10 Amazing things to do in Costa Rica
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Costa Rica is full of adventure and fun; the possibilities are literally endless. Here are our top 10 amazing things to do in Costa Rica! If you’ve already looked through my blog posts, all of this information is somewhere already. However, it is not all in one spot for you. Therefore, this post is to make things easier for you🙂
1. Manuel Antonio National Park
Sloths: the first the that pops into my head when I think about Costa Rica! Manual Antonio National Park is where we had the most sloth sightings! There is literally a trail called the “Perezoso Trail” which translates to “sloth trail.” We saw three just on this trail. But you really have to keep your eyes peeled. I recommend taking binoculars!
Aside from the sloths, there is an abundance of monkeys around the park. The beach is a popular destination for locals, so take a swimsuit if you have time to relax here! You can also do several hikes that take you further into the jungle and provide beautiful views of the Pacific. Click here for a full guide to Manuel Antonio!
Noted: you can not take food into the park due to the monkey population. Eat before you go in, or there is one restaurant that sells food within the park.
Price: $18 per person + $7 parking (split 3 ways for us)
2. Free Crocodile Watching
Crikey! Have you seen a crocodile in the wild before? Neither had I! It is a neat experience though. To see them, you must be driving yourself around Costa Rica. They are located along the Rio Grande de Tarcoles when driving from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde. You can park on the side of the street and walk onto the bridge to see the crocodiles below!
3. Visit the Black Sand Beach
Did you know Costa Rica had black sand beaches? I sure didn’t! We stumbled upon it by accident as we were making our way from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde as well. It is located just south of Jaco and is FREE to enjoy! Have you packed a lunch? This could be a good spot to sit and enjoy it!
4. Zip Line in Monteverde
Honestly, I think this is a MUST-DO activity in Costa Rica. I mean, zip lining was invented here! We zip lined with 100% Adventura and it was AMAZING. They did a great job of preparing you before starting, they started you on shorter lines to get a feel for things, the lines became higher and longer as you went (increasing the fun!), you can do a “superman” zip on your stomach across one of the highest and longest zip lines in the world! SO MUCH FUN. And, at the end, if you are brave like Elizabeth, you can do a Tarzan swing and free fall for a few seconds before you swing into the sky! Click here to book!
Price: $57 per person
5. Hike to Rio Celeste Waterfall
Is Rio Celeste worth it? I think so! I’ve never seen a waterfall and creek with SUCH blue water! Looks like a waterfall of Gatorade! However, there are additional trails that go above the waterfall. We went on one expecting a view of the falls from the top. There wasn’t one; only a view of the creek above. So, I really don’t recommend doing this extra hike.
Noted: If it has just freshly rained, the water MAY NOT be the blue color you see here and on Instagram. It can become browner and murky and then it WON’T BE WORTH IT AT ALL!
Price: $7 per person
6. Splurge at Tabacon
I was almost reluctant to put this one on the list. But I added it anyway, because we got a rather good deal with how we worked it and the hot springs really are BEAUTIFUL.
Tabacon costs $80 per person to visit the hot springs. A night at the hotel costs $432 per night (I know 😳). We traveled in a group of three. So if we wanted to do the springs it would be $240 total. When you book a night at the hotel, you have access to the springs. So, this made our one night at the hotel $192 basically, or $64 a person for our nightly housing, which isn’t bad for such a NICE hotel! The room was very clean and we had a great view of the Arenal volcano.
Noted: Our one night stay at the Tabacon hotel gave us access to the hot springs until 10:00 pm the following day, so we actually got to enjoy the springs for two nights!
**Unfriendly warning: we found fly larvae in our swimsuits after bathing in the springs. It was an UNPLEASANT surprise, but there are showers on the premise so you can shower off before leaving. They are harmless, just a little gross 🙃
So, you decide if this would be worth it to you!
Price: $144 per person (with three people and a stay at the hotel); $80 per person for just hot springs access
7. Free Hot Springs
I 100% recommend the free hot springs, though! Funny enough, this is located across the street from Tabacon. You can park on the side of the road and walk down (a somewhat sketchy looking) alley to gain access to the hot springs from under the bridge. We went at night and someone had left a candle in a little spring and it was such a great experience. Recommend taking a headlamp though 🙂
8. Hike in Arenal Volcano National Park
Hiking through lava fields is pretty cool. We opted to hike the Arenal 1968 trails. There are two main trails: The “Lava Flow” Trail and the “Forest Trail.”
Recommendation: Skip the Forest Trail and just do the Lava flow loop. We didn’t get anything additional from the extra hike.
There is a cafe which you can access without doing the full Forest Trail. I DO recommend going here for a great panoramic view of the volcano!
Price: $17 per person
9. Visit La Fortuna Waterfall
I’m sure you’ve seen the La Fortuna waterfall everywhere! But, for good reason. It truly is a beautiful waterfall. It is more powerful than any photo makes it look and it is in a beautiful, lush mountainside making it a great view from the top and the bottom. Beware though, that the hike out is a bit strenuous due to the 552 steps! Also, you are able to swim at this waterfall and the creek below, which is nice and refreshing!
Price: $18 per person
10. Go White Water Rafting
Going out with a bang! White water rafting was the last thing we did before heading back home and it was truly going out with a bang! It was SO MUCH FUN! We rafted with the Arenal Rafting Company who provided us with fresh fruit during the float and a delicious lunch afterward. I 1000% recommend it. For ALL the details you will need for rafting with Arenal Rafting Company, click here!
Price: $68 per person
Final thoughts on Things to do in Costa Rica
Be prepared for EVERYTHING to cost money! I’ve never paid so many dollars to see natural wonders like waterfalls before. So, when someone gives you some FREE activities to do; take their advice! However, overall, most of the things we paid for were WORTH IT. If I were going to try to visit Costa Rica on a more budget-friendly trip I would skip the Arenal 1968 trail and maybe try to find some free waterfalls. As you can see, we spent $265 just on activities (not including $25 to the Monteverde Cloud Forest that we were a little disappointed in). I’ve laid out the activities we did in order from Manuel Antonio, to Monteverde, to Arenal, to La Fortuna 🙂
Click here to see how we fit this all in our itinerary!