Pacuare River

Forming the northern border of Central America’s largest network of protected areas, which includes national parks and primordial rainforest reserves, is one of the most important protected areas of the Pacuare region. A privileged location and abundant yearly rains sustain the rich, complex life systems found here, which account for the extraordinary beauty surrounding Costa Rica’s most accessible river. Deemed one of the top 10 scenic rivers in the world by National Geographic, the Pacuare River is a premiere destination for whitewater rafting – arguably some of the most scenic rafting in all Central America. With its origins in the Talamanca Mountain Range, the tropical river’s warm, celadon waters flow some 68 miles deep inside remarkable primordial rainforest before plunging into the Caribbean on Costa Rica’s central coast, passing through some of the country’s most varied terrain including towering waterfalls, challenging stretches of Class III-V rapids, serene natural pools, and steep gorges of densely vegetated rainforests rising hundreds of feet above the riverbanks. The river’s surrounding rainforest is sanctuary to native Cabecar Indians, brilliantly-colored plants and an incredible diversity of wildlife including jaguar, deer, ocelots, monkeys, butterflies, sloths, and numerous other mammal and bird species.

The Lower Pacuare section proves the most accessible of the river’s run, with 17 miles of Class III-IV rapids, a scenic stretch that passes rocky gorges, canyons, an indigenous village, and wild jungle full of life. The Upper Pacuare finds Class III-IV rapids all the same, though conditions can make for Class V challenges. While the river can be enjoyed year-round, June to October are ideal months; October to December seeing the highest and fastest running waters and huge waves, March to April the lowest waters – albeit, still challenging.

An approximately 2-hour drive to the put-in awaits an exhilarating rafting adventure on Pacuare,  paddling through roaring rapids; exploring hiking trails, cascading falls and natural springs found en route; visiting primordial rainforest reserves, or Cabecar Indian communities; rappelling, zip-lining, birdwatching, horseback riding, or fishing; enjoying a picnic on the river banks; and experiencing a stay at world-famous eco-lodges such as Pacuare Lodge – Costa Rica’s most intimate rainforest experience, situated in the rainforest and overlooking the enchanting river.

(Nuevo Arenal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica)
Bajos del Toro Cloud Forest
(Bajos del Toro, Alajuela, Costa Rica)
Central Pacific
(9.310871, -83.904798)
(Guanacaste, Costa Rica)
Manuel Antonio
(Manuel Antonio, Quepos, Puntarenas, Costa Rica)
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Nicoya Peninsula
(Península de Nicoya, Nicoya, Guanacaste, Costa Rica)
Osa Peninsula
(Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas, Costa Rica)
Pacuare River
Poás Volcano
(Poás Volcano, Alajuela, Costa Rica)
San José & the Central Valley
(San José, San Jose, Costa Rica)
South Pacific
(9.154537, -83.742877)
Tortuguero National Park

Essential Information

Reasons to Visit

  • Family Travel
  • Hiking/Trekking
  • Multi-Sports Adventures

Recommended Stay

2 nights

When To Visit

Good Sep-Oct
Better May-Aug / Nov
Best Dec-Apr