Kayaking in Costa Rica

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Kayaking in Costa Rica is just as diverse as the country itself. There are several types of kayaking — from sea kayaking to mangrove kayaking — that you can experience during your trip to Costa Rica. Regardless of where you are staying in Costa Rica — you will be able to find fun kayaking tours nearby that allow for unique nature and wildlife encounters and memorable experiences.


Costa Rica Kayaking Options

Costa Rica offers plenty of kayaking experiences that everyone will enjoy — from beginner kayakers to experienced adventurers.
Sea Kayaking
Sea Kayaking Costa Rica

Sea kayaking (or ocean kayaking) is a fun way to encounter tropical fish and marine life without snorkeling, diving, or even getting wet. Sea kayaking tours in Costa Rica are often found on the Pacific Coast and often require more skill than kayaking in a lake or mangrove estuary since the waves are choppier and more challenging to navigate.

During your sea kayaking experience, you may spot dolphins, sea turtles, and even sharks!

Kayak Fishing
kayak fishing

Kayak fishing is a popular pastime in Costa Rica and an activity you will likely encounter along the Pacific Coast in fishing towns like Playa Flamingo and Playas del Coco.

Kayak fishing is a type of inshore fishing, so you will likely catch wahoo, snapper, mahi-mahi, and other common species in the Pacific Ocean. Most beach towns will have kayak rentals and fishing gear to purchase or rent to make your sea kayaking adventure a breeze. 

Mangrove Kayaking

Costa Rica is filled with mangroves — groups of mangrove trees and shrubs that have adapted to a saltwater environment. In fact, most rivers in Costa Rica end in a mangrove estuary where the river meets the ocean.

Kayaking through mangrove estuaries is a great option for beginning kayakers because of the calm and peaceful waters. If you book a kayak tour with a naturalist guide, they can point out incredible wildlife sightings on your trip, including monkeys, birds, sloths, and even flying fish!

Lake Kayaking

Another easy option for beginning kayakers is Lake Arenal. Lake Arenal is an artificial lake at the base of Arenal Volcano with calm waters, beautiful views, and some of the best kayaking tours in Costa Rica.

Though there are other lakes in Costa Rica, Lake Arenal is the largest and most popular lake for kayaking in Costa Rica.

White-Water Kayaking
whitewater kayaking in Costa Rica

If you have been kayaking for a while and are looking for a challenge, white-water kayaking in Costa Rica may be the perfect option for you.

Costa Rica is filled with dozens of excellent white-water rafting rivers, including the Pacuare River, Naranjo River, and Sarapiqui River. While you are paddling through the rapids, you can spot wildlife, like birds, monkeys, and sloths, with the help of a nature guide.

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Costa Rica Kayaking Locations

From the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean Coast — here are the best places to go kayaking in Costa Rica!
Damas Island Estuary

Damas Island Estuary in Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular locations for kayaking tours in Costa Rica. While you are wading through the calm waters of the mangrove estuary, you will likely see monkeys, pumas, and hundreds of tropical birds.

Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal in Arenal Volcano National Park is the largest (and best) lake for kayaking in Costa Rica. The views of Arenal Volcano are incredible from the lake, and since the water is calm, it is easy to enjoy them. After your kayaking adventure, you can even explore some of the nearby hiking trails in the park to see the lake from a whole new vantage point.

Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park is filled with mangroves, canals, and coves you can paddle through on a kayaking tour. This park is teeming with wildlife, so you will likely see monkeys, sea turtles, lizards, and birds while paddling through the mangroves.

Nicoya Peninsula

If you are an experienced kayaker looking for a fun adventure, the Curu Sea Kayaking Tour in the Nicoya Peninsula is the perfect experience for you.

You will spend four days and three nights exploring the jungles, oceans, and other waterways in Costa Rica during the day and camping on a tranquil white-sand beach at night. The Curu Sea Kayaking Tour is only intended for expert kayakers — but if you are up for the challenge, it is an incredible experience filled with wildlife, adventure, and natural beauty.

Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands

The Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands are located on the Southern Pacific Coast, between Uvita and Corcovado National Park. They are the largest wetlands in Costa Rica and one of the best places to embark on a kayaking adventure to see tons of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for Scarlet Macaws, cranes, crocodiles, iguanas, monkeys, and even sharks. 

Tamarindo Beach

Tamarindo Beach is one of the most popular beach town destinations in Costa Rica. It also happens to be a spectacular location for kayaking — you can go paddling in the ocean or explore the mangrove estuary just off Tamarindo Bay on a kayaking tour.


Stay with Special Places of Costa Rica for Quick Access to Fabulous Kayaking Experiences

Special Places of Costa Rica has hundreds of vacation rentals to choose from in the Guanacaste Province. While you are here, you will be just a short distance away from destinations where you can kayak through mangroves, ocean waves, white-water rapids, and more! Browse our rentals to find the perfect place to stay during your trip to Costa Rica.


Choose Your Next Adventure

Costa Rica is the perfect opportunity for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike to explore the beauty and diversity of this tropical paradise. From white sandy beaches to lush rainforests, Costa Rica is home to a wide range of breathtaking landscapes and activities. Whether you want to zipline through the canopy, surf the waves, or relax in a luxury eco-lodge, there is something for everyone in Costa Rica.

Other Attractions

After you have visited volcanoes and national parks you may want to observe (or cool off in) some of the many beautiful waterfalls while in Costa Rica. Be sure to view our full list of things to do in Costa Rica to ensure you’re experiencing all of the main attractions while on your vacation.


Costa Rica Kayaking FAQs

Prices of kayaking in Costa Rica will vary depending on the region, hourly rates, and if you are renting a single or double kayak.

Usually, you can expect to pay about $10 per hour for a single kayak and $18 per hour for a double kayak. If you rent a kayak for the whole day, you may spend between $35 – $50. Most kayaking tours (with kayaks included) cost between $50 – $75 per person, depending on the duration, location, and size of the group.

Wear comfortable clothing, a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and closed-toed shoes when kayaking in Costa Rica. Waterproof or quick-dry clothing items are a good choice since you may get wet during your kayaking adventure.

If you have some basic kayaking experience, sea kayaking is an incredible way to experience Costa Rica’s beautiful ocean scenery. While you paddle, you can enjoy views of the white-sand beach from your vantage point at sea and marvel at the tropical fish and marine creatures.

The best kayaking tours in Costa Rica will depend on the type of experience you want — an ocean adventure or a calm float through the mangroves.

For example, the Curu Sea Kayaking Tour is perfect for someone looking for a multi-day challenge. However, someone who wants to spend a few hours wading through the calm mangroves may prefer a guided kayaking tour through the Damas Island Estuary in Manuel Antonio.

Costa Rica kayaking
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