Costa Rica Travel Guide: Fit Destination for the Best Arms and Abs Workout

Sometimes you need to mix things up – a new environment, new workout, new stimulus to shake up your routine and remind you how good change feels.

Taking a trip is the best way to do that and boy, does Costa Rica not disappoint. Not only can you get the best outdoor workouts, but it’s set amidst the backdrop of one of the world’s greenest countries. Kayaking, surfing, and white water rafting with mother nature? Easy choice over pull ups, curls, and planks at the gym.

I went to Costa Rica a couple years ago and was blown away by the biodiversity, the commitment to environmental preservation, and the most delicious tropical fruits, re: guanabana. Definitely recommend this country to anyone with a taste for adventure.

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The Best Way to See Costa Rica and Have the Most Epic Trip:

If you’re limited on time and want to pack in maximum adventure with minimal headaches, I highly recommend going with a guided tour group that takes care of all the planning. Even though I’m fluent in Spanish and like having the freedom to plan my own itinerary, I’m really glad I went with a reputable company that partnered with safe, legitimate guides for all of our water adventures. Plus, they build in free time for you to enjoy some flexibility, while also enjoying the convenience of having an automatic crew of new travel friends/photographers to help you document your trip!

I’ve had multiple people ask me for recommendations and I really like how Intrepid Travel uses experienced guides, offers flexible payment options, and prides themselves on running smooth tours. Costa Rica is famous for its amazing white water rafting, epic surf beaches, and diverse wildlife – and you can get it all packed in with this 8 Day Raft, Surf, Kayak Adventure on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

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Check out this bucket list-worthy itinerary:

  • Paddle down the Pacuare River by raft – this is one of the top rated rivers in the world and just by googling photos you’ll see why
  • Surf the beach near Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge – this spot makes you feel like you’re in the desktop screensaver
  • Cycle along the Caribbean coastline to the mellow beach refuge of Puerto Viejo – finally, something for the legs
  • Kayak through the waterways of Tortuguero National Park in search of monkeys, toucans and jaguars – this was probably my favorite because you get up close and personal with animals you would never otherwise see

What I love most about this trip is that you don’t have to think about fitting in a workout because you’re pretty active for the majority of the trip. There’s also options to go for strolls and walks on your free time or rest if you need it. They also offer Vegan, Vegetarian, Halal and Kosher food options on request – so you can ask in advance for any diet modifications in advance (I did gluten/dairy free and had no issues).

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Best Times to Visit Costa Rica:

The best time to go to Costa Rica is during the dry season (November-April), when the humidity is at its lowest and rain showers are less common – something you don’t want to deal with while surfing, kayaking, or rafting.

Winter in North America is the perfect time to head to Costa Rica, but if you have flexibility in your travel schedule, I’d recommend going after the New Year for cheaper flight deals. I went mid-January and experienced perfect weather.

What to Pack For Your Costa Rica Trip:

In addition to your personal toiletries, clothes, and passport, here are the must-have items that you definitely should bring:

Bug repellent – this is the jungle, expect to come prepared or be feasted on. I have a blog post on how to make your own, non-toxic, natural bug repellent that actually works – check it out.

Waterproof shoes – these come in handy for when you’re rafting or kayaking because you don’t want to worry about losing sandals or ruining your athletic shoes. I recommend investing in waterproof shoes like these that protect your toes, but still allow water to get in. It’s a solid investment if you ever plan on doing any water adventures – I’ve used mine rappeling down waterfalls and hiking through knee deep water in the Zion Narrows.

Hat – don’t be Susan who forgot a hat and was miserable sitting on a kayak for 3 hours. Invest in a good quality hat, ideally with UPF protection because the sun in Costa Rica is stronger than you think. It’s also nice to keep hair and sweat out of your face so you can focus on getting that perfect photo of the capuchin monkey.

Sunscreen – they’re expensive abroad and laden with chemicals. I prefer getting safer, better quality sunscreen at home and then pouring them into small travel sized bottles to toss in my day pack for the day’s adventure. Bonus – they allow you to put them in your carry on so you don’t have to worry about bottles of sunscreen exploding all over your suitcase.

Travel Bottles – every traveler should invest in these if they haven’t already for their toiletries. Here are the leak-proof, refillable travel bottles that I use on my trips.

Quick drying clothes – a lot of your clothes will get wet on this trip and I was glad that I brought my quick drying leggings and workout clothes for the kayaking and white water adventures. You have the option to go in just your bathing suit, but I was really glad I wore workout leggings for the rafting and kayaking activities because other women experienced chafing on their lower body. Plus, if you’re handwashing your clothes, quick drying clothes are your friend because dryers aren’t common in Costa Rica.

Bathing Suits – bring several pairs. It was nice to have one set drying while I wore the other set the next day because sometimes suits don’t dry completely overnight. It’s quite annoying to put on a damp suit, so bring extras.

Sneakers/Comfortable Walking Shoes – this is a no brainer for me on every trip but you’ll have free time to walk and explore the city so bring shoes that can help you log in those steps!

Ziploc Bags – man, these are such a pro tip. Whether it’s to keep your snacks sealed or to keep your random things in one place, I’m a huge fan of bringing ziploc bags on trips because they ALWAYS come in handy.

Cash – it’s a good idea to have cash if you want to buy souvenirs along the way and please tip your guides! They work so incredibly hard and it’s the nicest gesture that goes a long way.

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