An unparalleled kayaking destination, Costa Rica is home to more than 20 outstanding rivers offering grade I, II, III and IV rapids. Whether on a day excursion or multi-day adventure, you’ll find the perfect river on which to play, frolic and have the time of your life.
There’s very little which can top the adrenaline rush of facing a raging river head on, with only a tiny kayak between your legs, a paddle firmly in your hands, and a beaming smile on your face. Add to that a backdrop of outstanding natural wilderness, and you’ve got yourself a revitalizing experience like no other.
That’s Costa Rica in a nutshell.
Want to feel the invigorating rush of kayaking down one of the world’s most revered rivers. Well, here’s your chance. The best whitewater kayaking rivers in Costa River are just a short plane ride away.
The Mighty Pacuare River
The Pacuare River, which flows for about 80 miles onto the Caribbean, is arguably the country’s foremost kayaking destination. Framed by stunning rain forests (most of it virgin and unspoilt) home to monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, iguanas, sloths, and an infinite array of endemic birds, it is the nature lover’s crazy river of choice.
First kayaked in its entirety in the early 80s, the Pacuare can be both challenging and sedate, so picking the right spot for your skill level is superbly easy. Divided into three sections, each offering an array of II, III and IV grade rapids, kayaking runs on the Pacuare extend from 10 to 23 miles, with options for both single day and multi-day excursions. Packed with stunning riverside lodges and plenty of alternative activities (like trekking and zip-lining), the Pacuare should definitely be at the top of your must-kayak list if visiting Costa Rica for the first time.
The Challenging Sarapiqui River
Stretching for over 50 miles and starting with back-to-back grade IV rapids, the Rio Sarapiqui is not for wimps. There will be plenty of time for (somewhat) relaxing paddling down river, and a mix of eye-popping and calmer rapids, yet if you wish to start your trip with an absolute WOW, this is the river for you.
Would it help to know that the Sarapiqui lies at the heart of the most astonishing wilderness in the Cordillera Central? Well…take off your eyes off the water for just a moment and you’ll see an array of animals racing you to the next rapid. Much like the Pacuare, the Sarapiqui is revered for offering kayak-able trips all year round, and can easily be reached from San Jose (the capital), meaning you can go from the airport to one of the world’s best kayaking rivers in no time at all.
The Laid-Back Pejibaye River
Although you need not have any prior experience to raft almost anywhere in Costa Rica, the first time kayaker may want to include a stint along the beautiful Pejibaye River to whet their kayaking appetite. Boasting only grade I and II rapids, the Pejibaye is a wonderful introduction and, if anything, it’ll show you just how easy and enjoyable the sport can be. If you prefer to slide in gingerly, rather than dive headfirst, this one’s our top choice for a delectable entrée into the world of Costa Rica kayaking trips.
A More Sedate Kayaking Adventure
It’s certainly not necessary to test one’s endurance, or breath-holding skills, to enjoy the amazing therapeutic effects of a kayaking trip. Costa Rica is also home to an array of outstanding mangroves and protected coastal coves which are perfect for those who wish to kayak at a more laid-back pace. For a more comprehensive kayaking trip through Costa Rica, include a few excursions to some of the country’s more placid yet equally enticing kayaking destinations.
Head to the Osa Peninsula, for example, and you can kayak along pristine lakes home to manatees and dolphins, and framed by overhanging verdant mangroves. Have little ones in tow? Then indulge your whole family on a relaxing kayaking day out on the lake at the base of Volcano Arenal, where you get to stretch your arms and bask in glorious mountain views all in one swift stroke of a paddle. Over on the Nicoya Peninsula, you can explore the depths of the stupendous Tamarindo Estuary, a mangrove ecosystem bursting with endemic wildlife. Exploring mangroves by kayak is ideal for wildlife spotting, as the tranquil glide of a kayak doesn’t disturb animals in any way, so you’ll likely see much more than you otherwise would if you were in a powered boat.
No matter what kind of exotic adventure you wish to have aboard a kayak, Costa Rica offers a nearly endless array of totally unique and unforgettable destinations. And don’t forget: you need not be a kayak pro to take on even the mightiest of rivers. Come along with us on a fantastic week of kayak and canoe adventure vacation in Costa Rica and let us design the perfect bespoke itinerary that will not only satisfy your most fervent wishes but also take plenty of care of your non-kayaking travel companions. While you are out and about with your kayak, they can be snorkeling, fishing, trekking, zip-lining and doing 101 other fun and exciting activities.
Because in Costa Rica, an adventure vacation is anything but ordinary!