White water rafting offers a thrilling way to see some of the most secluded spots in all of Costa Rica. However, not all corners, coves and communities are made equal. If you're looking for a daring adventure via raft or canoe, check out these regions:
Choose White Water Rafting by Region
As the nation's capital, San Jose serves a central hub for accessing top-tier white water rapids. Carve down the two main rivers in the region, called the Pacuare and Reventazon. On the Class III and IV rapids of the Pacuare, you can embrace what Frommer's has ranked the "Top 10 Whitewater River Rafting Destinations in the World." Flanked by the Talamanca Mountains, this river is truly unparalleled in Costa Rica, attracting scenery-driven rafters who are ready to get wet. The Reventazon River is no less exhilarating. It runs parallel to the Pacuare along the Atlantic slope of the countryside, making a splash among more adventurous paddlers. With a steady stretch of rapids, the Reventazon extends 10 miles of amazing journey.
Another option perfect for the whole family is the Sarapiqui River. This Class II to III ride along the lowland wet forest gives you a slightly calmer experience to soak in the lovely vistas. You'll even be able take a swim in easy streams before you finish.
Battle down one of the raging rivers in the Alajuela Province. The Toro River, spanning from Class II to IV, cuts through Arenal National Park, one of the most stunning draws of the region. Get ready for 13 kilometers of continuous white water, big waves and priceless scenery, including pineapple, papaya and yucca fields. Many rafters in Alajuela also take advantage of the pearls of the Pacuare River, weaving in and out of waterfalls. The full day tour from here extends 29 kilometers of 52 rapids. Like in San Jose, families in Alajuela make their way to Sarapiqui for both river rafting and kayaking adventures. Cruise through a section of Costa Rican rainforest, encompassing 20 rapids with highlights including "The Terminator" and "Dos Locos."
Visitors to Cartago flock to the Reventazon River to enjoy one more than 10 miles of Class III, IV and V rapids - the variety of challenging legs (and easy entry points) along the river makes it a great place for beginners and advanced paddlers to test their limits. As you ride down to the river you might even get to check out the historic churches, gardens and reserves tucked spread throughout the region. No matter what route you choose, you'll be rewarded with exceptional opportunities to spot Jesus Christ lizards, leisurely iguanas and elegant herons.
Although the rapids in North Puntarenas may not be as death-defying as some other areas in Costa Rica - most areas are Class II or III - the waves and rips often come quickly, and are complemented by untouched beauty. The Naranjas River is known to challenge even the most accomplished white water rafters due to the constant action you'll see along the waterway, yet can be fun for older kids as well. The Savegre Rivers provides a few more breaks in is route, allowing paddlers to take in the beauty of nearby waterfalls and lush primary rainforest. Keep your eyes open for vibrant toucans, ospreys and egrets, which are often sighted along the way.
Importantly, most companies offer single day and multi-day rafting opportunities, with transportation and meals provided.