Costa Rica is the kind of place where you will never get bored. There is always some fun activity to take part in. We love that the weather is usually good, so almost all activity involves being outside.
With so many Costa Rica activities to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. To help you out, we have compiled a list of 60 things to do that are guaranteed to make your trip an unforgettable experience.
We included info on where to participate in each activity, how to organize your adventure, and money-saving tips.
Alright, lets get planning all your fun things to do in Costa Rica!
Nothing screams “Costa Rica” like soaring over the tree tops in a fun zip-lining adventure. There are zip-lining companies located all throughout the country. These companies range in price points and overall experience.
We like zip lining in Monteverde or La Fortuna because there are several companies to choose from and the views are excellent.
Check out our guide to ziplining for all the details.
Visit a Waterfall
There are so many waterfalls to choose from in Costa Rica! A few of our favorite “must-visit” spots are; La Fortuna Waterfall, Montezuma Waterfall, Nauyaca Waterfall, Rio Celeste, Llanos de Cortez, and La Paz Waterfall.
Check out our guide to waterfalls for all the details.
Go to a Soccer Game
Ticos love soccer (or football as I guess we should call it). In every town you can almost always find a soccer field in the town square.
It’s fun to watch a local game or if you would like an even more exciting experience, try to catch a professional game at the national stadium in San Jose.
Check out a Museum
If you find yourself with some time in San Jose, why not check out a museum? Especially on a rainy day, this is a great activity.
A few of the museums you can visit are the Jade Museum, The National Museum, and the Children’s Museum.
Try Some Craft Beer
In recent years a ton of craft breweries have started sprouting up around the country. You can find breweries in almost every town.
If you want a really unique experience we suggest going on a craft beer walking tour in San Jose with a guide (or making your own tour).
Check out our guide to craft beer for all our tips.
Watch the Sunrise
On the Caribbean coast, it is possible to enjoy the sunrise every morning around 5:30.
Personally, I feel there is no better way to start my day than watching the sunrise. It always feels a bit magical to get up before everyone else and sit on a peaceful beach while the world restarts again.
One of the best things about the sunrise in Costa Rica is that you can also enjoy the sounds of all the wildlife waking up.
Watch the Sunset
O the Pacific Coast you can enjoy the sunset every day around 5:30 pm. We suggest bringing a few drinks to the beach to watch the sunset before dinner.
Or, enjoy an early dinner at a beachfront restaurant and watch the sunset as you eat.
Keep in mind that the second the sun starts to go down the mosquitos tend to come out in full force.
See Sea Turtles
There are a few places throughout the country to see mom sea turtles laying eggs and babies making their way into the ocean for the first time.
Our favorite places to experience this are in Tortuguero on the Caribbean Coast and Ostional on the Pacific Coast.
In Tortuguero, turtle season is best between July and October.
In Ostional, it really depends, but usually, October and November are good months to visit.
Visit a Coffee Farm
Do you drink coffee every morning? I think I am one of the rare people who grew up with two non-coffee-drinking parents. But, I have been converted to the good side of life and enjoy it now.
Anyway, in Costa Rica you can learn all about how coffee is grown and produced at one of the many coffee farm tours throughout the country.
Our favorite area to enjoy this is actually in Alajuela, very close to the San Jose International Airport. We suggest arranging your tour with Doka Estates.
It’s the perfect activity if you find yourself spending a night there after arriving in the country or before the conclusion of your trip.
Check out our guide to coffee farms for all the details.
Explore a National Park
Costa Rica is home to many many national parks located all throughout the country. The most popular national park is Manuel Antonio National Park located on the Pacific Coast. Here you can see a ton of wildlife in a condensed area.
We also love Cahuita National Park and Corcovado National Park. Well, we actually love all the national parks, but those two are really great to visit.
Walk on Hanging Bridges
Seeing the rich landscape of Costa Rica from above is always a treat. There are hanging bridges located all throughout the country, but La Fortuna and Monteverde definitely have the most hanging bridge park options.
We suggest visiting hanging bridges as part of a combo tour with zip lining and other fun activities.
Visit Cocos Island and Dive with Sharks
If you want to take your scuba diving one step further, consider booking a multi-day liveaboard trip to Cocos Island. Cocos Island is a national park located way off the Pacific Coast. This adventure is only for those of you who are more experienced divers.
We have a full guide to this for more info.
The absolute best place to experience bioluminescence in the country is on the Nicoya Peninsula in Paquera. This is possible year-round, but it is best during a new moon for optimal darkness.
See Wildlife with a Guide
It is always possible to spot wildlife on your own, but guides are always better at spotting things. If you hire a guide at a national park, they likely walk that same area every day and know exactly where all the animals hang out.
Plus they are usually super knowledgeable about the animals.
And, they often carry a telescopic lens so you can get up a close up view of sloths and monkeys hiding way up in the trees.
It is possible to go swimming from the beach throughout the country. The water is always warm enough. We suggest asking at your hotel before swimming though. They can tell you which areas to avoid due to rip currents.
Visit a Volcano Up Close
There are several volcanoes throughout the country that you can visit. Our suggestions are:
Poas Volcano: Located in Alajuela. This volcano is easy to get to from the San Jose Airport area. You can visit the crater up close.
Arenal Volcano: Arenal is conical volcano that serves as a stunning backdrop for the town of La Fortuna.
Rincon de la Vieja: This is an active volcano located about an hour from the Liberia International Airport. It is a great place to go hiking and see bubbling mud and steam rising from the warm ground.
Irazu Volcano: Irazu is located in the town of Cartago near San Jose. This is the highest volcano in Costa Rica.
Cross the Border into Panama
For more fun, extend your vacation down into Panama and visit Bocas del Toro. This is a series of island off of the Caribbean coast that is a literal paradise.
It is always possible to go birdwatching on your own, but we definitely suggest taking a guided tour if you want to ensure you will almost definitely see birds.
Don’t forget your binoculars!
Go on a Whale Watching Tour
The best place to go whale watching in on the Pacific coast in Uvita. Usually, September is the best month to see the migrating and take a whale-watching tour.
We have a guide to whale watching tour here.
Relax at a Hot Spring
Hot Springs are located throughout the country, but the absolute best place to enjoy a soak in a spring is definitely in La Fortuna. Here you can enjoy the beautiful backdrop of the Arenal Volcano and hot springs at all different price points.
Check out our guide to hot springs in La Fortuna for more info.
Have a Picnic at the Beach
One of the most popular activities for Costa Rican families is to have a big family gathering on the beach with tons of food. This is something you can definitely do as well. Just visit a grocery store to grab your favorite picnic treats and enjoy a beach day.
Just keep in mind that it is sometimes difficult to find shade. And if you do find shade, make sure you aren’t sitting underneath potentially deadly coconuts.
Try a Retreat Experience
If you are looking for a unique experience that will allow you to reconnect with yourself, we suggest checking out a retreat. There all sorts of different retreat options throughout the country from yoga to detox retreats.
We created a complete list you can check out for more ideas.
Relax at Your Hotel Pool
Costa Rica has so many fun adventure activities, but you’re also likely visiting for vacation. So, sometimes you just need to take some time and soak up the relaxed life by your hotel pool.
There are two places we suggest visiting if you would like to explore caves. These are Barra Honda National Park on the Nicoya Peninsula and Venado Caves just north of La Fortuna.
Take the Puntarenas Ferry
This isn’t an activity I would necessarily seek out, but if you need to get to the Nicoya Peninsula, this is often the best way to do it.
It’s a nice ride that takes about 80 minutes. The ferry moves at a snail’s pace, but the views are great.
You can find out more in our guide to the ferry in Costa Rica.
Check Out a Beach Bar
If you are looking for a full tropical experience, check out a beach bar and enjoy a fancy cocktail. We have a full guide to beach bars for some good ideas.
Oh, and we have a guide to cocktails if you would like to pre-decide what you would like to drink.
Try the Local Cuisine
Have you ever eaten Gallo Pinto? What about patacones? We definitely suggest trying all of the local cuisine while you are visiting.
If you want some great ideas, check out our guide to food.
If you are already PADI certified or looking to complete your certification, there are many places to go diving. The most popular area is in the Guanacaste region.
Visit Sarchi to See the Ox Carts
Not too far from the San Jose International Airport, there is a town called Sarchi. This is a furniture-making town and home to the creation of the colorful ox carts you will often see throughout the country. It’s a nice little day trip to enjoy some culture.
Take a Wildlife Boat Ride
Our two favorite places to take a wildlife boat ride with an experienced guide are in Tortuguero along the river waterways and in Palo Verde National Park.
On both tours, you guide will point out various wildlife during your fun trip.
Search for Secret Beaches
Fun fact, by law all beaches in Costa Rica need to have public access. This means that no beach is off-limit to your exploration. Sometimes it’s fun to just get in your rental car and drive to do a little beach hopping.
Our favorite place for this is in Guanacaste. You’ll find a lot of side roads that end at the beach.
Relax at a Spa
Sometimes you just need to relax and enjoy a spa treatment. Almost all resorts have a spa and some allow outside guests to arrange a treatment.
Alternatively, you can always ask at your hotel about getting a massage. Usually, they will be able to set this up for you.
There are not that many places to kayak because the water is not always that calm. However, there are rivers and lakes which you can kayak on. A few of our favorite places to rent a boat or go on a kayak tour are:
Lake Arenal in La Fortuna, Samara (you can rent a kayak on the beach), and Playa Biesanz in Manuel Antonio.
Go Horseback Riding
It is possible to enjoy a horseback riding tour almost anywhere in the country. These tours range from beach tours at sunset (which is always a really nice experience) to tours along jungle hills.
Learn About the Indigenous Culture
In Costa Rica and throughout Central America there are several indigenous tribes. In Costa Rica, some of them now support themselves by welcoming tourists to visit their villages or buy their artisanal products. This is a great way to support the locals while learning about the culture.
Go Souvenir Shopping
In almost all touristy towns you will be able to find plenty of souvenir shops. Personally, we love buying souvenirs from artist stands and from the grocery store.
Yeap, Costa Rican coffee or chocolate makes a great souvenir and you can buy at almost any grocery store.
Check out our guide to souvenir shopping for all the details.
It is possible to take a boat tour that combines a nice day on the water with snorkeling almost all along both the Pacific and Caribbean coast.
If you would like a more budget-friendly version, just bring your own snorkel mask from home and swim out from shore to enjoy the underwater life.
Fishing tours are usually a more high-budget activity with a half-day or full-day tour costing usually $300 +
But, despite the high price tag, this is the perfect adventure activity for all you fishing fans.
Thomas loves fishing, so we have accumulated tons of info, which you can read all about in our guide to fishing in Costa Rica.
Take a Cooking Class
Are you interested in Costa Rican cuisine? One of the best ways to learn all about it is with a cooking class. We have listed a few good options throughout the country below.
Visit a Farmer’s Market
Most larger towns have a farmer’s market once a week. I suggest asking at your hotel. They can likely direct you to when and where one will occur near you.
We love farmers’ markets and go to our local one in San Jose every Saturday morning. Our favorite thing to do is buy crazy fruits that we have never seen before.
Take a Night Time Wildlife Tour
This is possible in a few different spots throughout the country, but we especially love taking a nighttime wildlife tour in Monteverde. There are numerous companies that offer this.
Basically, you will go with an experienced guide and walk around a property while wearing a headlamp to look for night active animals.
Visit a Wildlife Rescue Center
A wildlife rescue center is a good way to see a lot of animals in a condensed area. These rescue centers work hard to rehabilitate animals that have been injured or taken in illegally as pets.
A few places to check out are; The Jaguar Rescue Center, RESCATE WILDLIFE RESCUE CENTER, and KIDS SAVING THE RAINFOREST.
It is possible to surf on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts throughout the year. This is an activity that people of all skill levels can enjoy.
You can choose between bringing your own board, renting a board, taking lessons, or even enjoying a surf retreat.
Our favorite surf spots are; Nosara, Tamarindo Beach, Pavones (home to the longest left hook in the world), Playa Hermosa, and Playa Grande.
Check out our guide to surfing for all the details.
Take a Yoga Class
A lot of small boutique type of hotels offer yoga classes. Another great way to enjoy yoga is by just going to the beach and doing some sunrise or sunset yoga on your own.
The most popular yoga vibe towns are; Nosara, Samara, Avellenas, and Puerto Viejo.
Also, if you are interested in a yoga retreat, we have a guide to tons of great options.
Go Inner Tubing
We did this activity with our families and it was so fun for people of all ages. We suggest this activity in La Fortuna. Go Adventure Park offers a great tour with transportation from your hotel.
See Crocodiles Up Close
If you find yourself driving to the Southern Pacific area you will pass over a bridge for Rio Tarcoles soon before you get to Jaco. If you pull your car off to the side of the road you can walk onto the bridge and see the huge crocodiles below.
Check our guide to Rio Tarcoles for all the details.
Find a Volunteer Opportunity
There are opportunities throughout the country ranging from helping with wildlife to teaching English in school.
These opportunities range from a day activity to a several-month commitment.
You can find out more in our guide to volunteering in Costa Rica.
Check out a Butterfly Garden
One of the best way to visit a butterfly garden is in a combo tour at a ziplining/ hanging bridge park. Usually, they will teach you about the butterfly lifecycle and you can then walk around and see a variety of butterflies including the blue morpho.
Try White Water Rafting
In Costa Rica, it is possible to enjoy white water rafting for all skill levels.
Check out our guide to white water rafting to find the perfect place for your skill level and interests.
Take a Food Tour in San Jose
San Jose is not the nicest city in the world (and that is coming from people who live there). But, you might find yourself with a day or two there if you are flying in or out of the Juan Santamaria International Airport.
To get the most of your time there we suggest taking a walking tour. Our favorite company for this is San Jose Urban Tours. They offer a day and evening tour.
Check them out.
Rappel Down a Waterfall
If you are looking for one of the most thrilling activities that Costa Rica offers, check out rappelling.
We created a complete guide to this including some of the best places to enjoy this activity throughout the country.
Enjoy a Catamaran Tour
We love catamaran tours because it is the perfect activity for people of all ages to enjoy. It is usually possible to join a group or if you are traveling with friends or family you can arrange your own private boat.
Find out all the details here.
Go to the Cinema
I know, you didn’t come all the way to Costa Rica to go and see a movie. But, if you end up with a really rainy day, it might be the best option for you. The price of cinemas in Costa Rica is usually very reasonable and the theaters usually show movies in English with Spanish subtitles.
Just double-check before buying tickets to make sure it is not dubbed.
Learn how Chocolate is Made
If coffee isn’t your thing, how about chocolate? Everybody loves chocolate, right? A visit to a chocolate farm is the perfect thing to do in Costa Rica. You not only get to learn all about how cacao is grown and turned into chocolate, but you also get to eat chocolate.
And, usually, you can eat a lot of it…like as much as you want!
There are chocolate farms located throughout the country, but our personal favorite is Rainforest Chocolate in La Fortuna.
Rent SUP Boards
This is not available everywhere because in a lot of places, the waves are too big. One of our favorite places for stand up paddle boarding is on Lake Arenal near La Fortuna. But, I included a few different tour options below throughout the country for you to check out.
Take an ATV Tour
We love ATV tours because they check all the boxes, in our minds. They are thrilling, can be done by almost all ages, and you will usually have the chance to see wildlife. ATV tours are available all around the country.
Take a day trip to a remote island
Isla Tortuga is a remote island located off of the Pacific Coast. It is possible to take a day tour here which includes snorkeling and lunch from Manuel Antonio, Jaco, or the Nicoya Peninsula.
You can read more in our Isla Tortuga guide.
Our favorite parasailing spot is with Aguas Azules Parasailing & Watersports Tours in Manuel Antonio. It is a heart-racing experience with absolutely amazing view.
Visit a Trucha
This isn’t a normal touristy thing to do, but we love it!
A trucha is basically a small lake that is stocked with fish.
You are given a line with some bate on the end and can stand there trying to catch a fish.
Once you do, it is handed over to the on-site restaurant and they will cook your fish up for you with some side dishes.
It is a fun activity for people of all ages and will give you a little taste of Costa Rican culture.
Learn about Sugar Cane Production
Sugar cane is commonly grown in Costa Rica. This is then processed to make candy and sugar. If you would like to learn all about the production process you can always visit a place that produces sugar cane.
One of our favorites is this combo tour in Monteverde.
And that is all for Costa Rica activities! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out with planning your adventure to Costa Rica