Since you are starting to plan your vacation to Costa Rica or you are being curious, don’t worry, here you have a Bucket list of things to do in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is a small country but has many things to see. It is full of excitement, natural adventures, and surprising activities full of beauty. You will realize that the different climatic zones of the country offer a wide range of activities you shouldn’t miss.
A destination that will take your heart away with its striking landscapes and lush green jungles, Costa Rica is truly a paradise on earth. With the wilderness so deep and beaches flashing their natural beauty, every traveler will have little something to satiate their desires. So, if you have never visited Costa Rica or do not see it coming anytime soon, then where on the earth are you? The beautiful Central American country has many things to offer and therefore, a traveler might get confused about the activities here. Let’s break this down and make your bucket list a little more to the point. Here are some of the best things to do in Costa Rica while exploring this Central American Country.
If you want to take advantage of the best experiences to enjoy, don’t worry we got you covered. We’ve put together one of the best bucket lists of things to do in Costa Rica.
Table of Contents
- What are some things to do in Costa Rica?
- 1. Swim in the Thermal Hot Springs at the base of Arenal Volcano
- 2. Go Rappelling off a waterfall in the middle of a rainforest
- 3. Spot Capuchin Monkeys in Manuel Antonio National Park
- 4. Go surfing in Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica
- 5. Snorkeling off of Cano Island
- 6. Discover Unique Biodiversity of Corcovado National Park
- 7. Walk on Hanging Bridges in Monteverde’s Cloud Forest
- 8. Zipline through Costa Rica’s Rainforest
- 9. Explore coffee plantations in the Central Valley of Costa Rica
- 10. Go beach hopping in the Nicoya Peninsula
- 11. Hike at Bajos del Toro
- 12. Health & Yoga Vacations
- 13. Visit a Butterfly Hothouse
- 14. Camp at a Nature Reserve
- 15. Visit a Waterfall in Alajuela Province
- 16. Go Boating at a Metropolitan Parks
- 17. Archeological Museums
- 18. Deep-Sea Fishing
- 19. Cave Spelunking
- 20. Costa Rica Gold Museum
- 21. Visit a Catholic Cathedral
- 22. Proyecto Asis
- What is the most visited place in Costa Rica?
- Where should I stay in Costa Rica, beach or jungle?
- What should I avoid in Costa Rica?
What are some things to do in Costa Rica?
1. Swim in the Thermal Hot Springs at the base of Arenal Volcano
Did you know that Costa Rica has six active volcanoes? Yeah, Nothing to fear, they are in some sort of not-angry mode. Splendid.
Among all is Arenal Volcano. Loved by travelers who explore its surroundings and want to take a deep and relaxing soak in its healthy thermal water.
Having said that, the Arenal Volcano Hot Spring is one of the best must-see and must-do activities in Costa Rica. Thermal waters are well known for their healthy properties. After a morning of hiking, don’t think it twice and soak yourself in the rejuvenating hot spring.
2. Go Rappelling off a waterfall in the middle of a rainforest
Waterfall Rappelling alone is one of the most challenging and exciting activities in Costa Rica. Add the dense and tall jungle, and you will get an adventure full of adrenaline and water. Prepare because you will get wet and a lot.
There are some popular destinations in Costa Rica to do waterfall rappelling. The Arenal waterfall, Rincon de la Vieja waterfall, and Manuel Antonio waterfall.
Don’t forget to always wear quick-drying clothing and your most water-resistant shoes. You can also leave the camera behind, but we all know how hard it’s. So ask about bringing your GoPro.
3. Spot Capuchin Monkeys in Manuel Antonio National Park
We all love animals and going on vacation to a country so rich in biodiversity and not taking a while to see them is a waste of time. The Manuel Antonio National Park is also known for many people like the zoo of Costa Rica.
There you can see Capuchin Monkeys, hanging out and chilling within the trees, which is an exceptional experience to live. You can also see some squirrels and sloths around the Manuel Antonio National Park.
Remember to bring your camera and take some pictures of your activities in Costa Rica. At Manuel Antonio you will have the opportunity to see 352 species of birds, 109 species of mammals, and 346 plant species, wonderful, huh?
4. Go surfing in Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica
If you are on a surf trip or a familiar vacation you can’t miss this. Everyone loves the excitement, freedom feeling of surfing, and Costa Rica have some nice spot for that. Tamarindo Beach offer you one of the best opportunity. It is perfect for beginners, intermediates, and advanced surfers. Near an amazing town full of national cuisine and nightclubs, Tamarindo beach is one of the best options for surfing in Costa Rica. You capture the essence of the rich coast.
We should tell this side of the country is not what you would call cheap. Great experience.
5. Snorkeling off of Cano Island
Located 53 km away from the shore the virgin and light blue water is waiting for you in one of Costa Rica’s Best Snorkeling spots. Being a tropical paradise is the home of a wide variety of majestic marine flora and fauna. The Cano Island is preferred for having one of the largest concentrations of corals along the Pacific Ocean, making the Snorkeling at Cano Island one of the most beautiful and pleasant experiences of all.
If it is your first time, or you are already a professional snorkel, I’m sure you will enjoy this activity.
6. Discover Unique Biodiversity of Corcovado National Park
Holding 3% of the biodiversity of that side of the planet, The Corcovado National Park is one of the most famous Parks in the country. Usually known as the Amazon of Costa Rica. With a rich and unique combination of marine, and land ecosystems the park is a nice spot to do hiking while you get surrounded by 123 different butterflies, 367 birds, 500 trees, and 117 amphibians and reptiles. Amazing nature experience everyone should do.
7. Walk on Hanging Bridges in Monteverde’s Cloud Forest
Being described by National Geographic as “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest”. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is a majestic dense and tall forest to take a Sky Walk through hanging bridges. Sound exciting, right?
I loved to climb trees when I was a kid, and who doesn’t? You’ll make your way to the top of the cloud forest while you walk through using a suspension bridge (a lot of them) and walking trails. Making you feel like Tarzan in one of his adventures.
8. Zipline through Costa Rica’s Rainforest
Prepare to use a harness and a helmet, stand at the edge of a platform and feel the wind in your face. Even if it’s your first-time experience, or you are a pro. Ziplining is one of the unique things to do in Costa Rica, wonderful experience crossing the forest real fast with the sound of the zip “zzzzzzzhhhhhhhh” and the dense green forest around, so much nature, so exciting. Make sure to do this while you’re in Costa Rica.
9. Explore coffee plantations in the Central Valley of Costa Rica
Did you know that Costa Rica is the only country in the entire world where it’s illegal to produce any type of coffee other than 100% Arabica. It is illegal to produce bad coffee because those are the highest quality coffee beans. Amazing. Make your way to coffee plantations in the Central Valley. They are huge and have nice tours to show around. If you love coffee, this may be one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica.
10. Go beach hopping in the Nicoya Peninsula
If you are having a bad time choosing between coastal beach areas. Don’t worry and trust us, the Nicoya Peninsula has the best selection of beaches on that site in the country. From the color and texture of the sand changing mile to mile to the crystal water of the beaches, Nicoya Peninsula will impact all the visitors and boost their experience. We Recommend the Playa Samara to enjoy with the family.
11. Hike at Bajos del Toro
A beautiful spot in Costa Rica that stays low-key popular yet undiscovered for most parts – welcome to the unexplored paradise called Bajos del Taro. Geographically, touching the arduous tracks of the Amarillo Valley, Bajos del Taro is heaven for the trek and hike lovers who enjoy challenges along the way.
The spot reels in adventure freaks and travelers who enjoy activities like hammock camping in the wilderness, trout fishing, mountain biking, rafting, and even horseback riding. Moving past your adventurous desires, there is a serene pathway that shall take you on a lovely ride from San Jose to Bajos del Toro and let you submerge your soul in some wooden crafts and the town of Sarchias well.
12. Health & Yoga Vacations
What if you get a chance that serves two purposes – fun and self-awareness? Nothing shall be healthier and rejuvenating than taking up multiple activities here that offer both enjoyment and fitness along the way. Areas like Arenal Lake, San Jose, and Santa Teresa offer a number of detox programs, women retreats and Yoga Retreats in Latin America for travelers from all over the world. You can spend days here, have nice vegan/vegetarian meals, attend spiritual gatherings, and take up Yoga classes. On the flip side, if you are an ambitious Yoga instructor and want to level up, then visit Saint Teresa for the best Yoga Teacher Training programs.
13. Visit a Butterfly Hothouse
If there is one thing about Costa Rica that beautifully replicates the poetries on Mother Nature’s beauty, then come witness the Butterfly Conservatory here. You may visit some popular hothouses located in close proximity to Lake Arenal in the Alajuela Province and simply sit and watch butterflies unravel their ethereal beauty. The conservatory offers educational tours, a sneak peek at the frog habitat, orchid exhibitions, and spots where parrots, sloths, and toucans thrive. What’s more? A beautiful view of Arenal Volcano and Arenal Lake awaits you.
14. Camp at a Nature Reserve
Costa Rica is naturally beautiful and every aspect of this fact shall amaze you in different ways every time you visit this place. One of the most popular and gorgeous nature reserves is located Arenal-Tempisque area, known as the Curi Cancha Reserve. This privately-owned nature reserve encapsulates more than 200 acres of cloud wild woods, which is a thriving habitat for a wide variety of birds and reptiles. Similar to the butterfly conservatory, the CuriCuncha reserve too offers guided tours – bird-watching activities and a serene voyage through the splendid fauna reservoir. You can go hiking with a group of your loved ones and cover a major part of the rainforests, wilderness, and pebbled pathways.
15. Visit a Waterfall in Alajuela Province
Another facet of Costa Rica that will leave you marveled forever is the Alajuela Province. The beautiful spot is known for its amazing waterfalls that are located at the center of the Chato Volcano in the Arenal Volcano National Park. Amongst a number of waterfalls here, the most-loved one is the La Fortuna Waterfall, located in the Arenal National Park. There is a splendid 75-meter jet of water that gushes through a height and finally mixes with a natural pool, which is luckily famous for nature swims as well. Travelers love hiking up the pathways up the Chato Volcano.
16. Go Boating at a Metropolitan Parks
The parks for visitors and travelers are known for the joggers’ lanes, gorgeous lakes for boating, a well-built field area for skating, football, and much more. These recreational parks are also famous for the nearby dwellers who visit to have some time alone amid the greenery and relax for a while. As a tourist, you can visit the parks for a picnic, family get-togethers, or even spend some time with your partner away from the cacophony. One of the most touted and famous metropolitan parks here is the La Sabana. Situated in the mid of San Jose, this park has National Football Stadium as well
17. Archeological Museums
Away from natures’ reserves and its beauty, there is a small section of Costa Rica that nurtures its culture and art. You can find a collection of old jade jewelry, artifacts that belong to 500 BC and 800 AD, and paintings that are a couple of years old. These decorative pieces of traditions reflect the forgotten culture of Costa Rica and a humble request for the deserved adoration. Even though travelers with a keen interest in history do visit these spots, there is still a share of admiration that these museums deserve and await. One of the popular museums here is Museo de Jade, where jade jewelry is a special attraction.
18. Deep-Sea Fishing
Costa Rica is one of the world’s best fishing destinations that flaunt expansive wetlands, magnificent coastlines, and a range of rivers. You have the opportunity to witness the world’s unusual and largest fishes of all time, such as Marlin and Sailfish. You can enjoy sport fishing activities in areas like Los Suenos Marina in the Central Pacific, resorts in Osa Peninsula, and enjoy Tamarindo Sportfishing in Guanacaste. Apart from these spots famous for Deep Sea fishing, there are places for Inland activities as well. Go for North Caribbean regions, and places lining the grand Lake Arenal. Don’t forget your saltwater fishing gear!
19. Cave Spelunking
Go for adventure activities that satiate your soul and stirs-up your curiosity to its maximum. Cave Spelunking in Costa Rica is enjoyed by one and all, which is why every year, travelers from all over the world come here just to experience the spooky caves, spiders, and eyeless fishes here. Sounds fun, right? It is more than just being a fun activity. Some of the famous spots for you to consider are – Barra Honda National Park in Nicoya Peninsula, and Venado Caves in areas adjacent to Arenal Volcano. There are guides who are going to take you on this extraordinary journey of exploring the cave life and feel the very moment at its scary best.
20. Costa Rica Gold Museum
Away from modern ways of living and cacophony, witness the amazing collections at the Gold Museums, which oozes culture and peace. The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum here in San Jose, Costa Rica has more than 1000 single gold artifacts belonging to the Pre-Columbian era. You do not have to worry much about understanding the intricacies, as the museum runs a short video explaining a little background and history of everything. Apart from this Gold museum, there is also a National Coin Museum and the Casa de Moneda, where you can learn more about the history of minting in Costa Rica.
21. Visit a Catholic Cathedral
Dive deep into the culture, a little more and witness everything unveiled at the Catholic churches and cathedrals in Costa Rica. Admire the architecture, touch the holy water, or simply visit to fulfill your curiosities, there is a little bit of everything for everyone. One of the most popular spots is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, which is a Roman Catholic cathedral. Located in the town of Cartago, the cathedral is a dedication to the patron saint of Costa Rica. The beautiful architecture is based on the concepts of neo-Byzantine style and represents the dated historical significance of Costa Rica on the world map.
22. Proyecto Asis
Proyecto Asis is the perfect choice for wildlife lovers among you. This wildlife shelter and environmental education center houses wounded, forsaken, and rescued animals that were on the black market. Any that can’t be released after they heal is used for education purposes. With daily tours and volunteer activities, there is plenty to do to get involved with the care and conservation of these animals and their home. There is access for those with low mobility or disability and is available for all ages, so it can make for the perfect family day out.
We gather and give you the top activities and things to do in Costa Rica, what are you waiting for? Not only that, we are going to answer some questions that may are haunting you.
What is the most visited place in Costa Rica?
This one is a tricky question, there are so many well-known and visited places in Costa Rica. San Jose is the most popular destination in Costa Rica. The international airport is placed in San Jose and Liberia where a huge amount of people arrive there.
Packed with a lot of historical sites, theaters, museums, and street markets. A lot of Can’t-miss spots to dine, drink, and feast will ensure that you don’t run out of things to do in Costa Rica. The heart of Costa Rica a nice modern urban place that will leave you without words.
I know the chances for San Jose to be on your destination list are low you should not hesitate and make a trip around. Give the city a chance, and it will pleasantly surprise you.
Get ready to dig deeper into the city of Chepe (San Jose affectionately name) and discover the city’s charms.
Where should I stay in Costa Rica, beach or jungle?
Costa Rica is well known for its rainforest and beaches. This answer is up to you.
Most of the tourists when it comes to the beach, go to the Guanacaste Province. Located in northern Costa Rica on the pacific side. With an amazing range of resorts and hotels. Access to the beach, and outdoors is not a problem, making this the ultimate place to escape or a weekend.
When it comes to rainforest and cloud forests visitors and tourists head to Manuel Antonio National Park. Located near the town of Quepos on the Central Pacific of the country. With rich biodiversity and a lot of activities make this destination one of the best for everyone who wants things to do in Costa Rica. It’s easy to spend your entire vacation here. The hotels are artistically built in the rainforest.
What should I avoid in Costa Rica?
Despite Costa Rica being one magical tropical dream experience, it could give you a hard time, one of the most common crimes in Costa Rica is theft. So be careful to leave your valuables unattended on the beach, in the car, or when walking around town. Also, you don’t have to worry a lot since it is something that happens one time of 10, so just enjoy and be careful-
I have been asked many times “¿when is the best time of the year to go to Costa Rica? And my answers will always be the dry season, yeah, from mid-December to April. The sun is up pretty clearly, the sky has some dancing clouds that will make your beach experience so pleasant. The rainforest will stay dense and wet but no annoying rain to stop you from doing your activities in Costa Rica.
So if you are looking for things to do in Costa Rica in December or things to do in Costa Rica in June, we just feed you with the best of all.