From Coastal Calm to Whitewater Thrills
While kayakers explore Caribbean coves and coastal mangrove lagoons, a very different type of paddling adventure is taking place miles inland. The abundant seasonal rains that fall on the forested slopes of the Cordillera Nombre de Dios Mountains feed the tributaries of the Cangrejal River. As it plummets from the highlands toward the coast, the river sweeps through narrow canyons and rushes over boulder-choked channels that create walls of standing white water. This is one of Central America's premier rafting destinations, where exciting floats lead through the pristine forests of a national park. The word is out, but the river remains uncrowded and untamed.
- Best for: Everyone, from relaxing and beach travelers, to soft and rugged adventurers
- Best season to visit: Year round
- Weather: Tropical climate with drier winters, passing summer showers and more frequent rains from October through December. Temperatures range from the 70s to summertime highs near 90
Paddle Sports in Honduras Overview
Coastal kayak trips originate both on the Bay Islands and from the Honduran mainland near the town of La Ceiba. Whitewater rafting trips on the Cangrejal River are also staged from La Ceiba, and scheduled as full-day excursions that may include additional stops in the Pico Bonito National Park.
Paddle Sports in Honduras Tips
You can select trips from mild to wild. Paddlers seeking the ultimate in big whitewater thrills may want to book a trip on the Cangrejal during the rainy season, from September to January. The rapids run year-round, however, and less-intense whitewater trips during the drier season provide opportunities for additional adventures such as cliff jumps and river swims.
Best Places for Paddle Sports in Honduras
The La Ceiba River provides class II, III and IV rapids with drops, waterfalls and narrow passages. Tours of El Cacao Lagoon wind through a mangrove forest inhabited by howler monkeys and aquatic birds. Rafting excursions through the Cordillera Nombre de Dios Mountains pass through the 265,000-acre Pico Bonito, which is one of the most biodiverse places on earth.
What to Pack for Paddle Sports in Honduras
Wear fast-drying clothing that also provides sun protection. Choose shoes that can get wet and deliver good traction on rocks and muddy banks. Stow valuables and electronics in a waterproof bag or case that floats, and use a wrist lanyard to secure cameras when taking photos or videos while afloat.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for entry that must be valid for the 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 tugs 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.