Rafting adventure in Central America's Whitewater CapitalTall mountains, pristine valleys and plenty of rainfall to feed rivers that drop steeply toward the sea. These are prime ingredients for world-class rafting adventures, and Costa Rica has more than its share. Paddles and drifts take place across the country, and there's something for everyone. Hard-core thrills test experts’ skills on the flumes and standing waves of upper rivers; exciting but manageable cataracts race through gorges and splash against mid-stream boulders; and easy-flowing lowland waterways spirit visitors through virgin forests and coastal swamps. Excursions are supported by a network of professional outfitters and experienced guides who ensure safety and enjoyment for all.
- Best for: All travellers from budget to luxury with a love of nature and adventure
- Best season to visit: Year Round, drier November - May
- Weather: There is minimal seasonal variation in air temperatures, with highs reaching near 90 and lows touching 70 at night. The wet season runs from May through November, drier months from December to April bring lower humidity
Costa Rica Information
Paddle Sports in Costa Rica Overview
There are more than a dozen premier white water rivers in Costa Rica. Some are within the range of easy day trips from resorts and hotels; others will involve a longer drive or a multi-day float plN with overnight camping, or a stay in a river lodge. One of the favorite locations to begin day trips is the resort area of Guanacaste.
Paddle Sports in Costa Rica Tips
Know what you are getting into by learning the rapids classification system. Class I offers small waves with no obstructions, Class II adds small obstacles that are easily avoided. Class III delivers larger standing waves, small drops and narrower channels. Class IV rapids will often require complex maneuvering in the turbulent water. Anything higher is best left to expert rafters.
Best Places for Paddle Sports in Costa Rica
The central Colorado River provides safe but thrilling drops in class III whitewater. Easily-managed Class I and II rapids add interest to a drift down the Corobici River, which leads through a tropical forest where monkeys perch in the branches of Ceiba, Mahogany and Guanacaste trees. The upper Tenorio River provides intense Class IV challenges and with quick turns, twists, plus a 12-foot, Class V drop that will exhilarate even the most seasoned thrill-seekers.
What to Pack for Paddle Sports in Costa Rica
Wear comfortable clothes that can get wet, strap-on sandals or water shoes, sunglasses with a secure head drop, and a hat that fits securely. You may want to invest in a small rafting-style dry bag for sundries such as cameras, phones sunscreen, insect repellent and wallets.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for entry that must be valid for length of stay. No visa is required for stays less than 90 days. The passport must have at least one blank page for the Costa Rica entry stamp. There is a departure tax of approximately $29 U.S. which should be included in your international ticket. Check the entry/exit requirements here.
There are no immunizations required for entry into Costa Rica, although you should check with your doctor and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for other recommendations.
Culture and Customs
Costa Rica is known as the safest and most prosperous country in Central America. It is home to a large community of North American ex-pats, but also retains its distinctly Latin culture, which includes a relaxed attitude to schedules that is known as “Tico time.” Laid back is not the same as uncaring, however, and Costa Ricans are known for taking pride in their appearances and their work. A well-developed road system connects major destinations, but much of the country's central highlands remain wild and protected within national parks. Within a day's drive of beach resorts at Guanacaste lie the slopes of Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Palo Verde National Park. Costa Rica is the eco-adventure capital of the Caribbean. Surfers come from around the world to ride famous breaks from Witch's Rock to Pavones. Coastal lodges are filled with fishermen seeking light tackle challenges with roosterfish or tug of war with a marlin. Forests draw birders, hikers and naturalists, and there are more than a dozen rivers offering whitewater rafting thrills. More relaxing experiences await at hot springs, where spa treatments and soaks in mineral-rich volcanic water provide a soothing end to an active day.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
The standard in Costa Rica is the same as in the United States: 110 volts AC (60 cycles). Some electric outlets only have 2 prong sockets, so an adapter may be needed for 3 prong plugs.
Costa Rica has an excellent phone system, and the country code for dialing is 506. Check with your cell phone provider for international data and voice plans and costs.
Many resorts and restaurants offer WiFi.
Although the water in Costa Rica is generally safe to drink, water quality varies in some cities. It would be best to use bottled water and avoid ice.
Language & Currency
Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, but English is widely spoken. The Costa Rican currency is called the “colon”. Check the current exchange rate here. Many businesses will accept U.S. Dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted.
Costa Rica is on Central Standard Time, 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-6 GMT). Costa Rica does not use daylight saving time, so the time difference is an additional hour April through October.
Location, Size and Population
Costa Rica is located in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua (to the north) and Panama (to the south). Costa Rica encompasses a total of 19,700 square miles (51,100 square kilometers).
The population of Costa Rica is 4.9 Million (2015) with approximately 350,000 living in the province of Guanacaste.