White Water Rafting Costa Rica: Visit And Enjoy Today

White Water Rafting Costa Rica

Enjoy whitewater river rafting in Costa Rica with our destination list feature.

LAST UPDATED:

Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica?

Is white water rafting something you love to do, or want to try out?

Are you game to combine your trip with some excellent white water rafting options?

If you are ready to get some fun and adventure on your trip, or want to experience a different side of Costa Rica that you may not have explored yet, this is the article that you need to read. Here, in this article, we are sharing with you some of the best white water rafting spots that are there in Costa Rica, and also why you should not miss them out.

In fact, if you have never tried it out yet, or not tried it out in Costa Rica, this extensive list should be a part of your itinerary. Read the reviews of each place, along with the pros and cons of each, the price range, spots suitable for specific levels of white water rafting and so on.

Is white water rafting among the Costa Rica white water rafting list of things to do in Costa Rica?

White water rafting continues to be one of the most popular activities amongst locals and travellers alike in Costa Rica. In fact, it is on almost every tourist’s list of things to do while in Costa Rica.

5 reasons you should add this white water rafting in Costa Rica activity to your itineraries

If the excitement and enthusiasm of fellow travellers or locals has not convinced you yet, here are a few reasons why you should consider trying out white water rafting in Costa Rica, and make sure it is part of your itinerary when you are there.

Option #1

Different types of rapids to choose from

  • Costa Rica has a large number of rivers as well as mountains that are spread out over a diverse terrain.
  • This means that it has a lot of rapids, starting from the smaller class to the higher and more difficult ones.

Option #2

It’s a safe sport in Costa Rica

  • You will find professional white water rafting services almost everywhere in Costa Rica.
  • In fact, it is considered to be one of the safest things you can do there, as you have access to a host of professionals who can help.

Option #3

Many venues to choose from

  • The landscape and shores of Costa Rica are lined with spots that are perfect for white water rafting.
  • Depending on your comfort level and knowledge of the same, you can choose to go for one or the other rapids.

Option #4

Gorgeous scenery and nature views

  • One thing that you will surely notice when you take a white water rafting trip down Costa Rica’s waters is that they are loaded with scenic value.
  • From coming really close to spotting wildlife in their natural habitat to spotting beautiful natural formations, such as canyons and gorges, you will get it all here on your water ride.

Option #5

Perfect mix of challenge and relaxed fun:

  • Yet another reason why you should really try out white water rafting in Costa Rica is that while they have different types of terrains to choose from, you can also choose different intensity levels.
  • As you move through the rivers, some sections may be a bit more challenging than the rest. With so many tours being conducted, you can easily choose which one you want to go for.

11 spots for the best white water rafting experience in Costa Rica

Option #1

La Fortuna

Difficulty level: Easy-Difficult
Trip cost: $$$
Exact location:
Referred to as the gateway to the Arenal Volcano National Park
Some traveling required to reach exact spot
Trip duration: Full day

Description of area

  • Family-friendly
  • Organic farms around
  • Lots of wildlife sighting  

Pros

  • Descent guides with 15+ years’ experience
  • Only company doing Upper Balsa in La Fortuna

Cons

  • None as yet

Option #2

Rio Balsa

Difficulty level: Moderate-Difficult
Trip cost: $$$
Exact location: About 45 minutes outside main town
Trip duration: Few hours

Description of area

  • Family-friendly
  • Nature views
  • Exotic birds and animals
  • Onsite gear rental/purchase

Pros

  • Fun professional guides
  • Well-organized
  • Pick-up
  • Allows time to practice first

Cons

  • Photos are expensive

Option #3

Rio Toro

Difficulty level: Moderate-Difficult
Trip cost: $$$
Exact location: 1 hour from Arenal
Trip duration: Whole day

Description of area

  • Runs through canyon
  • Big waves
  • Continuous white water
  • Dramatic scenery
  • Onsite gear rental

Pros

  • Knowledgeable staff
  • Natural lush scenery
  • Lots of ebbs and flows
  • Family-friendly  

Cons

  • Expensive photos

Option #4

Sarapiqui River

Difficulty level: Moderate-Difficult
Trip cost: $$$
Exact location: Tributary of the San Juan River
Trip duration: Single/multi day

Description of area

  • 40 rapids
  • 12 km of lush lowland tropical rainforest
  • Onsite gear rental
  • Colourful birds, monkeys, sloths

Pros

  • Exciting but not scary
  • Good for families with senior citizens
  • Perfect trip through rainforest

Cons

  • Debris and trash on the way

Option #5

Pacuare River

Difficulty level: Moderate-Difficult
Trip cost: $$$
Exact location: 2 hours from San Jose
Trip duration: 12 hours

Description of area

  • One of the top 5 rapids in the world, as rated by National Geographic.
  • Class III/IV rapids – total 52 rapids
  • Runs through dense jungle
  • Unique wildlife sighting

Pros

  • Water not icy cold
  • Gear available
  • Pick-up/drop available
  • Close encounter with wildlife

Cons

  • Not for kids aged less than 12
  • Sudden weather changes

Option #6

Reventazon River

Difficulty level: Moderate-Difficult
Trip cost: $$$
Exact location: Flows down the Atlantic slope to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica
Trip duration: Whole day

Description of area

  • Class III – IV rapids
  • Moves through rainforest
  • Lots of wildlife sightings including toucans, monkeys, iguanas and variety of birds
  • Challenging as well as easy sections to move through

Pros

  • Exotic birds and wildlife
  • Mix of challenging and easy rapids
  • Very helpful guides
  • Exciting but not dangerous

Cons

  • Not suited for younger kids

Option #7

Manuel Antonio Rapids

Difficulty level: Moderate-Difficult
Trip cost: $$$$$
Exact location: 40 minutes northeast from Quepos/Manuel Antonio
Trip duration: Whole day

Description of area

  • Moves through river’s exposed bedrock
  • Goes through 3 km canyon
  • Narrow moves through gorge’s tight rocky walls
  • Challenging chute drops
  • Exceptional geological value

Pros

  • Enthusiastic helpful guides
  • Good mix of rapids
  • Okay for inexperienced white water rafters
  • Lots to see

Cons

  • Not as many rapids as some other
  • Long commute to and from exact spot  

Option #8

Naranjo River

Difficulty level: Moderate-Difficult
Trip cost: $$$$$
Exact location: On the southern border of the Manuel Antonio National Park
Trip duration: Whole day

Description of area

  • One of the more popular destinations
  • Class III to V rapids
  • Family-friendly
  • Lots of wildlife spotting
  • Ride through nature

Pros

  • Perfect for adventure seekers
  • Heady rush with steep rapids
  • Helpful and knowledgeable guides
  • Gorgeous scenery including mountains, farmlands, jungles, palm plantations
  • On-site gear available

Cons

  • Quite steep and challenging

Option #9

Savegre River

Difficulty level: Easy-Moderate
Trip cost: $$$$$
Exact location: Roughly an hour from main city 
Trip duration: Whole day

Description of area

  • The rapids here are a little gentler as compared to quite a lot of the other areas.
  • This is perfect for families and those with younger children.
  • Class II and class III rapids.
  • 13 miles of river in the middle of tropical rain forest.
  • Waterfalls on the way.
  • Close to gorgeous wildlife in their natural habitat such as toucans, parrots, egrets, ospreys, cormorants, kingfishers and more.
  • Is known as one of the cleanest rivers in all of Central America.

Pros

  • Perfect for families
  • Really clean water and shore
  • On-site gear available
  • Pick-up available

Cons

  • Not as challenging

Option #10

Tenorio River

Difficulty level: Moderate-Difficult
Trip cost: $$$$$
Exact location: Guanacaste
Trip duration: Whole day

Description of area

  • 8 mile water ride down the Upper Tenorio river
  • Class III to IV rapids
  • Rocking ride through challenging rapids.
  • Lots of wildlife on the way through a ride down the rain forest.

Pros

  • Lots of challenges
  • Gorgeous scenery
  • Pick-up available
  • Knowledgeable guides

Cons

  • Not suitable for those aged less than 14 years

Option #11

Penas Blancas

Difficulty level: Easy/Beginner
Trip cost: $$$
Exact location: 20 minute drive from Arenal and La Fortuna
Trip duration: Few hours

Description of area

  • Perfect for families
  • Move through gorgeous nature and spot four-eyed opossum, night-heron, bats, howler monkeys, American crocodile, owls and more

Pros

  • Family-friendly
  • Leisurely water ride

Cons

  • Not challenging

Best time to go to Costa Rica for white water rafting

The period between June and October is known as the Green Season and is considered the best time for white water rafting, as rapids run faster.

Going during peak rafting season

Pros

  • More spots will be open
  • Lots of trips/options to choose from
  • Meet new like-minded enthusiasts
  • Good weather conditions

Cons

  • This choice may not always have the best weather
  • Some spots may not be operational
  • Lesser trips to choose from

Tips to prepare for a white water rafting trip in Costa Rica

  • Make sure to always wear your life jacket
  • Book through a reputed brand
  • Check on policies related to children and senior citizen
  • Follow all instructions by your guide
  • Inform staff in case of any medical condition (previous or current)

Make sure to understand all safety instructions and follow the same on your adventure. Also, wear your life jacket at all times to ensure you are safe. Have fun!

We routinely make an effort to implement our editorial practices and policies throughout our web site. This includes investigating every one of our posts thoroughly and always doing our utmost best to showcase the most reliable details possible for our readership. Feel free to browse our About Us Page for more information.

Thank you for checking out RaftingAddict! When you purchase through site links on our website, we might earn an affiliate commission, at no extra expense to you. Please be sure to enjoy our website!