Hiking and trekking in Costa Rica can be an invigorating experience, but knowing your skill level and the best areas is important. Check out our guide to help you know where to go, when to go and what to expect.

Northern Zone

Great hikes can be achieved from La Fortuna, Tenorio National Park and Monteverde. Cerro Chato is an extinct volcano located next to Arenal Volcano in the town of La Fortuna. This is a day hike at around a 40 degree angle along a muddy trail. Once you reach the top you can descend to the crater. There are several trails in Tenorio National Park that are great hikes for all physical levels and can lead to everything from volcanic hot springs to a turquoise blue waterfall surrounded with emerald green flora and fauna. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a great hiking location with easy to moderate trails.

Northwest Pacific

Though not as mountainous as other parts of the country, the Pacific Northwest does offer some great hikes. Some of the most popular hikes include Santa Rosa National Park, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Barra Honda National Park. Santa Rosa is a tropical dry forest with plenty of wildlife. Overnight passes are available upon request to hike great trails that can lead to spectacular beaches. Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is active and one day hikes can lead you to the crater. This is a physically demanding hike and must be done quickly in order to fit it in a day. Barra Honda National Park is home to the famous Barra Honda caves and provides great hiking above and below the surface.

Central Pacific

The Central Pacific coast is backed by towering mountains which are generally untouched. Due to this there are few good hiking opportunities, though Carara National Park is an exception to this. The park starts along the coastline and enters into the mountains with some peaks reaching 5,000 feet. A light hike is also available at Manuel Antonio Natioinal Park, which is generally flat.

South Pacific

The South Pacific is a great area for hiking. The Baru area has an excellent hike from rainforest to cloud forest at the Tree of Life tour, which can be completed with a rappel down tropical waterfalls. Corcovado National Park, located on the Osa Peninsula has many groomed trails and is considered one of the most biologically intense places on the planet. Piedras Blancas National Park, located on the opposite side of the Golfo Dulce is lesser known, but equally biodiverse.


Though there are towering mountains backing the Caribbean side, the majority are untouched. Hiking opportunities do exist though they are considered easier trails. Cahuita National Park is a great day trip and easy hike on groomed trails. Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is also a great day hike, though on mostly flat ground.

Central Region

The Central Highlands of Costa Rica provide some of the best hiking in the country. Braulio Carrilllo National Park is a great location for intermediate to advanced hiking close to San Jose. Los Quetzales and Tapanti National Park are located in the center of the country and provide great hikes for all skill levels in primary cloud forest. Cerro Chirripo National Park is the best hike in the country with the peak actually frosting on some nights! Visitors must first register for a pass to enter the park and can usually only do so through a guide service.

Unsure of what to do? Let us make you a free custom trip plan!