The best things to do in Costa Rica

Hit the beach in one of Central America’s friendliest countries!

We know how exciting it can be to plan an overseas holiday. That’s why we’ve joined forces with some of the planet’s most adventurous travel bloggers to bring you inspiring videos of some of the world’s most fascinating destinations, as well as solid travel advice that works in the real world. Wherever you end up, remember that the activities and places shown in our videos can all be insured through Budget Direct Travel Insurance.

#1. The tropics are calling

Things to do in Costa Rica

When planning a trip to Costa Rica, ecotourism adventures in the jungle can come to mind. After all, this is a country well known for its rainforest lodges, mountain hideaways, zip-line rides, exotic wildlife, caving trips and exhilarating tubing journeys along lively rivers.

But Costa Rica also has oodles of spectacular beaches – and many of these have been popular surfing spots for decades. You don’t need to bring your own board to the well-known locations — you can hire a surfboard and even get in a few lessons before you paddle out. The water’s warm, the palm trees are swaying and a bottle of Costa Rican Imperial beer awaits in your hotel fridge. Surf’s up!

In Spanish, Costa Rica means ‘rich coast’, and you’ll soon see why when you visit some of this country’s picturesque, tropical shores — both on the Pacific and Caribbean sides.

#2: Surfing the Pacific coast

Things to do in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s ‘left-hand side’ has surf beaches to cater for every experience level. It’s a good idea to ask experienced locals about currents and any dangers in an unfamiliar area – they might know where some of those hidden rocks are. Here are some of the more popular surf beaches on the Pacific side:

Playa Tamarindo, Tamarindo

Things to do in Costa Rica

This well-known spot boasts offshore winds, long expanses of sandy beach and consistent swells. Try the main beach right in town or head across the river mouth to Playa Grande, where the waves are consistent and suitable for those who aren’t looking for ‘the big stuff’. More experienced riders will prefer the swifter point breaks at Playa Langosta – you can walk there from Tamarindo in 15 minutes.

Playa Guiones, Nosara

Sandy beach breaks make this an ideal spot for newbies but when the bigger swells arrive, there is enough action to challenge seasoned surfers too. With a forested backdrop, clean water and ocean temperatures hovering around the 28°C mark, you could call it paradise.

Playa Hermosa, Jaco

Things to do in Costa Rica

With powerful currents and swells, this isn’t the safest beach for swimming, but experienced surfers flock here every August to check out (or participate in) the International Quicksilver Championship. You’ll find surf rental shops and a turtle sanctuary here – it’s a beautiful stretch of coastline that non-surfers are sure to enjoy too.

Action on the Caribbean side

Things to do in Costa Rica

On the east coast of Costa Rica, the surf can range from placid and reliable to fast and dangerous. And since you’ve come all the way to Costa Rica, you may as well surf this side of the country too! The Puerto Viejo area is a good place to get your bearings and see what’s happening at the hotspots up and down the coast.

Salsa Brava, Puerto Viejo

Things to do in Costa Rica

Salsa Brava boasts a heavy, Hawaiian-style barrel wave that’s strictly for experts only. It’s wild, challenging and not for the faint-hearted due to the sharp, shallow reef that lies just beneath your board. If you can conquer this famous wave, you’ll join a rather elite club – just make sure your mate on shore has the video camera running from start to finish. There are numerous (and less scary) surfing options available to the north of Puerto Viejo as well.[1]

For more information on surfing in Costa Rica, you’ll find a helpful online resource with maps, surf reports and much more.

Be prepared

As with any surfing destination, Costa Rica has unexpected currents, shallow reefs and changeable weather that can be hazardous, and it’s all too easy to find yourself exhausted and far from shore. It’s always best to surf with a friend or two so you can keep and eye out for each other.

Costa Rica adventures and attractions

Riding waves is just one of many ways to enjoy beautiful Costa Rica. The tourism infrastructure here is as good as you’ll find anywhere in Central America and from the capital, San Jose, you can reach most places in the country within about six hours by car. If you’re not sure where to start in planning your trip, here are three promising ideas:

#3: Discover a jungle waterfall

Things to do in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s waterfalls are the stuff of glossy travel brochures and there are plenty to choose from: The Bajos del Toros waterfall is about an hour and a half from San Jose and drops 90 metres from a ledge deep in the rainforest.

At the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, you’ll find a butterfly observatory, serpentarium, hummingbird garden and frog exhibit. You may even spot toucans and monkeys in the trees. If you really want to get off the beaten path, the stunning Rio Celeste Waterfall with its bright blue pool will not disappoint.[2]

#4: Unforgettable tropical river experiences

Things to do in Costa Rica

For thrill seekers, a white-water rafting trip down the Pacuare River will certainly keep your adrenaline pumping. The only downside is that you’ll probably be moving too fast to spot the jaguars, parrots, deer and monkeys that live in the mountain ranges on either side of the river.

For a much more sedate river experience, join a ‘Safari Float’ on the Corobici or Penas Blancas rivers and see if you can spot a brown-throated sloth or mantled howler monkey in the treetops. The bird-watching is a treat while you’re gliding ‘gently down the stream’.[3]


#5: Hop into the saddle

Things to do in Costa Rica

If you’ve always wanted to ride a horse along a pristine white-sand beach, the wind in your hair and a green mountain rising beside you, Costa Rica has got you covered. Horse riding tours are available at a number of locations throughout the country.

A half-day or full-day tour in the Cerro Nara Mountains is an unusual way to go wildlife spotting, but you never know what you’ll see — this untouched forest contains anteaters, sloths, toucans and plenty of Costa Rica’s colourful butterflies.[4]

Come prepared
When visiting Costa Rica, bring your sunscreen, beach towel, hiking boots and sense of adventure — you’re sure to make good use of all of these! And when searching for travel insurance for Costa Rica, get a quote from Budget Direct – we’ll look after you.


This post was brought to you by Budget Direct Travel Insurance

Good reading huh?
You’ll love these too:

Get more out of your life

I want to:

Don't worry, be savvy.