Photo: Jorge A. Russell/Shutterstock

10+ Spots That Prove Costa Rica Is the Ultimate Outdoor Playground

Costa Rica Insider Guides
by Matador Creators Mar 14, 2017

From the unparalleled biodiversity of Corcovado to the pristine beaches of popular Manuel Antonio and Cahuita; the mangroves and canals of remote Tortuguero; the volcanic wonders of Arenal, Poás, and Rincón de la Vieja; the limestone caverns of Barra Honda; and the tropical dry forest of Santa Rosa — Costa Rica encompasses astonishing variety of terrain. The extreme environment makes it a perfect backdrop for outdoor activities and sports. It’s guaranteed a visit to Costa Rica will fulfill any adventure enthusiasts needs. Here are a few spots to check out on your new trip.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

1. Selvatura Adventure Park Monteverde

 Selvatura Adventure ParkMonteverde, Costa RicaSeriously loved the Selvatura Treetop Walkway. Did the self guided walk, 8 suspension bridges and great views and walks through the jungle in between. #hiking


Photo: Jonathan Salazar

Originally a pragmatic mode of locomotion used by scientists to study flora and fauna with minimal impact on their delicate tropical environments, ziplining is perhaps the greatest of Costa Rica’s adventure activities. Due to the country’s mountainous topography, you can find a zipline tour in pretty much any region you’re visiting. Most outfitters will take you on a series of ziplines that weave in and out of rainforest canopy and across some white-knuckle valleys. Tip: Don’t pass up the Tarzan swing that’s usually part and parcel of these tours.

2. Punta Manzanillo, Limón

 Punta Manzanillo, Limón, Costa RicaManzanillo, Costa RicaEl lugar es hermoso, tiene aguas cristalinas y la comida caribeña es exquisita.

Costa Rica’s 800 miles of coastline on two oceans make for seemingly countless beautiful beaches. Yes, you can usually expect to run into your fellow humans at popular spots like Jacó, Tamarindo, and the public beach outside Manuel Antonio National Park (though they’re still nothing like the beach crowds in, say, Europe). But many others are rarely crowded, and it’s not that uncommon to have a beach all to yourself.

3. Dominical Beach

 Dominical BeachPuntarenas Province, Costa Rica#beach #surfing #walks


Photo: Jose Cayasso

Lesser-known sandy spots include Playa Penca near Potrero; Playa Barrigona near Sámara; Playa Matapalo between Manuel Antonio and Dominical; Playa Arco in Marino Ballena National Marine Park; and Punta Uva between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast, where palm trees hang over soft sand edging a bay that’s home to craggy rock formations. There are many, many more, but part of the fun is discovering them on your own.

4. Pura Aventura, Canopy walk and Zipline, Guanacaste

 Pura AventuraGuanacaste, Costa RicaFun horseback ride after zip lining through the jungle. #PuraAventura #CostaRica

Pura Vida is a happy, feel-good expression. Pura Vida is used regularly by the locals when asked how they are or in passing to say hello or goodbye.

5. Poás Volcano

 Poás VolcanoPoás, Costa RicaWhat can I say, it’s one cool volcano to check out and it’s not too far from the San Jose capital. The wind is a bit chilly up there so you may need a sweater or jacket. #volcano I was lucky to see this place on Christmas Day

Costa Rica has more than 121 volcanic formations, with seven of them being active. Poás Volcano has the second widest crater in the world, and Arenal is one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world. Hiking outfitters can guide you along the flanks of volcanoes and up to the principal craters for a glimpse at sulfuric lakes and hardened lava flows.

6. Matapalo, Savegre

 MatapaloSavegre, Costa Rica#hiking

Costa Rica is considered one of the most valued environmental destinations in the world. There are over 100 protected areas to visit, and 25% of the country has protected forests and reserves.


Photo: Emena

7. Cocos Beachclub Hotel Punta Islita

 Cocos Beachclub Hotel Punta IslitaPunta Islita, Costa RicaPeace!

8. Kinkajou Night Walk, Provincia de Guanacaste

 Kinkajou Night WalkProvincia de Guanacaste, Costa RicaOur guide showed us frogs, sloths, snakes, tarantulas, and more as we strolled through the dark misty jungle by flashlight and poncho. Awesome experience! #hiking #nature #wildlife

Costa Rica is host to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Even though its landmass only takes up .03% of the planet’s surface, more than 10% of the world’s butterflies live here — there are about 750,000 species of insects that live in Costa Rica, and 20,000 various kinds of spiders, and that’s just the land!

Photo: Ben Horton

9. Costa Rica Surf Camp, Puntarenas

 Costa Rica Surf CampPuntarenas, Costa RicaDominical is one of my favorite towns/beaches in Costa Rica. It’s small, great waves and 100% PURA VIDA!

Costa Rica’s Pacific shoreline is dotted with dozens of great surf spots and the community and culture that comes with them. From Ollie’s Point to Playa Negra and Sámara up in the Guanacaste region, down through Hermosa on the Costa Ballena, and Pavones farther south, you’re sure to meet experienced wave hunters who can guide you to that dream swell.

However, this isn’t to say the Caribbean is lacking in surf culture or gnarly waves; many advanced surfers hunt down the titans at Playa Cocles and Salsa Brava in Puerto Viejo. A near-shore coral reef throws up a swell they say — if you catch it under perfect conditions — you can ride for over a mile (it’s important to note that while this reef shelf is the source of a great ride, it can also ruin a trip if you wipe out over its jagged coral).

10. Tenorio Volcano National Park

One of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets, the Río Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park gets its name from its color: celeste means “sky blue,” but also “heavenly,” and both translations are spot on.

The almost 4.5-mile circuit trail through the park takes you to a series of natural wonders: the Río Celeste waterfall, a postcard-perfect cascade falling into a pool of sky-blue water; a blue, blue, blue lagoon; the Borbollones, a stretch of bubbling thermal waters; Los Teñideros, literally “The Dyers,” the magical spot where two rivers converge to create the sky-blue waters of the Río Celeste; and natural hot springs in a setting that couldn’t be more gorgeous. And this is all just in one national park — there are more than two dozen others that’ll make your previous Instagram photos look like amateur hour.

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