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5 Best Kayak Adventures in Costa Rica

Date Published:
Feb 28, 2019
5 Best Kayak Adventures in Costa Rica

With serene estuaries, mangrove-lined waterways and calm Pacific waters before stunning Costa Rica beaches, kayak trips offer amazing opportunities to enjoy adventure travel.

1) Paddle off from Playa Agujas


Some amazing kayaking can be had not far from one of the biggest hotspots on Costa Rica’s Pacific side. A short drive from the bustling beach town of Jaco, the waters off of Playa Agujas offer calm currents and jaw-dropping scenery. Ease through glistening ocean waters as you take in views of lush greenery that covers sloping hills along the verdant coastline. You can find calm stretches of sea that are perfect for heading in to snorkel right off of the beach and view an array of undersea life in a rainbow assortment of colors. On land lies a host of wildlife including monkeys and sloths while tropical birds flutter above the vast green forest that meets the sea.

You can also get in some great fishing right from your kayak! A tradition that goes back centuries, kayak fishing gives you the chance to troll for bonitas, groupers and prized roosterfish among the many catches in the bountiful Pacific waters.

2) Mangroves of Damas Island


The famed Manuel Antonio National Park is close to an amazing kayaking adventure. Just outside the renowned refuge, you’ll find a coastal mangrove paradise. Set off for a kayak cruise through the Damas Island estuary. Slip through inland waters that wind through a mangrove forest where white-faced monkeys flip through the dense trees and colorful birds soar overhead. Ease along shaded canals to catch a glimpse of anteaters and glide through dense foliage that forms natural tunnels over the waterways. Then get up close to the land where native king crabs rule the riverbanks and traverse along canals that deliver you to awe-inspiring beaches.

3) Explore the Terraba Sierpe Wetlands


Costa Rica’s largest mangrove system lies within the Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands. Designated for protection in the mid-90s, over 60,000 acres of tropical terrain are crossed by waterways that offer some stunning kayak adventures. This trip is best for the adventurous, setting off from the riverside village of Sierpe and delving into a winding network of secluded canals. Endangered sea turtles are known to nest where rivers meet the Pacific, while the mangrove forests are home to sloths, monkeys, coatimundi and a host of feathered friends including Costa Rica’s prized scarlet macaws.

4) Gulf of Nicoya


What the Curu Wildlife Refuge lacks in size it makes up for with impressive scenery and a wide range of biodiversity. Nestled on the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula, the nature getaway lets you slip off in a kayak to explore glassy waters that meet unspoiled white sand beaches. Hop out to get in some great snorkeling right from the shore! The small national park also has calm estuaries and mangrove swamps, while on land you'll find hiking trails that take you through tropical terrain that teems with wildlife.

5) Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge


There’s almost no better way to explore Costa Rica’s northern wetlands than with a kayak trip through the Caño Negro reserve. This is a good one if you are into birdwatching as the area is home to more than 200 species that include colorful toucans, Jabiru Storks, Northern Jacanas and trogons. As you paddle through the untouched wetlands keep a lookout on shore for iguanas, ocelots and large turtles lazing along the riverbanks.

A must-do if you’re into active vacations, a kayak adventure is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica.