Rafting on Class III & IV rapids on the Pacuare River
Rafting on Class III & IV rapids on the Pacuare River


The water in and around Costa Rica is great for surfing, spotting dolphins and cooling off with a swim. That’s not all that the water offers though! Visitors to Costa Rica can also have an exhilarating white water rafting adventure during their stay in Costa Rica. I recently went on a tubing adventure in Costa Rica, but rafting is a very different experience. White water rafting is great for a family excursion in Costa Rica, but it is also for the hard-core adventurers.

What is White Water Rafting?

White water rafting is a super fun outdoor recreational activity where an inflatable, multi-person raft is used to navigate a body of water. Passengers use a paddle to help navigate, while the tour guide is typically at the front of the raft controlling steering. I wouldn't be able to help paddle, but I know the rivers of Costa Rica pretty well, so I’d be able to help steer, and point out some of the great nature along the way! The rivers in Costa Rica offer some great bumps and dips that make a white water rafting tour a great addition to any visitors’ itinerary!

Guide jumping on boat on white water rapids
Guide jumping on boat on white water rapids


Rafting Grades of Difficulty

There are grades of difficulty for white water rafting (aka the International Scale of River Difficulty). While I’m more of an easy grade white water rafter, there are definitely grades for the more adventurous. The grades start at the easiest level, 1, which is for the basic rafter with minimal roughness. The grades end at the most difficult, 6, which is only for advanced rafters and are quite dangerous. Make sure that you understand these grades so that you don’t get in over your head during your adventure!

Splashing into the water from a white water rapid on the Rio Toro
Splashing into the water from a white water rapid on the Rio Toro


Safety Tips for White Water Rafting

Besides knowing which grade to choose, safety is always an important concern during adventure tours. Your Costa Rica white water rafting tour operator should provide safety gear like a helmet and a life vest, but there are a few other things you can do to stay safe while white water rafting in Costa Rica:

  • Pay attention to your guide’s instructions and to your surroundings.
  • Use sunscreen on all exposed skin.
  • Wear proper footwear (waterproof if possible!).
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt.
  • Be sure all your clothing and belongings are secure. Be careful with your sunglasses – if you wear them make sure they are on a neck cord.

Types of Rafting Excursions

Your rafting adventure will vary based on where you are staying and which tour operator you are using, but you’ll likely be able to choose from a one-day, multi-day or multi- adventure package. Some excursions may include your accommodations as well, and a multi-adventure package might include other activities like waterfall repelling. Prices will vary, but if you’re choosing a single rafting adventure, you should budget around $60 per person. For multi-day or multi-adventure excursions, you should budget at least $100 per person per day.

Having fun rafting on the Rio Naranjas
Having fun rafting on the Rio Naranjas


Where to White Water Raft in Costa Rica

Hook up with professional guides and tour operators for a safe and memorable rafting experience! Here are a few rivers that I recommend for white water rafting. I’ll be watching your adventure from up in the trees!


Javi the Frog getting ready to begin its rafting adventure with Wave expeditions
Javi the Frog getting ready to begin its rafting adventure with Wave expeditions