Costa Rica is known for its brilliant white water rafting if you’ve got the time and money to do it. Head to Turrialba, the white water rafting capital of the country. Personally, I preferred La Ceiba in Honduras, it was better and cheaper, but this place would be great in the right season.
Getting to Turrialba is easy enough, if you can make it to San Jose then it’s a 3 and a half hour bus that will cost you 1455C ($2.75). We stayed in the Whittingham Hotel, it was actually one of the nicer places we stayed in and the cheapest we could find in the area at $20 per night. It’s close to the Parque Central and a few good restaurants and bakeries.
After spending hours walking around checking each rafting company we talked to the hotel manager who hooked us up with the best price for a last-minute white water rafting trip the next morning, I wish I could remember the name of the company, but they all offer similar tours, you can choose a cheaper and shorter trip or a much more expensive and difficult trip that is only for experienced rafters, especially in high season.
Rafting the Pacuare
We were picked up at 8am from our hotel by our guide along with three other guests. We were driven down to the Río Pacuare and spent a bit of time finding life jackets and helmets to fit. Once in the boat, our guide guess us some instructions to follow to keep the raft going in the right direction!
The rapids themselves were a Grade III to IV because it was the wrong season for anything higher, but I was definitely OK with this, I’ve always been a bit scared of anything bigger after a sketchy riverboarding trip in New Zealand.
At one point we hit a huge rapid, the boat tipped up on its side and the people opposite me fell on me and knocked me into the water. Of course, I instantly panicked and when I came up for air all I hit was the boat. Eventually, I was pulled up and back into the raft and the panic was over… The rest of it was big but surprisingly fun!
Halfway through the tour, we stopped for lunch, a really good mix of food to wrap our own burritos, and soon we were back on the water. We entered a deep and narrow canyon and all jumped out of the raft to swim beside it before hopping back in for the last mile of much calmer rapids.
We all got out of the raft, pulled it ashore and used the restaurant we arrived at to dry off and change. We had a photographer with us the whole time, alongside us in his own kayak, who took some awesome photos and we all chipped in to buy them.
We had a bus to catch so they dropped us off as the right bus station and we were on our way. Our next stop was the quiet beach town of Puerto Limon. From Turrialba, you catch a 1-hour bus to the town of Limon for 1195C ($2.25) and a one and a half hour bus to Puerto Limon for 1860C ($3.50).
You can view the full album here.