Costa RicaCosta Rica

island view near playa carrillo 
 - Costa Rica

Fun Activities Without A Guide

Fun Activities Without A Guide

Traveling Costa Rica on a budget? Here are ten fun -- and cheap -- activities you can do without a guide.

  • Hike to the summit of Chato Volcano, Arenal's lesser-known sister volcano. The climb takes under 5 hours and rewards hikers with a pristine lagoon ideal for a refreshing swim.
  • Visit the Montezuma Waterfall, a towering beauty some 80 feet high; the round-trip trek can be done in an hour, and after a cool dip, the locale is picnic perfect.
  • Explore the surreal topiary gardens in Zarcero; it's absolutely free and makes for a great day trip from most Central Valley destinations.
  • Learn about Costa Rica's national hero at Alajuela's Juan Santamaria Museum; open Tuesday through Sundays. Exhibits include paintings, historical artifacts and antique maps.
  • Walk out to Cabuya's Cemetery Island at low tide; dating back to pre-Columbian times, the island is the burial site for native Indians.
  • Paddle ocean waves to the pink sands of Isla Chora for an unforgettable day of snorkeling and exploring; the tranquil island is located one mile offshore from Samara.
  • Discover Costa Rica's artisan crafts and goods in the tiny town of Sarchi; watch as skilled artists hand-paint oxcarts, the smaller replicas make great souvenirs.
  • Attend a local concert, symphony, or performance at the National Theater in downtown San Jose; enjoy its intricate Belgian ironwork and Baroque renaissance flourishes.
  • Get up close and personal with capuchin monkeys and other wildlife at Cahuita National Park; entrance fees are by donation only, and the park has lovely seaside hiking trails.
  • Admire the world's largest volcanic lagoon at Poas Volcano; go early for the best chances of stunning crater views and stay for lunch at the park's onsite cafe.