Tag Archives: Costa Rica

10 of the Most Fabulous Birds to Spot in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the world’s most prized wildlife havens, never more so than when we’re talking about birds. Not just any birds, mind you, but truly fabulous birds – some of the most magnificent and colorful on earth. The country’s idyllic climate, coupled with incredibly fertile and varied landscapes, and fervent environmental preservation, have combined over the years to create one of the most diverse aviary sanctuaries on earth.

Home to over 850 different species of birds, over half of which are endemic, Costa Rica is a bird-lover’s absolute Utopia. Here, you’ll find almost 10% of all the bird species on earth.

Rest assured that if you’re not a bird enthusiast by the time you visit, you certainly will be by the time you leave.

Here are just 10 of the most fabulous birds to spot in Costa Rica:

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  1. Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent by name and plumage, the quetzal is perhaps the most highly-coveted bird to spot in all of Costa Rica. Painfully shy and preferring to live at altitudes of between 5,000 and 6,500 feet, this most fatuous member of the trigon bird family boasts magnificent colors and almost regal green and turquoise feathers that extend an astonishing 40 inches beyond the tip of their tails. Endangered due to habitat loss, the Resplendent Quetzal is the national bird of Panama although due to habitat loss, numbers there have greatly diminished. Costa Rica, on the other hand, boasts large numbers of the majestic creatures, thanks to its pristine cloud forests.

Hiking adventure in search of quetzals are very popular tour options and usually taken between February and May, their mating season and the period of the year when they are most active. The best place to spot them is in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the aptly-named and lesser-known Loz Quetzales National Park (a bird-lover’s mecca, in general) and Braulio Carrillo National Park, which is framed by ethereal volcanoes and boasts the kind of mid-elevation forests the quetzal cherishes.

 

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  1. Keel-billed Toucan

The pin-up of the Costa Rican bird-kingdom and most adored bird in all of Central America, the keel-billed toucan, aka the Froot Loop guy, never fails to stop people dead on their tracks with its jaw-dropping looks. The oversized beaks, impressive size and stunning colors of so many sub-species make toucans the most famous birds in the tropical world and the keel-billed, in particular, is regarded as the most fabulous of them all. This tucan pico arcoiris – or rainbow-beak toucan, in Spanish – is a sociable and playful creature, often quarreling with its flock members over fruit or space on an already overcrowded tree-branch.

One of six toucans found in Costa Rica, the keel-billed toucan is most often seen along the Caribbean coast, although it’s one of two species that also inhabit the Nicoya Peninsula. Tortuguero, Cahuita and Turrialba Volcano national parks are all fantastic toucan-spotting destinations as well. If you’re as toucan mad as we are, pin the Rescate Animal Zoo Ave (Alajuela Province) on your map – here, you can meet Grecia, the first toucan rescue in the world to receive a 3D-printed beak replacement. You can listen to Grecia’s amazing, tear-jerking story, right here.

 

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  1. Scarlet Macaw

One of the most recognizable birds in Costa Rica, the scarlet macaw is an absolute visual spectacle. With its bright red head, green chest and bright blue lower-half, this specific macaw is easy to spot, even by the most untrained bird-spotting eye. Macaws are, like all parrots, very sociable birds so when you spot one, be sure to keep looking up and you’ll no-doubt see more. Macaws live to a ripe old age of 60 and have, in the past, been highly coveted as pets, which greatly diminished their numbers in the wild. Luckily, protection initiatives have brought Costa Rica’s numbers up to a healthy standard and have averted an absolute wildlife disaster.

Most commonly spotted in the south-western side of the country, the Scarlet Macaw is one of the most prized residents of the Corcovado National Park although numbers are on the up and up on the Caribbean side as well, especially in Tortuguero National Park.

 

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  1. Great Green Macaw

The largest parrot in Costa Rica is a cousin of the scarlet but one that is much more difficult to spot. It is usually best seen on the Caribbean side of the country. Like all macaws, it squawks so loudly that is most often heard, loud and clear, long before it is spotted. Much like the scarlet, the great green macaw used to primarily favor feasting on higher-elevation almond trees, a flora species that has been almost logged into extinction and replaced with a faster-growing lower-elevation tree, imported from Asia. Whilst the scarlet macaw was quick to switch food-source, the green macaw was reluctant to follow suit for years, so its numbers plummeted dramatically. Luckily, their taste buds seem to have finally adapted and, nowadays, sightings have increased, especially around the Rio Sarapiqui, where we run out whitewater rafting and kayaking trips.

 

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  1. Blue Crowned (Lesson’s) Motmot

Half a dozen motmot species inhabit Costa Rica, the most fabulous of which is the blue-crowned motmot, its iridescent blue maw-hawk hairdo and bright green tail feathers making it an absolute vision against the verdant green backdrop of the forest. Commonly dubbed ‘clock-birds’, the motmot has the habit of swinging its long tail from side to side when sitting on a branch, mimicking the swing of a grandfather clock. These cute guys can be spotted all over Costa Rica but, for the highest chances of seeing them, head to the Osa Peninsula.

The motmot name comes from a mimic of the call it makes, an owl-like double hoot that is very distinctive.

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  1. Fiery-billed Aracari

More easily described as a miniature toucan, the fiery-billed aracari belongs to the same family and displays much the same features of toucans, including an incredibly oversized beak. Lovers of fruits, coffee and cacao beans, aracaris love to hang out near plantations, where they can score exceptional meals on the fly. Endemic to the Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica and seen all along the coastline, the fiery-billed aracari is commonly found below 3,000 feet in elevation.

 

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  1. Hummingbirds

Among the most adorable birds you will likely ever see, hummingbirds delight spotters with their diminutive size and impressive wing-flapping speed. Costa Rica has so far recorded 50 distinct species of hummingbirds, two of which are totally endemic, and all showcasing incredibly iridescent colors. Although their distribution spans the entirety of the country, actually spotting them in the wild can be a little tricky. Many wildlife sanctuaries have feeders in place so visitors can see them relatively easily.

Head to Monteverde’s famous Hummingbird Garden where you can see a stunning array of these fabulous birds, including the green violet-ear and the fiery-throated hummingbird, a glistening specimen that is absolutely gorgeous.

 

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  1. Crested Caracara

A formidable and quite sneaky hunter, the crested caracara feeds on turtles, lizards, snakes and anything else it can dig its sharp-beak into. This bird prefers slightly cooler temps and is best seen on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, most famously in Manuel Antonio and Corcovado national parks.

 

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  1. Speckled Tanager

This exceptionally bright little guy with the polka-dot plumage resides in tropical rainforests and loves to hang-out in large groups, either with members of its own species or tagging along with other species. Like a true masterpiece, the speckled tanager boasts an eye-popping palette of yellow, green and turquoise feathers, speckled with black dots. This wonderful songbird favors mid-level forests and is most commonly seen on the western half of Costa Rica, in cloud forests flanking its central mountains.

 

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  1. Clay-Colored Thrush

Interestingly enough, the clay-colored thrush (or robin), is perhaps the least-arresting bird to spot in Costa Rica although it is the country’s national bird. The interesting choice of mascot-bird was made not because the bird is endemic here but because its long, melodious song is a forebearer for the rain season and because, unlike more exotic and colorful species that prefer prime wilderness, the clay-colored thrush is often found in villages and cities. To bird-loving Ticos, this is the most common and beloved species of all.

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Whether you’re an avid ornithologist or a hobbyist bird-watcher, check out Ebird.Co and download the bird-spotting app that collates all the species in Central America.

Here are a few travel guides to the best national parks in Costa Rica for bird-spotting, which you may find useful:

At Costa Rica Rios, we’re in the business of running award-winning Costa Rica adventure vacations and spotting the most fabulous birds is part and parcel of every trip we take, simply because we scour the most pristine and lesser-visited pockets of wilderness in the country. If there’s a particular bird or place you wish to visit, however, we can create a bespoke itinerary to suit your desires or tell you the best way to fit in a side trip on an organised tour.

Simply call us, below, to know more.

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US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

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Remote Costa Rica – The Original Social Distancing Destinations

A term we’ve all come to know all too well in recent weeks, social-distancing doesn’t always need to conjure up negative images. Sometimes, as is the case for Costa Rica’s remotest destinations, it can mean sensational nature-infused adventure vacations in blissful quiet, away from the tourist crowds, the hustle of cities and the endless connectivity.

Thinking of ways to restore your adventurous soul when all this COVID-mayhem is over?

Here are some of the most delightfully remote destinations in Costa Rica for adventure-seekers, families and honeymooning couples who still want to indulge in a myriad of activities whilst keeping away from the crowds.

 

TURRIALBA

Home to the Pacuare River, one of the best whitewater adventure hubs on earth, Turrialba is one of the most rewarding yet least-visited destinations in Costa Rica. Interestingly enough, it’s not even that far from the capital, San Jose, yet is often overlooked in favor of more Insta-famous regions. This Central Valley hub boasts some of the most glorious rural landscapes in the country, the fertility of the soil and lusciousness of the valleys making it a huge agricultural powerhouse. Devoid of major overcrowding but, instead, offering a wealth of river-based adventurous fun, this a remote destination for true adrenaline-seekers.

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Where to stay: Pacuare Lodge

Anyone who’s enjoyed one of our adventure vacations in Costa Rica will surely be familiar with Pacuare Lodge, one of the world’s most astonishing eco-lodges. This incredibly unique luxury treehouse is set on over 20,000 acres of protected wilderness, right on the banks of the Pacuare River. Accessible only by 4WD, helicopter or rafting kayak, The Pacuare is the ideal spot to get away from it all – all-inclusive deals mean you get to raft, kayak, hike, canyon, swing from treetops and so much more, every single day. An in-house, award-winning wellness spa and exquisite cuisine seal the deal: the best of Costa Rica, in the middle of the superlative Costa Rican jungle? Yes please!

Love the sound of this area and want to know more? Check out our favorite accommodation options in Turrialba.

 

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OSA PENINSULA

One of three amazing peninsulas in Costa Rica, the Osa is found on the south-western coast and is undoubtedly the wildest, remotest and most astonishing of the three. Most of the peninsula is made up of the Corcovado National Park (sound familiar?) considered one of the most bio-diverse on earth and home to over half the flora and fauna species found all over the country. Reaching this post is time consuming at the best of times, let alone during the dry-season when the park is only accessible by plane. It’s this very isolation, coupled with intense wilderness experiences, that make the Osa a social distancing dream.

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Where to Stay: Lapas Rio Ecolodge

Lapas Rio is an absolute dream, with jaw-dropping elevated family-sized bungalows making you feel as if you’re the only one in the Osa for miles and miles. The only connectivity is with the pristine Corcovado nature and if you think that won’t entice the kids to come along for the remote Costa Rican adventure of a lifetime, just tell them they’ll have no time to miss Minecraft when howler monkeys, sloths and toucans beckon them from the balcony.

This is, by far, one of the best family-friendly resorts in Costa Rica and one of our favorite Corcovado lodges.

 

UVITA

Dubbed the most biologically-intense corner of our planet by National Geographic, Uvita is home to the world-famous Marino Ballena National Park, the whale-tale-shaped promontory that is, through no small coincidence, Costa Rica’s prime whale-watching destination. Half-way between the beach hub of Quepos and the Osa Peninsula on the southern Pacific coast, Uvita itself is not all that remote nor isolated, although the sheer expansiveness of the protected wilderness here, and options for luxury lodges off the beaten path, are numerous. This is the perfect place if you want to hide away from the rest of the world for a few days whilst still being close to all the Pacific coast action.

 

Marino Ballena National Park

 

Where to Stay: Vista Celestial

Want to spend your days indulging in private jacuzzi soaks, intimate yoga classes, strolls along deserted but resplendent beaches and soaking up awe-inspiring coastal views from your own private terrace? Then this heavenly lodge may be just your thing. Home to just five exquisite bungalows framed by rain and cloud forests, Vista Celestial – which means heavenly views – is the kind of place no-one forgets in a hurry. Options for adventure activities abound so you can be as active or as sloth-like as you like!

Love the sound of Uvita but looking for a more affordable option? See our pick of the best Uvita lodges.

 

TORTUGUERO

The Caribbean coast’s equivalent of Corcovado, Tortuguero is even harder to reach but is just as exceptional. The turtle-nesting capital of Costa Rica, Tortuguero is a unique national park, comprising mangroves, lagoons and canals home to an astonishing array of unique wildlife. Lodges here are reached by boat, excursions are made on canoes and kayaks and Wi-Fi – although offered in some places – is not even worthy of a mention. Yes, you’ll give up most luxuries when you visit Tortuguero but if it’s divine social distancing you’re after, coupled with sightings of rare manatees, crocodiles, turtles, jaguars, sloths and endless families of monkeys and exotic birds, you simply won’t find a better place.

 

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Where to Stay: Tortuga Lodge

One of the more affordable Tortuguero options, Tortuga is a no-frills, riverfront lodge that offers everything you need for an extraordinary adventure. With an open-air restaurant rated among the best in the region, a hammock room, saltwater pool, amazing river views from every angle and enough room options to suit both families and honeymooning couples, this is one of the most comprehensive accommodation options in Tortuguero.

 

Costa Rica National Parks that are ideal for an ‘anti-social adventure day’

Whilst we understand that some visitors crave entire weeks spent off-the-beaten-path in Costa Rica, we find that the majority simply wish to experience unplugged days interspersed with days in more sociable, bustling hubs. If you happen to be more the latter, rather then the former, here are some of the best yet least-visited national parks in the country that aren’t too far off the tourist-trail.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park – One of our most popular activity options from Tamarindo, on the north-western Pacific coast, is to this gem of a place. Rincon covers an area roughly equivalent to 53 square miles and is home to two of Costa Rica’s most incredible volcanoes (Rincon de la Vieja and Santa Maria) and a resulting dramatic landscape comprising almost three dozen rivers as well as waterfalls, natural hot springs, mud baths and some of the most unspoiled wilderness in the country. As the Guanacaste region’s popularity increases, thanks primarily to the expansion of the northern Liberia International Airport, expect this place to soon be as visited and commercialized as Arenal but, for now, it remains a sublime, remote and unplugged paradise.

Poas Volcano National Park – Surprisingly lesser-visited despite its proximity to San Jose, Poas Volcano boasts the world’s most active crater and undoubtedly one of its most picturesque. The last, somewhat minor eruption occurred in September 2019 and given this crater’s propensity to bubble at regular intervals, 99% of trails are closed to the public. There is one hiking trail that offers spectacular crate views, however, yet because it’s only worthwhile to hike up when the weather is impeccable, many tourists simply bypass it. If you’re lucky enough to catch this 8885-ft-peak with crystal-clear skies, you’ll be in for a spectacular treat.

Santa Rosa National Park – Easier to reach than Tortuguero and lesser-visited than Ostional on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Rosa is our secret turtle-spotting destination when our clients want to get off the beaten path for a day. Right on the north-western tip of Costa Rica and just south of the border with Panama, this superb, small yet super rewarding national park is a hidden treasure, brimming with wildlife, awesome volcano views and some of the most idyllic yet unknown beaches along the entire Pacific coast. Absolutely glorious!

Our Adventure Vacations in Costa Rica take social distancing to brand new levels and take you to some of the most remote and unspoiled corners of our magnificent country. Give us a call when you’re ready to start planning your next unforgettable adventure down our spellbinding neck of the woods.

 

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US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

 

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Horseback Riding in Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Rincon de la Vieja is not amongst the most visited national parks in Costa Rica which is the reason discerning adventurers head here to enjoy horseback riding adventures away from the crowds. Although the park (and whole Guanacaste region) are becoming more popular thanks to the extension of the Liberia International Airport, this is still a side of the country not everyone gets to experience.

If you’re after a quieter and more immersive wilderness experience on your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica, and simply wish to share your spoils with fewer people on horseback, consider Rincon De la Vieja an exceptional choice.

 

Overview of Rincon de la Vieja – Best Way to Visit

This stunning park is merely 16 miles north-east of the town of Liberia and its airport, taking as little as an hour’s drive to reach with no traffic. That means you can enjoy a horseback riding tour here even if you’re simply passing through and transiting to other Costa Rican provinces – a day off either before or after your flight is all you need to at least get a taste of this beautiful Guanacaste highlight.

Rincon de la Vieja comprises 35,000 acres of sensational wilderness, comprising the arresting Rincon de la Vieja Volcano (one of only two active volcanoes in the country) as well as the slightly taller Santa Maria Volcano, and a bevy of natural hot springs and mud baths, gorgeous waterfalls and unspoiled jungles and forests, all inhabited by a wide array of exotic wildlife.

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The park is easy to explore on foot given the well-maintained trails but there’s no denying you can see and do more when you visit on a horseback riding tour, especially on a hot summer’s day.

Given the remoteness and relative isolation of the park, visits are difficult to organize independently – everyone stays in a lodge or resort nearby and most will simply organize their transfers and excursions directly through their accommodation. Even if you have a rental car or can book out a taxi for an entire day, it’s unarguably easier and more enjoyable to visit on an organised tour. With a local guide to show you around and private transport at your beck and call, everything is infinitely more enjoyable.

Which is probably why our horseback riding tours to Rincon de la Vieja are so very popular!

horseback riding

The park is open 8am to 3pm, six days a week (closed on Mondays) and boasts two entrances: one at Santa Maria and one at Las Pailas. Entry fee is USD $15 at time of writing.

The two entrances offer quite distinct experiences, with Las Pailas (on the Pacific side) home to hot springs and mud pools and being much drier, and the Caribbean entrance (Santa Maria) showcasing much more luscious wilderness and, usually, a higher chance of rain.

Please note that although Rincon de la Vieja Volcano has not erupted for thousands of years, small signs of (smokey) life were visible in 2011 and, as a precaution, hikes to the rim have not been allowed since. Expect warm temps all year (ranging between 80 and 90 F) with much drier and hotter conditions on the Las Pailas side and more rain yet slightly cooler temps on the Santa Maria side.

 

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Wildlife & wilderness of Rincon de la Vieja

The dense and pristine forests of Rincon hide a stunning array of creatures, among them three distinct species of monkeys (howler, white-faced and spider), three species of wild cats (jaguars, ocelots and pumas), as well as armadillos, tapirs, an impressive array of tropical snakes and other reptiles and nearly 300 species of exotic birds, among them owls, falcons and plenty of beautifully colorful parrots.

The wilderness here is quite unique and varied, part of the reason the park was nationalised and protected in the early 1970s. The rich fertile volcanic soil nourishes both dry and rain forests, with rare flora in abundance.

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Overview of Rincon de la Vieja tours

Horseback riding in Rincon de la Vieja is one of the most popular inclusions in our adventure tours of Guanacaste. Not only is horseback riding perfect if you want to explore the luscious national park without the need to hike, but it’s an activity that’s at the very heart of local culture – stepping into the shoes of a Tico cowboy or girl is a fantastic way to enjoy a cultural experience and a superlative excursion in nature to boot.

Plus, Rincon boasts sublime waterfalls you can actually swim in so what better way to hit an adventure trifecta than by horseback riding, wildlife-spotting and waterfall swimming all on the same excursion?!

Horseback ride to Oropendola Waterfall – This lesser-visited waterfall would have to rate as one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful secret gems and most standard horseback riding tours will take you here. Oropendola is a gorgeous 82-foot cascade that creates a turquoise pool at its base, in which you can swim. On a leisurely, hour-long ride, you’ll meander through the tropical dry forests of the Las Pailas side of the park, reaching the canyon and the very top of the falls. A quick hike down will see you reach the base and that marvelous natural pool. You’ll have plenty of time to frolic in the refreshing waters of the Rio Bianco – expect the excursion to take between 2.5 and 3 hours.

What to pack – Make sure you’re wearing closed shoes and long pants for the ride (you’ll be given a safety riding helmet), don’t forget sunscreen and do pack some bug spray as well. If you fancy a swim, bring a towel and wear your swimming costume underneath your clothes, as there won’t be anywhere for you to change once you reach the top of the canyon.

If all this is starting to sound a little too tame for you, adventurous thrill-seeker you, then we have an even better and more exhilarating option: a FULL-ON adventure day in the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano park!

 

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Our Extreme Adventure Full-day Excursion in Rincon De La Vieja

There’s more than one reason National Geographic named us one of the best adventure travel companies on earth – we certainly don’t do things by half-measures. For the thrill-seeker and adventure-lover, we serve up an intense, thrill-filled day in Rincon de la Vieja that includes horseback riding – one we rate among the best we offer.

Want some serious fun? Then how about rappelling down a canyon wall and then rock-climbing back up, flying along no fewer than eight exceptional zip-lines, tackling a horseback ride to the wilder Colorado River, where you’ll jump into inflatable kayaks for a stint of heart-stopping whitewater rafting, before finally relaxing and unwinding in one of the park’s many natural mud pools.

We offer this superb adventure day out complete with private transfers and, of course, our best and most experienced bilingual guides. If it’s an especially adventurous day out in Rincon that you’re after, and a unique horseback ride, this will certainly hit the spot.

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Our Rincon de la Vieja Adventure day with horseback ride in Rincon de la Vieja is one of several Tamarindo Activity Options we have on offer. On all our tours, we include private transfers from wherever you happen to be staying, bilingual guides as well as a delectable lunch on our full-day excursions. Travelling to Costa Rica with kids? Just let us know and we can plan a day out the whole family will love.

Here’s some more adventure inspiration for your upcoming visit:

Private surf lesson – Spend a couple of hours on Tamarindo’s world-renowned waves, guided by a professional surfing instructor, and you and go home with a brand-new skill under your belt. We can organize lessons for beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers and can plan alternative activities if you’re travelling with friends or family members who don’t wish to surf.

Beach paddle boarding – Easier and undoubtedly more relaxing than surfing, stand-up paddle boarding is one of the most enjoyable activities to be had on Costa Rica’s beaches, lakes, rivers and estuaries. In Tamarindo, you can enjoy the thrills of ocean boarding!

Sport fishing – This is one of Costa Rica’s quietest achievers, an activity that attracts avid anglers from all over the world. Head off into open water with your master fisher-guide, on the lookout for saltfish and marlin (which we’ll release back into the sea) or tuna and mahi-mahi (which we can clean and fillet for you to take back to your lodge).

Tamarindo estuary kayak & walking tour – This 2-hour adventure will see you explore the Tamarindo estuary, home to crocodiles, iguanas, sea birds, howler monkeys and a host of other tropical wildlife, both by boat and on foot.

Sunset cruise – Spend an entire afternoon sailing along the Pacific coastline of Guanacaste and you’ll be in for an exquisite experience. Be on the lookout for sea turtles, dolphins and whales whilst enjoying a delicious cocktail and a wonderful lunch. Next, snorkel and relax as you wait for the most amazing spectacle of all: a Guanacaste sunset!

Turtle nesting tour – Head to Guanacaste between October and March and you can join a night-time turtle nesting tour. The beaches of Tamarindo are among the world’s most important sea turtle nesting sites, attracting hundreds of leatherback turtles during the nesting season. Casting your eyes on this magical spectacle is a truly priceless Costa Rica experience.

At Costa Rica Rios, we don’t just run some of the best-organised adventure tours in the world, we also plan bespoke itineraries and private tours that are designed with your specific interests and needs in mind. No matter where or when you wish to enjoy a horseback ride, be it in Guanacaste, Rincon de la Vieja or any of our other preferred destinations, just let us know and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

Contact us below and let us help you plan the Costa Rica adventure of a lifetime!

Here are a few more guides you may find useful:

US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

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Discover Dino Park Blue River – Costa Rica’s Most Roaring Amusement Park!

Costa Rica boasts several amusement parks that make for great inclusions on family adventure vacations, none more rewarding than the Dino Park Blue River. Nestled deep in the luscious jungles of the Guanacaste Province, right on the banks of a gorgeous Celeste River and on the flanks of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, the animatronic Jurassic-Park-themed attraction offers fun and educational activities the kids will love, in a tropical setting that adults will absolutely cherish.

Easy to reach from the Liberia Airport and part of the beautiful Blue River Resort, Dino Park is a quirky and unique destination that’s ideal on relaxing days off your action-packed adventure Costa Rica vacation.

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Dino Park Blue River – What’s It All About?

A Jurassic-Park-themed amusement park may not be a unique idea yet it’s the setting of Dino Park that makes it stand out from similar attractions around the world. The park comprises two dozen life-sized, true-as-anything animatronic dinosaurs, among them velociraptors, brachiosaurus (the ones with the long neck), pterosaurs and the crowd-fave, T-rex (the ones with the short arms), scattered about a swath of pristine rainforest. The ginormous creatures are not only amazingly realistic to look at but they growl and roar as you walk past, turning what would be a glorious jungle walk into a thrilling and giggle-inducing adventure.

This is the only attraction of its kind in all of Latin America and although the Blue River Resort may have taken a gamble when it first came up with the idea of a ‘jungle walking trail with a difference’ back in 2016, the park’s popularity is testament to it being a rather genius idea indeed. It’s also worth noting that the resort maintained its eco-friendly commitment throughout the building of the park – not a single tree was ever cut down to construct what has now become Costa Rica’s most popular amusement park.

At Dino Park, you can enjoy a leisurely guided walk through the pristine Rincon de la Vieja jungle along a well-marked trail, dotted with loads of informational boards so you (and the kids) can learn all about these fearsome creatures and the Costa Rican rainforest.

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Does Costa Rica Have a Connection with Dinosaurs?

In fact, it does not. Costa Rica was still below sea-level when the behemoth creatures last walked the earth. However, the country – and specifically it’s UNESCO-listed Coco Island – was famously the inspiration for Spielberg’s film, Jurassic Park, so everyone in Costa Rica has held a fervent fascination with the film, and dinosaurs, ever since.

Intended to attract, entertain and educate the children of Costa Rica, Dino Park is a must-visit for anyone as obsessed with dinosaurs as the Ticos!

 

How Long Does a Visit to Dino Park Take?

The complete walking trail can be covered in about an hour but given the nearly-infinite chances for excellent selfies, most visits last between two and three hours.

 

When is Dino Park Blue River Open?

Dino Park is open every day from 8am to 5pm – at time of writing, entry costs $50 for adults and $35 for children under the age of 12.

 

Blue River Resort & Hot Springs – An All-In-one Accommodation Choice

Given the park is part of the Blue River Resort, you have the option of staying next door and visit the park even more leisurely. The resort is one of Guanacaste’s best picks with five hot springs, wildlife exhibits, swimming pool with kid’s play corner, natural mud baths and wellness spa offering a varied and enticing array of services. As far as activities are concerned, and aside from the fantastical Dino Park, the resort also offers zip-lining, whitewater rafting and tubing excursions, as well as horseback riding and snorkeling tours.

Don’t fancy staying there? You can buy a combination ticket that gives you entry to Dino Park, lunch at the kiosk and use of the resort’s many facilities for the day.

 

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How to Get to Dino Park and What to do in Guanacaste

The Blue River Resort and its Dino Park are a 1.5 hr drive from the Liberia International Airport, by far your best airport choice if you want to explore the wilderness, gorgeous beaches and resorts of the Guanacaste Province.

Nestled between a spine of spectacular mountains on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Guanacaste Province covers the north-western region of Costa Rica (all the way to the border with Nicaragua) and is as famous for its luxury seaside resorts as it is about its awe-inspiring volcanoes.

Why is Guanacaste so popular? The ease of access, ease of travel and sheer concentration of hotels, resorts, lodges, attractions and adventures make Guanacaste particularly ideal if you’re a bit tight for time. Fly into Liberia and you could be taking your first surfing lesson within just a couple of hours – something that just isn’t possible if you fly into the capital, San Jose.

Where to stay – One of the most diverse of all Costa Rica’s many provinces, Guanacaste offers something for everyone – from 5* all-inclusive resorts ideal for families to boutique adults-only resorts for romantic honeymoons. This is undoubtedly the province of choice if you’re either visiting Costa Rica for the first time or if you’re craving an adventure vacation with a few added creature comforts. See our preferred Guanacaste Hotels if you’d love a more exclusive and less-crowded experience.

Beaches – The Guanacaste world is your oyster with the province offering a mind-boggling array of highlights. The province’s spectacular beaches are undoubtedly the main draw, the long stretch of coast home to such world-renowned gems as Tamarindo, Playa Hermosa, Conchal and so many more. Here, you’ll find every beach offers a unique scene, be it surfing, family-friendly, quiet and romantic or active and full of fun water-based sports.

Jungles and forests – Some of Costa Rica’s most coveted national parks are found right here, with Rincon de la Vieja, Las Baulas and Santa Rosa being the most popular. Brimming with a host of exotic wildlife (including nesting sea turtles in season) as well as striking volcano hiking trails and plenty of waterfalls for refreshing swims, your wilderness-based activities here are nearly endless. Guanacaste is also the gateway to the remote Nicoya Peninsula, a dramatically wild corner of Costa Rica that entices travelers looking for a wilder and more rustic wilderness experience.

Adventure sports & excursions – Hiking is absolutely superb in Guanacaste, especially in parks like Rincon de la Vieja that see fewer visitors compared with Arenal and Manuel Antonio, further south. This is where we go when we have time off, want to get away from the world and enjoy a thrilling day in the Guanacaste wilderness. We definitely consider this one of the top 10 Secret Wonders of Costa Rica.

Aside from trekking, however, you’ll find a host of exciting adventures in the region, including oodles of seaside adventures like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, surfing and sailing, and plenty of jungle exploits such as zip-lining and canopy touring. Due to its genial location, we choose to base most of our Guanacaste tours out of beautiful Tamarindo as it gives us easy access to the region’s very best attractions.

Check out our comprehensive Guide to Guanacaste so you can have an even better idea of all this amazing province has to offer.

rafting

 

Our Guided Tours and Organized Adventures in Guanacaste

At Costa Rica Rios, we run organised adventure tours (both fully guided and not, depending on your desires) throughout Costa Rica and always prefer taking our guests to off-the-beaten-path destinations they’d probably never get to experience on their own.

In Guanacaste, we offer an amazing Luxury Adventure Honeymoon, a 7-night adventure that offers all the thrills and spills you’d expect in Costa Rica (like extreme canyoning and whitewater rafting) with private transfers and overnight stays in beautiful hotels. This fully-organised yet unguided experience offers you the best of both worlds when honeymooning in Costa Rica. We give you peace of mind and take care of all the logistics yet offer independence and privacy on an day-to-day basis.

If you’d love to just come out and play with us for the day, however, we also have a choice of brilliant half and full-day excursions you can enjoy – perfect if you want just a hint of adventure-filled sports on vacation. Take particular note of our Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Adventure Day, a day that’s jam-packed with exhilarating fun!

 

See all our award-winning Costa Rica Adventure Tours and ask us how to include a visit to the super-fun Dino Park Blue River on your action-packed itinerary.

You can contact us, right here:

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Discover Papagayo – Whale-watching (and more) on Playa Matapalo

The recent spotting of humpbacks just off Playa Matapalo has once again highlighted the exceptional whale-watching value of Costa Rica’s stunning Gulf of Papagayo. With its warm, calm and inviting sea, this north-western gulf on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast attracts humpbacks almost six months out of every year, as well as dolphins galore. Our guests have reported seeing whales right off the beach here, from their resort balconies and on catamaran tours, making this one of the most rewarding marine-life spotting destinations in the whole country.

whale

Read on to discover the best months to visit Playa Matapalo and the Gulf of Papagayo for whale-watching and all the other attractions and activities that make this one of Costa Rica’s most rewarding (and luxurious) adventure travel destinations.

 

Whale Watching Seasons in Costa Rica

Humpbacks are as in love with Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast as we are, migrating along the full length of the western coast on two main migrating seasons.

The primary humpback season runs from July to March, with December, January, February and March considered the very best months to spot the majestic beasts. Although you may not know any different, it’s interesting to know that the humpback season is so long here because two main species visit from two opposing directions (northern humpbacks head south from the Arctic and southern hemisphere humpbacks come up north from Antarctica), combining to create one, long, continuous whale-watching season for very lucky Costa Rica visitors.

Being so central makes this entire Latin American region host to the world’s longest whale migration season and that’s why Costa Rica, in particular, is one of the best destinations in the world to spot humpbacks.

In August and September, they return once more, bringing their young and settling in for weeks at a time in one of the many protected bays, among them the Gulf of Papagayo.

beach

 

Whale Watching in the Gulf of Papagayo @ Playa Matapalo

Visit Playa Matapalo in the months between July and October (Green Season) and your chances of spotting whales are top-notch. Sailing and boating tours during this time will offer better chances for close-up encounters although, oftentimes, whales can be spotted right from the beach.

Visiting Matapalo during Green Season means you’ll probably have to deal with some afternoon rains (September is, traditionally, the wettest month of the year) although crowds, and prices, will be reduced when compared to the more popular Dec-Feb tourist period. Green Season travel in Costa Rica has many advantages, exceptional whale-spotting among the very best.

This most recent whale-spotting event on Playa Matapalo is not unheard of, but it is uncommon to spot whales here in February. Still, if you’re planning a beginning-of-year adventure trip, it will be worthwhile to head off on a catamaran sailing tour.

Although humpbacks are not the only species of whales that visit Costa Rica’s shores, they are the ones that stay closest to the surface of the water. They’re also very active and inquisitive and serve up spectacular acrobatic shows. This is the main reason the humpbacks are the most revered among whale-spotters – they are, for their incredible breaching habits, the most rewarding to see.

 

Overview of Playa Matapalo

Where is it? Nestled between Playa Hermosa in the north and Las Catalinas in the south (and on the southwestern end of the Gulf of Papagayo) Matapalo is a quiet and laid-back seaside village and a favorite among surfers and anyone who prefers a more chilled-out and uncrowded Costa Rica beach vacation. The seemingly endless sandy beach is ideal for those who love a morning job and long romantic walks on the beach. Head here early in the morning and you’ll see cheeky monkeys scouring the beach for leftover fruit, and will likely find that you have the whole beach to yourself.

What does it offer? Although the Papagayo Peninsula to the north is renowned for being the most luxurious destination in Costa Rica, home to a fantastic array of 5* all-inclusive resorts offering a mind-boggling array of services and activities, Matapalo, to the far south, is a much quieter and wilder alternative. There are still plenty of gorgeous resorts for you to enjoy and plenty of comforts and luxuries, yet here they’re offered in a much more rustic and authentic environment.

Why is this beach so special? Matapalo hides two sister-beaches to the west: Matapalo Blanca and Matapalito, the latter a breath-taking isolated cove that is best accessed by boat. These three lesser-known and lesser-visited beaches are absolutely stunning and offer the discerning adventurer a stunning reprieve from the at-times overcrowded beaches to the north and south. Sometimes, we’ll have guests looking for an out-there, unplugged and unspoiled destination in which to spend the last few days of their adventure vacation and, if they’re adventuring in Guanacaste and the travel-style suits, this is where we send them. For the right kind of beach lover, Matapalo is heaven on earth.

beach

Who is it suited to? Framed by palm trees and backed by stunning mountains, Matapalo also happens to sit on one of the prettiest stretches of coast in all of Guanacaste and is as ideal for couples and families as it is for lone surfers. The beaches are clean and the waters are warm and calm close to the shore and that’s why it’s also suitable for families. If you’re after a crazy and exuberant nightlife, Matapalo Town will disappoint you but if you want to soak up the Pura Vida – and about the most gorgeous sunset vistas around – then this place will sing to your soul.

sunset

What else can you do here? Matapalo may feel like it’s in the middle of nowhere but it’s exceptionally well-connected to nearby national parks and, as such, offers a wealth of fun adventures. Fishing and catamaran tours are the area’s best activities, as are ATV excursions, canopy tours and ziplining, horseback riding on the beach

Where can you stay? Matapalo itself offers a limited choice as far as accommodation is concerned but, if you were to ask us, we’d say thing sings its praises more than anything else. There’s a reason the beaches here are never overcrowded! Having said that, your options increase exponentially if you were to stay just a few miles either north or south. Las Catalinas is probably our favorite family-friendly choice, a car-free village that covers just over 1000 acres of sensational seaside wilderness with two exquisite beaches and oodles of fun sports and activities. Catalinas is just to the south of Matapalo and staying here means you can really have the best of both (wild and fully-serviced) worlds.

beach

 

The Best Attractions Around Playa Matapalo

When you’re out at sea spotting whales on Matapalo, you have the option of visiting these nearby attractions:

Diamante Eco Adventure Park – A spectacular wildlife and adventure park combined, Diamante is the kind of place you need a whole day to explore. Revered for being home to the second-longest dual zip-line in the whole continent, this amazing destination also hosts the largest wildlife refuge in all of Guanacaste, with a bevy of exotic creatures living in beautiful and natural surroundings. New to zip-lining? Read our zipline guide before you visit Costa Rica and discover our favorite zipline courses where you can enjoy the best and safest rides.

zip lining

Nicoya Peninsula – Playa Matapalo is a wonderful springboard for amazing adventures in the reputed ‘wild west’ of Costa Rica. The Nicoya Peninsula is one of the country’s least developed regions, a striking wilderness haven home to drop-dead-gorgeous beaches, wildlife reserves, jungle hiking trails, a multitude of waterfalls and some of the most enchanting eco-lodges in the whole country.

Find more unforgettable adventures in the Guanacaste Province

At Costa Rica Rios, we organize award-winning adventure tours throughout Costa Rica (both fully and semi-guided vacations) and can offer as much support as you like. We cater primarily for adventure-seekers (adventure vacations are our niche) but can tailor-plan any itinerary to suit your personal wishes. For thrilling family, honeymoon and off-the-beaten-path adventures, we’re simply the best in Costa Rica!

Contact us to know more

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Isla Tortuga Day Cruise Highlights

Often described as heaven on earth, an Isla Tortuga day cruise is one of the most rewarding excursions you can plan when visiting the Nicoya Peninsula

Floating in the Gulf of Nicoya and part of a fervently-protected nature and marine reserve, Turtle Island is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in Central America. Yet beyond the obvious drop-dead-gorgeous looks and the world-class snorkeling (perhaps Tortuga’s biggest enticement), the island also offers a myriad of different activities. This is what makes a day-visit so rewarding for families, couples and solo travelers alike.

beach

Boasting postcard-worthy white sandy beaches framed with palm trees and a core that’s dense and verdant, Turtle Island is an ideal day-trip destination no matter what Costa Rica highlights you want to experience. Want to spend a full day snorkeling, SCUBA diving and swimming in calm turquoise waters or join a glass-bottom boat or kayaking tour? You can do that here. Fancy hiking in tropical jungles, spotting wildlife and immersing yourself in pristine wilderness? Yes, you can do that too. Prefer a little more action on zip-line and canopy tours? You guessed it, Isla Tortuga offers these as well.

Easy to reach from both the mainland coast and the Nicoya Peninsula, Isla Tortuga is an easy and fun destination for a day cruise with a difference.

Here’s how you can include an Isla Tortuga day cruise in your Costa Rica adventure vacation itinerary:

 

Plan Your Trip

 

Where is Isla Tortuga?

Just a short boat-ride away from Playa Naranjo, on the south-eastern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, Tortuga is one of two islands that make up the Negritos Islands Biological Reserve, itself part of the greater Guayabo Reserve, a protected archipelago whose exotic islands attract an array of migratory bird colonies every year. Aside from the many birds that fly to the islands annually to nest (among them brown pelicans and frigates), these spectacular islands host a wealth of other wildlife and, considering Isla Tortuga has the densest and most luscious wilderness, it is also the one that boasts a greater concentration of animals.

Thanks to the waters of the Gulf of Nicoya being so nutrient-dense, Isla Tortuga day cruise passengers often spot dolphins, migrating whales and other marine life on their boat trip to the island, yet another stellar reason to visit.

fisherman

Isla Tortuga – Best Activities & Highlights

Given the protected status of the Guayabo Reserve islands, most of the islands are blissfully unspoiled and boast no public facilities at all – this means day visitors aren’t allowed to set foot on land. Bird-watchers eager for a close-up excursion should consider chartered boat trips instead, which allow closer cruising along coastlines – the best way to spot nesting bird colonies.

Isla Tortuga, on the other hand, is the one island that does allow day visitors, offering an array of services that get you close to the nature and wildlife.

Enjoy world-class snorkeling & SCUBA diving – Tortuga offers some of the best snorkeling in all of Costa Rica and this is, by far, the most popular reason for visiting. From manta rays to moray eels, dolphins, reef sharks and a stunning array of tropical fish, the waters lapping the islands offer snorkelers and divers a treasure trove of delights. SCUBA lovers ought to book a dedicated diving trip as there are several wrecks you can visit and most regular day cruises only cater to snorkelers. Since the waters are so calm and warm, we rate this as the very best family snorkeling destination in the whole country – see where else you can go snorkeling in Costa Rica.

Spend your day on a pristine beach – If you’re after a relaxing seaside day out then Tortuga quite perfect. The beach here is absolutely divine and you’ll find beach chairs and umbrellas for rent, plenty of refreshments on offer and even a sweet little souvenir stall to pick up a memento or two. Even if you do nothing else on your day-trip to Turtle Island, spending a few hours soaking up the rays and swimming is certainly a worthwhile reason to visit.

Beach-side activities – If you (or the kids) start to get a little antsy lying on the glistening sand, you can always join a game of beach volleyball, rent a kayak for an hour or join a glass-bottom boat tour to soak up the delights of the underwater world in even greater comfort (particularly ideal for families with very young children).

Hiking – Isla Tortuga boasts a few great walking trails that take you deep into the island’s core, meandering through the lush jungle and hiking to the very top to enjoy magnificent views. Take a guide with you (who’ll know the best place to look for wildlife) and you’ll undoubtedly get a lot more out of your hike. If you’d love this option, we suggest you start your walk as soon as you arrive, so you can have a refreshing swim and have plenty of time to rest when you return to the beach.

fish

 

Plan Your Trip

 

The Best Isla Tortuga Day Cruise Options

Being such a popular tourist destination means competition is fierce amongst Isla Tortuga day cruise operators. Popular departure ports on the mainland’s Pacific coast include Puntarenas, Jaco and Montezuma, whilst other shorter transfers can also be booked directly from the Nicoya Peninsula. The latter is a better choice if you are already on the peninsula as you can reach Tortuga in just half an hour. From the mainland, sailing times can last up to 1,5 hours one way (primarily from Montezuma) which can turn a half-day outing into a tiring and drawn-out full-day trip.

There are two types of Tortuga cay cruises you can choose from: half or full-day cruises. On half-day cruises, which last about 6 hours, you can enjoy your boat transfer, stop for snorkeling on Alcatraz Island’s rocky shores and then have about 4 to 5 hours to really soak up the best of Tortuga. Most cruise operators have their own beach corner, with sunlongers and beach umbrellas and all offer some kind of refreshments depending on tour price, be it a full-on BBQ lunch or snacks of sandwiches and fruits. Cruises like these should cost around 100 USD if taken from Nicoya, almost double that if from the mainland.

Dedicated SCUBA diving trips and luxury catamaran cruises will cost much more but if you’re wishing to share your trip with fewer people, in a more intimate setting, these are arguably a better choice.

Insider Tips on Isla Tortuga Cruises

  • Over the last few years, Isla Tortuga has swiftly become one of the Nicoya Peninsula’s most popular destinations, thanks in huge part to its accessibility from the mainland as well. As such, the beach here can get crowded during the most popular tourist months (Jan-March) although do note you have the option of other beaches on the island if you’re happy to make-do without all the facilities of the main beach.

 

  • When seeking the ideal day cruise for you, make sure you know all that’s included. Sometimes, it’s simply worth paying more for bigger meals, smaller boats or more snorkeling time along the way. Some of the luxury catamarans offer amazing deals, a bevy of inflatable water toys and more exclusive service.

 

  • Don’t forget to pack a beach towel, a fresh change of clothes, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses, as well as your camera and spending money for drinks/souvenirs/snacks/kayak rental at the beach.

 

  • Most companies include pick-up from your hotel, either on the Nicoya Peninsula or the mainland – so don’t forget to ask!

 

  • Isla Tortuga may indeed be unmissable but you probably should fight the urge to visit if you are staying too far from the coast. Instead, plan other activities and excursions nearer the Nicoya Peninsula and simply spend more time in this astonishing corner of Costa Rica. Not only is there SO much to see and do in Nicoya itself but it’ll also make an Isla Tortuga day-trip all the more enjoyable if you don’t have to spend hours on end on a bus in order to reach the coast.

 

Exploring the Nicoya Peninsula

Part of the Puntarenas Province, jutting out of Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, the Nicoya Peninsula offers an impressive array of highlights. This is one of the country’s wildest corners where nature-based adventures, stunning eco-lodges and wildlife-spotting adventures are absolutely world-class. Find out more about the Nicoya Peninsula and, if you’d love to know how this compares with the Papagayo and Osa peninsulas, read our guide to Costa Rica’s Peninsulas – Which One Should You Visit?

An Isla Tortuga day cruise is only one of many exceptional snorkeling and SCUBA diving activities you can enjoy in Costa Rica. Need some help figuring out which one you’d enjoy most? Then let us know if you’d love to plan an island day-trip, either before or after your Costa Rica adventure vacation, and we’d be more than happy to help hone in on the island destination that’ll make your trip unforgettable.

Contact us to know more

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NEWSFLASH – Coronavirus and Travel to Costa Rica – What You Should Know

Heading to Costa Rica and wondering how the coronavirus outbreak could affect your trip? Read on to learn more about this latest global health crisis and what that means for your impending adventure vacation

The outbreak of the new COVID-19 coronavirus has had a huge impact on the travel industry, even in regions where no infections have been reported. People the world over are gripped by anxiety and fear with a wealth of contradicting news reports shedding no light on the real situation, leaving many to wonder if they should consider cancelling their trip to Costa Rica.

First of all, it’s important to know that as of today, the 4th March, 2020, Costa Rica has no reported cases of coronavirus, which is fantastic news for anyone heading to our shores for an exceptional adventure vacation

As of March 12th, 2020, there are 22 cases of coronavirus confirmed.

As of May 12th, 2020. borders are currently shut until June 15th. The government has done a very good job here at containing the outbreak. There are under 800 cases and only 6 deaths so far (last time I listened), so the country has managed the situation better than most. We have nor been told when we will reopen yet.

Dispelling wild speculation and, instead, highlighting the real facts should go a long way in easing your fears. Whether you already have a trip planned with us at Costa Rica Rios or were contemplating booking an adventure tour soon, there’s a host of info you should know before making any decisions, either to go ahead or cancel.

Naturally, your health and safety are of paramount importance but so is making an informed decision.

Here’s what you should know:

coronavirus

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What Is The New Coronavirus?

The World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes coronaviruses as a family of illnesses that range from the common cold to more severe strains of respiratory illnesses which have, in the past, included SARS and MERS. This latest outbreak has seen a new strain emerge, one that has never before been recorded. Much of the confusion (and public panic) comes from the fact that the virus was unknown at first yet in the two months since the first infections were discovered, a lot of information has been obtained from international health and infectious disease centers.

From what is known, right now, around 80% of those infected with this new strain (now named COVID-19) display mild symptoms and recover on their own without the need for special medical treatments. Out of those 20% that do require more care, between 18 and 19% go on to recover fully, leaving a fatality rate of between 2% (in China) and 1% (elsewhere). Although the fatality rate is much (much) lower than other severe coronavirus strains (like the above mentioned SARS and MERS), the COVID0-19 seems easier to transmit.

This is why prevention is so important.

coronavirus
Courtesy of WHO

 

coronavirus
Courtesy of WHO

 

You’ll find a host of valuable information and travelling tips on the WHO Advice for the Public page.

Contact Us

 

Where Does Costa Rica Stand on the New Coronavirus Health Scare?

Costa Rica has NO reported cases of coronavirus at time of writing

As stated above, Costa Rica has remained blissfully coronavirus-free throughout this latest outbreak, and is one of more than 120 countries that haven’t been affected. The sheer number of direct flights from the US and Canada also means that the overwhelming majority of travelers will not need to transit through any coronavirus hot-spots, further minimizing their chances of contracting anything on their way south.

Although all countries seem to be doing a great job of isolating their affected regions, restricting flights and carrying out comprehensive pre-boarding scans, it’s comforting to know that we remain one of the safest and healthiest travel destinations in the world.

All major government travel advisory boards advice people against travelling to and through affected regions yet NONE are suggesting you cancel your travel plans to other regions.

There’s absolutely no reason to consider cancelling your vacation in Costa Rica.

What you should do, however, is to keep abreast of the latest updates.

What should you do?

  1. Avoid all non-essential travel to affected countries/regions – you’ll find an updated list on the CDC Website (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and you can also follow their daily updates on Twitter and keep abreast of their latest Costa Rica Advisory.
  2. As long as you haven’t traveled to/through affected regions in the fortnight prior to boarding your flight to Costa Rica, then you’re all set to go! If you have, you simply need to wait it out until you’ve passed the 14-day mark as directed by health authorities.
  3. Avoid sensationalist news outlets and, instead, follow the directives of the US Government Travel Advisory which is, at time of writing, focusing primarily on China and Asia, in general.
  4. Enroll your journey in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so you can get real-time updates as they’re published, specific to Costa Rica and any countries you may be transiting through.
  5. Maintain a high level of hygiene (wash those hands properly!) and simply keep a safe distance from anyone displaying obvious flu symptoms (cough, sneeze) whilst you travel. Remember that a mask is not necessary unless YOU are displaying symptoms of a cold.
  6. Keep perspective – at the end of the day, the precautions you should adopt to prevent being infected with coronavirus on your travels are the same you’d adopt at any time when travelling. Wash your hands, keep away from people who appear to be sick, and wash your hands.
  7.  wash hands

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That’s it!

Ready to put this mess behind you and come enjoy a vacation in the most exhilarating country on earth? Then why not check out our Costa Rica Adventure Vacation packages?! And remember, we are ready to chat to you about your travel plans and advice you on the best way forward for your specific situation.

Call us anytime!

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US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

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Crocodile Bridge – Costa Rica’s Most Bizarre Tourist Attraction

A boat ride on a crocodile-infested river may sound like the ultimate nightmare to some but, for others, it can be an exhilarating highlight when visiting Costa Rica!

Crocodile Bridge crosses the brackish Tarcoles River in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica (just over half-way between San Jose and the Pacific seaside hub of Jaco) and is one of the country’s most bizarre tourist attractions. On any given day, dozens of crocodiles and dozens of tourists converge on this very spot, the ensuing popularity giving rise to an entire crocodile-themed tourism scene complete with cheesy souvenir stalls selling stuffed crocodiles and T-shirts and even a safari company offering up-close boat trips for the more adventurous visitor.

crocodile

Up until recently, Crocodile Bridge had remained a bizarre hidden secret in Puntarenas, known only to locals and intrepid explorers. Yet the rise of social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram has shattered the bridge’s anonymity and, in turn, has forced the government to step in and intervene.

For the safekeeping of visitors and protection of the crocodiles, The Ministry for Public Works and Transport is undertaking a project in March 2020, that will see the bridge widened and the additions of a 4-foot sidewalk, metal railing to prevent accidental falls and a concrete barrier to protect walkers from passing traffic.

Although a visit to this crocodile hot-spot isn’t as death-defying as it once was (when the bridge had nothing more than a flimsy railing) we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief for this latest turn of events. Dare-devils filming themselves feeding and getting dangerously close to the crocodiles in recent years have placed both themselves and the crocodiles at great risk and it’s a relief to know that the attraction – itself an incredible pit-stop on the way to the country’s most popular beaches – is being made much safer for both visitor and animal.

crocodile

Plan Your Trip

 

Where is the Crocodile Bridge?

Just north of the town of Tarcoles and on the western edge of the Carara National Park, Crocodile Bridge is an unmissable stop for anyone travelling down the Carretera Pacifica 34 Road that heads south from the Alajuela Province and hugs the coast from Jaco all the way down past Manuel Antonio National Park, Uvita and the Corcovado National Park in the Osa Peninsula.

Right here.

 

About the Tarcoles River & Its Fearsome Crocs

Considered one of the most crocodile-infested rivers in the world (75 crocodiles per square mile) the Rio Grande de Tarcoles is formed at the convergence of the San Ramon and Virilla Rivers on the southern slopes of the Cordillera Central, and runs for about 70 miles west to the Pacific Ocean. Despite the unfortunate pollution in the river, the region is still home to an impressive array of birds, amphibians and reptiles.

The American crocodiles that live here are tamer than their Australian counterparts yet are still apex predators by all accounts. Safety, when visiting, is of the utmost importance. The Tarcoles crocs number in their thousands, the largest can weigh over 1,400 pounds and the oldest is believed to be around 70 years of age.

Seeing one of the largest congregations of crocodiles in the world at Crocodile Bridge is an exhilarating experience, let alone taking (very safe) boat trips along the river for even closer looks.

No matter where in Puntarenas you are headed, make sure you take some time out to visit Costa Rica’s most bizarre tourist attraction.

crocodile

Plan Your Trip

 

Nearby Attractions – North of Crocodile Bridge

Punta Arenas Town – The seaside town of Punta Arenas is the capital of the province and easily reached from Crocodile Bridge along Route 27. Home to the largest concentration of tourist infrastructure, hotels, resorts and restaurants, the stretch north of Tarcoles is the most visited in Costa Rica and also the closest to the capital, San Jose, so it sees a huge influx of locals on weekends and all public holidays. From here, you can head off on a live-aboard diving adventure to world-famous Coco Island, feast on what is widely considered the best seafood in the whole country, soak up the rays on one of the many nearby beaches and shop, dine and party to your heart’s content. Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to Puntarenas to whet your appetite!

Monteverde Cloud Forest – The magical cloud forests of Monteverde are set apart from the country’s more tropical reserves and make for an ethereal travel experience. Soak up the splendor of the cloud-drenched forests on suspended bridge walks, take night-time guided walks to spot the more elusive wildlife and enjoy a thrilling array of adventure sports. Discover more about Monteverde and come see all the thrilling Activity Options we have in store for you.

crocodile

Nicoya Peninsula – The most visited of Costa Rica’s three exquisite peninsulas, Nicoya is easy to reach which means you can get lost in its wilderness even if you only have a long weekend in Costa Rica. Oodles of accommodation and adventure choices, a superb array of surfing beaches, prime wilderness brimming with exotic creatures and a thrilling choice of exceptional adventure sports is what awaits you here. Read this comparison on Costa Rica’s Stunning Peninsulas to see if the Nicoya is just right for your next Costa Rica vacation.

 

Nearby Attractions south of Crocodile Bridge

Carara National Park – The Tarcoles River forms the natural northern border of the Carara National Park, one of Costa Rica’s best birding destinations and the largest known Costa Rican habitat for scarlet macaws. Unusually bio-diverse and boasting both dry and tropical rain-forests, attracting a huge array of insects and, in turn, huge numbers of exotic birds. Known as a transition zone given its differing flora, Carara is one of the most unique and lesser-visited national parks in the country. Our favorite lodge for visits to Carara is the aptly-named Macaw Lodge, a stunning off-grid eco-resort that doubles as a conservation centre.

Jaco & nearby beaches – A hub of watersports and a town centre that offers a vibrant nightlife and everything you need for an enjoyable and active beach vacation in Costa Rica, Jaco is one of the most popular seaside stops in Puntarenas. Just north of Playa Hermosa and a great springboard for visiting the family-friendly beaches of Manuel Antonio, this whole stretch is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in Costa Rica.

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Manuel Antonio National Park – One of the top 2 most visited national parks of all, Manuel Antonio is revered for its luscious rain forest that tumbles straight into the sapphire seas of the Pacific, for its drop-dead-gorgeous beaches, high concentration of wildlife, arresting volcanoes and amazing array of active adventures like canopy tours, zip-lining, boat trips, hiking, mountain biking, snorkeling, white water rafting and more. Learn more about Manuel Antonio – Costa Rica’s Crown Jewel, see our extensive Day-trip Activity Options and you’ll soon realize why this is Costa Rica’s must-visit reserve.

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Uvita – Just an hour and a half’s drive south of Crocodile Bridge will see you reach Uvita, one of the best-placed springboards for visits to the Osa Peninsula if you don’t have enough time for a multi-day adventure there. The hub of the Marino Ballena National Park, one of the country’s best whale-watching destinations, Uvita offers an impressive array of adventure choices. From here, you can head off on an unforgettable day of snorkeling or scuba diving Caño Island (a mecca for whales and dolphins), tackling a day-long hike in Corcovado National Park or Marino Ballena or staying close to the shore and enjoying a fantastic day of surfing. These are our most popular Uvita Activity Options and our favorite Uvita Hotels.

The Osa Peninsula & Corcovado National Park – If you have a little more time up your sleeve, then you can also include a few days’ explorations of what is unarguably one of the country’s remotest and most isolated destinations. Corcovado National Park, which covers over two-thirds of the Osa Peninsula, boasts 50% of the total flora and fauna of Costa Rica and is widely considered one of the world’s most bio-diverse regions. Visits here usually require more time and effort, given the isolation, although you’d be hard-pressed to choose a more rewarding destination. If you’re a love of pristine wilderness, this place is simply unparalleled. Your Guide to Corcovado details the highlights and logistics of a visit and an in=depth overview of the Osa Peninsula’s best offerings.

A stop-over at Crocodile Bridge is easily done, whether you’re planning to include the northern or southern Pacific coastlines on your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica. At Costa Rica Rios, we offer fully-guided and bespoke adventure tours through this magnificent country.

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Visit La Sabana Stadium – Costa Rica’s Loving Ode to Football

The first truly world-class arena built in Central America, La Sabana is one of the most iconic buildings in all of Costa Rica. In a country where football is so much more than just sport, a football stadium of this calibre likewise represents more than mere entertainment. La Sabana’s prominence is a huge source of pride for Ticos and a visit, to either tour the impressive park or attend a soccer match or concert, is an unforgettable experience for visitors.

Offering a glimpse into a side of the local culture most tourists never get to see, a visit to La Sabana, Costa Rica’s loving ode to football, is one of the most rewarding things you can do in San Jose.

La Sabana Stadium

 

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Out With The Old And In With The State-Of-The-Art New – The Building Of La Sabana Stadium

Costa Rica’s old national football stadium, on the same site as the current one, was built back in the 1920s and accommodated about 25,000 soccer-mad spectators. The idea for a much-improved replacement first emerged in 2007, when then-President Sanchez, inspired by China’s recent constructions for their upcoming Olympic Games, set up bilateral relations with the Asian country to secure some experienced help in the building of a futuristic stadium.

With China’s invaluable help and complete funding (to the tune of an estimated USD 100 million) the first foundations for the astonishing La Sabana Football Stadium were laid in 2009. Construction took less than two years and the stadium was inaugurated, with a friendly between Costa Rica and China, on March 26th, 2011. The celebrations carried on in the Costa Rican capital for almost two consecutive weeks.

The building and gifting of La Sabana Stadium by China to Costa Rica is said to have been of tremendous benefit to the two country’s relations, with Costa Rica making the Asian nation its second-biggest free trading partner soon after. Here’s an interesting Business Insider piece on what these strengthened diplomatic relations have meant for the two countries.

La Sabana Stadium

 

La Sabana Metropolitan Park & The Jewel of the Prairie

To locals, Costa Rica’s national football stadium is known as the “Jewel of the Prairie” in reference to the expansive metropolitan park where it resides. The stadium, in fact, is the crown jewel of La Sabana, an impressive sport and entertainment quarter in downtown San Jose that offers sport, recreation and relaxation.

Up until the 1950s, La Sabana Metropolitan Park hosted the country’s international airport. Once the new one was built elsewhere, the whole area was declared a heritage site and reverted to a haven of nature-filled recreation. In the park, adjacent to La Sabana Stadium, you’ll find jogging and walking trails, a gorgeous lake, the city’s municipal swimming pool and national skating rink, the offices of the National Cycling Federation, a shooting range and, perhaps more importantly for tourists, the Costa Rica National Art Museum (which used to be the old airport’s main building).

Dubbed ‘The Lungs of San Jose”, La Sabana Metropolitan Park is a wonderful place in which to spend an entire day.

La Sabana Stadium

 

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La Sabana Football Stadium Today

The new football stadium is located in the north-western corner of La Sabana Metropolitan Park and is the official home of the country’s national football team. Aside from national and international football matches, the stadium holds all major sporting and entertainment events, including music concerts attracting international stars from all over the globe.

Although the size of the stadium couldn’t be enlarged very much and had to stay in line with the space of the old stadium, the designers still managed to include 10,000 more seats and La Sabana now accommodates 35,000 spectators on a three-tiered seating area. With two over-sized high-tech screens and amazing lighting, catching a match (or concert) here is a truly incredible experience.

Considered a true architectural masterpiece, La Sabana Football Stadium hosts a small but interesting sports’ history museum, various office buildings and an events hall. Today, La Sabana is the biggest and most technologically-advanced arena built, not only in Costa Rica but in the entire Central American region. San Jose’s most iconic and revered building, with a roof designed to resemble a Costa Rican coffee bean and a seating design that means everyone gets exceptional views no matter where they are, this is an event arena you shouldn’t miss visiting when in town.

La Sabana Stadium

 

Upcoming events @ La Sabana Football Stadium

The English-language Estadio Nacional Website keeps an updated list of all upcoming events so you can see if there’s an event happening during your tour of Costa Rica. You’ll find the stadium in the Sabana neighborhood, about 2 miles northwest of the city center. The best way to reach the stadium during an event is with public transport as, funnily enough, the architects forgot to include sufficient parking spaces in the stadium grounds!

The Metropolitan Park of La Sabana is, in itself, a beautiful place to visit and is a favored Sunday spot with locals and visitors alike. On weekends, expect to see groups of locals playing friendly matches of football and volleyball, enjoying picnics and gentle strolls. This is an especially wonderful spot to visit if you love a morning job – stay nearby to have the park at your doorstep and we bet it’ll leave you with a great impression of San Jose.

In 2020, the local council is undertaking a massive regeneration program to replace the once-imported Australian gum trees with native Costa Rican species, which local birds prefer. Despite this minor disruption (which is actually a very impressive task) the park is still immensely enjoyable to visit.

 

Nearby attractions

San Jose has always been regarded as a mere springboard for adventures in Costa Rica and we find many guests have the impression they need to spend as little time as possible in the big and bustling capital. Granted, the country’s National Parks, Cloud Forests, Peninsulas and Top Wilderness Experiences are certainly the main highlights yet you need not shy away from spending a few days in the capital.

San Jose’s bustling dining scene is reason enough to visit although the capital, being the most prominent city in the whole country, also offers an array of awesome attractions, including The Museum of Per-Colombian Gold, The National Museum and National Theatre of Costa Rica as well as outdoor markets, family-friendly amusement parks, craft breweries and plenty of shopping opportunities. You’ll also find an array of hotels directly bordering La Sabana Park, in case you’d love to stay nearby.

From here, those who are short on time can also tackle memorable road trips to popular spots like Arenal, Monteverde and the beaches of Tamarindo.

 

The Best Adventure Vacations in Costa Rica

At Costa Rica Rios, we run award-winning adventure tours in this magnificent country, taking active and thrill-seeking explorers both on and way off the beaten path. We cater to adventure-seeking families, couples and singles alike and offer both fully and partly guided tours. What’s more, we create bespoke itineraries that allow you to Build Your Own Tour, to include only those activities and destinations you love most.

Contact us when you’re ready to plan your unforgettable adventure in Costa Rica!

US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

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Can You Take a One-way Cruise to Costa Rica?

Taking a one-way cruise to Costa Rica to enjoy an extended adventure vacation with a difference is an option that’s becoming increasingly popular. Not only does cruising offer an extra adventure in its own right but it also offers a stellar travel option for those who simply don’t wish to fly. Having said that, it may surprise you to know that whilst roundtrip cruises abound, one-way cruises to Costa Rica are much harder to find.

Below, we detail all your Costa Rica cruising options so you can best decide which one is right for you.

 

Roundtrip Cruises to Costa Rica – A Rewarding (Yet Fleeting) Adventure

Being so close to the Panama Canal means Costa Rica is a very popular cruising destination in Central America, with several major cruise lines (the most popular being Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Princess) offering itineraries that either ply the eastern Caribbean or western Pacific coastlines and, in a few special cases, both.  Cruises mostly depart from Miami or Fort Lauderdale in the US and can run from anywhere between 7 and 21 days.

Where do cruises stop in Costa Rica? The main cruising port along Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline is Puerto Caldera near Punta Arenas whilst, over on the eastern coast, in the small town of Limon. These are the country’s two major ports, with marinas big enough to accommodate mega cruise liners. Choose a smaller ship, however, and your itinerary could include other (smaller) ports as well.

Which coastline is better to cruise in Costa Rica? The Pacific is the most famous, serviced and popular coastline in Costa Rica so you’ll find the majority of cruise itineraries head to the western side of the country. With an array of phenomenal destinations that are easy to reach from Punta Arenas, the Pacific coast offers the greatest array of day-trip excursions as well. Over on the Caribbean, you’ll discover a much wilder coastline, where port services are limited yet nature-based adventures phenomenal.

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How much time off do you get to explore? When you choose a round-trip cruise to Costa Rica, you won’t have much time to explore, this being the main bone of contention for prospective travelers. Usually, one full day off at each port of call is all you have at your disposal when choosing these types of cruises, so although all the major lines offer an impressive array of day-trip options at every stop – everything from volcano climbing to whitewater rafting, zip-lining, kayaking, horseback riding, snorkeling and hiking to stunning waterfalls (amongst many more) – you simply won’t have the time to enjoy them all.

The benefits of round-trip cruises to Costa Rica – If you’re short on time and want to visit several destinations in Central America in the one trip, then round-trip cruises that include a couple of stops in Costa Rica could be a good option. This is especially true if you’ve never traveled to less-developed countries before and are a little hesitant about an extended vacation there. If you just want a taste of Costa Rica and want to see what it’s like (to ascertain whether you’d love to come back on an extended trip) a round-trip Caribbean or Central American cruise could suit you well.

The downside of round-trip cruises to Costa Rica – This type of extended whirlwind cruises can certainly be a lot of fun (and showcase a host of exceptional places) yet, by their very nature, they can’t deliver a very comprehensive experience in any one given place. Cruises are mostly about fleeting visits to many places rather than in-depth adventures in  a few chosen spots.

If your aim is to enjoy a comprehensive adventure vacation in Costa Rica and want to include a cruising experience along the way, a better option would be to take a one-way cruise instead.

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One-Way Cruises To/From Costa Rica – The Best of Both Worlds

If you wish to explore Costa Rica more thoroughly yet still enjoy a cruise experience, the one-way cruising option is definitely the better choice. Travel to our shores in style and have the freedom to stay as long as you wish once you arrive. For the return journey, you could either take another cruise back or (the most popular option) fly back.

A cruise down/fly up will arguably offer you the best of both worlds.

Where do one-way cruises depart/arrive? At time of writing, only a select number of specialist cruise companies offer one-way cruises to Costa Rica although, given the increase in demand for this service, we suspect many more will be offered in the near future. The most popular options are Windstar and Variety cruises, the latter offering journeys on the stunning M/S Panorama, an exquisite three-mast motor sailor. One-way itineraries ply the route between Puerto Caldera (Costa Rica) and Colon (Panama) and last between 7 and 11 days. Windstar also offers a 10-day itinerary that departs from Miami (FL).

The benefits of one-way cruises to Costa Rica – Aside from the obvious benefit of having freedom and independence once in Costa Rica, Windstar and Variety also offer the stellar bonus of daytime sailing across the famed and historic Panama Canal. These are spectacular travel adventures on their own right!

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Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

The downside of one-way cruises – The lack of extensive choice of one-way cruises means you will likely have to take the same cruise twice if you wish to cruise there and back and this is something that will not appeal to everyone. Moreover, there are only a handful of cruises on offer on any given year (usually only in December and January).

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What Adventures Can You Enjoy in Costa Rica Once You Arrive?

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At Costa Rica Rios, we can help you plan a week of exhilarating adventures in Costa Rica, whether you reach us by boat or plane. For ease of reference, we’ve divided up our most popular tours by travel style:

Honeymoon & Romance: Given that Costa Rica is such a popular wedding and honeymoon destination, it won’t surprise you to know that romantic adventures are among our most popular offerings. Because we know that no two couples are alike, however, our array of active honeymoon itineraries is extensive and includes super luxe, adult-only resorts, barefoot romance immersed in wilderness and weeklong itineraries that perfectly balance rest, relaxation and romance with oodles of outdoor activities for adrenaline junkies as well.

Family Vacations: With a culture that literally embraces children and a country that is tailor-made for family fun, Costa Rica is undoubtedly one of the best family-friendly destinations on the planet. On our family adventure vacations, we love to showcase the greatness of this nation and its wonderful people, planning itineraries that are unique, fun and budget-friendly, whilst focusing on activities and adventures that are suitable for everyone. For quality time together in nature, enjoying each other’s company and our wonderful country, our Costa Rica Rios family vacations are unparalleled.

Week of Rivers: Adrenalin junkies and whitewater sports addicts will have an unforgettable time on our kayaking and canoeing adventures. Not only can you experience some of the most coveted river-based adventures in Costa Rica but you can also take advantage of our non-paddling activity options to bring family and friends along for the exhilarating ride. We offer adventures on Class II to IV rapids on the world-renowned Pacuare, Sarapiqui and Pejibaye rivers, all three rated among the best whitewater sports destinations on earth.

Week of Adventures: For that adventure seeker who simply wants to do it all in a week, our adventure packages are unbeatable. From kayaking to rafting, snorkeling, wildlife-spotting, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and so much more – this is the one 8-day itinerary that packs all the best adventures Costa Rica has to offer.

Off the Beaten Path & Nature: For those who have a fervent desire to explore the remotest corners of Costa Rica, we offer exceptional adventure-packed itineraries to some of the most isolated corners of the country, including Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast and the spellbinding Osa Peninsula.

Build Your Own Vacation: Aside from our very popular group tours, we also offer bespoke adventure tours that are planned with your desires (and budget) in mind. Simply tell us where in Costa Rica you’d like to go, and what activities you’d like to try, and we’ll advise you on the best options available.

Whether you wish to simply avoid air travel or are looking for a way to combine an adventure vacation in Costa Rica with a relaxing cruise, you’ll hopefully find a cruising option to suit your needs. For more info on Costa Rica adventure packages, simply contact us to know more.

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US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

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