Hiking, white-water rafting, and zip-line canopy tours—here are the best of the countless adrenaline-charged experiences in Costa Rica, from A to Z.

Autogiro

Worth the trip to Playa Sámara, in Nicoya, an open-cockpit flight in an autogiro at Flying Crocodile Flying Center is the ultimate high. Hover, swoop, and plunge over the coast and mountains.

Hiking

Having previously made a reservation through the National Park Service, allow two or three days for hiking in Parque Nacional Chirripó, with an overnight near the mountain summit. The second day, you’ll be on the trail well before dawn for the final hike to the summit of Costa Rica’s highest mountain.

You can hike to the summit of Rincón de la Vieja volcano in one day, but set off well before dawn, as no overnighting is allowed. It’s a great workout, rewarded with spectacular views.

Hiking in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Hiking in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Kite-Surfing

The adrenaline kick of whizzing across or over wind-whipped Laguna de Arenal on a sailboard or a kite at Tico Wind Surf Center is boosted by signs warning that crocodiles have been spotted here.

Scuba Diving

Beginners take the plunge at the Islas Murciélagos, off northwest Nicoya, to commune with manta rays, whale sharks, and giant groupers. Trips are offered by scuba outfitters at Playas del Coco, Playa Ocotal, and Playa Hermosa.

For the ultimate rapture of the deep, experienced divers should take a 10-day trip aboard the Okeanos Aggressor to Isla del Coco, where hundreds of hammerhead sharks await your arrival.

Tree Climbing

On the Osa Peninsula, Everyday Adventures in Puerto Jiménez challenges you to a rope climb up a giant strangler fig for a 20-meter (66-foot) free-fall plunge to the ground.

In the northern lowlands, you can also play like Spider-Man by climbing inside a hollow strangler fig, or haul yourself up a giant ceiba tree, courtesy of Serendipity Adventures.

White-Water Rafting

A trip down either the Río Reventazón or Río Pacuare, both accessed from Turrialba, guarantees more white-water sizzle than seltzer. Between the rapids, calm spots allow for swimming and wildlife spotting. Plan an overnight trip with Aventuras Naturales and a night at their deluxe Pacuare Jungle Lodge.

Zip Lines

Choose more than three dozen zip lines throughout Costa Rica. Sky Trek, at Arenal in the northern lowlands, is one of the best, with four kilometers (2.5 miles) of cables, including a 750-meter-long (2,460-foot-long) span.

Zip-lining at Sky Trek, Arenal. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Zip-lining at Sky Trek, Arenal. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.


Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon Costa Rica.