The Costa Rica Travel Blog is the current traveller, will-be traveller, has-been traveller, and should-be traveller's guide to everything Costa Rica. Information, stories, news, and advice written by the Pura Vida! eh? Inc. team; Costa Rican insiders, outsiders, and everywhere-in-between-siders.

The Best River For Rafting In Costa Rica

The Best River For Rafting In Costa Rica

NOTE: The content on this page was last updated on June 13th, 2017.

Looking for Costa Rica white water rafting tour discounts? WE OFFER TRAVELLERS FREE ACCESS TO DISCOUNTS FOR WHITE WATER RAFTING TOURS when booking the day tour through Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated. Click here for more information and/or to obtain the rafting tour discount. Con mucho gusto (you’re welcome) and pura vida! šŸ™‚

Looking for Costa Rica safari float tour discounts? WE OFFER TRAVELLERS FREE ACCESS TO DISCOUNTS FOR SAFARI FLOAT TOURS when booking the day tour through Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated. Click here for more information and/or to obtain theĀ safari float tour discount. Con mucho gusto (you’re welcome) and pura vida! šŸ™‚

best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Ricky (aka. Ricky Bobby) – Guiding on Pacuare

We love rafting. Point blank. Given that Ricky was a white water rafting guide and safety kayaker on Costa Rica’s Pacuare River for more than six years, you can imagine how much of a passion it is for us. And, you can also imagine how impossible it would be for us to identifyĀ one Costa Rica river over others without imposing our own biasĀ when we respond to questions such as ā€œwhich is the best river for rafting in Costa Rica?ā€. However, personal bias aside, it is important to note that our love for theĀ Pacuare river exceeds ourĀ personal experience. It is rooted in fact; the fact that the river’s rapids are some of the best in the country, the fact that the trip includes complimentary transportation between popular areas such as San Jose, La Fortuna/Arenal, and Puerto Viejo, and the fact that National Geographic once identified the river as one of the best in the world for river scenery. But, all accomplishments andĀ accoladesĀ aside, here’s the truth: as appealing as the Pacuare river is, if a run down this particular river does not fit with your trip itinerary, your desired river/rapid level, your children’s ages, or your vacation budget, there are many other worthwhile river trips in Costa Rica to choose from.

In our post Where To Go In Costa Rica: Determining The Best Places To Visit During Your Trip we explain that the only person who can decide which Costa Rican destinations are the “best” to visit is the person doing the visiting. Similarly, in our posts When Is The Best Time Of Year To Travel To Costa Rica? and Which Costa Rica Zipline Is The Best? Comparing 6 Popular Canopy Tours in Arenal and Monteverde, we argue that it is up to travellers to decide for themselves when they should travel to Costa Rica and which tours would be most enjoyed by them. In each case, although we aim to provide travellers with as many details as possible so they can make informed decisions regarding their trip, we are hesitant to pinpoint the “best” of anything, as doing so would only overshadow our clients’ unique interests, desires, and needs with our own opinions.

So in true Costa Rica Travel BlogĀ style, below is a list of some of the most popular rivers for rafting in Costa Rica that visitors can choose from. These include both rivers for white water rafting and flat rivers where safari float tours (slow-moving rafting tours) take place. As always,Ā readers can contact us with their rafting tour or river-relatedĀ questions as we’re happy to answer them.

Planning to raft during your time in Costa Rica?

Don’t miss theĀ bottom of this post for some helpful rafting tour tips!

DETERMINING THE BEST RIVER FOR RAFTING IN COSTA RICA: WHITE WATER RAFTING TOURS

best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Pacuare River Rafting Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Pacuare River (Lower Section)?

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: III/IV
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 12+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: La Fortuna/Arenal, San Jose, Sarapiqui, Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, Guapiles, Siquirres, Turrialba
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, breakfast, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? Yes
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option? Yes (click here for more information)
Other: tour runs once daily

Don’t miss our Pacuare River Rafting Tour discounts:

Pacuare River Rafting Tour (San Jose)

Pacuare River Rafting Tour (La Fortuna/Arenal)

Pacuare River Rafting Tour (Puerto Viejo)

Pacuare River Rafting Tour (Cahuita)

Pacuare River Rafting Tour (Sarapiqui)

Pacuare River Rafting Tour (Guapiles)

Pacuare River Rafting Tour (Siquirres)

Pacuare River Rafting Tour (Turrialba)


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Reventazon River Rafting Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Reventazon River (El Carmen Section)?

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: II/III
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 6+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: La Fortuna/Arenal, San Jose, Sarapiqui, Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, Guapiles, Siquirres, Turrialba
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, breakfast, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option? Yes (click here for more information)
Other: tour runs once daily

Don’t miss our Reventazon River Rafting Tour discounts:

Reventazon River Rafting Tour (San Jose)


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Toro River Rafting Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Toro River?

Notice (2014): Tours are no longer operating on the Toro River

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: III/IV
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 13+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: La Fortuna/Arenal and San Jose
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option?Ā No
Other: tour runs once daily


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Balsa River Rafting Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Balsa River (Lower Section)?

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: II/III
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 10+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: La Fortuna/Arenal and San Jose
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option? Yes (click here for more information)
Other: tour runs once daily

Don’t miss our BalsaĀ River Rafting Tour discounts:

Balsa River Rafting Tour (La Fortuna/Arenal)

Balsa River Rafting Tour (San Jose)


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Sarapiqui River Rafting Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Sarapiqui River (San Miguel Section)?

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: III/IV
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 13+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: La Fortuna/Arenal, Sarapiqui, and San Jose
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option? Yes (click here for more information)
Other: tour runs once daily

Don’t miss our SarapiquiĀ River Rafting Tour discounts:

SarapiquiĀ River Rafting Tour (La Fortuna/Arenal)

SarapiquiĀ River Rafting Tour (San Jose)


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Tenorio River Rafting Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Tenorio River (Upper Section)?

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: III/IV
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 13+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: La Fortuna/Arenal, Monteverde, Samara, and the Guanacaste Beaches (Papagayo, Coco, Hermosa, Ocotal, Panama, Potrero, Flamingo, Conchal, Tamarindo, and Langosta)
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option? Yes (click here for more information)
Other: tour runs once daily

Don’t miss our Tenorio River Rafting Tour discounts:

Tenorio River Rafting Tour (Monteverde)

Tenorio River Rafting Tour (Samara)

Tenorio River Rafting Tour (Guanacaste)


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Savegre River Rafting Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Savegre River?

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: II/III
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 6+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: Manuel Antonio
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? Yes
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option?Ā No
Other: tour runs twice daily

Don’t miss ourĀ SavegreĀ River Rafting Tour discounts:

SavegreĀ River Rafting Tour (Manuel Antonio)

Express SavegreĀ River Rafting Tour (Manuel Antonio)


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Naranjo River Rafting Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Naranjo River?

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: III/IV
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 8+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: Manuel Antonio
Time of year tours are run: May to November
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, and snack (no lunch)
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option?Ā No
Other: tour runs twice daily

Don’t miss our NaranjoĀ River Rafting Tour discounts:

NaranjoĀ River Rafting Tour (Manuel Antonio)


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Naranjo River Chorro Section Rafting Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Naranjo River (Chorro Section)?

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: IV
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 15+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: Manuel Antonio
Time of year tours are run: January to April
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, and snack (no lunch)
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option?Ā No
Other: tour runs twice daily

Don’t miss our NaranjoĀ River Chorro Section Rafting Tour discounts:

NaranjoĀ River Chorro Section Rafting Tour (Manuel Antonio)


The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Colorado River?

Tour type: white water rafting
Rapid class: II/III
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 10+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: the Northern Guanacaste Beaches (Papagayo, Coco, Hermosa, Ocotal, Panama, Potrero, Flamingo, Conchal, Tamarindo, and Langosta)
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, rafting tour, transportation, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option?Ā No
Other: tour runs once daily

DETERMINING THE BEST RIVER FOR RAFTING IN COSTA RICA: SAFARI RIVER FLOAT TOURS

best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Penas Blancas Safari River Float Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Penas Blancas River?

Tour type: safari river float
Rapid class: N/A
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 3+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: La Fortuna/Arenal and San Jose
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, safari float tour, transportation, and snack (or lunch, depending on whether a tour option including lunch is chosen)
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option? Yes
Other: tour runs twice daily

Don’t miss our Penas Blancas River Safari FloatĀ Tour discounts:

Penas Blancas River Safari FloatĀ Tour (La Fortuna/Arenal) – by raft

Penas Blancas River Safari FloatĀ Tour (La Fortuna/Arenal) – by canoe

Penas Blancas River Safari FloatĀ Tour (La Fortuna/Arenal) – by kayak


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Tenorio Safari River Float Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Tenorio River (Lower Section)?

Tour type: safari river float
Rapid class: N/A
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 10+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: Monteverde, Samara, and the Guanacaste Beaches (Papagayo, Coco, Hermosa, Ocotal, Panama, Potrero, Flamingo, Conchal, Tamarindo, and Langosta)
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, safari float tour, transportation, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option? Yes
Other: tour runs once daily

Don’t miss our Tenorio River Safari Float Tour discounts:

Tenorio RiverĀ Safari Float Tour (Monteverde)

Tenorio River Safari Float Tour (Samara)

Tenorio River Safari FloatĀ Tour (Guanacaste)


best river for rafting in Costa Rica
Corobici Safari River Float Tour

The best river for rafting in Costa Rica, is it the Corobici River?

Tour type: safari river float
Rapid class: N/A
Prior rafting experience required? No
Recommended for: travellers 6+ years (minimum age limit may vary across tour operators)
Tours are run to/from: the Northern Guanacaste Beaches (Papagayo, Coco, Hermosa, Ocotal, Panama, Potrero, Flamingo, Conchal, Tamarindo, and Langosta)
Time of year tours are run: all year
Tours include: all equipment, guide, safari float tour, transportation, and lunch
2-Day/Overnight rafting tour option? No
City-to-city transportation-inclusive tour option?Ā No
Other: tour runs once daily


COSTA RICA RIVER RAFTING TOUR TIPS

When preparing for your rafting tour, know the following:

River levels are determined by the amount of rainfall received over the day(s)/night(s) prior to the tour date.

Costa Rica’s rivers are typically higher during the rain/wet/green season (May-December) and lower during the summer/dry season (January-April). This being said, a significant amount of rain overnight on any day ofĀ the year can affect the river’s rapid level (and ability to run) the following day. For this reason, river levels and rapids are difficult to predict and cannot be guaranteed in advance.

More often than not, prior rafting experience is not necessary for tour participation.

All rafting tours include a safety demonstration and all necessary rafting equipment.

Rafters do not need to beĀ body-builders, but they should be in good physical condition.

This means that travellers who wish to participate in the tour should be mobile (able to climb into and out of the raft) and have the ability to use their upper body and arms to paddle.

Knowing how to swim is not a requirement but it is an asset.

Feeling comfortable in and around water will help calm any nerves and heighten your overall rafting experience.

Rafters must wear secure shoes (and bring a set of dry clothes to change into) during their rafting trip.

Flip flops are not permitted. Many tour operators will deny travellers participation in the tour or will require tour participants to purchaseĀ water shoes or strap-on sandals onsite when the use ofĀ improper tour footwear (such as flip flops) is demonstrated.

If river conditions are unsuitable the day of the rafting tour, the tour operator will either cancel the tour or else change the tour location to a back-up river.

These discussions and decisions are handled between the tour operator and the traveller the day of the tour according to tour availability, itinerary availability, and the personal interests of both parties.

Most tour operators employ a photographer (nicknamed a “paparazzi”) to join the tour.

Photo CDs and/or DVDs areĀ typically available for purchase through the tour operator after the rafting trip. Don’t forget to “say cheese” (or, “pura vida!”) when you hit the rapids!

Some river rafting tours are city-to-city transportation-inclusive tours (i.e., the tour operator offers the rafting tour as a connection between two destinations).

In these cases, travellers can get picked up in one city before their rafting tour, spend the day rafting, and then get dropped off in a different city after their rafting tour (taking advantage of the complimentary transportation between cities).

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been white water rafting in Costa Rica? Which river did you choose? How did you enjoy the trip?

Pura vida!

Nikki and Ricky

DIY Costa Rica

Costa Rica tour discounts



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