Costa Rica has more rivers per square kilometer (approximately 0.62 miles).than many countries in the
world and because of all the rainfall in this tropical country, rafting is absolutely wonderful
You can choose from one day or overnight/multi-day trips. There are options for all ages and abilities –
first-time or experienced paddlers. Tours offer experienced river guides that will cover safety information and provide adventure gear (helmet, life jacket and paddle). Guides navigate the waterways and share their knowledge of the waters.
Not sure what rafting trip water class levels is right for you? Here is a breakdown of the Whitewater
Classification System. This is the scale by which rivers are rated with respect to danger and paddling
difficulty. The different ratings in the in order of difficulty are Class I, Class II, Class III, Class IV, Class V, and Class VI.
Class I: (Easy) Moving water with small disturbances on the surface and a few small waves. There is little
to no danger to swimmers. Gentle waters are a good choice for photography and wildlife viewing.
Class II: (Novice/Beginner) Faster moving water with easily avoided rocks, holes, and waves. Danger
to swimmers is still slight but care must be taken. A great option for rafters who are a little uncertain
about their swimming/ rafting ability but want to get out on the water and see some interesting wildlife
and fantastic scenery. The Balsa River and Coribici River are very good examples (the Coribici is almost
Class I, especially in low water times).
Class III: (Intermediate) Fast moving water containing various rocks, holes, currents, and waves that
require skillful maneuvering to avoid. Swimmers could be at risk and may require help. This level
balances fun and safety for all levels of experience. Parts of the Balsa River, the Sarapiqui River, plus
much of the Reventazon River and Tenorio River and others fit this category.
Class IV: (Advanced) Strong rapids, large waves, big holes, unpredictable currents, and dangerous obstructions requiring multiple maneuvers to get through or around. Swimmers are at risk and will require help to be rescued. Plan to get very wet. Parts of the Reventazon River along Pascua section, the Toro
River out of La Fortuna, and parts of the Rio Tenorio and Pacuare all fit this Class.
Class V:(Expert) All of the characteristics of Class IV with the added danger of being longer and
containing more continuous features that may not be avoided. There is serious risk to swimmers and
others may be of no help. This is the most challenging and could prove to be of concern for people
not used to rafting. Guides on these rivers are usually experts in navigation, rescue, and wilderness
medicine. Parts of the Pacure River fit the Class V profile the best.
Class VI: (Unrunnable/ un-navigable waters) Only a team of experts who carefully plan every aspect of an
expedition would have hope of surviving these rivers and rapids.
The Pacuare River borders the Talamanca mountain range and waters vary up to Class V in difficulty.
Near Arenal, the three main rivers are the Toro, the Balsa, and the Peñas Blancas. Each river offers a
different “style” of rafting. “Floating” is excellent for animal watching and a “challenging plunge” through Class III and IV rapids will thrill experienced paddlers.
In the Northern Lowlands Region, the Río Toro offers over 45-continuous rapids with deep-canyon gorges
and waterfalls. Its waters range from class II to class IV rapids and is ideal for experienced riders and
The Sarapiqui River runs from the Central Mountain Range just north of San Jose to the San Marcos
River which runs along the shared border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The Sarapiqui River is a
great introduction to whitewater rafting for first time paddlers or a chance for experienced rafters to test their ability.
Float lazily down the Corobici River in the rainforest. Located in the heart of the Guanacaste province,
the Corobici is a wide and fast-flowing class I and II river with moderate waves.
Located about an hour from San Jose, the Chirripó River boasts more than 20 Class III rapids.
Whichever rafting adventure you choose, it is sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget.