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Canoeing & Kayaking

Last Updated: Jan 20, 2014

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Lush mangrove estuaries and miles of coastline are ideal for sea kayaking and canoeing. Leisurely paddle through the maze of canals and river estuaries yield peaceful opportunities for wildlife viewing or ride the Pacuare and Reventazon rivers as the ultimate rush for kayakers seeking Class III to V rapids. Either way, nearly every destination in Costa Rica offers a kayak or canoe adventure – for beginners and experts alike.

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Tour operators on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts offer half-day long excursions as well as custom overnight and multi-day kayak and canoe adventures.

River and lake kayaking and canoeing

Arenal, Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio, Puerto Viejo and virtually every other destination in Costa Rica offer tranquil tours down the country's rivers and across its lakes. Enjoy the placid early morning waters of Lake Arenal in a canoe or kayak as the sun rises over Arenal Volcano or jump on a wildlife watching tour and canoe down the Penas Blancas River looking for sloths, snakes, crocodiles, caimans, birds and basilisk lizards. The canals of Tortuguero National Park are equally ideal for canoe and kayak excursions; join a tour or rent a kayak from one of the all-inclusive hotels. Four aquatic trails (Tortuguero River, Harold Canal, Chiquero Canal and Mora Canal) snake through the park and offer the best opportunity for bird and wildlife watching.

Sea kayaking

Available for both beginners and experts, Costa Rica offers sea kayaking on both of its coasts. Visit sandy beaches and jagged, volcanic coastlines; paddle through stone archways and into tidal caverns, gorges and pools in places like Uvita, Dominical, Jaco and Puerto Viejo. Slip into mangrove estuaries and search for secluded beaches. Most towns offer kayak tours that include experienced guides, snacks, transportation – some even include snorkeling. Alternatively you'll often find someone renting kayaks on the beach allowing the chance to find your own path.

Extreme kayaking

Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, a small river community located in northeastern region, offers sensational Class II-IV whitewater kayaking, where paddlers can customize single and multi-day trips. Several companies provide tours for whitewater kayakers that include gear, bilingual guides, lodging and food. Experienced kayakers frequently bring their own gear and tackle the rapids solo.

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