things to do in costa rica

Costa Rica is the land of Pura Vida. It’s a place to chase the sun, to chill on the beach, to listen to the waves lap on the beach, and to find some of the best adventures in Central America – or the world for that matter.

We’ve loved Costa Rica ever since we first touched down in San Jose, the capital. Major airlines from around the globe fly into the capital every hour, making it the best way to get into the country as a jumping-off point. From here, there are plenty of amazing places to visit in Costa Rica. Here are the 10 things you should do on your next trip.

1. Rappel down a waterfall

la fortuna waterfall costa rica

Costa Rica has so much natural beauty, and along with Hawaii, our editors think it’s the best place in the world to explore natural waterfalls. The area around La Fortuna in Costa Rica is very close to some amazing waterfalls, that you can rappel down (or even jump off of) on a guided tour. This was our favorite experience in Costa Rica, be sure to look for a good tour company to Costa Rica if you want to take on an adventure like this!

2. Hike Arenal Volcano

hike arenal volcano

One of the largest tourist attractions in Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano is not to be missed. There are some amazing hikes in the area and in the national park that surrounds the volcano. See wildlife including an array of exotic creatures such as capuchin monkeys, parrot snakes, jaguars and deer.

3. See a sloth

sloth costa rica

Speaking of animals, you look really, really closely, or if you have a great tour guide, you might even be able to spot a two-toed sloth. These peaceful, gentle creatures are some of the slowest moving animals in the world, which can make them hard to find – but the cuteness overload is worth the search.

4. Relax at Manuel Antonio

manuel antonio costa rica

This is one of the most stunning beaches in the world, full stop. One of the best things about Manuel Antonio (especially if you’re a bit of a planner) is that they limit the amount of tourists that can visit every day. This keeps it quieter than it would be if tourists could just flood the park. Wake up early and line up to have the best beach day of your life.

5. Enjoy a hot spring

There are dozens of incredible hot springs you can visit in Costa Rica, but we think Tabacon Hot Springs is the best in the country. These award-winning springs are the perfect place to relax and make your Costa Rican vacation truly restful.

6. Go surfing

surfing in costa rica

The Central Pacific Coast is very accessible from San Jose, most popular for its surfing amongst tourists and locals. People visit Costa Rica from all over the world to catch a wave, so don’t miss out on the opportunity when you’re in the perfect place.

7. Explore a Cloud Forest

monteverde costa rica

Monteverde is a must visit when you head to Costa Rica. It might just be the greenest place in the world, and is probably what you think of when you picture Costa Rica. Monteverde actually has bridges you can walk through to explore the forest from above, it’s truly breathtaking.

8. Ride a Zip Line

zipline costa rica

While you’re in Monteverde, don’t miss out on the opportunity to go zip lining. In our experience, it was MUCH more intense than your traditional zip line – the Costa Rican’s mean business! We went through a series of about 20 zip lines in 60 minutes – so you’re flying through the countryside at a very fast rate here.

9. Get a plate of Gallo Pinto

food costa rica

Literally translating to “painted rooster,” Gallo pinto is a national specialty. The dish is a rice-and-beans dish that is commonly considered the national dish of Costa Rica…and you’re going to love it.

10. Go whitewater rafting

whitewater rafting costa rica

The Pacuare River offers some of the best rapids in the world, from class two all the way up to class five rapids. No matter what level you’re at, you’ll enjoy the ride as you get soaked paddling through the warm waters of Costa Rica.