Costa Rica’s natural beauty influences its endless activities and enriching adventures, and our list of the top eight things to do there demonstrates the various ways you can embrace the country’s immersive splendor.
Whether walking on a trail, visiting a museum, or kayaking on the open Pacific, every activity feels like a grand adventure, enhanced by the seductive and surprising untamed nature that surrounds you.
Use the following information as a guide to learn more about Costa Rica’s essential things to do.
The wealth of Costa Rica stems from the national heritage fed by natural and cultural histories that showcase different perspectives of the country’s beauty as you explore what to see.
Prehistoric monuments, extensive stretches of rainforest, and colorful artisan crafts representing a part of Costa Rica’s past highlight natural splendor that informs local communities and intangible stories that further shape the spirit of the greater nation.
The diverse displays of heritage across Costa Rica show you the life and lifestyles of the past and present, from enchanting mysteries to pristine wilderness.
Best Places to Visit for Cultural History: San José • La Amistad National Park • Cocos Island National Park • Sarchi • Diquis Delta
Costa Rica is one of the world’s great food destinations, but often hides in the shadows of countries more famous for their culinary exploits.
The truth about Costa Rica’s gastronomy stems from simple recipes, local ingredients, and some of the world’s best produce. Impressive sustainability practices enhance the flavors of every dish, making every plate of fish taste fresher and every bite of fruit taste brighter as you explore Costa Rica’s seven diverse regions.
Indigenous cuisine remains an important staple in many communities, while the cultivation of award-winning coffee and decadent chocolates possesses all the makings of an unforgettable culinary discovery, one of the top things to do in Costa Rica.
Best Places to Visit for Food: San José • La Fortuna • Playa Samara • Copey de Dota
With all the makings of an unforgettable food experience, it’s only natural to find fun, exciting, and informative cooking experiences as one of the popular activities in Costa Rica to enjoy.
While each region offers similar staples, you can find the different microclimates feeding into the various ingredients, in addition to the cultural influences that change from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean Sea.
Whether sampling traditional rice and beans, learning the art of making tortillas, enjoying the salty flavor of fresh cheese, or embracing the aromas during a market visit, your cooking class will show you how tradition informs innovation in the kitchen.
Best Places to Visit for Cooking Classes: Tamarindo • Arenal • Manuel Antonio • San Jose
Hiking in Costa Rica is all about blending biodiversity and vistas. The winding trails give you a sense of adventure as they crisscross volcanic passes, while dense rainforest opens to views of a secluded shoreline.
While compact, Costa Rica bursts with wildlife hidden in the misty mountains or found in isolated estuaries in a country where approximately 30 percent of all its land is protected by national parks, refuges, and preserves. This makes hiking one of the top things to do in Costa Rica.
Best Places to Visit for Hiking: Arenal Volcano • Tenorio Volcano National Park • Manuel Antonio National Park • Mount Chirripo • Nauyaca Waterfalls Nature Park
Costa Rica has been one of the world’s top surfing destinations for decades and is famous for its quality waves, variety of breaks, and serene beaches.
Whether a skilled surfer or eager to learn, you can find the right beach for you, with friendly locals eager to share in your experience along Costa Rica’s nearly 800 miles of coastline.
The best time to visit for surfing versus lounging may differ throughout the year, but the surf is consistent on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, giving you even more opportunities to discover the best breaks for you.
Best Places to Visit for Surfing: Dominical • Jaco • Tamarindo • Playa Cocles • Playa Naranjo • Playa Grande • Playa Negra
The complex network of national parks in Costa Rica overtakes land and sea, protecting primary rainforests and freshwater systems, marine resources and fascinating islands.
You can retreat to cloud forests for a unique birding expedition or wander on trails through one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world, cruise canal branches or simply experience the fact that nearly five percent of the entire world’s biodiversity exists within Costa Rica’s borders.
Best Places to Visit for National Parks: Manuel Antonio • Arenal Volcano • Corcovado • Tortuguero • Rincón de la Vieja • Piedras Blancas
Costa Rica’s waters aren’t just great for surfing or searching for whales. They also provide the ultimate thrill of a whitewater-rafting excursion.
The brilliance of whitewater rafting in Costa Rica is in its ability to blend adventure and beauty for visitors of any skill level. The rivers have helped carve the soaring mountains and steep valleys that add to the intense microclimates found around the country, putting every curve and rapid into a deeper geological context.
Different rivers will give you varied experiences, with some offering intense whitewater and others giving you a serene view of the wildlife.
Best Places to Visit for Rafting: Savegre River • Naranjo River • Pacuare River • Pejibaye River • Balsa River • Sarapiqui River
Costa Rica has no shortage of ways to explore the forest canopy, giving you plenty of options in how you wish to discover fascinating panoramas during a Costa Rican activity you shouldn’t miss. Adventures like hanging bridges, ziplining, and aerial trams can reveal 90 percent of the country’s treetop-dwelling wildlife.
Whether you want an adrenaline-filled excursion or a relaxing glide between the trees, discovering Costa Rica through the air is essential for understanding the country’s breathtaking natural layers.
Best Places to Visit for Aerial Tours: Arenal • Monteverde • Manuel Antonio • Jaco • Guanacaste
Whether you want a family-friendly excursion in search of squirrel monkeys or romance on the beach, sea turtles or dramatic volcanic peaks, Costa Rica gives you enduring natural wonder in arm’s reach with the best ways to travel around Costa Rica. You can find more information for your perfect vacation with our Costa Rica travel guide.
Find inspiration for your trip with our sample Costa Rica tours and vacations that can demonstrate the type of experiences you can have, before working with a Costa Rica travel specialist to personalize every detail of your vacation.