Kayaking, whether by river, by lake, or by sea is a leisurely past time in Costa Rica. The country’s lakes and estuaries provide tranquil waters for an afternoon paddle, while the aquamarine Caribbean and sapphire Pacific welcome kayakers to a challenging blend of waves and currents. And for a truly exhilarating ride, Costa Rica’s Class III, IV and V rivers promise the ultimate rush for savvy paddlers.

If kayaking is your jam, you have two main options: Rent independently and paddle out on your own, or join a kayaking tour for a guided journey.

We enjoy both options, but guided tours nose ahead, if only for their excellent and knowledgeable guides. It’s magical: Paddling down the river, you hear a bird call; your guide not only knows what bird made the call, but can point out where it’s roosting. Or, you come around a bend and your guide points out a favorite drinking hole for area coatimundi; just wait a few minutes, and you’re sure to see them! If you’re short on time or just want a great combo kayaking-nature tour, guided is probably the way to go.

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