White knuckle thrills and chills!
In mid 2015, after a morning spent white water rafting with his family President Luis Guillermo Solis proudly thrust a document into the air and shouted the phrase “For Costa Rica!”. The paper in question was a decree to prevent dams being built on the Pacuare and Savegre rivers for a minimum of 25 years. In passing this law President Solis became an instant hero among white water rafting fans worldwide, and, put in place measures to protect some of Costa Ricas most valuable national treasures.
White water rafting offers a truly unique way to see the kind of spectacular Costa Rican beauty spots that you would otherwise never get near. Natural beauty and stunning wildlife provide the setting for intense moments of adrenaline-fueled mayhem, and with only a guide, paddle, and 5mm of PVC fabric between you and the fast flowing water, white water rafting in Costa Rica is the definition of a “good time”. Imagine the world’s best roller coaster minus the long lines and you get the picture.
Although there is a seemingly endless array of white water rafting options in Costa Rica to choose from it pays to remember that not all sections, bumps, coves, and corners were created equal. Check out Nomad Americas top white water rafting picks.
San Jose/Turrialba/Cartago – Pacuare River – Reventazon River
Costa Rica’s capital city is close to the Pacuare River and the Reventazon river, and serves as the launch pad for some of the most famed white water rafting routes on the planet. Set in the twisting canyons of the Talamanca mountains, not only do the 29km Pacuare river runs bypass incredible scenery, but also take rafters on some of the most hair raising trips the industry has to offer. Once experienced you’ll understand why Frommer’s has ranked the 52 categorized rapids in this area one of the “Top 10 Whitewater River Rafting Destinations in the World.” Running parallel to the Pacuare, the Reventazon River’s 10 miles of fast flowing rapids provides thrills on par with it’s more famed cousin. Due to it’s mellower class II and III runs through lowland forest, peaceful swimming oases, and stunning scenery the Sarapiqui River is a great option for families.
Easy entry points into the Class III, IV and V rapids of the Rentazon river form the perfect testing ground for everyone from beginners to whitewater junkies looking to test their skills. In addition to some bone jarring river action these routes traverse reserves that many visitors would otherwise never have the chance to see. Regardless of your chosen river it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll encounter some cool local wildlife and some amazing canyons to swim through.
The Toro river rages through Alajuela province and Arenal National Park and is one of Costa Rica’s biggest draws for adventure seeking tourists. The Class II to IV rafting routes take in 13 km of continuous whitewater complete with rainforests, waterfalls, pineapple and papaya plantations, big waves, unparalleled scenery and much more. Additionally, these waters bypass an infamous section of river that is home to “The Terminator” and “Dos Locos” rapids, the names of which speak for themselves.
What the rapids in Puntarenas lack in white-knuckle gnarlyness is offset by the untouched beauty of the primary rainforests that the journey takes in. The Class II and III routes are often the go-to destination for families. Keep your eyes peeled for monkeys, toucans, ospreys and much more of the vibrant wildlife often sighted along the route.
River Suggestions by Region
- San Jose/Central Valley area White Water Rafting: Pacuare River
- Arenal area White Water Rafting: Balsa River and Sarapiqui River
- Guanacaste Area White Water Rafting: Tenorio River and Corobici River
- Manuel Antonio area White Water Rafting: Naranjo River and Savegre River