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Watersports in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica they really know how to enjoy life. In fact, the national catchphrase of 'pura vida' essentially means 'pure life', so you can expect that this is one country that prioritises laid-back lifestyles so much that even the Caribbean gets a run for its money.


As a narrow nation, Costa Rica enjoys the glorious waters of the Caribbean Sea on the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, and that makes for some superb watersports opportunities. From surfing to snorkelling, with some added boating for good measure, Costa Rica offers plenty of ways to get wet and wild.


Surfing along the shore

The most obvious choice for watersports in Costa Rica - and part of its draw for adventurous spirits looking to catch a wave or two - is surfing.

Since the 1970s, Costa Rica has been enticing surfing fans to its shores to take advantage of its sheltered bays, which prove ideal for beginners, together with its reliably wilder waves found nearby.

Many surfers love sticking to what they know on the Caribbean coast, close to towns like Limon with its large population of individuals with heritage from Jamaica. However, one part of Costa Rica that's seeing a big uptake in the surfing community is Playa Tamarindo. Here, natural beauty blends with easy-going surf culture and that unquenchable Latin love of life, to create a pocket of paradise where both beginners and experts can shred across the sea to their heart's content.

Meet the locals underwater

Did you know that Costa Rica is frequently recognised as the country with the world's highest biodiversity? That means its landscapes are full of furry and feathered friends, from cheeky monkeys and silent spiders to colourful tropical birds and lazy lizards.

But of course, that's not the whole story. Great schools of fish in every hue of the rainbow wait among the reeds and rocks below the waves, which makes snorkelling and diving supremely popular in Costa Rica. As always, both beginner and advanced diving trips are available, so don't fret if it's your first time strapping on an oxygen tank. You definitely owe it to yourself to give it a go though, after all, half of Costa Rica's almost limitless wildlife is waiting to meet you under the sea.

Chase the horizon on a boating trip

Few places on Earth give you the chance to sail over both the Caribbean and the Pacific in one holiday, yet Costa Rica's unique position on the map makes doing so a real treat. The coastal towns around Guanacaste and beyond play host to a number of boat chartering companies that allow you to take a sailing ship out on a sunset cruise, which is always a pleasure. Beyond that, catamarans are always a popular way to see the sights, and tours are frequently available to make sure you take in the best that Costa Rica can offer.

Thrills and spills while white-water rafting

Costa Rica may be a peaceful place, but it also has some rivers capable of pushing your limits. Lovers of adrenaline and adventure flock to places like Pacuare River, deep in the jungle, to get in touch with nature while being buffeted downstream on a wild ride.

Another location that's growing in popularity for white-water rafting fans is Penas Blancas, not least because it strikes such a good balance. For many of us, our trip to Costa Rica will be our first white-water rafting adventure, yet Penas Blancas is known for offering fun escapades on a more laid-back trip among the greenery. For intermediate white-water rafters, the longer and more intricate River Balsa is a decent challenge, yet full-scale adrenaline hounds are sure to make a beeline for the roaring rapids of River Toro.

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