Guest Post: Wet and Wild in Costa Rica

rafting in costa rica

This is a guest post from Laura at She Who Wanders. Laura is a self-proclaimed wanderluster extraordinaire who has spent the last 6 years exploring the world & her own backyard. From working in a little beach town on Australia’s East Coast, to sliding down an active volcano in Nicaragua, climbing up 1400 vertical wooden steps in Hawaii to sailing thousands of feet in the air behind a boat on New Zealand’s North Island. There is so much of the world she has yet to see, so many people she has yet to meet & she has no plans to stop exploring anytime soon. You can connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


The Pacuare River in Costa Rica has been named one of the top 10 rivers for whitewater rafting in the world by National Geographic, Forbes Traveler, and Frommer’s Guide and is a place not to missed on your next Costa Rican adventure.

Before my trip to Central America in 2014 I had never done any rafting that didn’t involve a slow current, a case of beer & some good friends at sunset in the Canadian Rockies. But the trip was one of many firsts, first solo trip, first trip to a country where I didn’t speak the language, and first trip of a “new start” of sorts. So it really only made sense to jump at the chance when my new found travel buddies suggested we take on a white water rafting trip. With that it wasn’t long before we had packed or gear, booked our trip & were (im)patiently waiting for the bus to get the day underway. We booked on with Exploradores Outdoors ($99 USD, includes everything I’ll mention below) and I could not have been more stoked on these guys! First, the transportation is great, with daily departures from 3 different locations; San Jose, Arenal Volcano & the Caribbean Coast.

Bridge Rafting River

We opted for the Caribbean Coast pick up as we were in Puerto Viejo, and wanted to end up in San Jose- which is another added bonus with Exploradores, they’ll drop you at any of those 3 locations at the end of the trip no matter where they picked you up from. So we left that morning bright and early on a shuttle from Puerto Viejo to the rafting compound in Siquirres where we were greeted with an awesome breakfast and a place to keep all out gear locked up for the day as well as change rooms and showers (for post raft day). From Siquirres you’re loaded onto another bus for a ride to the river’s edge where you’ll be fitted for life jackets, helmets and paddles. If you’re already traveling with a group they will put you all together in a boat with a guide, if you happen to be on your own, never fear you’ll have 8 new friends before you even set foot in the water!

Waterfall Costa Rica

No experience is necessary, but a good attitude & sense of adventure is probably a bonus to any boat, and before you know it you’re out into the water. The river itself extends about 110 km over 16 different sections with mostly class III – IV rapids throughout. There are some absolutely beautiful calm spots where you’ll be able to “jump ship” if you feel so inclined and feel that tropical river and look up at the incredible rain forest that surrounds you. To make it even better there are dozens of waterfalls along the way and you may even find yourself paddling right underneath one.

Waterfall Rafting Costa

A little over half an hour into the trip is when your boat will end up in the Pacuare River Gorge which houses up to 8km of the BEST white water that Costa Rica has on offer, including “Double Drop”, “Terciopelo Snake”, Pinball” & “The Upper & Lower Hucas”. With direction from your awesome guide you’ll be sure to be chock full of adrenaline before you end up in a valley section when you’ll be able to rest your arms after the white water from before and the scenery opens up in quite a wide way giving way to some incredible animal spotting opportunities. On my trip we were able to see some wild sloths in the trees as well as incredible toucans & parrots flying above us.

Whitewater Rapids Rafting


You’ll stop for lunch (which is included) about half way through the way at this awesome little spot by the river’s edge, with a little hike to a section above the river giving you a great view of a portion you just rafted down. Lunch is a great chance to refuel and meet some of the other people whose screams you may have heard on the river, or people who have had a flipping accident along the way. Either way it’s a great opportunity to soak it all in before getting back on the water and ending the day with even more rapids & waterfalls to fuel even the biggest of adrenaline junkies out there. By the time you set foot on solid dry land you’ll have rafted through 30 km of river, including 38 rapids of class III-IV during your adventure. From there it’s back to the compound to shower, change, collect your gear, purchase some photos (they have pro photogs along the river capturing you & your boat as well as wildlife) & have a celebratory cerveza (beer) with your group before being dropped off in your choice of 3 locations.

River Trees Rafting

Rafting Costa Rica2

While I easily could have taken a bus from Puerto Viejo to San Jose in less than 3 hours for a few dollars, now I have this insane adventure story of how I rafted from one location to the next in one of the Worlds most beautiful places, it really doesn’t get much better than that. So if you find yourself in Costa Rica with a desire to fuel that inner (or outer) adrenaline junkie then definitely don’t miss out on this rafting trip, and if you have more time on your hands they do offer a 2 day trip on the Pacuare as well as several other white water trips throughout Costa Rica.

Thanks so much to Laura! I would love to try this out when I make it to Costa Rica.

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander


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