Your Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Costa Rica

June 20, 2024
Carolina Barrientos Carolina Barrientos
Your Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is considered to be among the top global locations for enjoying Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), no matter if you are an expert or a beginner who wishes to participate in this interesting water sport. This tropical paradise offers some of the world’s most mesmerizing sceneries, as well as a rich culture and biodiversity that makes it suitable for everyone who wishes to have their lifetime’s unforgettable moments while engaging in the best SUP experience ever. 

The scenic waters of Costa Rica are incredible, be it in peaceful bay areas or calm freshwater lakes. Whether you want to paddle through clear waters or green mangroves, the varied tropical landscapes make an excellent spot for Costa Rica stand-up paddle adventures. 

Why is Costa Rica Perfect for SUP? 

Here are some reasons that make Costa Rica popular for stand-up paddleboarding –  

  1. Diverse Water Bodies: You can begin from tranquil coastal bays and go up to challenging rivers or peaceful lakes. This broad range of options makes for a memorable SUP experience.   
  1. Year-Round Warm Weather: You can stay comfortable paddling throughout the year without freezing. The tropical weather makes Costa Rica the best country to experience the ultimate fun while paddling and navigating the tropical waters. 
  1. Scenic Views: Enjoy astonishing landscapes of Costa Rica, including picturesque beaches, lush jungles, and vast volcanic mountains.  
  1. Suitable for All Skill Levels: Costa Rica has spots suitable for everyone, whether a rookie or an experienced and expert paddler.   

Combining all these factors makes Costa Rica an ideal destination for SUP lovers worldwide. 

costa rica stand up paddle adventures

Essential Gear for Stand-up Paddleboarding 

Before you go stand-up paddle boarding in Costa Rica, ensure you have all the required equipment and have prepared well. Here are some essential gears that you can’t avoid for a safe and memorable SUP experience –  

  • Paddleboard: Select a paddleboard in Costa Rica that matches your expertise and the water you will be paddling on. Beginners should go for slower, wider boards that tend to be more stable, while experienced paddleboarders should choose faster, narrower boards. 
  • Paddle: Select a right-sized paddle with a comfortable grip. Choose an adequately dimensioned paddle that feels good in your palm. Paddles that go up and down are better because they can be adapted for different settings. 
  • Safety Gear: Always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD), and if you fall off your board, consider using a leash so your board stays nearby.  
  • Sun Protection: Prevent sun rays by using sunscreen, a hat, or UV-protective fabrics.   
  • Hydration and Snacks: To remain energetic during paddling, ensure you carry along some water and light snacks. 

Tips for Selecting SUP Equipment 

Proper preparation and the right gear will ensure safe and enjoyable Costa Rica SUP adventures for participants of every skill level. 

  • Skill Level: Beginners should look for boards that ensure stability and are easy to balance, whereas seasoned water paddlers will choose performance-oriented alternatives.  
  • Location: In terms of the site or place where one is conducting the activity, beginners may find still waters more convenient than waves and currents, which are suitable for professional paddlers.  
  • Rentals and Purchases: There are many places where you can rent paddle boards while in Costa Rica, which enables you to explore multiple options before deciding what to buy. 

Best Places for Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Costa Rica 

Costa Rica is surrounded by numerous stunning locations, ideal for stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). Each spot provides unique experiences and breathtaking scenery, making every stand-up paddleboarding experience worth remembering for a lifetime. 

Gulf of Papagayo (Guanacaste)  

Beginners would love this place because its waters are not only calm but also clear. The paddle is a long walk following a beautiful coastline. During the trip, visitors will have an opportunity to see many beautiful beaches and stunning natural beauty. It’s simply a great place for those interested in beach combing and stand-up paddle boarding; it’s a superb surfing experience for the newbies. 

Golfo Dulce (Osa Peninsula) 

Golfo Dulce is on the Osa Peninsula and has been called a “paradise” because it is a habitat for various creatures it harbors on the tranquil surface waters of the sea. If you plan to kayak around this quiet area, you may encounter dolphins, turtles, and exotic fish species. There is a lot that nature lovers will find intriguing at this spot. 

Tamarindo Beach (Guanacaste) 

Due to its gentler conditions, Playa Tamarindo is excellent for tourists who want to surf at low or high tides. Tamarindo Beach attracts numerous visitors each year because it has sound waves for both beginners and experienced surfers.  

Moreover, because of its lively atmosphere and fantastic waterfront view, this place is ideal for any stand-up paddling enthusiast looking for some thrill in life. 

Lake Arenal (Arenal Volcano) 

Lake Arenal, located at the base of Arenal Volcano, provides a unique SUP experience with its freshwater setting. Enjoy paddling with the backdrop of the impressive volcano and lush surroundings. The calm waters are suitable for all skill levels.   

Tortuguero National Park (Caribbean Coast) 

Come and uncover the winding waterways and abundant biodiversity in Tortuguero National Park. This park offers a tranquil kayaking experience among mangroves and tropical rainforests. Therefore, this is a place of choice for anyone intending to get closer to the natural world.  

Every destination listed above has something special in store for paddleboard enthusiasts, regardless of their ability or preferences. 

stand up paddle costa rica

SUP Tours and Schools 

If you would like to boost your stand-up paddleboarding experience in Costa Rica, enrolling in a SUP school to undergo training or joining a guided group is highly recommended.  

Some of the suggested SUP schools and tour operators countrywide include these: 

SUP Tours Costa Rica 

Tamarindo residents can benefit from the expertise and experience of professionals at SUP Tours, Costa Rica. Their trained coaches conduct basic training and advanced lessons for SUP in Costa Rica. During this tour, visitors may visit beautiful places and enjoy wildlife watching

Paddle 9 

Located in Manuel Antonio, Paddle 9 specializes in guided SUP tours across the beautiful coastlines and mangroves of this region. Varied tour options are available here, from calm water paddle boarding to rugged routes. Their professional staff members ensure clients’ safety and enjoyment. 

Blue Zone SUP 

Blue Zone SUP is conveniently located in the Nicoya Peninsula and offers the best SUP classes and a variety of tour options. They mainly emphasize training in the correct ways and safety measures, making them best suited for beginners. They also highlight the natural beauty and isolated beaches with calm waters. 

Nosara Paddlesurf 

Nosara Paddlesurf is situated in Nosara and is recognized for high-quality instruction and tailored lessons to fit an individual’s needs. 

Private or small group sessions are available alongside guided trips that showcase the fantastic coastal beauty in this region. Some instructors are available who are knowledgeable enough to give instructions irrespective of the skill level of the participants, ensuring that anyone can enjoy learning new things. 

Bahia Rica Adventures 

In the Gulf of Nicoya, Bahia Rica Adventures offers guided SUP tours along serene Gulf waters and nearby islands. This organization provides rental packages with expert guidance and a safety briefing; even novices will enjoy paddling here. 

What to Expect from Professional Lessons and Guided Tours?  

  • Instruction from an expert: This involves mastering the correct paddle strokes, observing safety rules, and ideas for skills enhancement.  
  • Proper Equipment: Equip yourself with high-quality safety gear, paddles, and paddleboards in Costa Rica for SUP enthusiasts for a safe, secure, and hassle-free experience.  
  • Natural Beauty Trails: These are attractive lands that sometimes are hard to reach but are worth visiting because of their natural beauty.  
  • Scenic Routes: Explore beautiful and often remote locations that may be difficult to access on your own. Ensure you have a reliable transportation option to enjoy these scenic routes.  
  • Wildlife Watching: This is a chance to observe dolphins, different turtle species, and various tropical bird species
  • Safety and Support: Benefit from the guidance and support of experienced instructors and guides. Make sure that your experience is fun and safe.  

If you participate in a SUP tour or attend a SUP school in Costa Rica, be ready to be trained yet have fun. This can improve your paddling techniques and enable you to get the most out of using paddle boards in Costa Rica. 

Safety Tips for SUP in Costa Rica 

You must follow certain safety guidelines to ensure your stand-up paddleboarding experience is enjoyable and secure. 

  • Wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD): It is always essential to wear a PFD while paddle boarding, as this will help keep you buoyant and ensure that you do not drown when you fall off.  
  • Wear a Leash: If you fall off, attach a leash connecting your ankle with the board so it does not move away sideways. 
  • Check Weather Conditions: Before you set out, check the weather and be aware of any probable changes. It doesn’t paddle during stormy or windy weather. 
  • Understand your Limits: Do not lie about your level of proficiency; instead, choose destinations with conditions that match your level of proficiency. 
  • Stay Hydrated: While out in the sun, drink lots of water and apply sunscreen. For an enjoyable experience, wear a wide-brim hat and UV-protected clothes. 

These safety tips will help you enjoy a fun and secure paddleboarding experience in Costa Rica’s beautiful waters. 

sup costa rica


Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a special and exciting way to enjoy and admire Costa Rica’s natural beauty. SUP lovers consider this tropical haven the prime destination due to its wide range of water resources, consistently warm weather, and captivating scenic beauty. What are you thinking now? Plan your SUP vacation in Costa Rica now. 

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