Costa Rica’s reputation as a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts is well-deserved. While surfing may be the first thing that comes to mind when considering a trip to Costa Rica, one shouldn’t neglect the ample inland beauty. 30% of the land area in this small county is protected by national parks, wildlife refuges, and preserves.
As such, hiking experiences abound, with seemingly endless opportunities to take in the stunning scenery. The varied terrain offers a variety of hiking experiences, from easy coastal walks to more rigorous mountain climbs, and everything in between. The majority of hikes in Costa Rica lead one to a natural attraction, be it a waterfall, stunning ocean vista, or isolated rain forest oasis. Here is a list of just some of the many incredible hiking trails Costa Rica has to offer. As the variety of this list demonstrates, there is truly something for everyone.
Los Angeles Cloud Forest
This private park is one of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets. The 2.5-mile-long hike is ideal for birding, and over 250 species have been spotted on the trail. If you happen to be staying at the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel, the trail is easily accessible from the hotel.
With an elevation of 3,821 meters, Mount Chirripó is the highest mountain in Costa Rica. With miles of trails, this national park offers access to more ecological zones than one can find in most entire countries. And since Mount Chirripo is located in a national park, it is highly regulated, and hikers must book reservations 3-6 months in advance.
Corcovado National Park
Widely regarded to contain the best hiking trails in the country, visitors can opt for a number of day trip excursions, such as San Pedrillo and Sirena. More ambitious hikers should commit to the 16-kilometer overnight hike from Leona to Sirena to truly explore the wild jungles of Costa Rica. Recently, National Geographic named Corcovado, one of the most biologically intense places on the planet due to the 13 diverse ecosystems and endangered species in the park. For anyone not looking to head far into the National Park, day tours can be arranged by all the lodges in Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez.
This is one of the most accessible hikes in the country, but the ease of it shouldn’t diminish the reward at the end. The trail winds for an easy 4 kilometer to reach one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica.
Arenal Hanging Bridges
With eight fixed and six hanging bridges, the Arenal Hanging Bridges hike is a 2-mile loop through over 618-acres of rainforest beneath the Arenal Volcano. Hiking the trail in the morning will allow hikers to become apart of the early morning wildlife. Hiking with a naturalist will help increase the amount of wildlife visible during the hike. Don’t forget to check out the waterfall extension trail at the end of your hike!
Tenorio Volcano & Rio Celeste Waterfall Hike
Located in the Guanacaste province, the hike of the waterfalls and the Tenorio Volcano offers hikers vibrant greens and blues never visible in everyday life. If you choose to take a guided hike, hikers are allowed to take a dip in the natural hot springs around the volcano. With five miles of challenging hikes, one of the best ways to see the volcano’s furnace vents is with a guided full-day tour. The Rio Celeste waterfall is visible on the way back from the volcano. If you are not an experienced hiker, this hike will be somewhat difficult.
With 26 national parks, there are so many more hiking opportunities in addition to the above list. However, hopefully, this list has provided a great starting point for mapping out one’s own incredible Costa Rican hiking experience.