Your Guide to Kayaking in Costa Rica

June 21, 2024
Carolina Barrientos Carolina Barrientos
Your Guide to Kayaking in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a paradise for any nature lover with its lush rainforests, untouched beaches, and active wildlife. There are many options for exploring these treasures of nature, but paddling a kayak is especially suitable because it allows close contact with places you are passing through and makes you feel fully involved in what surrounds you. Kayaking in Costa Rica can provide visitors with a closer look at some fantastic landscapes and various life forms of the country, whether moving through the calm waters of its lakes or sea kayaking on its ever-changing shorelines. 

When it comes to Costa Rica’s waterways, kayakers should ensure there is something for them since there are lakes with a calm volcanic background and mangrove tunnels that are complex and full of life.  

What is Costa Rica known for, if not its diverse and breathtaking natural beauty?  

Why Kayak in Costa Rica? 

Experience Costa Rica’s different ecosystems closely while kayaking. You can move in quiet lakes as you do this to watch over volcanic eruptions, pass through mangrove tunnels that are full of different species, and not simply take part in surfing gentle waves along the Pacific Ocean. Each time visitors use the blunt instrument, they unveil another feature concerning this country’s nature, making it an activity that nature lovers cannot afford to miss. Now you have the answer to your question – “Why visit Costa Rica?” And the answer is pretty simple: to experience its unparalleled natural beauty and diverse ecosystems. 

best kayaking in costa rica

Types of Kayaking Adventures in Costa Rica 

As you take time off to go to this tropical paradise, you can choose from a wide selection of things to do in Costa Rica when planning a holiday. The first rule for enjoying any particular game is understanding it entirely.  

The same goes for kayaking. The diverse geographical landscapes give you different choices of where to go for kayaking adventures.

  • Sea Kayaking: This form of kayaking enables kayakers to explore the stunning Pacific coastline with its hidden coves, sea caves, and abundant marine life
  • River Kayaking: Whitewater kayaking in Costa Rica offers thrills for adventure seekers. Paddle down the country’s many rivers, ranging from gentle currents suitable for beginners to challenging whitewater rapids.  

Best Kayaking Spots in Costa Rica 

Costa Rica is a country where people can enjoy many  water-based adventures. One of these activities is kayaking, which appeals to many enthusiasts who seek excitement across the globe. 

Below are some of the most preferable kayaking destinations in Costa Rica. They contain serene lagoons, dense mangrove swamps, or open sea expanses. 


The town of Jaco on the Pacific Coast is one of the finest places to row a kayak. It is famous for its impressive beaches and lively ocean inhabitants. Visitors can paddle near the seacoast or in secluded inlets, thus exploring the region’s remarkable beauty.  

Kayaking in Jaco is suited for both novice and pro players due to its calm waters. Visitors are most likely to see dolphins, turtles, and numerous species of fish. 

Lake Arenal 

Enjoy seeing the well-known Lake Arenal while engaging in kayaking at the same Arenal Volcano. The lake extends for miles through dense tropical woods and over some hilly land, which provides still waters suitable for casual paddling. Kayaking at La Fortuna, Costa Rica offers breathtaking views of the iconic Arenal Volcano. There is no way visitors can be disappointed, as the diverse tropical birds here will make your day. If bird watching is a favorite activity, this should be on your 10-day vacation itinerary.  

sea kayaking costa rica

Damas Island  

Damas Island near Quepos has the perfect mangroves for someone who wants to explore Costa Rican ecosystems.  

On a kayaking tour from Damas Island, visitors traverse tight channels among the mangroves and see everything closely. At this destination, the kayaker paddles along winding mangrove tunnels, meeting different types of animals, such as monkeys, sloths, and other bird species.  

Visitors can easily undertake the journey regardless of whether they are used to paddling in serene waters since there are no rapid currents. 

Peñas Blancas River 

The Peñas Blancas River in the northern lowlands offers a calm and beautiful kayaking trip. This river is suitable for first-timers since it moves gently and for anyone who wants a slow rafting trip.  

A journey down this river will have visitors pass through greenery while seeing many creatures, such as crocodiles, iguanas, and tropical birds. It is an unforgettable experience on the kayak, with such a favorable ambiance and breathtakingly lovely surroundings. Travelers can combine this with other water activities in Costa Rica for a day full of fun, adventure, and memories.  

Puerto Viejo 

Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast provides access to some of Costa Rica’s thickest and most untouched mangrove forests. Tourists can observe various species, including manatees, caimans, and birds, as they meander through intricate waterways.  It is challenging but, at the same time, thrilling to paddle for those adventurous enough on these twisted maze-like roots into which they have grown.    

Another great place to explore mangroves through kayaking is Tamarindo. 

Whales’ Tail at Uvita 

Head to the iconic “Whales’ Tail” at Uvita, a natural whale tail-shaped sandbar situated in Marino Ballena National Park. This place offers beautiful sea views and the opportunity to watch humpback whales when they migrate through. Traveling here is quite an experience in itself as visitors walk through the country’s marine environment.  

Sea kayaking in Costa Rica to this unique landmark is a memorable adventure. 

Rio Esquinas  

The Rio Esquinas Mangrove-Ocean Kayaking journey provides the perfect blend of ocean and mangrove excitement. Here, guests canoe through peaceful mangrove forests along the Rio Esquinas teeming with life, such as monkeys and otters.  

After that, they will leave these forests and go into an expanse of water where they are likely to encounter dolphins, among others, like sea turtles, thus giving rise to a truly unforgettable experience. 

Isla Chiquita 

Visitors can take guided kayaking tours to the remote island of Isla Chiquita in the Gulf of Nicoya. This small island has hidden beaches, craggy cliffs, and lively coral reefs. The calm waters on Isla Chiquita make it easy to see many species of sea creatures as visitors row along.  

This guided trip suits adventure seekers looking for a more private kayaking experience because it is intimate and off the beaten track. So, if you wish to understand the genuine meaning of Pura Vida, this spot is what you need.  

Best Times to Kayak in Costa Rica 

The best time to kayak in Costa Rica depends largely on the region and the type of water body visitors plan to explore.  

The dry season in Costa Rica, from December to April, is generally ideal for kayaking, with calm waters and clear skies.  

However, the microclimates in some areas, like the Caribbean coast, can be suitable for kayaking year-round.  

Always check the local weather forecast and water conditions before heading out to ensure a safe and pleasant experience. The best time of year to visit Costa Rica for kayaking is during the dry season. 

whitewater kayaking costa rica


The natural beauty of Costa Rica and its ecological diversity make it a premier destination for kayaking enthusiasts. Whether you are a seasoned kayaker or a curious beginner, the varied tropical landscapes provide endless opportunities for exploration and adventure.  

So, grab your paddle, immerse yourself in the breathtaking tropical beauty, and discover why this paradise is a kayaker’s dream come true.  

Combine your kayaking adventure with snorkeling, sailing, or ziplining in Costa Rica for an all-encompassing experience of the country’s natural beauty. After these adventure sports, end your day with a tour of the famous waterfalls in Costa Rica for a refreshing experience. 

For those looking to stay in comfort without compromising their privacy and security, an all-inclusive villa in Costa Rica is the perfect accommodation option to enhance their vacation experience. Guests will have an enjoyable and memorable stay at these luxury villas.   

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags for a kayaking tour in Costa Rica.

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