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Paddleboarding in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica Paddle Boarding

Stand-up paddleboarding in Costa Rica is a fun experience for all ages and skill levels. You can paddle board in the calmer waters of the lakes and mangroves in Costa Rica, or if you are up for a challenge, you can paddle board in the rivers or open ocean in Costa Rica.

Regardless of what type of stand-up paddleboarding you choose to try in Costa Rica, you are bound to have an unforgettable experience. Here is everything you need to know about stand-up paddle boarding in Costa Rica!


Why Should You Try Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is the perfect place for paddleboarders to explore. With miles and miles of coastline on two sides of the country — the Pacific Coast and Caribbean Coast — as well as stunning lakes, raging rivers, and calm waters in mangroves, there is no better place to embark on a paddle boarding adventure.

Though you can kayaksurf, and dive in Costa Rica, stand-up paddle boarding remains one of the country’s most popular activities for all ages!

Best Spots for Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Costa Rica

You will find plenty of places to rent boards and opportunities to take lessons for beginners at the Costa Rica stand-up paddle boarding destinations listed below.

Gulf of Papagayo (Guanacaste)

The Gulf of Papagayo is an excellent paddle-boarding destination for those who are trying this sport for the first time. The calm waters in the Gulf of Papagayo are protected from the choppy waves in the Papagayo Peninsula.

During the dry season, when the waters are clear and calm, you can see marine life, like fish, turtles, and dolphins, as you float above the waves. Many resorts near the Gulf of Papagayo offer paddleboard rentals and lessons for beginners.


Golfo Dulce (Osa Peninsula)

Golfo Dulce is located near Corcovado National Park, and it is an amazing place to paddleboard because it is protected by the Osa Peninsula. Golfo Dulce is also known as one of the top places for spotting humpback whales and dolphins in Costa Rica, so you may be lucky enough to spot one of these majestic creatures while paddling in Golfo Dulce.

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Tamarindo Beach (Guanacaste)

Tamarindo Beach is known for its beautiful beaches, fun atmosphere, and excellent surfing. Playa Tamarindo and the other nearby beaches, Playa Grande and Playa Langosta, are also popular places for stand-up paddle boarding in Costa Rica.

There are tons of surfing and paddle-boarding schools in Playa Tamarindo, which is perfect for beginners who want to try either of these popular sports. If you are staying in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province — head to Playa Tamarindo to spend a fun day on the ocean.


Lake Arenal (Arenal Volcano)

Lake Arenal, located near Arenal Volcano National Park, is one of the best places to stand-up paddle board for a calmer, smoother adventure. Generally, stand-up paddle boarding on lakes is less “choppy” than paddle boarding on the ocean, so it is the perfect alternative to ocean paddleboarding for the whole family — even the little ones. Plus, since the water is calmer, you can take time to soak up the scenic nature and local wildlife surrounding the lake, like birds, reptiles, and monkeys.

If you aren’t staying near Lake Arenal, you can often book a day trip or tour from your accommodations that will include a few hours of stand-up paddle boarding.


Tortuguero National Park (Caribbean Coast)

Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is known as one of the best places to see green sea turtles in Costa Rica. It is also the home of other wildlife species, including monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and dozens of birds.

Tortuguero National Park offers calm, desolate waterways filled with incredible wildlife that make it an excellent destination for paddleboarding. You and the family won’t regret taking a stand-up paddleboarding tour or a trip down the waterways of Tortuguero National Park if you are visiting the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica!


Manuel Antonio National Park (Puntarenas)

Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular destinations for tourists to visit in Costa Rica. It is known for its stunning beaches, abundant wildlife, and outdoor recreation — from hiking and swimming to surfing and stand-up paddle boarding.

There are plenty of tour operators around this national park, making it easy to book a stand-up paddle-boarding adventure along the park’s coastline. The calm waters off the coast of Manuel Antonio are a great place for beginners to try their hand at surfing or paddle-boarding for the first time.

Best Spots for Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Costa Rica

If you are planning a vacation to Costa Rica soon, we hope you have penciled in a fun day of paddle boarding on the country’s stunning lakes, oceans, or rivers into your itinerary!

If you are still looking for a place to stay, Special Places of Costa Rica offers hundreds of vacation rentals, condos, and villas in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica, right near some of the best paddle boarding spots, like the Gulf of Papagayo and Tamarindo Beach!

Browse our available rentals to find the perfect accommodation for your vacation.


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.


Frequently Asked Questions About
Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Costa Rica

If you’ve never been stand-up paddle boarding before your trip to Costa Rica, rest assured — it is an easy sport to pick up on. You simply use a stand-up paddle to propel yourself across the water while standing on a special paddle board (or a surfboard).

Suppose you’re nervous about stand-up paddle boarding for the first time. In that case, you can book a stand-up paddle boarding lesson at many destinations in Costa Rica — including Manuel Antonio National Park, Tamarindo Beach, and the Gulf of Papagayo.

Stand-up paddle boarding and SUP surfing are similar but slightly different. Stand-up paddle boarding is a sport that happens in calm and protected waters — like coves, bays, lakes, and rivers — and is better suited for beginners. SUP surfing is a more challenging sport that surfers or athletes will attempt on the choppy waves of surfing beaches.
Before renting a paddle board in Costa Rica, remember — safety always comes first. If you have never tried this sport before, consider taking a lesson to learn the ropes. Even if you are confident on the board, always wear a life jacket and stick with a buddy. Keep an eye on local weather and water conditions, and if it looks stormy — stay off the lake or ocean.
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