Costa Rica Adventure Vacations

costa rica adventure tour

Embrace pura vida on a Costa Rica adventure vacation as you hike diverse landscapes, explore elaborate ecosystems, and connect to its vibrant culture.

Learn as your guide explains the fascinating interaction between plant and wildlife in the surrounding environment. Visit Manuel Antonio National Park, home to some of the most well-known and beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Traverse through acres of protected, pristine forest, as you navigate the Sierpe River through the largest mangrove wetlands on the Pacific Coast of Central America. Kayak around Tortuguero National Park and come face-to-face with turtles and manatees, or snorkel amongst colorful coral reefs on the Osa Peninsula.

Top Costa Rica Adventure Vacations

Central & South America

Costa Rica Guanacaste Adventure

4.5

  • Duration 6 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 2 
    • Activity Level 2

      On the Move

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they're even worn in, but they don't go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.

    Read more about the Active Range

Explore the volcanoes, cloud forests, and jungle waterfalls of Costa Rica’s stunning Guanacaste province on this six-day eco-adventure.

Trip Start: Liberia, Costa Rica Trip End: Liberia, Costa Rica

Central & South America

Costa Rica Tortuguero Adventure

  • Duration 9 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 2 
    • Activity Level 2

      On the Move

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they're even worn in, but they don't go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.

    Read more about the Active Range

Starting in San José, you'll embrace the Pura Vida (pure life) over the next nine days as you hike, bike, and kayak through the Tortuguero National Park and the Cahuita National Park. By evening, relax with a cold drink in hand at premium eco-lodges.

Trip Start: San Jose, Costa Rica Trip End: San Jose, Costa Rica

Central & South America

Costa Rica Family Vacation

5

  • Duration 7 days
  • Travel Style
  • Activity Level Level 2 
    • Activity Level 2

      On the Move

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they're even worn in, but they don't go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.

    Read more about the Active Range

Trip Start: San Jose, Costa Rica Trip End: San Jose, Costa Rica

What guests are saying about their Costa Rica Adventure Vacations

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- April 2022

Guanacaste/Costa Rica: Amazing Nature

"Really enjoyed the trip: incredible nature, a wealth of wildlife and superior guiding. read more

"Really enjoyed the trip: incredible nature, a wealth of wildlife and superior guiding. read less

4 Stars (4 reviews)

Flavia, United Kingdom

costa rica vacation

When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Each of the 12 months offers something truly special and unique for a Costa Rica vacation. Depending on the type of vacation you’re looking for and the activities you’d like to partake in, the best time to visit Costa Rica will differ from one traveler to another.

Here’s a look at what you can expect during each season:

COSTA RICA BY THE SEASONS

Often categorized by travelers into two “seasons” – the Costa Rica rainy season and the dry season – you can expect slightly different weather patterns depending on which half of the year you choose to visit Costa Rica.

Rainy Season (May – November)

Despite what you may be inclined to think, the traditional rainy season can actually be a very beautiful time of year to visit Costa Rica. Each day, you’re safe to assume that when you wake in the morning, the sun will be shining brightly, eventually to be followed by some clouds and showers (our guides like to think of it as a rinse, wash, repeat sort of thing). It’s during this time of year that the greenery is at its finest – lush, and beautiful. During this period, average temperatures range between 62-80°F. Be advised that rainfall will be at its heaviest during the months of September and October.

Dry Season (November – April)

Typically referred to as the country’s peak, or busiest, season, this is an excellent time to visit Costa Rica if you’re worried about the rain having any impacts on your travel plans. During the dry season, you’ll enjoy full access to the country of Costa Rica (including the remote areas that may be hard to reach during the rainy season), as well as excellent weather for many of our most enjoyed activities – like rappelling, hiking, ziplining, and kayaking. During this period, average temperatures range between 64-82°F.

costa rica vacations 2

What are the best things to do in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica keeps many of its wilderness areas undeveloped with protections. Up to 30% of the land is protected, so you can experience the vast biodiversity of flora and fauna and have incredible outdoor adventures. The best things to do in Costa Rica can often be found in the great outdoors, with experiences like tasting coffee and chocolate to hiking, canyoneering, white water rafting and surfing.

And did we mention the wildlife? Costa Rica is a great place for anyone looking to set off and spy wildlife like monkeys, turtles, birds and more!

costa rica vacations

What are the best places to visit in Costa Rica?

With 30 national parks in the country and natural beauty at every turn, there are endless options for adventure in Costa Rica. Beloved by outdoor enthusiasts and welcoming to families, Costa Rica’s diverse ecosystems and incredible biodiversity offer a great range of places to visit.

From Arenal to Tortuguero National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest to Guanacaste and the Pacific Coast, there are several places to visit in Costa Rica that will delight, inspire, and engage your senses!

tortuguero

What to Pack for Your Costa Rica Adventure Vacation

The secret to comfort and happiness on any adventure vacation starts with being well prepared. Having the right tools and equipment to ensure your comfort goes a long way when you’ll be hiking, biking, swimming, and exploring for days on end. Use these general guidelines as a place to start your adventure travel prep.

(Always) Think About Your Feet

This travel tip comes up time and time again when we help guests prepare for any of our adventure travel tours: never underestimate the importance of solid footwear. Uncomfortable feet often lead to an unhappy traveler, so be sure to keep them top of mind as you pack. As a general rule of thumb, you should always be equipped with running sneakers, hiking boots and proper socks (including extras!), and river shoes or sandals. Your tour guide will carry adequate First Aid supplies, but it never hurts to throw in a bandage or blister prevention of your own!

Pack for Action & Activity

If you’re booking an adventure vacation with us, you’ll know exactly what types of activity your trip will include. Consult your itinerary to inform your packing decisions – if you’re hiking, bring proper hiking boots and wool socks, if you’re rafting, be sure to have water-friendly clothing, including multiple swimsuits, and so on.

Be Prepared for the Elements

Especially important if you’re visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season, you should always be sure to have a lightweight raincoat or poncho on hand. And if you’re going to be exposed to the hot, humid climate of the rainforests, an umbrella is probably an even safer bet! If you’ll be enjoying the beauty of the mountains, you’ll witness the other end of the spectrum (the temperatures can be quite chilly). Be sure to pack multiple clothing layers, as well as a warm outer layer. Other supplies that help ensure your comfort no matter what the weather are: hats, bandanas, lotion, and sunglasses.

Leave Some Things At Home!

We talk so much about what to bring on an adventure vacation, but what not to bring can be just as important! There are certain things that will inevitably add more stress than enjoyment to your vacation, and let’s be honest, who couldn’t use a little more room in their suitcase? On your next trip, try leaving these items behind: jewelry, wallets (if you’re bringing a wallet, chances are you can empty at least half of its contents out before the trip), house keys, impractical shoes, and multiple sets of formal clothing.

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Travel Tips for Visiting Costa Rica

There’s a reason why our Costa Rica adventure vacations are consistently some of our best sellers. It’s an ideal paradise that has so much of nature’s finest to offer, from incredible activities to some of the world’s most stunning views. Keep these travel tips in mind to ensure you have the best vacation possible!

Come With an Open Mind

There are certain aspects of a trip to any destination that’s new to you that will inevitably cause a little bit of stress. But be open minded, and remember the reasons you’ve chosen to embark on this incredible journey. Remember to be judgement-free, and to take part in the things that will most enhance your travel experience, like joining in a local tradition, being open to new foods, and getting outside your comfort zone.

Rely on Your Tour Guide

Your adventure travel tour guide is a well-trained, well-versed individual in all things Costa Rica. Use this to your advantage! Ask questions, and get involved in as many Costa Rican experiences as possible. Travel is all about learning, after all.

Choose Your Must See & Dos

There’s so much to see and do in Costa Rica. So much, in fact, that we have multiple Costa Rica adventure vacation packages allowing you to explore different aspects of the country. Deciding which activities or sights are your highest priorities can help you choose your vacation.

FAQs about visiting Costa Rica

What's the best time of year to go to Costa Rica?

The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April on its Pacific Coast, when the weather is at its driest and brightest, with January and February providing ideal sunny beach weather. March and September are the best months to visit on the Caribbean side, with Alaska/California humpback whales; leatherback & hawksbill sea turtles around for wildlife watching in March and the rain lightening up in September, making it a great time to visit.

Is tipping expected in Costa Rica?

Most people do choose to tip their Active Adventures guides at the end of an awesome trip. US$100 per person per Trip Leader seems to be the norm, however less, more or not at all is also fine too. During your Active Adventures trip, your trip leader will take care of all included restaurants and service tips for you. For other restaurants or services during your time in Costa Rica, 5-10% is a typical gratuity amount.

Is it safe to go to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in Central America, however we recommend taking the same precautions you would anywhere else - just to be on the safe side! As long as you stay away from isolated areas, don't wave your valuables around, and don't travel alone at night you will be able to avoid the most common dangerous situations. Pickpockets occasionally operate in areas where visitors are found so we suggest you leave any valuables you don’t need with you in the hotel safe (e.g. passports and credit cards).
A copy of your passport and any valuables you do need with you should be kept in a passport wallet under your clothes and a small amount of money in your pocket/purse. It’s also a good idea to take a taxi after dark rather than walking. We recommend only using established tour operators and officially registered taxis, and only change money at banks or official exchanges.

Do I need a visa for Costa Rica?

If you’re travelling on a US, UK, EU, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand passport, you’ll be issued a 90-day tourist visa upon arrival in Costa Rica. To be issued with a visa exemption for up to 90 days, you must produce evidence of your onward travel to exit Costa Rica (either flights to return to the U.S. or travel to another country), and an immigration official will check this on arrival. It is advisable to make a photocopy or take a picture of your passport with the entry stamp to carry at all times during your stay. If you’re a citizen of another country please check with your nearest Costa Rican Embassy about entry requirements and if you need any assistance let us know.

What about vaccinations in Costa Rica?

For travel to Costa Rica we recommend getting vaccinated against Diphtheria; Hepatitis A; Rabies and Tetanus. at least two months before your trip starts. For the most up-to-date recommendations please check with your doctor or travel clinic, and always go with their recommendations, as these can often change. There are no official vaccination requirements for entry into Costa Rica, however if you’re entering Costa Rica from a country that is considered to be at risk from Yellow Fever, or when you go home afterwards, then you may be required to show a certificate of vaccination (to be obtained from your doctor prior to travel).

Where do you fly into Costa Rica?

Many international flights arrive directly into San Jose or Liberia so there's no need to book any connecting domestic flights. The major international carriers who fly to Costa Rica are United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Spirit Airlines & Jet Blue.

What if I need a special diet?

We are accustomed to catering to the following special diets:

  • vegan (no meat or animal products)
  • vegetarian (no meat products)
  • fishatarian (vegetarian, and eat fish)
  • no red meat (eat chicken & fish)
  • gluten intolerant (no wheat, rye, barley or oats)
  • lactose intolerant (no dairy products)

You will get the opportunity to specify your particular requirements when you fill in our pre-trip questionnaire. If you have any other dietary requirements please let us know well in advance, via email or the online questionnaire.

Can you help me find flights to Costa Rica?

We recommend booking your flights through our preferred travel partner – Fuzion Travel. They’re our experienced hand-picked experts in travel, passionate about what they do, and will tailor-make your flight itinerary to match your Active Adventures tour. Get in touch with them directly by email – active@fuziontravel.co.nz or on +1-833-244-5886. Let them know your preferred travel plans, including any stopovers or extra nights’ accommodation, and they’ll put everything in place for you. They offer a total travel solution and five star service that you’ll want to tell your friends about!

Do I need Hiking boots or are hiking sneakers okay?

You will need proper hiking boots - trail shoes are not good enough. We'll be taking you to some awesome places where you'll be hiking over a variety of terrain, therefore your boots should have full ankle support and a stiff sole with a high profile tread. It's also important that whichever footwear you decide to bring that it's well broken-in and waterproofed before you come down. If you have good ankles that will be able to cope pretty well with varied terrain, then good hiking shoes should be fine, but if not then hiking boots will give you better support.

How much luggage can I bring on the Costa Rica trips?

You’ll need one piece of luggage on your trip, plus a daypack. Your main piece of luggage can be anything from a backpack, to a sports bag with wheels or a suitcase and a good quality trekking daypack 25-30 litres (2000 cubic inches) to use throughout the days on the trails. 

What kind of clothing should I be packing for my Costa Rica trip?

Once you've booked your trip, you'll have access to a gear list in your portal on exactly what to bring along. The gear list is carefully thought out to provide you with everything you need to be warm and happy, or cool and relaxed, whatever the weather! So it is best to bring everything we recommend along, if you don't bring everything you need, we can't guarantee your comfort.

Can I drink the water in Costa Rica?

Tap water in Costa Rica is generally clean and safe to drink. However in some areas, mainly on the Caribbean side and in non-touristy pockets around the country, it's best to stick to bottled water and this is widely available to purchase.
Active Adventures is promoting ‘Travellers Against Plastic’ pledge, so to reduce single use plastic we encourage you to bring a durable water bottle to refill instead of purchasing bottled water.

What is the food like in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica food is tasty, rather than spicy with base ingredients of plantains, rice, fresh fruits, beans, vegetables and corn (rather than wheat), making it easy to cater for a gluten-free diet. Beef and pork are the most common meats, but chicken is also standard, and the fish is excellent, especially on the coasts. Costa Rica isn’t known for being overly vegan-friendly, however there are vegan food options available.

What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency of Costa Rica is the Colón (CRC/₡) however US dollars are accepted just about everywhere, so you won’t have to convert your cash into Costa Rican colones. 

How much spending money should I bring and where do I get local currencies?

Your trip fare includes all transportation, guiding, meals and activities (except any optional activities). Most people like to bring a little extra to cover a round of drinks at the pub, take home some souvenirs, book a tour and eat out on their free day, and tip our guides if they've had a great time. 

A small amount of cash is useful when you first arrive to cover costs until you join your group. You can withdraw either US Dollars or Colons from ATMs inside San Jose airport, as both are accepted. When paying for goods and services in dollars, you’ll more than likely get your change in colones. Bills larger than $20 may not be taken by some businesses. With larger amounts of cash, we suggest going directly to the bank for the best exchange rates.

Usually the easiest thing to do is use your credit or debit card to withdraw money directly from your home account, in local currency. 

We recommend keeping enough cash on you to handle everyday expenses like meals, however not to carry so much that you’ll worry about losing it or becoming a victim of theft. 

Will the altitude affect me in Costa Rica?

San Jose is located at 1,172m (9,350 feet) and the highest elevation reached on our trips there is 1,000m (3,300 feet). If you’re concerned about the altitude on your arrival into Quito, chat to your doctor about a Diamox prescription or consider taking alternative treatments of ginkgo or Oxyshot/Oxishot.

Do I need to speak Spanish?

Spanish is the main language of Costa Rica, with Quechua being the main indigenous language. English is spoken in some hotels, airports and tourist areas but not everywhere. A little would be helpful, especially on arrival and for ordering food in restaurants, but it's certainly not required. Our trip leaders are all fluent Spanish speakers so if you don't have time to learn a little Spanish before arrival you don't have to worry... they will take care of everything.

What time zone is Costa Rica in?

Costa Rica is in the Central Standard Time. It is -6 hours behind of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

What type of plugs and voltage do you use in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is in the Central Standard Time. It is -6 hours behind of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Will I have access to internet/WiFi in Costa Rica?

WiFi is available almost everywhere in cities and easy enough to find in most towns/villages so you can rely on having regular access during your trip. If you have data roaming switched on, then you'll be able to use the internet on your smartphone, but beware of the fees! WiFi is available at some of the accommodations that you'll be staying at, usually for a small cost so check this out at each location when you arrive, though it may be sporadic.

Internet cafes are readily available, economical (~US$0.60 per hour for high speed access), and have long opening hours, so we don’t recommend bringing a laptop - although the Spanish keyboard can sometimes be a little challenging!

What is the weather like in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is made up of many different climate zones, which also creates a lot of microclimates within the country. This tropical couintry is very close to the Equator, with a dry (high) and rainy (green) season, and plentiful sunshine! The temperature difference between January as opposed to July does not vary greatly, with the average annual temperature sitting between 70° and 81°F (12° and 27°C), with February to April recording the highest temperatures. However the amount of rainfall in Costa Rica does fluctuate fairly drastically with the heaviest rainfall from May to November.
Dry Season (December - April)
During these months, the weather in many parts of the country is very warm getting little to no rain, and with temperatures ranging from the mid 80’s to the high 90’s (F) depending on which part of Costa Rica you are in. However, in some provinces, seasonally cool winds offer some respite from the heat, particularly in January and February. Temperatures tend to reach their highest in March and April at the peak of the dry season.
Rainy Season (May - November)
Its affectionately called “The Green Season” and is the time of year when all vegetation starts to grow again and the country blooms into life and becomes incredibly lush. The overall climate is much wetter, and thunderstorms, heavy rains, and tropical depressions are far from unusual, especially in the afternoon, though it’s unarguably the time of year when Costa Rica is at its most beautiful, with temperatures rarely drop below the mid-60s (18°C).

Is there a number to call in an emergency? How can my family, friends or colleagues contact me

Please contact our New Zealand office using the details below. If the office is unattended (outside of New Zealand business hours), please leave a message so we can pick it up and respond as soon as we can.

Free phone 1 800 661 9073 (USA, Canada & Australia)
Free phone 0808 234 7780 (UK)
Free phone 0800 234 726 (New Zealand)
Worldwide +64 3 450 0414, ext 1
Email: service@activeadventures.com

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Active Adventure Assurance

Secure Your Spot Now, Pay the Rest Later

As members of the Active Adventures family, Austin Adventures offers booking assurance that allows you to secure your spot with a deposit now and pay the rest later. Plus, if your plans change or you can’t travel, you can transfer your booking or request a refund on any additional funds paid (less deposit) up to 90 days from your original trip start date.  

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Costa Rica Adventure Vacation Stories and Planning Tips

Why Travel With US

benefit group size

Just-right group sizes allow you to get off the beaten path

With an average of 12 guests per departure and an industry-leading 6:1 guest-to-guide ratio, you’ll enjoy a highly personalized experience with the perspective of an insider.

benefit guides

Award-winning guides lead the way

It’s so much easier to relax and enjoy your adventure when you have fun, caring guides who know the land, are experts in motivation, sweat all the details and whip up incredible meals, too!

benefit inclusive

You’ll never need to sweat the details

When we say all inclusive, we mean it! Meals and snacks, activities, lodging, transportation, guiding services and more. Every detail is handled; all you need to do is show up!

benefit safety

Enjoy freedom to push your boundaries – safely

Every aspect of your trip is thoroughly considered for your safety, from highly vetted vendors and well-maintained equipment to extensively trained guides and our seasoned operations team at headquarters.

benefit family

Decades of expertise mean you’ll experience only the best

Family travel and North American National Parks are our specialty. We’ve perfected our itineraries and sustained relationships for decades, ensuring you'll experience your destination to the fullest.

benefit wow

"Wow Moments” take your trip from enjoyable to extraordinary

For us, the extra mile is never extra, it’s part of the way! Count on special touches throughout your trip that will amplify your experience. If we’ve done our job, they’ll have you saying “wow!”