Whitewater river rafting around the Costa Ballena is a heart-pumping, high-octane activity for the physically fit adventurer. The best whitewater rafting is found both north and south of the Costa Ballena.

Farthest north by Manuel Antonio National Park is the Rio Naranjo, best from April-December, especially when the water levels rise and fall with the rains. This adventure is a seven mile, half-day trip that drops steeply from the mountains to sea level while your trained guides help you to safely steer around massive boulders and shoot through jungle gorges. Not all of this trip is Class III and IV rapids – you’ll also pass through working farms, cattle ranches, and palm plantations.

South of Rio Naranjo and north of the town of Dominical is Rio Savegre, a favorite of families and kids with Class II and III rapids. This river is said to be the cleanest, most pristine river in the Americas, and is flanked on both sides by virgin, primary rainforest. There are three beautiful waterfalls on the river that provide breath-taking views. The full length of Rio Savegre features rapids rated from Class 1-4, so there’s a experience waiting for folks at all rafting skill levels.

A great rapids for beginners and intermediates is the Rio Guabo river, Class II and III. This is a run of about 8 miles with nine stretches of rapids that starts in the San Juan de Dios valley and ends at Dominical beach. You can stop along the way to explore waterfalls and photograph the opulent tropical plants and occasional curious wildlife. There’s one Class V rapids that you will portage around, unless you are experienced and suicidal enough to attempt it in the raft.

Much more relaxed is the tube rafting on the Rio Barú, located close to Dominical. This is a great trip for folks of all ages that enjoy nature and adventure without the physical demands of rated rafting. Each person has their own tube and steers them through these small rapids. The very young and very old folks can descend in a bigger inflatable with an experienced guide.

South east of the Costa Ballena is the Rio Coto Brus with class III and IV rapids. This river is famous for its outstanding scenery and diverse wildlife, and you’ll likely be the only rafters on the river. If you look carefully, you’ll likely spot monkeys, otters, a great variety of birds as well as an occasional crocodile. For exciting class IV adventure, try the Mambo 5, Boruca, and Kamikaze rapids.