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Adventure Cruises in Costa Rica

Costa Rica's tropical rainforests and coastline host one of the most bio-diverse regions in 'Manuel Antonio National Park'. A nature lovers paradise.

In Costa Rica, cruises offer travellers the chance to explore more secluded spots of the beautiful coastline. The Costa Rican coast is home to a number of excellent national parks and wildlife refuges. These parks are home to huge tropical rainforests and a range of wildlife such as monkeys, lizards and parrots. These rainforests are predominantly dry which makes them ideal for hiking and photography.A great number of people also cruise Costa Rica for the calm, clear coral rich waters.

Costa Rica is a watersports haven with excellent marine life and coral reefs for snorkelling and scuba diving with fish and turtles aplenty. Paddleboarding and kayaking are also very popular, offering guests the chance to get into the less accessible spots. If relaxing is more your style, then you can take a seat on one of the long quiet beaches and enjoy the sunset while sipping a drink on the deck.

Best Costa Rica cruises and areas to visit

The most biodiverse park in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park is one of those places that seems to have it all in one. The tropical rainforest stretches throughout the park which despite being less than seven kilometres square is home to over a hundred different species of animals and even more different kinds of birds. Visitors should look out for sloths, iguanas and capuchin monkeys in the forest. If birds are your passion keep an eye on the trees for brightly coloured toucans, macaw parrots and hawks.

An intriguing old gold mining town in a dense tropical rainforest, Osa Peninsula is as exciting as it gets. The main town of Puerto Jimenez was an important town during the gold rush and so has ample facilities, shops, restaurants and small bars. It is the rainforest that really brings people here on adventure cruises. The area enjoys a very large area of tropical forest with mangrove swamps and extraordinary biodiversity, especially in the Corcovado National Park.

Around half of the living species that live in Costa Rica can be found in the Corcovado National Park in Osa. Up in the trees, amongst the parrots and toucans, there are sloths and monkeys too. Down on the ground watch out for the funny looking tapirs, anteaters and if you are lucky ocelots and margays. One of the advantages of being on a cruise in Osa Peninsula is the chance to meet the marine life as well, drop off the boat for a chance to swim with dolphins. Manatees are also found here in the mangrove swamps which you can explore on a small tender boat. Keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles lurking under the surface too.

While the Osa Peninsula is a well-known spot in the ecotourism world, the ‘sweet gulf’, Golfo Dulce is a little more off the trail. Off the trail quite literally, as much of the area is only accessible by boat making it ideal for small ship cruises in Costa Rica. Thanks to the relative isolation of this area the rainforest here is also home to a large population of indigenous people as well. Golfo Dulce is a top spot for watersports as well with some of the most biodiverse waters in Costa Rica. Surfing is very popular, especially in Pavones which boasts the second largest left hand break in the world.

The Papagayo Gulf is rapidly becoming one of the top spots for high end resorts in Costa Rica and it is easy to see why with the long white-sand beaches and beautiful ocean views. While the area is best known for beach activities like paddle boarding, sailing and of course relaxing, there is plenty for nature lovers too. Behind the beaches is a large tropical rainforest with some excellent nature trails.

The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica has wildlife aplenty but Curu National Wildlife Refuge really is something special. The area is protected in order to keep the environment just right for the monkeys, racoons, and snakes that live here. There are also some very friendly white tailed deer which often wander onto the beaches in plain view. This is a famous place for snorkelling as well, visitors can take the chance to snorkel at night in the glowing bioluminescence on the beach. Some of the best parts are only accessible by boat so if you are on a cruise you won't have to share you visit with very many others.

Anyone visiting Costa Rica for adventure and water sports won't want to miss Tortuga Island. The island is renowned for kayaking and snorkelling, in fact, many people choose to snorkel from their kayak. Divers will also enjoy the marine life including stingrays, reef sharks and the fabulous spinner dolphins. On land there are some great bars and restaurants with great views and a relaxed island vibe. For the adventurous visitors, there is a zip line that takes you over the treetops for some great views and a bit of a thrill on your adventure cruise.

At the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the Santa Rosa National park was declared in order to protect an area of historical and natural importance to Costa Rica. This area is the site of the battle of Santa Rosa where the Costa Ricans successfully fought off an invasion from forces from Nicaragua. The area around the battle site is of great natural interest with a thick dry rainforest and interesting wildlife. Watersports are also a big draw, the surfing is excellent and there are turtle nesting sites on the beaches meaning huge numbers of sea turtles to snorkel with.

Best time to cruise in Costa Rica

There are two main seasons in Costa Rica the wet and dry season with a little wiggle room in between. Costa Rica in January to April is dry and perfect for exploring, most of the island is accessible and sea conditions are great. This is also the time of the year when Costa Rica experiences the highest volume of visitors so it is wise to plan ahead and book your trip as early as possible, especially if you are visiting during school holidays. If you are looking for a quieter time of year then head to Costa Rica in May and June, it is a little wetter in the evenings but if you want the place to yourself this is the time to go. In July and August the weather will be quite a bit wetter but if you want to see nesting sea turtles, then thousands of them are passing by throughout this period.

How to get to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has two international airports for those who want to fly into the country, San Jose and Daniel Oduber. San Jose is the larger of the two and receives flights from the U.S.A and Europe, it is an hour and a half to two-hour drive from there to Caldera Port and Punta Arenas where cruises depart from. Daniel Oduber is a little further away, around a 3 hour drive and does not have as many scheduled flights. Most of the flights here are from the USA.

Where do Costa Rica cruises depart from?

Many Costa Rica cruises depart from Caldera and Arenas ports near San Jose offering easy access from both of the international airports. There are also a few catamarans that leave from Herradura, particularly those going to Tortuga Island. Some cruises will take guests from Costa Rica to Panama or vice versa. Panama and Costa Rica cruises starting in Panama depart from Flamenco Marina near Panama City. Cruises from Costa Rica, on the other hand, will begin in San Jose. From the airports to the ports it is possible to take a taxi but much more cost effective to book a shared shuttle bus in advance.

Costa Rica Cruise Tips

  • Costa Rica has a relatively short season so if you want to visit during the peak periods it is a good idea to plan and book in advance. Flights and hotels book up quickly particularly during the school holidays in North America and Europe. Reserving your transfers in advance are also wise and often more cost effective than trying to get a taxi or bus on the day.
  • Although the weather is fairly reliable during the dry season there is always a chance of delays due to the somewhat relaxed and rugged nature of Costa Rica. The laid back attitude is one of the attractions in Costa Rica but do consider this when you are booking transfers and leave yourself plenty of time. If you are flying in for a cruise might be a good idea to stay a few days and enjoy the sights so as not to miss your cruise departure.
  • Costa Rican cruises offer a range of activities and visits to suit all interests everything from cultural experiences to zip lining over a rainforest. There are sometimes however that are better for some activities. Snorkelling for example is best between January and April when the sun is shining and the waters are consistently calm. It is worth considering however, that July and August are the best time for spotting turtles. If you are looking to go surfing on the other hand, the April to October is the period with the greatest swells.
  • Your packing list will vary with the seasons, although if you are venturing into the rainforest, you will need warm clothing and waterproofs whatever the time of year. The sun can be quite intense in Costa Rica so be sure to take a hat and suncream as you will want to spend lots of time outdoors. Your snorkelling equipment is a great thing to bring as well since there is so much to see under the water. Most cruises offer it but it is usually more comfortable to bring your own.
  • Getting into Costa Rica is fairly easy with most nationalities not requiring a pre-arranged visa. You will need to have a passport valid for six months and proof of 500 dollars or more in your account or cash. Be sure to have accommodation arranged before you arrive or you will have to book it before passing customs. The local currency is Costa Rican Colon but US Dollars are widely accepted. It is best to bring dollars with you and exchange them as it is expensive to purchase them outside of Costa Rica.

Take a look a the different cruise itineraries in Costa Rica and contact our reservations team to discuss your next trip to this diverse country.