hiking in costa rica

Guys, hiking in Costa Rica is on point! There are so many amazing places for all skill levels. We thought about all of our travels in Costa Rica and considered which hikes were our absolute favorites. We then compiled this list for you all so you can enjoy the best hiking Costa Rica has to offer.

Thomas and I need to be outdoors, like 24/7. For me, I even work every day from my backyard because I can’t handle being inside. This means that when we travel, you will rarely find us doing any indoor activities. Instead, we are constantly hiking if I have my way or fishing if Thomas gets to choose for the day. In other words, we have hiked in almost every location which we have visited in Costa Rica. The places listed here are the ones which really stood out to us.

So, let’s get to it!

Hiking in Costa Rica – Cabo Blanco

Cabo Blanco reserve

Location: 

Cabo Blanco is located near Montezuma. Just be warned, you need a 4×4 vehicle to get here.

Entry Cost:

$12 per person

Difficulty:

This hike is intense. I mean, the hike is not THAT difficult, but if you want to do the entire trail to the beach and back it will take you about two hours in each direction. however, you don’t need to do the whole hike. We saw several families with kids that did the shorter loop trails

Why we love it:

The hike may be intense, but I found it really rewarding. I left feeling like I actually accomplished something. Plus, the beach at the end makes the hike worth it!

Things to note:

– We have a complete guide to visiting Cabo Blanco Reserve here. It details everything you could possibly want to know about visiting.

We have a guide to the Montezuma area here with restaurant suggestions, great activities, what to pack, and more.

Hiking in Costa Rica – Curu Refuge

curu reserve

Location: 

Curu Wildlife Refuge is located near Paquera. This is not an area where most tourists typically stay, but we recently discovered that it is a great area for a night or two before going to Montezuma or Santa Teresa.

Entry Cost:

$10 per person

Difficulty:

There are a lot of different trail options and the map they give you upon arrival states the difficulty of each one.

Why we love it:

This place is just all around well maintained and nice. Plus, it seems as though nobody knows about it except for locals. We also like the combo of beach and jungle in one spot.

Things to note:

– We have a complete guide to visiting Curu Refuge here. It details everything you could possibly want to know about visiting.

Hiking in Costa Rica – Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park

Cahuita is our favorite national park in Costa Rica. Not to hate on all the other wonderful national parks but this one really is the best.

Location: 

Cahuita National Park is located on the Carbbean coast in the town of…you guessed it!….Cahuita!

Entry Cost:

Cahuita National Park is run on donations so you can pay whatever you want to enter this magical place!

Difficulty:

The trail is very flat and easy. I think it is perfect for every skill level!

Why we love it:

There are a few national parks in Costa Rica (I’m talking to you Manuel Antonio National Park) that we love for seeing wildlife, but they tend to be way too crowded. In Cahuita National Park you can pretty guarantee that you will see a lot of animals but without the hoards of people.

Things to note:

We have a complete guide to visiting Cahuita National Park here. It details everything you could possibly want to know about visiting.

We have a guide to the Cahuita area here with restaurant suggestions, great activities, what to pack, and more.

Hiking in Costa Rica – Mistico

Mistico costa rica

Location: 

Mistico is located in La Fortuna near Lake Arenal.

Hours: 

7:30am to 4:30pm

Entry Cost:

To walk the trails on your own is $26 per person. They also have guided tours which cost a bit more.

Difficulty:

The trails are very well maintained. There are a few spots with hills or stairs, but we found it to be completely doable. We saw people of all ages here.

Why we love it:

When you think of Costa Rica you probably think of hanging bridges. It is an experience you really should have while here and this is the perfect place to have it!

Things to note:

During the dry season, this place gets packed! It is a really popular destination. We suggest getting here early in the day so you can have the hanging bridges to yourself.

We have a guide to the La Fortuna area here with restaurant suggestions, great activities, what to pack, and more.

Hiking in Costa Rica – Prusia

Prusia Costa Rica

Location: 

Prusia is located in Cartago near Irazu Volcano.

 

Entry Cost:

For tourists it is around $10 to enter, but, at least when we were there, they were just charging everyone the price for locals. We paid about $2 per person to enter.

Why we love it:

You just don’t feel like you are in Costa Rica when you are here, and we like that we can be in this country and be in a completely different environment than we are used to here. I think it feels more like the Pacific Northwest of the US.

Difficulty:

The beginning of the hike is straight uphill on a paved road. I was dying! As you can see in the picture above, I was wearing a winter hat. It was a bit cool up there, but really I was wearing a hat because I had a sinus infection and the elevation plus wind was killing my ears. The hat definitely helped.

Anyway, eventually, the road levels out and there are many trail options. Head to the right if you want to find this cool forest where we took that picture. From there you can continue uphill but at a much more gradual elevation. Also near the forest is this great view point.

Prusia Costa Rica

No matter your skill level you should be fine after the initial climb because there are so many different trail options.

Just make sure to remember that you are at a really high elevation that your body is not used to. Don’t overdo it!

Things to note:

prusia costa rica

We like to combine this hike with a visit to Irazu and an abandoned mental hospital. Yea, visiting these three places together sure makes for a unique day! We have a full guide to Irazu Volcano here.

As for the mental hospital, you will pass by it just before you get to the Prusia forest. Entry is very reasonable. I think we paid about $5 per car. You can then walk around the grounds and in all the buildings. I’m not really sure how safe it is to be walking in some of those buildings, but oh well!

Definitely check out the children’s mental hospital. That one completely creeped me out. Have you guys ever watched one of those ghost hunter shows? This place would be a prime location for that. At night I bet this place is creepy AF.

Anyway, we brought a picnic and found a nice spot in the shade to eat. It was a unique experience and worth a stop.

We have a guide to the Cartago area here with restaurant suggestions, great activities, what to pack, and more.

 

Hiking in Costa Rica – Rio Savegre Waterfall

san gerardo hike

San Gerardo is one of our favorite areas in the country because it is a bit of a hidden gem. Not many people venture to here (but they are missing out).

Location: 

I can’t find an actual marking for this trail on Google Maps. The best way to find it is to drive to Suria lodge. You will see the trail on the left side of the road just before the lodge.

Entry Cost:

FREE!!

Difficulty:

This hike was a bit difficult because it was a lot of uphill and downhill walking. A lot of these hills have stairs, but some of the staircases were a bit terrifying.

Why we love it:

We like that not a lot of people come here so it almost feels like you are discovering something completely new. Plus, I love that it gets really cold here. Sometimes you just need to escape the heat!

We have a guide to the San Gerardo area here with restaurant suggestions, great activities, what to pack, and more.

Hiking in Costa Rica – Tres Cruces

tres cruces

Fun fact, Thomas proposed to me on this trail. I mean, you can’t get much better for a proposal view. ↑

Location: 

There is no set parking area for this trail. It is recommended that you park along the road across from Restaurante Italiano y Mirador Valle Azul. From there you can walk up the dirt road to the start of the trail. Just keep in mind that there is nobody watching your car. Don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle.

Entry Cost:

FREE! Yeay!!!

Difficulty:

It is a bit steep at first, plus you are at a high elevation. I’d say take it slow and it will be manageable for most skill levels.

Why we love it:

This is one of our favorite hikes because it allows us to get out of the city without actually having to drive too far. The views make this hike worth it for us. Plus, because it is where we got engaged I think it just holds a special place in our hearts.

Things to note:

– Last time we were up here some of the trails were blocked due to fallen trees. I’m not sure if those have been cleared up yet.

We have a guide to the San Jose area here with restaurant suggestions, great activities, what to pack, and more.

Hiking in Costa Rica – Other notable spots

rincon de la vieja

Although these are our favorite spots, there are tons of national parks in Costa Rica that are great for a good hike. There are three places we did not include on our list because we have not been to them yet, but are dying to go. I thought I’d include them for you because they might be spots you would enjoy as well.

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park is located in the south-west corner of Costa Rica near the Panama border. We have not visited this area yet because it is a trek to get here and we want to give ourselves a solid week to explore this area.

Anyway, Corcovado has tons of trail options. We have heard that it is a great place to see tons of wildlife and that it is wonderful because a lot of the hikes are a great combination of jungle and beach.

Rincon de la Vieja

Rincon de la Vieja is located in the north-west corner of the country near the Nicaragua border. Although we haven’t hiked here yet, my mom visited this area and loved it. I’ll be honest, she’s not the easiest to please (sorry mom!) and for her to say this area is amazing, it must be really cool.

There are numerous trails in the national park and plenty of cool swimming holes along the way.

Chirripo

I keep telling Thomas that I would like to hike Chirripo soon. He keeps telling me, “You’ll die out there.” He’s probably right, but I tend to act with my heart rather than my head. I’m sure you could all figure that out because what sane person moves to Germany without ever visiting and then moves to Costa Rica without visiting as well? Me, the impulse doer!

Anyway, Chirripo is home to Cerro Chiripo Grande trail, which, at its peak, is the highest point in Costa Rica. The elevation at the top is 12,533 feet above sea level. The crazy part is that the trail is about 12 miles long and climbs over 7,000 feet in elevation. AKA that is a freaking steep trail!

If you are feeling crazy and want to try hiking the Chirripo you will need to make a reservation. Here is some more info about that.

Hiking in Costa Rica – Our Tips

Arenal volcano

– No matter where you hike in Costa Rica, keep in mind that it can get insanely hot and humid. Always carry A TON of water with you. You’ll need it!

– For a day hike in Costa Rica we tend to pack; water, pocket binoculars, sunscreen, snacks, bug spray, snacks, a cell phone, and a waterproof cover for our backpack during the rainy season. We also have a waterproof backpack that we sometimes use as well.


– For a day hike in Costa Rica, we usually wear; Keens, sports shorts, a short sleeve t-shirt, sunglasses, and a hat. If it is the rainy season we bring our rain jackets to put on if we need them.

 

Let us know if you have any questions about hiking in Costa Rica in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out. Also, let us know if you have gone on a hike in Costa Rica that you particularly loved. We are always looking for new trails to explore!

 

You might also like:

The Best Beaches in Costa Rica

The Costa Rica Waterfalls You Don’t Want to Miss

 

WAS THIS GUIDE TO HIKING IN COSTA RICA HELPFUL? WE’D LOVE IF YOU’D PIN IT!

Hiking in Costa Rica is excellent! Here are our absolute favorite spots for various skill levels. #CostaRica #hiking Hiking in Costa Rica is excellent! Here are our absolute favorite spots for various skill levels. #CostaRica #hiking

 

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