famous and popular destination on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, in the province of Limon, and is the name of both the spectacular turtle reserve (the Tortuguero National Park) and its namesake base town (Tortuguero village). Although only 60-odd miles from the capital, San Jose, Tortuguero is still considered one of the country’s hidden treasures given it’s nestled in the heart of untarnished wilderness and getting there is a little time consuming than would normally be. Yet what makes reaching Tortuguero slightly more hassle is the primary reason it is such an exceptional place: lacking all the major mod-cons of more visited (and easier to reach) hubs like Manuel Antonio and Arenal, makes this a true nature lover’s paradise, clichéd as that may sound. There may not be much in terms of glitz and glamour here but, in return, you get unparalleled biodiversity, exquisite wildlife watching and a nature-enriched experience that you simply won’t find anywhere else.

 

entrance signTortuguero’s most revered asset is its wilderness, made up of fertile wetlands, dense forests and wild beaches that attract nesting sea turtles. ‘The Place of Turtles’, as the name translates, is turtle watching haven and considered one of the world’s foremost nesting site for four distinct species, namely Leatherback, Loggerhead, Hawksbill and the endangered Green Sea turtles, for which Tortuguero represents the largest nesting site on the planet. Learn more about Turtle Spotting in Costa Rica if that’s your primary reason for visiting Tortuguero.

If all this bounty isn’t enough, there’s also the nifty bonus of Tortuguero enjoying its driest season when the rest of the country is deluged by rain. This is considered the best destination in all of Costa Rica during rain season.

 

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Ready to get to know Tortuguero better? Here are the top things to do there!

  1. Take an early morning canoe trip through the canals

birdWant the highest chances of spotting wildlife in Tortuguero? Better be an early sloth! Enjoy an early morning guided canoe or kayak trip through the glorious canals and you’ll magically feel the stresses of life just slide right off your back. Spot (and hear) howler and spider monkeys, a cacophony of birds including colorful toucans, macaws, woodpeckers and owls, as well as caimans, river otters, turtles and tapirs and, if you’re exceptionally lucky, even Jesus Christ lizards (yes, the ones that walk on water), jaguars and manatees. The three main priorities here are to paddle yourself (motorized vessels scare off the wildlife), go with an experienced local guide (these guys can spot elusive animals where we see only foliage) and make sure you’re out there by sunrise, when most animals are at their most active. Being Tortuguero village lies a complex maze of canals through the lush wetlands. Tours last about three hours.

 

  1. Hike up to Cerro Tortuguero

The highest point in Tortuguero is 1,280 feet high and is the collapsed caldera of a now-dormant volcano, the one that has given the area its incredible biodiversity. It may seem like a ‘short stroll’ and in many ways it is, however, the hike can be steep and adrenaline-pumping nonetheless. The reward? All-encompassing and astonishing views across the wetlands and canals. The trail is called Sendero Cerro Tortuguero and is just a 10-minute canoe-ride from town center. It is well marked and you can expect to see plenty of birds and even larger wildlife. As always, you’ll get the most of your visit (and wildlife spotting) by taking a guide with you although it’s not strictly necessary. If you’re happy to enjoy some ‘me’ time and ‘see what you see’ then, by all means, go for it. Boat services are plentiful here as it’s the main mode of transport.

  1. Enjoy walking through the National Park

alligatorWalking isn’t really the best way to soak up the wonders of Tortuguero but the national park boasts some lovely trails if you’d love to stretch your legs nonetheless. All trails start from the Visitor Center, range in length and also water levels. Sometimes, you’ll have to wade through water that’s ankle or calf-deep so ask beforehand, especially if travelling with children. Do note that walking alone through this kind of rain-forest is not recommended, so if you don’t want to take a guide then buddy up with other visitors, perhaps from your lodge.

 

  1. Visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy Visitor Center

turtleThis amazing interpretation center is part of the Sea Turtle Conservation Program which studies and protects Tortuguero’s #1 guests. The passionate staff offers great information about the work that’s carried out here, as well as everything related to the nesting habits of the turtles. If visiting during nesting season, best to head here first and foremost. Entrance is just a few dollars and includes a small but information-packed museum and a really fascinating video.

 

  1. Go for a night-time guided walk to spot Green Turtles and other wildlife

Red-Eyed Tree FrogBetween the end of June and the first week of October, you’ll have the highest chances of spotting turtles nesting in Tortuguero, one of the most awe-inspiring experiences you can have in all of Costa Rica. Visitors aren’t allowed on the nesting beach past 6 pm during season so you’ll need (and will want) to go with a guide. Another very special spectacle is watching hatchlings zooming down the beach to reach the sea, which happens between seven and 10 weeks after nesting. Given that different species nest at different times, there are some occasions where nesting and hatching overlap. Nocturnal tours are very rewarding even outside nesting season, when you’ll see a multitude of snakes, frogs and other reptiles, as well as sloths and opossums.

 

  1. Hike in the Tortuguero National Park by day

A gorgeous activity reserved for the driest months, guided walks through Tortuguero are absolutely amazing and offer a different (and much slower) perspective on the local flora and fauna. What makes walking through the park special is the fact that it’s not something you can do all year long – the landscape is quite flat and prone to flooding after rains so it’s very much a dry-season highlight.

  1. Go Zip-lining in Tortuguero!

One of our four recommended lodges in Tortuguero, Aninga Lodge, boasts a super fun 1 km-long canopy trail that includes half a dozen cables, 11 platforms, several suspension bridges and one exhilarating Tarzan swing. It may not be as hard-core as some of the more famous zip-line sin the west but it is unique in the area and offers a wonderful 1.5 hr-long thrill

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How to Get There

Follow our Airport Guide to Costa Rica to see the best entry into the country, whether you’re visiting Tortuguero first or last on your adventure vacation itinerary. No matter where you come from, however, you will need to take a combination of road and boat transport to reach the town and the national park. Getting here is definitely half the adventure!

Who is Best Suited to an Adventurous Tortuguero Experience? Things to Keep in Mind!

Tortuguero BeachTortuguero isn’t for everyone, as is the case with every destination, all over the world. Some people just don’t enjoy their adventure vacation without at least some glitzy comforts (which is totally understandable) and others automatically envisage idyllic beaches whenever they see any pin mapped on a stretch of Tico coast. But Tortuguero, in all its immense splendorous, doesn’t offer that kind of seaside experience. This ain’t THAT kind of beach. Due to strong tides, this is the least suitable stretch of coast for swimming so although the beach and coastline are magical to admire and photograph, don’t head here expecting an array of water-based sports, because there just aren’t any at all.

 

To better appreciate and enjoy your journey to Tortuguero, it helps to really understand the uniqueness of this place. If you’re an adventure seeker who doesn’t mind foregoing some creature comforts in order to really immerse yourself in pristine nature (something which isn’t a given everywhere, nowadays) then Tortuguero is for you. If you know that the Limon coast is volcanic and doesn’t boast the ‘dreamy blinding white sands’ of the Pacific, then you will also not be disappointed. Tortuguero isn’t for beach bumming, it’s for those looking for a truly immersive wilderness experience. If you’re a lover of raw wilderness and the excitement of never really knowing what wildlife you’ll see; if you love bird-watching and just want to get away from it all (modernity included) then Tortuguero will definitely tick all your boxes. Want to experience Costa Rican eco-tourism at its very best? Then Tortuguero it is!

Now, having said all that, don’t go imagining a torturous experience! There may not be many gorgeous eco-lodges in Tortuguero, but there are certainly enough to find the one that suits you best. We’ve homed in on the four best Tortuguero hotels that we think suit our clientele best and if you’re dreaming of an unforgettable adventure vacation in Costa Rica, be it for your honeymoon, family or solo trip, we know you’ll find your personal gem among these four excellent options.

 

Pack accordingly for Tortuguero

Boat travel to and through Tortuguero will greatly limit your luggage capacity so if you’re planning on this being a side trip in Costa Rica, you’ll have to organize luggage storage somewhere else, with the most convenient place being the capital given that’s probably where you’ll be arriving.

At Costa Rica Rios, we can help you plan a unique and memorable adventure vacation in Tortuguero and all over Costa Rica. We run award-winning multi-adventure tours for honeymooners, families and solo travelers. This is our home and our favorite playground and after decades om the business, we’ve perfected the art of planning tailor-made and group tours that soak up the very best this magnificent country has to offer.

So why not come discover Costa Rica with us? See our most popular adventure vacation packages and contact us to know more.

 

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Amazing Hot-Spring Hotels in La Fortuna & Arenal

La Fortuna is Costa Rica’s famous hot-spring region, its incredible natural bounty owing to Arenal, the most active volcano in the country. La Fortuna’s eco-tourism scene thrives not only on the many adventure sports on offer but also the multitude of hotels boasting their own, in-house hot-springs. Can you imagine anything better than spending a whole day whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, mountain biking and hiking, and then retreating to your own hot-spring hotel in La Fortuna for a late afternoon and evening of complete relaxation? We think not!

Here are the most amazing hot-spring hotels in La Fortuna & Arenal:

Nayara Springs This adults-only luxurious option is downright divine and about the best splurge if you’re planning an adventure honeymoon in Costa Rica. What’s not to love? The property is designed so that each villa has complete privacy and it seriously feels like you’re the only guests there. The service is impeccable and the exclusivity of the place means the hot-springs are never crowded. Plus, there’s an abundance of luxurious amenities to enjoy here, including a well-equipped gym, jacuzzi, gift shop and private plunge pool directly outside your villa’s door. Outstanding food, dreamy surroundings and a contemplative atmosphere make this an exceptional choice for romantic escapes. The only real downside of such a jaw-dropping hot-spring hotel in La Fortuna? It is almost impossible to tear yourself away for a full-day of explorations!

 

Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort This Arenal institution was the first hot-spring hotel built in La Fortuna and is revered for offering 100% natural hot springs (as opposed to most other hotels which use pumps to circulate and heat the waters). Even after all these years, Tabacon is considered the most reliable hot-spring hotel choice, given it offers an Arenal hot-spring experience for everyone: families, honeymooners and even solo travellers. With so many pools and accommodation options, Tabacon is a great all-rounder, with acres of walking trails, wonderfully maintained forest trails and awesome services like multiple restaurants, bars, and an excellent beauty spa. Due to its sheer size and the array of services offered, Tabacon doesn’t feel as ‘intimate and exclusive’ as Nayara Springs but it also comes at about half the cost so makes for a wonderful compromise.

waterfall

Los Lagos Hotel Hugely popular with local Costa Rican families, Los Lagos is an affordable choice that ticks SO many boxes. Not only does it boast its own hot-springs but also its own private lakes, water park, horse-stables, swimming pools, walking trails, health spa and an abundance of wildlife. With its stunning volcano views, warm hospitality and an abundance of kid-friendly activities, this is an excellent option for active families who want a couple of days of R&R in a hot-spring hotel in La Fortuna. At Los Lagos, you all have the option to be as active as you like.

women near waterfall

Paradise Hot Springs Thermal Resort – One of the best value-for-money choices in La Fortuna, Paradise is affordable despite it offering 5* services and amenities. With almost a dozen pools of differing temperatures, gorgeous spa treatments, great food, outstanding landscaped gardens and staff who go out of their way to cater to your every wish, Paradise is, as the name suggests, a heavenly choice as well as a surprisingly affordable one.

Arenal Springs Resort This modern resort is set on the foothills of Arenal and gifts breath-taking views from every corner. This is a very popular choice for families and couples alike as it offers a nature-infused experience yet with all the mod-cons you’d expect of a stellar resort. The hot-springs are undeniably enticing and the gardens, bursting with birdlife, is a nature-lover’s dream. The property is expansive and accommodates guests with mobility issues so if it’s a comprehensive family-friendly resort you’re after, with options for everyone, Arenal Springs is a top choice.

Ariel view of resort

The Royal Corin Hotel Much like Arenal Springs, the Royal Corin offers the classic ‘resort’ experience in La Fortuna, although it takes the luxury stakes up a notch. The natural spring pools are wonderful (the swim-up bar is great!) as are the volcanic sauna, thermal jacuzzis, waterfalls and holistic health spa. Kiddie pool attracts plenty of families. All rooms at the Royal Corin are impressively spacious and feature a private terrace or balcony but the suites are out of this world. Want to soak in your own private jacuzzi, overlooking Arenal? Then this is your place!

pool

The Springs Resort and Spa – This world-class hot-spring hotel in La Fortuna will blow you away multiple times; first with its mountaintop location affording extraordinary Arenal and rain-forest views and THEN with all the sensational amenities it offers. It’s no coincidence this is rated one of very best resorts in the whole country! The Springs offers almost 30 hot-spring pools, its own wildlife refuge, a fully-equipped fitness center, amazing beauty spa and private access to the Arenal River where thrilling tubing is on offer. One of the most unforgettable places to stay in Costa Rica!

pool

Volcano Lodge & Springs Hotel The Volcano Lodge is immensely popular with budget-conscious families and couples and proves the wonderful point that when it comes to amazing hot-spring hotels in La Fortuna, you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy them. Costa Rica’s most adored natural assets are here for all to enjoy. Everything about this hot-spring resort is simply lovely, from the comfortable rooms to the gorgeous pools, the glorious views, service, food, spa treatments and the many child-friendly services. Every room boasts Arenal views and, with less than 70 of them, all up, you get the homely Tico hospitality for which Costa Rica is so renowned. If you’d love a more ‘intimate’ La Fortuna hot-spring hotel experience at a really good price, the Volcano Lodge is arguably the best choice.

pool with mountain view

FAQ About Hot Spring Vacations in Costa Rica

If you’re heading to Costa Rica to enjoy a hot-spring hotel experience, we hope to have given you enough inspiration, thus far! Do note we combine our adventure tours with an array of different accommodation options, including eco-lodges that swap ultra-luxurious experiences for immersive nature-infused ones instead. See our range of recommended Arenal Hotels and chat to us when planning your adventure vacation itinerary – we can help you plan a bespoke journey that incorporates your favorite activities with the hot-spring hotel of your choice.

To help you better plan your Costa Rica trip, we thought we’d answer some of the most frequently-asked questions about the Arenal hot-springs.

  • What is there to do in Arenal aside from the hot-springs?

There’s an abundance of exceptional fun to be had in and around the Arenal Volcano National Park. Activities include hiking over ancient lava fields, wildlife spotting (day and night tours) in verdant rain-forests, hiking to glorious waterfalls, zip-lining, whitewater rafting and kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking and SO much more. See our favorite 15 Amazing Things to Do in Arenal.

  • Do you have to stay in a hot-spring hotel in Costa Rica to enjoy a soak?

No, there are plenty of hot-springs in La Fortuna that are open to the public and even a few hotels that sell day-passes to visitors. This is an important aspect of a hot-spring hotel stay, as many people prefer to not share their hotel pools with the general public but only with fellow hotel guests. This is a great way to keep the numbers limited and avoid overcrowding during the high season. The most famous ‘day-pass’ hotel is Tabacon Grand Spa whilst the most famous ‘private’ pools are at the Arenal Springs.

  • Is Arenal the only area in Costa Rica with natural hot springs?

Absolutely not! Given the volcanic nature of Costa Rica, there are several hot-spring sources in the country spread out around the central and western regions, namely in the Puntarenas and Guanacaste provinces, as well as Alajuela, which is where you find La Fortuna and Arenal. It’s just that La Fortuna is the most established hot-spring destination so here is where you’ll find the widest range of pools and accommodation choice.

  • Are all the hot-spring hotels in La Fortuna expensive?

Not at all, some hot-spring hotels offer rooms at just USD 100 a night, which is cheaper than many other hotels that don’t offer hot-spring pools. Not only is there a hot-spring hotel to suit just about every budget but you can even nab a luxury choice at a reduced price if you choose to travel outside the most popular months (December to April). Travel to La Fortuna during our wet season and you can have the best of both worlds: rains don’t usually start until the early afternoon (the ideal siesta time) so you’ll still enjoy clear mornings for all your activities and can indulge at a heavily-reduced rate in some of the most luxurious lodges. This is one of the tips of on our Budgeting Tips for Costa Rica Adventure Honeymoons

  • When is the best time to enjoy a hot-spring vacation in Costa Rica?

Given that you’ll likely be doing a lot more than just hot-spring soaking in Costa Rica, it’ll help to know what is considered the ‘ideal’ time to visit, according to your personal preferences. See our Seasonal Travel Guide to Costa Rica to learn about the differences in regions and experiences, at different times of year – and trust that soaking in a Costa Rica hot-spring is PERFECT at ANY time of year!

Isn’t it time you started planning your own adventure vacation to Costa Rica? What are you waiting for?! At Costa Rica Rios, we organise fully-guided adventure tours (check out the ladies-only week in April, 2020), family adventure vacations and, of course, adventure honeymoons too. We can help you plan your own tailor-made itinerary and find the right hots-spring hotel in La Fortuna and Arenal if you’d love to cap off your thrilling adventure in grand style.

Contact us to know more.

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Guide to Costa Rica’s Best Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking

From relaxing family adventures to hard-core, multi-day journeys, Costa Rica’s best rivers for whitewater rafting and kayaking offer thrilling experiences for experts and beginners alike. What’s more, river-based excursions in Costa Rica aren’t only about adrenaline – spending a whole day (or week!) immersed in the heart of one of the country’s pristine reserves is also an exceptional way to spot wildlife, enjoy the magnificent wilderness and enjoy cultural encounters in remote villages. This is particularly rewarding in regions that don’t see too many tourists and are a little off the usually-trodden path. That’s why multi-sport adventure vacations are so popular here: you get to have bucket-loads of fun in unspoiled nature, all the while experiencing the incredible biodiversity and hospitality for which Costa Rica is so revered.

If you’re new to the whitewater sport scene, we’ll give you a brief introduction before offering an overview of the best destinations for rafting and kayaking in Costa Rica, and the kind of options available.

 

What Is Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking?

Fast-moving river water – which literally creates ‘whitewater’ – is the main propelling force for both rafting (multi-person inflatable raft helmed by a professional guide) and kayaking (single person canoe). Both are exceptionally fun water sports with the main difference being rafting is a group activity whilst kayaking is a solo activity, although one is usually in the company of other kayakers – and even rafters, when out on the river. Many whitewater excursions in Costa Rica head downriver in a group, with rafters and kayakers along for the ride.

whitewater rafting

 

Which One Is More Exhilarating: Rafting or Kayaking?

Being on the whitewater for the very first time is a thrilling experience no matter which activity you choose. Having said that, kayaking is a tad more challenging and that makes it more thrilling. This means that kayaking gives you the option to up the ante on gentler river runs. If you have experience on whitewater but are travelling with friends or family members who don’t, you can still all enjoy a day out together on the same river. They’ll have a lovely ride on the raft, with a guide, and you can go all adrenaline-junkie-nuts on a kayak.

Perfect!

whitewater kayaking

Whitewater rivers are graded by level of difficulty and, in Costa Rica, you’ll see rapids classified from I to V, with I being the easiest and best for beginners and V reserved for experienced rafters and kayakers. Water flow is the determining class factor, obviously, so the same stretch of river can be classified differently depending on the time of year you visit.

 

Is There an Ideal Time to Go Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking in Costa Rica?

Yes and no: the ideal time for extensive whitewater adventures for experienced rafters and kayakers, is just after the rains, when rivers are at their fullest. In this case, the period between September and February is quite ideal. Having said that, many of Costa Rica’s rivers are regulated by dams and even more offer beginner and intermediate trips can be enjoyed all year long. Considering that different areas of Costa Rica receive varying degrees of rainfall during the Green Season, moreover, it also reasons that whitewater suitability will highly depend on which region you wish to explore.

 

The Best Rivers for Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking in Costa Rica

Not only is Costa Rica one of the world’s best whitewater rafting and kayaking destination but it is also one of the safest. Part of this is due to river classifications dictating age requirements, so although there are plenty of stretches that are ideal for families with children, they will usually be age-restricted (to 8 or 12 years old as a minimum, for example) and plenty more advanced stretches where children will not be allowed to raft or kayak.

Luckily, the options are truly impressive. There are more than a dozen established kayaking and rafting runs in Costa Rica and new stretches are added to the maze, almost every year. We’ll detail the top 5 options, starting with the best of the lot.

 

  1. Rio Pacuare – Class II, III and IV– Year-round

The #1 choice in the country and reputed second-best rafting and kayaking river on earth (after the Colorado River), the Rio Pacuare manages to tick all the boxes. First of all, it boasts a mindboggling 52 rapids, which range from beginner Class II to experienced Class IV (so it is, quite literally, suitable for everyone) and runs through an astonishing section of remote Turrialba wilderness, affording great chances for wildlife spotting. Rafters and kayakers will likely see monkeys, toucans, sloths and so much more flora and fauna than they could ever imagine. If that’s not enough, the Pacuare boasts 16 miles of accessible river runs so you can choose between day-long excursions and multi-day trips. A handful of genially-located eco-lodges along the route offer immersive and rather unforgettable jungle experiences. The Pacuare River is, without a doubt, Costa Rica’s best adrenaline rush.

Whitewater Rafting In Costa Rica

If you've ever wanted to raft under a waterfall…. here's your chance!Learn More -> https://www.costaricarios.com/whitewater-rafting.html

Posted by Costa Rica Rios on Wednesday, October 30, 2019

 

  1. Rio Balsa – Class II and III – Year-round

Located close to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano, the Balsa River is a very popular choice for two main reasons. Firstly, it’s the closest whitewater river to Costa Rica’s most coveted highlight and, secondly, it offers beginner-level rapids. The water-level of the Balsa is regulated by a damn which makes it also about the most reliable river in the region – if you’re at all apprehensive about trying out rafting and kayaking in Costa Rica, or are travelling with someone who is, trust the Balsa to offer an exciting yet not overwhelming experience.  Overall, this river is the best options if you wish to try whitewater rafting or kayaking for the first time on a day-trip only. The moment you’re ready for a longer run and more exciting adventure, then upgrade to the Pacuare.

 

  1. Rio Savegre – Class II and III – May to January

This relaxing whitewater river is another excellent option for families, with day-trips being varied and not too challenging. Alongside gentle rapids, you can also head off for walks to explore waterfalls and stop in enchanting swimming pools along the way.  This free-flowing river is considered one of the clearest in all of Central America – if you’d love a relaxing river trip that’s just sprinkled with a few adrenaline-rushes, then the Savegre is perfect for you. This is one of the closest whitewater rivers to Manuel Antonio National Park.

 

  1. Rio Tenorio – Class III and IV

Boasting some of the most thrilling Class IV rapids in the country, the Tenorio River is perfect for moderate and experienced rafters and kayakers. This is the biggest whitewater river in the northern Guanacaste region, originating from the mountains around the Tenorio Volcano. The deeply-carved canyon is breathtaking and, between the thrilling rapids, you’ll have plenty of chances to soak up the startling scenery.

rafting

 

  1. Rio Sarapiqui – Class III and IV rapids – Year-round

Starting from the Cordillera Central, the Sarapiqui River runs from central highlands of Costa Rica, all the way to the border with Honduras. The river’s edges and crystalline waters are especially replete with exotic wild and marine life, making the gentler rapids (ideal for families and beginners) particularly rewarding. When you raft and kayak at a slower pace, you’ll have more time (and chances) to admire the surrounding landscapes. The Sarapiqui is in the lesser-visited, eastern side of Costa Rica, and the transfer time needed to reach it is immensely worthwhile.

As a country renowned for its eco-friendly adventures, Costa Rica is one of the world’s most rewarding adventure vacation destination. Whitewater rafting and kayaking are just the tip of the active-tour-iceberg! See all our Adventure Vacation Itineraries and see how seamlessly we combine a multitude of incredible experiences into the one, unforgettable trip. As always, simply contact us for tailor-made adventures.

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Lonely Planet Names Costa Rica BEST in Travel for 2020

Lonely Planet has just released its much anticipated ‘Best in Travel’ list for 2020, naming Costa Rica among the world’s top 10 countries to visit. Aside from its impressive and unrivaled biodiversity, the country’s commitment to environmental protection is what cinched the deal for the respected travel-guide publication. As the global tourism industry comes under increased scrutiny, eco-friendly destinations are swiftly becoming the most sought-after by travelers and it’s unsurprising that Lonely Planet names Costa Rica as the leading ‘pioneer’ in this regard. Sustainability is nowadays of the utmost importance within the travel sector, with people making very informed decisions about where they wish to spend their hard-earned travel money. Costa Rica, being the recognized birthplace of eco-tourism, is surely the most deserving of this nod.

costa rica

Here are just some of the fantastic reasons Costa Rica should be right at the top of YOUR vacation list for 2020.

  1. Costa Rica Is Insanely Easy To Get To

The ease of Costa Rica travel is undoubtedly a huge deal for many travelers – especially those with barely a week (or long weekend) of vacation time. Aside from the many direct flights connecting our sweet lil’ nation with the rest of the world, there’s the fact that Costa Rica’s two primary international airports, San Jose and Liberia, can get you within just a few hours’ drive of major highlights, maximizing the fun and minimizing time-sucking transfers. Should you happen to live close to one of the many US airports with non-stop flights to Costa Rica, you could leave home in the early morning and be catching waves, in the country’s resplendent Pacific coast, by lunchtime. And that’s just magic

Check out our Guide to Costa Rica Airports to have a better idea of how to plan your trip

sunset

 

  1. Costa Rica Is The Safest Country in Central America

Costa Rica usually rubs shoulders with Chile when it comes to competing for ‘safest’ hub in Latin America, yet when it comes to its own compact region (Central America) it reigns supreme. This is especially surprising given the sheer array of adrenaline activities most visitors partake in – although you may think that ‘safety’ only refers to crime, it actually encompasses everything that could cause harm, including traffic or adventure-sport accidents. The country’s political stability, relatively high quality of life (ibn its region) and impressive score on the Happy Planet Index, translate to a laid-back, friendly and safe destination to visit. Take precautions as far as your adventure-filled Costa Rica vacations are concerned and make sure you’re in the best hands possible when you visit.

Read our Safety Guide to Costa Rica to know where most dangers lie

waterfall

 

  1. Happy Locals = Happy Visitors

There’s no denying that happiness is contagious and the general contentment with life, in Costa Rica, is one of the country’s most enticing aspects. The warmth and friendliness of the locals are legendary (especially endearing for families with children) and that adds to the overall enjoyment of a visit. Widespread happiness in Costa Rica is attributed to several things but the main point is that locals feel listened to, for the most part, by their government. Impressive spending on health-care and education is achieved primarily because the country did away with its armed forces over 70 years ago, so it has a huge surplus to spend on citizen-based services (rather than a military) every year. Costa Rica also invests heavily in renewable energy – almost the entire electricity needs of the entire population are met exclusively with hydro, geothermal, solar and wind power. All of this makes Costa Rica one of the world’s most progressive regions and, despite the obvious level of poverty in even the most rural areas, is a huge source of pride among locals. Ticos love their country and their government’s commitment to protecting it and they showcase a huge desire to share their corner of paradise with visitors.

Isn’t that just delightful?!

parrots

 

  1. Tourism Plays a Direct Role in the Wellbeing of Costa Rica’s Inhabitants – It’s Wonderful to be Apart of That!

Tourism also plays a huge role in Costa Rica’s economy and it’s no wonder visitors are treated with so much graciousness. Alongside electronics and agriculture exports, tourism is the biggest earner in the country and it’s wonderful to know our tourist spending is funding such an admirable nation. It should be noted, however, that the tourism ‘glow’ is not felt equally, all over the country. Obviously, there are still many rural communities all over the country that see only a fraction of the tourist income that more prominent regions, like Arenal and Monteverde, receive. You can directly help the government bridge the gap, however, by actively choosing to take your adventure vacation in a lesser-visited but equally spellbinding region. We’ve helped plan many off-the-beaten-path Costa Rica vacations and usually find our guests to be completely blown away by the country’s hidden gems. Want to step off the gringo trail in Costa Rica? Let us know and we’ll make it so!

kayaking

 

  1. There is SO Much to See and Do in Costa Rica – You’d Need a Whole Lifetime to Tick All The Boxes

When all is said and done, Costa Rica’s single biggest enticement is its nearly infinite array of exceptional adventures. Here, you can swing from trees in pristine rain-forests brimming with toucans, sloths and monkeys. You can snorkel among unspoiled reefs teeming with tropical fish, hike along the base of semi-active volcanoes and explore bio-diverse reserves that look like they’re come straight out of a National Geographic documentary. You can meet an abundance of unique and curious wildlife, up close and personal, sometimes whilst having breakfast at some ridiculously charming eco-lodge immersed in a national park. And, more than anything, you can have bundles of fun in Costa Rica. The country’s most revered for its offering of adrenaline-packed adventures, so you can count zip-lining, rafting, kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, hiking, canyoning, mountain-biking and horseback riding among the very best things to do here. You can also enjoy a romantic active honeymoon, a fun-filled family reunion or simply come discover the country on your own. Many countries may claim to offer ‘something for everyone’ but we don’t know any that hit the spot like Costa Rica.

At Costa Rica Rios, we offer award-winning adventure tours and specialize in vacations for:

See all our Costa Rica Adventure Vacation packages and contact us for bespoke, tailor-made itineraries. If you want to experience the best adventure destination in the world with the best adventure company, just leave your question and contact details right at the bottom of this page

 

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Safety Guide for Costa Rica Adventures

Safety is usually a huge priority for anyone planning an adventure vacation in Costa Rica. And if it isn’t then it definitely should be. The country of a million adventure sports is an active traveler’s dream with such exciting activities as zip-lining, whitewater rafting, abseiling, horseback riding and mountain biking appearing on the daily itinerary of all adventure seekers heading our way. Yet as exciting as all this may be, it’s easy to often overlook the safety aspect of such endeavors.

waterfall

To this end, here are a few recommendations to help you plan your unforgettable (and safe!) adventure vacation in Costa Rica:

 

  1. Do Your Research Before…So You Don’t Have To Worry During Your Vacation

The main reason so many people overlook the safety aspect of adventure-filled vacation is because it’s a totally boring subject to contemplate, especially at a time when one is fantasizing about swinging between jungle treetops and rappelling down raging waterfalls. Yet although the chances of something going awry is minuscule, endeavoring to ensure your utmost safety before you even get on the plane means you need not worry about DURING your trip. This is what everyone should be aiming for: make safety a priority during the planning stage (ensuring you are able to actually partake in some extreme sports and choosing the right adventure travel company) and you need not question yourself during the trip.

 

  1. Choose An Adventure Company You Know You Can Trust. Once You Do, Listen To Them and TELL Them of Any Health Issues

The adventure travel company you choose should be well-renowned and boast an excellent safety record and plenty of client reviews. Once you’ve made your pick, trust them wholeheartedly. These are the guys that know best.

There are certain health issues that may prevent you from partaking in some of Costa Rica’s most coveted activities. You may not know what they are but your tour company definitely should, so disclose any issues you may have (including medication you may be taking) and let them guide you towards the right activities for you. Moreover, trust that your guides know their job and have your safety (and that of your travelling group) as their top priority, above and beyond anything else. Sometimes, they’ll ask you to wear specific shoes for certain activities or remover jewelry and leave your camera behind. Some activities have age restrictions. All of this is done purely for safety reasons so, please, listen to the recommendations of your guide and, even if you don’t understand the reasons behind certain restrictions, always follow them. By all means, do ask for explanations if you so wish and if you’re not in a situation of immediate danger (in which case follow directions first and ask questions later) as guides do appreciate explaining their safety protocols. The best agencies will have top-notch equipment of the highest standard and experienced and well-trained guides that know their chosen pocket of wilderness like the back of their hands. They’ll know to continually check the weather forecast and have contingency plans in place should anything negatively impact the day’s intended activity.

 

  1. Make Sure You’ve Had No Alcohol and Are Well Rested Before Attempting Any Outdoor Activity in Costa Rica

When having a blast in Costa Rica’s wilderness, it’s imperative that you – just like your guides – be at the top of your game and that means you should be well rested and not suffering under the influence of alcohol or drugs of any kind. You’d be surprised at just how uncoordinated you can be being only a little bit tired, let alone a little bit hungover. Your reaction times are delayed and your overall physical performance will suffer greatly if you aren’t feeling 100%. If in doubt, speak to your guide about what’s required of you on the day and take a rain check to rest instead. This way, your safety will never be compromised.

 

  1. Make Sure You Have Comprehensive Health Insurance That Covers All The Activities You Want To Do

No matter how many precautions you may take when travelling to Costa Rica, something can always happen and for that reason it is imperative you arrive with a fully comprehensive travel insurance policy to cover you for all eventualities. Should you suffer an injury during your adventure tour of Costa Rica (rare but not impossible), the last thing you’ll want to worry about is whether or not your travel insurance will cover all of your expenses. As we love to say: if you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford to travel! Make sure your insurance policy will cover your intended activities specifically. Many standard travel policies will not cover for adventure sports, for example, so make sure you have a policy that does.

 

At Costa Rica Rios, we take your safety seriously and that’s part of the reason National Geographic voted us one of the Best Adventure Travel Companies (on Earth). We’ve been running fully-guided adventure tours in Costa Rica for over two decades, using world-class equipment and employing the best guides in the business. For your unparalleled safety and peace of mind, we are your safety guides for Costa Rica adventures. When only the best will do!

See our full collection of Costa Rica adventure vacations and contact us to know more.

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15 Amazing Things To Do in Arenal

Alrighty –  you’ve booked your Costa Rica adventure tour, you KNOW there’s no way you’re missing the Arenal Volcano National Park and now it’s just a matter of figuring out what to actually DO once you get there.

We’ve got you covered, thrill-seeker!

Here are 15 of the most amazing things to do in Arenal!

  1. Walk Over Ancient Lava Fields

Walking trails in and around the Arenal Volcano National Park abound, with choices for leisurely strolls and hard-core hikes suiting various levels of fitness. Out of all of these, the La Coladas Walking Trail is undoubtedly the most iconic and comprehensive because it meanders through large sections of the pristine rain-forest and guides you over fascinating cooled lava fields. The trail is moderately easy and takes merely an hour or so but it does reward you with the most unobstructed views of Arenal Volcano. If you’d love a longer walk then take La Coladas and extend it to join Los Tucanes Walking Trail (2.5hrs), which takes you deeper into the rain-forest, all the way to the Arenal Observatory Lodge. This trail offers even more chances of spotting birds and other wildlife, especially if crowds (and noise) are minimal.

volcano

 

  1. Swim Under The Overwhelming Spray of La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall is one of Arenal’s most celebrated sights and heading here with a picnic brunch and your swimmers is a great way to start your day. This has got to be the very best swim you can have in Costa Rica, especially on a blisteringly hot day. We offer a wonderful horseback ride to these waterfalls which adds a whole other element to the excursion – more on that at the end of the article.

waterfall

 

  1. Soar Like a Bird Above The Forest Canopy

Zip-lining and canopy walking over hanging bridges is the bees’ knees of Arenal and the one activity that’s offered in several places. Zipping at what feels like a million-miles-an-hour is the enticement for the fastest courses whilst slightly more demure options, that can be even more enjoyable, will also suit adventurous children. If it’s your first array into the adventure Costa Rica adventure vacation scene, do note that zip-lining, scary though it may seem, isn’t nearly as (arguably) daunting as rafting Class IV rapids and even canyoning, so it’s a great way to wet your adrenaline-feet in Costa Rica.

zip-lining

 

  1. Visit a Turquoise River & Waterfall Right Nearby

The Rio Celeste Waterfall is the fervently protected jewel in the crown of the Tenorio Volcano National Park, right next door to Arenal. A 2/3-hr hike in the park dishes up superb nature-infused adventures and although you cannot swim here, like you can at La Fortuna, the visual spectacle alone is utterly worth your while. Do note that the ethereal colour of the Rio Celeste is due to a very unique mix of minerals which means if you visit during rainy season, it will not seem as bright, since the strong current and rainfall will disturb the sediment on the riverbed. The park is about an hour’s drive out of La Fortuna.

waterfall

 

  1. Take a Paddle to Lake Arenal and Enjoy Magnificent Volcano Views

On a crystal-clear day in Arenal, you simply can’t paddle past Lake Arenal, provider of startling volcano views. Take a kayak or a SUP board and spend as much time as you like frolicking about. The lake itself is expansive so you can be out here for hours on end yet given the sheer array of other phenomenal things to do, we usually find that a 2-hour outing is plenty for most people.

volcano

 

  1. Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

This place offers hands-down the best views of Arenal Volcano and boasts several hiking trails within its private reserve. The best part of the AOL is that although staying here is a bit of a dream, you don’t have to in order to hike here: just can pay the day-entry fee and off you go. The Observatory Lodge is revered for offering some of the best bird-watching trails in all of Arenal. This is also one of our favorite honeymoon sundowner spots in the country!

arena; observatory

 

  1. Soak In a Natural Thermal Pool

As you disembark your plane in Costa Rica and experience the at-times overwhelming heat and humidity, you’ll think everyone crazy for insisting you soak in a hot thermal pool in Arenal. But, trust everyone on this, it is one of the most exquisite experiences in the country. The volcanic region of Arenal boasts the best natural hot springs in Costa Rica in the country and, after a full-day out exploring, hiking, rafting and what-not, you will LOVE to soak your bones and muscles in the mineral-rich waters.  This is seriously the best way to end each and every day in Arenal. To this end, consider staying in one of Arenal’s best hot-spring hotels: having private pools all to yourself is an unforgettable treat!

pool

 

  1. Catch Your Heart In Your Throat on a Raging River

White-water rafting in Arenal dishes up gorgeous Class II rapids (perfect for families) as well as Class IV drops, the kind that’ll have your heart firmly in your throat the entire ride. We’re particularly fond of the Balsa River because it offers the best family-friendly rafting experience with relaxing-enough rapids that allow you to take it easy and really soak up the surrounding wilderness. Riverside wildlife spotting in remote areas is ideal because animals are a lot more prone to come out of the thick foliage when they’re away from roads and inhabited areas and that’s what makes a ‘slower and tamer’ rafting excursion all the more rewarding. Arenal and La Fortuna is only one of several world-class whitewater rafting destinations in Costa Rica.

rafting

 

  1. Boop Noses with Monkeys & Aid in Their Recovery

Very little compares to seeing monkeys, sloths, toucans and all other Costa Rican creatures in the wild (where they belong) yet the undeniable truth is that visiting one of Arenal’s wildlife refuges is a wonderful way to help local projects rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife. Proyecto Asis is one such oasis and a place where you can volunteer a few hours of your day to help prep and feed for the menageries of animals that are living their best convalescence. Not only will you get to feed and boop noses with at-risk monkeys (the kids go bananas over this) but you’ll also fill your heart, knowing your entry fee contribution has gone to helping this amazing place. Read about 3 Brilliant Wildlife Refuges in Costa Rica.

squirrel monkey

 

  1. Get Your Chocolate Fix

Just between us, the chocolate feasting to be had in Arenal is probably reason enough to book a Costa Rica adventure vacation. After all, every endurance athlete knows that chocolate is the best refueling snack of them all! Given the wonderful organic chocolate produced in the region, you should probably go a little beyond a simple feast here: take an interactive chocolate workshop and you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how chocolate is processed AND get to feast at the end. A win-win! Farm experiences are among the most eco-conscious activities you can partake in when visiting Costa Rica.

There are plenty of tours to choose from but we are kinda addicted to the Rainforest Chocolate Tour. Something about ‘eat all the chocolate you want’ suggestion at the end…

cacao

 

  1. Saddle Up, Cowboys and Girls!

Horseback riding is very much part of Tico culture so, rather than being a ‘tourist gimmick’ created specifically for foreigners, it can be considered an authentic cultural experience. Aside from simply swapping your motorized (or foot-drawn) transport for a 4-hoofed beast (like at La Fortuna Waterfall) you can also take sensational tours through remote trails. You can ride your steed to the Rio Celeste, you can combine a half-ride, half-whatever else you fancy (like zip-lining, whitewater rafting and hot-springs) or take a whole day out on a customized itinerary that is perfect for experienced riders. If you’re a particularly avid and experienced rider, you can also ask us about multi-day horse treks, among the most unique and exceptional activities to do in all of Costa Rica, not only Arenal.

horseback riding

 

  1. Take a Cooking Class

There’s no better way to eat like a local in Arenal than by learning to cook like one. Authentic cooking classes are very popular here and we’re finding more and more guests want to include a half-day immersive class to really get the comprehensive Tico experience here. There are a ton of hands-on culinary options here, including tortilla-making, chocolate workshops and everything from traditional appetizer to 3-course-meal creations. The great thing about Costa Rica cooking classes and that they showcase the most organic produce grown locally so you get an insight into the health-giving properties of the food, the culinary culture of the county and end up feasting your tastebuds like nothing else!

Check out these four totally unique cooking classes in Costa Rica.

ceviche

 

  1. Go Canyoneering For a Day…and DO.IT.ALL.

Can’t decide which of the amazing Arenal adventure activities you want to do? How about doing them ALL?! A full-day canyoneering excursion in Arenal will get your heart pumping like nothing else and, as long as you can manage to take your eyes off the stunning canyon, you’ll also soak up outstanding landscape views. The ultimate adrenaline-junkie fix, canyoning combines hiking, rappelling, cliff jumping and even some rock scrambling to create a 4-in-1 adventure sport that is out of this world. Much like the rafting choices, canyoning options are also numerous so you can all Rambo on extreme tours, or opt for a beginner’s course, depending on your skill levels and thrill-addiction.

canyoning

 

  1. Enjoy a Relaxing Swim and Rope-Jump, FREE OF CHARGE!

Sometimes, even an adventure-filled vacation needs to include a little down-time but rest assured that in a place like Costa Rica, that ALWAYS comes with some kind of action. Just a 15-min walk out of La Fortuna Town is where you’ll find Salto, a glorious section of river you can access free of charge. Locals head here to freshen up and rope-swing on a hot day and it makes for a beautiful way to pass a few relaxing hours. It Isn’t quite as magical an experience as swimming under the La Fortuna waterfall but hey, it’s convenient and free of charge so what’s not to love about that? Plus, you can go totally lazy-bum for the afternoon and take a taxi out here (all the drivers know it). Simply nominate a pick-up time (1.5hrs should be enough) and you don’t even have to walk. A great ‘last day in Arenal’ activity! Just a word of caution, though, as this stretch of river is set in a canyon: do not head here if it is or has been raining and, if it starts to rain, leave immediately, as the river level can rise incredibly fast. Just use common sense and enjoy.

tropical rainforest

 

  1. Take a 4X4 Tour to El Castillo (and stay the night)

El Castillo is one of the quaintest villages in the Arenal region but often gets overlooked because you need a 4WD to reach it. For those willing to go that extra mile, though, the experience is very rewarding and is a stunning way to get well off the tourist trail (and away from the crowds). A handful of beautiful eco-lodges means you can head up here (only 11 miles away from La Fortuna) for a couple of days if you wish, and explore this lesser-known area. A butterfly conservatory and ‘eco-zoo’, where you’ll find a great collection of amphibians and reptiles, provide plenty of distraction if you don’t want to tackle any of the (many) hikes on offer. The best reason to come to El Castillo, however, is that the charming town offers arguably the most jaw-dropping and unobstructed views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.

volcano

 

Here at Costa Rica Rios, we offer an amazing array of adventure sin Arenal, all of which can be customized and tailor-made to suit your wishes. Check out the best Arenal Activities we have on offer and the wonderful Arenal Hotels we recommend staying in – various options means budget travelers, families and honeymooners will also find something to suit them.

Contact us to know more.

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What to Do With Kids on Family Vacations in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica rates among the world’s best family vacation destinations and that’s because this country is bursting at the seams with an array of outdoor pursuits that enthrall kids and adults alike. Families love holidaying here and that’s hardly surprising when you consider the inherent love of children and family-life the Tico culture boasts. Unlike other destinations that place an emphasis on separating adult-fun and children-fun, Costa Rica brings it all together, offering immersive and rewarding experiences to families who actually love spending time together and sharing unforgettable memories.

So why not plan a family adventure vacation with a difference for 2019?

Come and see what magical adventures await you all in wonderful Costa Rica.

 

Wildlife & Wilderness in Costa Rica

What makes Costa Rica so ideal for family vacations is the fact that parents don’t really need to do too much to entertain the kids: the country’s wildlife-enriched wilderness does a great job of grabbing everybody’s attention. A nature lover’s dream, this compact country is enriched with a host of eco-tourism projects that offer educational and totally fun activities for kids of all ages. In Costa Rica, kids learn about the importance of environmental protection by discovering rare and endangered species, by walking on hanging bridges in virgin forests and by exploring national parks full of creatures, sounds and smells. You’ll be amazed how fascinated children can be in unspoiled nature and even if you think your child is not the nature-lover you’d hoped he/she would be, just wait until you see them here, locking eyes with a sloth, spotting colorful toucans and giggling at the piercing call of howler monkeys. Jungle experiences are the #1 attraction for families visiting Costa Rica and rest assured that there are plenty of eco-lodges that offer comfortable stays for even the most creepy-crawly-phobic child (or parent). See our selection of the Best National Parks in Costa Rica that make for superb family vacations.

kids

 

Family-friendly Hiking Trails in Costa Rica

Families heading to Costa Rica for the first time can be anxious about the country’s extensive maze of hiking trails, thinking that the options for young families are limited. Not so! The most popular destinations, in fact, are tailor-made for family vacations, offering a wide array of options for parents with young kids in tow. Visiting Manuel Antonio and La Paz Waterfall Gardens to enjoying leisurely walks is a no-brainer for first-time visitors, especially those with very young kids or those who don’t normally hike very much in the great outdoors. If your family is a bit more adventurous and used to hiking then the whole country really is your oyster: Costa Rica boasts a multitude of hikes to waterfalls, mountain peaks, temperate and cloud forests, as well as endless miles of glorious beaches that can be walked for hours on end. You can read more about our favorite family vacation hiking trails.

 

Family-Friendly Resorts in Costa Rica

Family-centered resorts are very popular here, especially along the north-western Pacific coastline, where you’ll find a bevy of excellent choices along some of the most celebrated beaches in the country. Yet if you’re looking for some quality time away from the maddening distractions of everyday life, then you might want to look into some of Costa Rica’s most unplugged eco-tourism lodges instead, where jungle activities, surfing, swimming, snorkeling and night wildlife-watching tours ensure the kids not even notice the Wi-Fi is missing. Read more about some truly special Family-friendly Resorts in Costa Rica.

kids

 

The Best Amusement Parks in Costa Rica

It may surprise you to learn that Costa Rica isn’t replete with amusement parks and that’s because the whole country is considered a nature-filled family playground – the need for dedicated play parks is not as pronounced here as in other countries. Nevertheless, there are a few great options if you have children of varying ages and just wish to treat them to a different kind of day out. Costa Rica’s best amusement parks are much more organic and less commercial than those back home and most visitors love them precisely for this reason. In Costa Rica, kids can slide down thrilling water rides created with thermal springs, fly through tree-tops in pristine tropical rain-forests and even indulge in a multi-sport adventure outing where horseback riding, zip-lining and kayaking provide all the thrills.

 

Mountain Biking Adventures

If exploring mountainous wilderness on two wheels is your family’s idea of a great vacation, then you’ll be excited to know that Costa Rica is traversed by hundreds of miles of exceptional mountain biking trails and is considered one of the world’s prime destinations for bikers. The country’s diversity means that no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find one region at its absolute prime: perfect temps to hit the trails, a kaleidoscope of destinations and fantastic scenery, no matter where you go. Obviously, mountain biking adventures in Costa Rica are primarily suited to families who bike together regularly although there are plenty of short and sweet trails if your kids are just starting off and you’d like to test the waters. We offer tailor-made mountain-biking itineraries that will ensure your family has a fantastic, safe and unforgettable time.

 

Family Multi-Adventure Tours

At Costa Rica Rios, we combine everything that makes this incredible country so ideal for families and create multi-adventure vacations that captivate the hearts and souls of young and young-at-heart alike. Our most popular tours combine whitewater rafting, canopy zip-line, horseback riding, hiking, hot spring soaking, surfing and wildlife-watching in a week (or more) of exceptionally fun adventures. We offer soft adventures for families with younger kids and more active experiences for those with fearless teenagers on their hands. We can take you to the most popular sites if it’s your first visit or more remote locations if you crave an off-the-beaten-trail journey. Our adventure tours are not only fun and varied but they’re also safe, affordable and planned to suit your needs. We take the hassle of planning every detail of your adventure vacation in Costa Rica so you can rest easy, knowing your vacation, and your family, are in capable and experienced hands.

Above all, we combine the best aspects of Costa Rica’s nature and culture to offer truly immersive experiences – these are the family adventure vacations no family will readily forget.

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