• Mountain-Biking the Back Roads of Costa Rica: The rustic back roads bemoaned by drivers are a huge boon for mountain bikers. The country has endless roads and trails to explore on two wheels. The area around La Fortuna and Lake Arenal, with its widely varied terrain, is a top destination. 

  • Rafting the Pacuare River (near Turrialba): The best and most beautiful river for rafting in Costa Rica, the class III/IV Pacuare winds through primary and secondary forests, and features one especially breathtaking section that passes through a narrow, steep gorge. For a real treat, take the 2-day Pacuare River trip, which includes an overnight at a lodge or tent camp on the side of the river. 

  • Riding a Seemingly Endless Wave. With one of the planet’s longest left breaks, Pavones is well known to serious surfers, and it’s the birthplace of champions. In Guanacaste, from Witch’s Rock at Playa Naranjo near the Nicaraguan border to Playa Nosara, more than 100km (60 miles) away, you’ll find scores of world-class surf spots. In addition to the two mentioned, try a session at Playa Grande, Punta Langosta, and playas Negra, Avellanas, and Junquillal. Or find your own secret spot.

  • Try the Adventure Sport of Canyoning: While every canyoning tour is unique, it usually involves hiking along and through the rivers and creeks of a steep mountain canyon, with periodic breaks to rappel down the face of a waterfall, jump off a rock into a jungle pool, or float down a small rapid. 

  • Battling a Billfish off the Pacific Coast: Billfish are plentiful all along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, and boats operate from Playa del Coco down to the Golfo Dulce. The area is known for world-record catches of both blue marlin and Pacific sailfish. Go to Quepos (just outside Manuel Antonio) for the best après-fish scene, or head down the Osa Peninsula or Golfo Dulce if you want some isolation. 

  • Windsurfing or Kitesurfing on Lake Arenal: With steady gale-force winds (at certain times of the year), the stunning northern end of Lake Arenal has become a major international windsurfing and kitesurfing hot spot. 

  • Diving at Isla del Caño (Drake Bay): This uninhabited island is believed to have been used as a ceremonial burial site by the pre-Columbian residents of the area. Today, the underwater rocks and coral formations here provide arguably the best scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities in the country—aside from the far offshore Isla del Coco. 

  • Hiking Mount Chirripó (near San Isidro de El General on the central Pacific coast): Hiking to the top of the tallest peak in Costa Rica, Mount Chirripó’s 3,724m (12,215-ft.) summit, takes you through a stunning variety of bioregions. Climbers ascend from lowland pastures through cloud forest to an eerie high-altitude páramo, a tundra-like landscape with stunted trees and morning frosts. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.