When I'm hopping through the rainforest, I often see groups of tourists boating down the rivers on rafts! No matter how experienced you are, there's a white water rafting adventure waiting for you. Come with me and let's learn about this exciting way to see Costa Rica!

White Water Rafting on the Pacuare River
White Water Rafting on the Pacuare River

The basics

The rivers of Costa Rica are perfect for rafting. Each waterway is graded in terms of how difficult they are to navigate by boat, with Grade I being the easiest and Grade VI the hardest.

White water rafting is a team sport. There are two types of raft - paddle and oar. Paddle rafts are the most common, and need everyone to work as a team to guide the watercraft down the river using paddles. Riding an oar raft is a more leisurely experience, usually taken down easier rivers and guided by an experienced rafter using wooden oars.

Rafting on Class III & IV rapids
Rafting on Class III & IV rapids


There are a few different kinds of stroke used to propel the raft down a river. The first is a forward stroke. This maneuver is a smooth motion intended to move the watercraft downriver faster than the current. Place the paddle in the water in front of you, and move it smoothly alongside the raft toward the rear of the boat.

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If your guide - sometimes referred to as "river rats" - tells you to slow down, you can use the reverse sweep. This is similar to the forward stroke, just performed in reverse to slow the speed of the watercraft. It is important to remember that unless everyone works together, these maneuvers will either fail to work or move the raft in circles, so pay close attention to the guide's instructions.

Safety first

White water rafting can be a lot of fun, it's also a little risky. Even if your raft stays upright, you're still going to get wet, so dress accordingly.When I go swimming in the rivers, I don't need a wetsuit - I have my own! - but you will. Most tour companies will provide you with one, depending on the time of year. It also gets really sunny here, so remember to wear waterproof sunscreen.

White water rafting looks like so much fun, but remember - safety first. Always keep your life jacket on, and do exactly what your guide tells you. If you bear these tips in mind, you're sure to have a thrilling adventure on Costa Rica's waterways. And if you see me on your travels, give me a wave!