When you’re on vacation, feel free to kick up your feet and relax. You can forget your diet and skip the gym with no guilty conscious when you’re in relaxation mode. And many people come to Costa Rica to do just that. Enchanted by pictures of white sand beaches and hammocks under swaying coconut trees, more people from the United States and Canada choose Costa Rica as their ideal vacation spot over any other Latin American country. And while Costa Rica does have some of the most relaxing tropical beaches and mountain towns, there is a lot more than that. Nothing can distract you from an itinerary of pure beach relaxation like Costa Rica’s extreme sport scene. Costa Rica offers some of the most sought-after extreme adventurism in the entire world, and we know that some of these activities will spark your interest.
You came to Costa Rica to zone out for a bit, but real adventurers never say die, and your ice-cold beer in a hammock can wait until you’re done with your morning exercise. Read through our list of the top 10 extreme sports in Costa Rica; we guarantee you’ll want to change up your itinerary. The best part is, there are tours for every ability levels, from professional athletes to new amateurs. Make your Costa Rica vacation a trip to remember by adding in an adventure sport or two among your relaxation time.
The avid biker won’t be able to enjoy a vacation without some cycle time, and Costa Rica’s trails feature the best natural scenery around. There are trails for all ability levels, many of which lead to beaches, forests, or destinations of their own. Find the nearest volcano or national park and inquire about bike rentals and mountain bike trials. Each trail should have an intensity marking, so take a trip with your family, then return the next day for some rocky, steep, and thrilling rides.
It’s estimated that over 7,000 marine species inhabit the waters around Costa Rica, including both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Coast. With this incredible biodiversity, it’s no big mystery why so many people seek scuba diving tours. You have your choice of oceans, coral reefs, open sea, and island waters to choose from. Those with experience and a craving for adrenaline will go to Coco Island, a totally protected and uninhabited island. The biodiversity is so great is this region, that the island is closed off to any humans, but the waters are still open for scuba expeditions. You can expect to see incredible plant life as well as hammerhead sharks, white tip reef sharks, mabula rays, brown and blue spotted jacks, and bull sharks. Those just learning to dive will probably want to postpone this trip until they’ve tried an easier location, such as Playa de Coco or Cahuita. Here you can earn your certification while watching puffer fish, eels, stingrays, and dolphins.
Waterfall Rappelling, or canyoning, may be the #1 most sought-after sport in Costa Rica. You’ll experience first-hand the might power of Costa Rica’s many waterfalls, all surrounded by breath-taking nature. Visit the Arenal National Park to try this rare sport. There are many mini-falls where you can learn the basics and enjoy the thrill. If these small challenges aren’t enough for you, you’ll move to the big fall: a 200 feet drop of pure adrenaline.
Cave Spelunking may be the most extreme version of hiking. You’ll hike through dark caves with a flashlight, and the trail won’t be easy. You’ll need to climb over rocks, forge through streams and ponds, and explore dead-end caverns before making it out. You’ll finish tired and dirty, but the trip will be well worth it. The experienced hikers may want to try their hand at the infamous Santa Ana cave in the Barra Honda National Park. You’ll need to be lowered almost 800 feet into a dark hole by a professional guide in order to start your 2-hour tour. This tour will be the experience of a lifetime. The entire area is natural and very scarcely trafficked, as this tour isn’t appropriate for people without experience. The National Park is not a typical tourist location, so you’ll be able to enjoy true, pure nature. Those without experience may be interested too. A good place to start your spelunking career is in the Venado Caverns by the Arenal Volcano National Park. You’ll enjoy an easier, safe tour without needing pulleys or equipment. You’ll still get to experience nature, local animals, and eerie darkness of cave life.
ATVs are a great way to enjoy adventure tourism and extreme sporting with the whole family. You can find several environmentally responsible trails in the Jaco region, and can enjoy some adrenaline as you zip through the jungles. This will not only be fun, but the best way to see the most of your trail. Your ATV might scare animals away, but keep your eyes peeled for beautiful plant life and tropical birds overhead.
Don’t let the birds get the best view of this breath-taking country, sign up for a paragliding tour and experience it for yourself. Almost any beach town will have tours, and they can be surprisingly inexpensive. This thrilling adventure will give you views of the ocean, beach, rainforest, volcanos, and far-off mountains. Best yet, this thrilling sport is an adventure the whole family can handle.
Bungee Jumping is for the real thrill-seekers, and a jump in this tropical paradise will never disappoint. And as fun as this trip will be, it’s nothing next to the pictures you get from your jump. Surrounded by the most beautiful natural views, be sure someone is recording your fall. Try bungee jumping Grecia Bridge, swinging through the nearby canyon. If the canyon wall is too close for your tastes, you can always head to Jaco’s Extreme Machine, the only certified bungee tower in Costa Rica.
Zip lining gives you the thrill of adventure, a quick way to explore the rainforest or mountain region, and best of all, doesn’t take a lot of skill or practice to do correctly. You’ll be able to find ziplining, or canopy tours, in almost any region of the country.
White Water Rafting can probably be done in your home country, but if you want to raft through rainforest rivers, surrounded by tropical plant and animal life while in the ideal climate for outdoor water sports, you’ll want to try it in Costa Rica. You can try a 2-day tour on the Reventazon River, a 33-mile course featuring 80 thrilling rapids. For those who aren’t ready for an overnight trip, try a half day adventure on Balsa River. And keep your eyes open even when not nearing the rapids, on this trip you’ll see monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and tropical birds.
Sky diving may be the costliest of your Costa Rican extreme sport options, but it’s worth the money. You’ll jump through the sky with a parachute and a trained, certified guide. During your several minutes in the air, you’ll get the best views of this tropical country imaginable. For a short trip, there is absolutely no better way to see the most of Costa Rica than by sky diving. Regardless of which adventure you choose, your relaxation time will be well earned by the afternoon.