Up Your Adventure Quotient: 9 Thrilling Guanacaste Experiences (2023)

When it comes to things to do in Guanacaste Costa Rica, you’re going to have variety. You will have choice. And you’re guaranteed a big dose of adventure.

In fact, what may be most difficult is whittling down your list of must-dos to a smaller list of your have-time-to-dos. Because there is a lot to do, even if you’re restricting your list to just the most thrilling, the most unique, the most unforgettable moments of your vacation.

And so, we thought we’d give you a head start on that list-whittling. We’ve been there, done that. (It’s basically our job!) And, while the following is by no means an exhaustive list, it is an impressive list: a curated selection of the most awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, heart-fluttering experiences, thrills, and adventures in our province.

Without further ado, 9 of our favorites:

  1. Experiencing Flight on a Canopy Tour

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Imagine standing on a sky-high platform, metal mesh the only thing separating you from the jungle’s abyss. On the count of three, you’ll jump. You’ll fly. You’ll soar. Now… 1, 2, 3!

Canopy tours, also known as ziplines, are easily one of the best things to do in Guanacaste – and perhaps, not quite for the reasons you think. Yes, they are full of adrenaline and adventure. But they’re also an incredible way to see the forest – most are accessible via ground trails – and its canopy biosphere, which humans rarely have the opportunity to explore. Paired with an experienced and knowledgeable guide, you’ll not only experience a thrill but a wonderful nature encounter, to boot.

  1. Whale Watching (or Whale Spotting)

Did you know that Costa Rica has one of the longest humpback whale-watching seasons in the world? That’s because our warm waters overlap in hospitality, welcoming migrating northern whales for part of the year and migrating southern whales for the other part.

The result: Costa Rica’s humpback whale seasons stretch roughly December to March and July to December, when many sailing tours, catamaran boats, scuba tours (especially around the Catalinas Islands), and other activities seek out these sightings. And even if you’re not on a tour, you could still spot breeching humpbacks from shore (especially if you’re staying somewhere with an ocean view!).

Note: While humpback whales are, by far, the most common sighting, Costa Rica’s waters are also home to Bryde’s whales, pilot whales, and orca/killer whales.

  1. Riding ATVs on Costa Rican Backroads

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There’s the Costa Rica that you see from a car and then there’s the Costa Rica that few tourists experience: the rugged backroad, backcountry, old-world Costa Rica where cowboys still roam and nature runs wild.

Exploring the latter is one of our favorite things to do in Guanacaste. Mount a powerful ATV, rev your engine, and take off – the ocean at your side, the breeze combing your hair, and the sun warming your skin. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition of old and new, of manmade and all-natural, and we think you’re going to love it. And just wait until you see the views!

  1. Swimming at the Base of a Waterfall

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This is one of those quintessential, you-can’t-believe-it’s-happening Costa Rican experiences. You’re walking through the forest, working up a sweat, and you start to hear a faint but omnipresent whoosh in the distance. Keep following the trail as it descends, descends, descends…

And there you are: face-to-face with a roaring, rushing, and almost ethereal waterfall, its waters a literal cascade into natural pools below. Luckily, you wore your bathing suit because waterhole swimming is one of our region’s most refreshing and most memorable afternoon thrills!

Note: Some waterfalls are not safe for swimming! Before you set out on a waterfall hike, always ask us whether a particular waterfall/swimming hole is appropriate for swimming. We’ll be happy to point you in the direction of our favorites that are!

  1. Visiting an Animal Rescue Sanctuary

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Did you know that in 2014, Costa Rica became one of the first countries in the world to ban zoos? It was a bold and nature-forward move, declaring that Costa Rica’s only rescued animals could be held captive – and then, only while they were undergoing rehabilitation for re-release into the wild. (Animals that cannot be successfully rehabilitated, due to major injury or a lifetime in captivity, may live out their lives at certain facilities.)

All this to say, visiting one of the country’s many animal rescues and wildlife sanctuaries is definitely one of the top things to do in Guanacaste. More than a guaranteed wildlife sighting – and this is one thrill that isguaranteed! – you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about Costa Rica’s rescue efforts, animal conservation, and related topics. Time it right, and you may be in time for sloth feeding, monkey antics, or any other number of never-forget-them opportunities!

  1. Hiking to the Blue River

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Rio Celeste Waterfall Hiking Tour

Costa Rica’s Rio Celeste, or the Celestial Blue River, is one of the most incredible, thrilling, and wonderful experiences in the country.

Located within Tenorio Volcano National Park, itself located in Guanacaste, the Celeste River is one of Costa Rica’s most photogenic attractions – and a fan favorite to win the best things to do in Guanacaste! The water here is really, genuinely blue: Not just a trick of the light, you can literally scoop it into your hands and it’s still blue. The otherworldly hue is due to a chemical reaction, which is fueled by the park’s eponymous (and active) Tenorio Volcano. (Completely safe for humans, don’t worry!)

  1. Feeling the Heat of an Active Volcano

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While we don’t recommend getting up close and personal with an active volcano (case in point, see above), we absolutely dorecommend availing yourself of their wonderful and therapeutic heat and minerals.

There are an incredible four active volcanoes in Guanacaste province – Orosi Volcano, Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, Miravalles Volcano, and Tenorio Volcano, from northwest to southeast – and each invites you to luxuriate in their hot springs and beneficial muds. What’s more, you can hike, horseback ride, zipline, and enjoy other adventures during your day at your volcano of choice!

  1. Diving (or Snorkeling) with Rays

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Costa Rica may not be as famous as, say the Turks and Caicos, for snorkeling or scuba diving but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some truly spectacular diving and snorkeling opportunities within our borders.

One of our favorite bucket-list thrills (and one of the somewhat under-the-radar top things to do in Guanacaste) are the manta ray encounters so commonat the Bat Islands (best season: May-November) and the Catalinas Islands (best season: November-May), both just off the shores of our province.

Spotting these gentle sea creatures is exhilarating, especially when you have the chance to see a giant Pacific manta ray, whose wingspan can reach 20 feet. Yes, twenty feet! They’re enormous and when they swim over you, they can completely blot out the sun, if only for a few seconds.

  1. Riding a Catamaran into the Sunset

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Speaking of moments that take your breath away! Catamaran tours are one of the runaway favorites in the area – and not just for the sheer luxury of boarding a gorgeous sailboat and sailing out into the great blue yonder!

Catamaran adventures typically come in one of two varieties: morning sails and afternoon sails. (Either can be enjoyed on a tour or private charter.) Morning sails are excellent during the rainy season, when you’ll usually earn more time on the water (before afternoon rains), but sunset sails are the undisputed champions of our hearts: After an afternoon spent snorkeling, swimming, and beach-combing, you’ll board a boat (drinks and snacks, usually included) for an up-close, front-and-center, is-the-sun-really-that-big?! view of the kaleidoscopic sunset.

You will never, ever forget this moment.

What Are Your Top Things to Do in Guanacaste?

At Blue Zone Experience, we’ve built our reputation on5-star service,carefully curated things to do in Guanacaste, and theregion’s most culturally informed experts. The truth, though? Our true passion isyouandyour experience.

What you may not know is that, when you book one of our homes, you gain access to ourfree concierge services: on-the-ground expertise, curated tours and transportation options, and a one-on-one with your personal concierge, who will have your back from the moment you begin planning until the day you return home.

So, please,get in touch! We can’t wait to hear about your next adventure!

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