Decent into one of Barra Honda's caves
Decent into one of Barra Honda's caves

Some visitors come to Costa Rica to enjoy its stunning views, sandy beaches and lush tropical rainforests. Some, however, come here to explore the sprawling underground caverns and caves. As a tree frog, I don't quite dare go into them myself - it's too dark and scary! If you're the adventurous type, though, exploring Costa Rica's caves on a spelunking vacation could be a real adrenaline rush. Let's explore the caves together! Just don't leave me alone, okay?

Beginners should head to the Venado Caverns near Arenal

Costa Rica's national parks have lots of hidden treasures underground. If you've never gone spelunking before, you'll probably want to start at the Venado Caverns, which are a short distance from Arenal Volcano. These remarkable underground caverns used to be underwater, but now sit almost 1,000 feet above sea level! You can still see seashells on the ground and an enormous brain coral in one of the cave's central chambers. The terrain in the Venado Caverns isn't too challenging, which makes them ideal for beginners.

Ready for more of a challenge?

If you've got some spelunking experience, you won't want to miss the underground caverns at Barra Honda National Park in Guanacaste. These caves are considered some of the best in all of Costa Rica, and thousands of visitors come from around the world to brave the depths and discover the incredible world beneath the surface.

The dimensions of these caves are a little more restrictive than Venado, so be ready for enclosed spaces and narrow gaps. If you're claustrophobic, you may want to reconsider before setting off. Only the first major chamber has a handrail, so be ready for some demanding spelunking action if you choose to explore the caverns of Barra Honda!

Things to know before you go

Exploring underground caves can be physically challenging, especially in narrow caverns like the ones at Barra Honda. You'll need to be in good shape before you make your descent. It can get quite dark in some places, so make sure the flashlight on your safety helmet is fully charged.

You should always go on spelunking expeditions with a knowledgeable guide. Not only is this safer than braving the caves alone, you'll also probably learn a lot more about the caverns and the creatures that live in them. Some caves are only accessible by pulley harnesses, so don't try to brave them alone.