Recently I took the plunge and went on an amazing white water tubing tour in Costa Rica. What an adventure!

My adventure took me down to Rio Negro, and offered a cool, relaxing trip that surrounded me with the miracle of nature from both the river I was in, and the forest that surrounded me.

Tubing in Costa Rica is an experience that needs to be on your trip's bucket list!

White Water Tubing in Costa Rica
White Water Tubing on the Rio Negro near Rincon de la Vieja National Park

What is White Water Tubing?

White Water Tubing is an activity where you use a large, inflatable raft shaped as a tube to float down a body of water, using both the natural rapids and your own steering. Tubing is different from white water rafting in that each individual is in their own tube, instead of everyone being grouped into one raft.

The tubes are safe because they are covered by a canvas that is tough enough to protect against puncture. A white water rafting tube will also have some safety and comfort features, including side handles, inflatable head or back rests, and center seats. You don't use a paddle when tubing, but instead steer using the side handles, and by using your own hands to paddle and push through the water.

Todd Sarouhan & Javi the Frog with his GoPro tubing on Rio Negro
Todd Sarouhan & Javi the Frog white water tubing on Rio Negro

My tubing experience was part of a tour with Adventure Tours at Hacienda Guachipelin. As a tour group, you may travel to the river by horseback or by vehicle. Either way, there is plenty of nature to take in on the way!

Once you arrive at the river, be sure to pay attention to your tour guide as they go over the rules of the river - this is for your safety! I was very anxious to hop into my tube and to start my adventure, the water was warm, clear and inviting but I made sure to respect my guide.

Your tour guides will also be going tubing with your group, so they will keep you safe and on course.

Your tour can run anywhere between two and five hours, including travel time to and from the water. Each adventure will vary, but you can plan to budget around $50 per person for a tubing tour. White water tubing in Costa Rica is a family-friendly activity that is sure to get everyone excited!

Happy while white water tubing on the Rio Negro, Costa Rica
Happy while white water tubing on the Rio Negro, Costa Rica

Why is Tubing so Amazing?

I am proud to call Costa Rica home for many reasons, including its famous tropical rivers and breathtaking scenery. Getting to go on a white water tubing adventure in one of these rivers is a life experience that you won't soon forget. Tubing is a nice balance of relaxation and exhilaration, with some moments of smooth sailing, and some moments that feel a little like a fun ride on bumper cars.

In the moments of quiet, if you look around, you'll notice that you are surrounded by tropical wilderness that is mostly unexplored.

My white water tubing expedition was so fun and I can't wait to do it again. One minute I was peacefully drifting, and then I was bouncing off of river rocks, spinning, cascading through the river backwards, and all the while being splashed by small and large warm-water waves.

Having fun tubing on the Rio Negro
Having fun tubing on the Rio Negro

Where to Go Tubing in Costa Rica

My adventure took place in Rincon de la Vieja on the Rio Negro, within the Guanacaste province, but there are many other places to go tubing! My Rio Negro tubing adventure was hosted by Hacienda Guachipelin. It started at the Victoria Waterfall and took about half of a day.

Other rivers where you can find daily tubing tours include the Savegre River, which is near Manuel Antonio. On a tubing adventure in this river, you'll have dense jungle as your surroundings, and mountains on either side.

Wherever you are staying in Costa Rica, be sure to check for adventures tours that include tubing!

Todd having fun on a white water tubing tour in the Rio Negro
Todd having fun on a white water tubing tour in the Rio Negro

White Water Tubing Safety Tips for Costa Rica Visitors

Safety should always be a main concern during travel and during adventure tours. Here are a few tips I picked up from my Costa Rica tubing experience:

  • Always wear safety gear. Your tour company should provide you with a life-jacket and a helmet that must be worn at all times. You should also inspect your tube for any damage before getting in the water.
  • Protect yourself from the sun! Use waterproof sunscreen and apply everywhere, especially to any exposed skin. A lightweight, long sleeve shirt will also help protect you. A hat worn underneath your helmet will provide shade for your face.
  • Use proper footwear. There is no escaping getting wet during a tubing adventure! Water shoes are great, but if you don't have those make sure your shoes at least strap on. If you wear loose shoes like flip flops, you'll never see them again. You also want a sturdy shoe that will protect your feet from the bumps against river rocks.