Touring the Rincón de la Vieja National Park
This is an area of rugged beauty and high volcanic activity. The Rincón de la Vieja Volcano rises to 1,848m (6,061 ft.), but the thermal activity is spread out along its flanks, where numerous geysers, vents, and fumaroles let off its heat and steam. This is a great place to hire a guide and a horse for a day of rugged exploration. There are waterfalls and mud baths, hot springs, and cool jungle swimming holes. You'll pass through pastureland, scrub savanna, and moist secondary forest; the bird-watching is excellent.
Swinging Through the Treetops on a Canopy Tour
This unique adventure is becoming quite the rage. In most cases, after a strenuous climb using ascenders, you strap on a harness and zip from treetop to treetop while dangling from a cable. There are canopy tours all around Costa Rica.
Rafting the Upper Reventazón River near Turrialba
The Class V Guayabo section of this popular river is serious white water. Only experienced and gutsy river runners need apply. If you're not quite up to that, try a 2-day Pacuare River trip which passes through primary and secondary forests and a beautiful steep gorge.
Surfing & Four-Wheeling Guanacaste Province
This northwestern province has dozens of respectable beach and reef breaks, from Witch's Rock at Playa Naranjo near the Nicaraguan border to Playa Nosara more than 100km (62 miles) away.
Battling a Billfish off the Pacific Coast
Billfish are plentiful all along Costa Rica's Pacific coast, and boats operate from Playa del Coco to Playa Zancudo. Costa Rican anglers hold world records for both blue marlin and Pacific sailfish. Go to Quepos (just outside Manuel Antonio) for the best après-fish scene, or head down to Drake Bay, the Osa Peninsula, or Golfo Dulce if you want some isolation.
Walking through Monteverde Biological Cloud Forest Reserve in the Early Morning
There's something both eerie and majestic about walking around in the early-morning mist with the sound of bird calls all around and the towering trees hung heavy in broad bromeliads, flowering orchids, and hanging moss and vines. The reserve itself has a well-maintained network of trails, and the community is truly involved in conservation.
Trying the new adventure sport of Canyoning
While far from standardized, canyoning usually involves hiking along and through the rivers and creeks of steep mountain canyons, with periodic breaks to rappel down the face of a waterfall, jump off a rock into a jungle pool, or float down a small rapid.
Spending time in "Costa Rica's Venice"
Tortuguero Village & Jungle Canals is a small collection of rustic wooden shacks on a narrow spit of land between the Caribbean Sea and a dense maze of jungle canals. It's been called Costa Rica's Venice, but it actually has more in common with the South American Amazon. As you explore the narrow canals here, you'll see a wide variety of herons and other water birds, three types of monkeys, three-toed sloths, and caiman.
Windsurfing on Lake Arenal
With steady gale-force winds and stunning scenery, the northern end of Lake Arenal has become a major international windsurfing hot spot.
Sizing Up a Jabiru Stork at Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge
Caño Negro Lake and the Río Frío that feeds it are incredibly rich in wildlife and a major nesting and gathering site for aquatic bird species. These massive birds are getting less common in Costa Rica, but this is still one of the best places to spot one.
Seeing the View from the Summit of Irazú Volcano
On a very clear day you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea from this vantage point. Even if visibility is low and this experience eludes you, you will have a view of the volcano's spectacular landscape, the Meseta Central, and the Orosi Valley.
Getting Away From it All in Santa Rosa National Park
If you really want to get away from it all, the beaches here in the northwest corner of Costa Rica are a good bet. You'll have to four-wheel-drive or hike from the central ranger station to reach the beach. And once you get there, you'll find only the most basic of camping facilities: outhouse latrines and cold-water showers. But you will probably have the place almost to yourself.
Diving off the Shores of Isla del Coco off the Pacific coast
Legendary among treasure seekers, pirate buffs, and scuba divers, this small island is consistently rated one of the 10 best dive sites in the world. A protected national park, Isla del Coco is surrounded by clear Pacific waters, and its reefs are teeming with life (divers regularly encounter large schools of hammerhead sharks, curious manta rays, and docile whale sharks).
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