Last Updated: Feb 02, 2013
The spectacularly scenic rivers of Costa Rica attract thousands of river runners each year. During the green season, from June through October, rivers are particularly wild as the water levels are high. The drier months from November to April provide the best runs for rafters of all skill levels.
Seven and 13-mile adventures down the Naranjo and Savegre Rivers depart from Jaco and Manuel Antonio. River runners can enjoy Class II to IV rapids on a variety of trips ranging from half to multi-day or even multi-week adventures. Photographers in speedy kayaks paddle ahead to snap photographs of each raft as it slices through the rapids. Kingfishers, toucans and herons are often spotted along the riverbank.
From Arenal, embark on the Class III Balsa River or Class IV Toro River, two of Costa Rica’s favorite whitewater rafting destinations. Just 20 minutes from town, the Penas Blancas River is a popular destination for safari floats, where iguanas, basilisk lizards, monkeys and sloths are frequent visitors to the riverbanks.
Several established tour operators located in San Jose and Turrialba offer rafting trips down the popular Pacuare and Reventazon rivers. Rafters will enjoy miles of scenic waters that course through wilderness flanked by steep gorges towering above the riverbanks. Package trips include transportation, food and experienced river guides to help rafters safely tackle Class II to V rapids.
Whitewater tubing adventures are available on the Class I and II Rio Negro, near Rincon de la Vieja. Tours start with a short horseback ride through tropical dry forest to Rio Negro, where tubers begin a 90-minute journey down the gentle but exciting rapids.
Situated at the junction of the Sarapiqui and Puerto Viejo Rivers, the village of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui offers sensational Class III-IV whitewater rafting as well as tranquil safari floats, allowing passengers glimpses of caiman, crocodiles, monkeys and sloths. Several rafting outfitters provide single and multi-day trips, as the Sarapiqui River produces exhilarating rapids that draw explorers from across the globe.
Just northwest of Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast, whitewater tubing tours on the Estrella River offer an exciting race down Class II-IV rapids. Trips begin with a ride through banana plantations and a short driving tour of the Cabecar Indigenous Reserve, before fording the river and suiting up for the rapids. Whitewater adventurers may choose individual or two-person tubes for the 70-minute river adventure.