Costa Rica’s rivers, lagoons, and backwaters offer excellent opportunities for exploration, and Costa Rica kayaking and canoeing outfitters can set up any kind of adventure you like—from a sedate float through the rainforest, to a more vigorous kayak trip through a coast mangrove.
Whether you have a half a day, a full day, or several days to spare, a Costa Rica kayaking or canoeing excursion will show you wild life, plants, and other wonders that can only be fully appreciated by venturing off the beaten path.
To custom design a trip canoeing in Costa Rica for two or twenty down any of the country’s major rivers, Canoe Costa Rica (www.canoecostarica.com) is your best bet. They offer a few prepackaged excursions, but most of their canoe adventures are custom made and they go just about everywhere.
If Arenal is on your itinerary, check out Canoa Aventura (www.canoaaventura.cr.gs) after you are finished viewing the popular volcano. Canoa Aventura offers relaxing half-, full, or multi-day excursions down many of the rivers in the Arenal area.
Costa Rica canoeing can provide an easygoing experience of the country’s lush greenery and riverbanks, but kayaking Costa Rica’s lagoons and estuaries can reveal exotic animals in their natural habitat, and more.
Papagayo Excursions offers a wide variety of half-day and full-day tours through Tamarindo’s estuaries and mangrove swamps, as well as trips to Santa Cruz and Guaitil, and tours to Palo Verde and Rincon de Viejo National Park. The cost of a kayak tour with Papagayo Excursions runs between $30 and $95 per person USD, depending on the length of the trip and the number of people in the group.
In Playa Nosara, Iguana Expeditions (www.iguanaexpeditions.com) charters tours of Nosara’s inland coastal mangroves, or combination trips that feature a bit of open water paddling with a snorkel break at San Juanillo. Half-day tours run between $35 and $50 USD; full day between $50 and $90 USD.
For Costa Rica kayaking and canoeing opportunities in Manual Antonio, try Iguana Tours (www.iguanatours.com). They offer guided excursions into Manual Antonio’s mangroves, sea kayaking, guided hikes, and combination tours. You’ll find the Iguana Tours office on the main road, just as you head out of Quepos toward Manuel Antonio.
Finally, if you are visiting the southern part of Costa Rica, Escondido Trex (www.escondidotrex.com) offers popular Costa Rica kayaking excursions into the mangroves outside Corcovado National Park and out into the gulf, where you can sometimes see dolphins playing up close. Located inside the Soda Carolina in Puerto Jimenez, Escondido Trex also offers guided rainforest hikes.
One word of caution: Costa Rica kayaking and canoeing is safe fun, but if you are new to the sport be sure you take a guided tour. Costa Rica’s rivers and mangroves are home to alligators and other animals that should be respected. Knowing where you can jump in for a swim and where it’s a bad idea is definitely information you will need.