Last Updated: May 19, 2014
Assail Costa Rica's class II-V rapids in one of the most vibrant and vivacious corners of the planet. Explore the wilderness while rafting down spring-fed rivers rambling through primary and secondary rainforest among rolling hills, pastures and valleys tossing and bucking visitors who dare to test its raging waters. Costa Rica offers year round adventures on dozens of rivers fit for every skill level. Visit during the wet season (May-Nov.) when the seasonal rains raise the water levels and the challenge, or drop in during the dry season (Dec.-April) for sun-filled days and cool tropical nights.
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 riverbanks.
From Arenal visitors can embark on the Class II-III Balsa River or Class II-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.
Visit the depths of the south Pacific between Dominical and the Osa Peninsula for a journey down the Coto Brus River. Expect a two-hour trip featuring class II and III rapids through rainforest and pastures. Tours depart from Uvita, Puerto Jimenez and Dominical for a half-day adventure that often includes breakfast and lunch.
Situated at the junction of the Sarapiqui and Puerto Viejo rivers, the village of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui offers sensational Class II-IV whitewater rafting as well as tranquil safari floats, allowing rafters 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 a banana farm and a short driving tour of the Cabecar Reservation 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.