“Really safe, caring and considerate. I recommend Boreal River to anyone who is visiting Costa Rica!”
Dani, 2018 participant
Costa Rica 8-Day Sky to Sea Multisport Adventure
Paddle, cycle and hike from Costa Rica’s tallest volcano to the Caribbean coast. Experience the tropical Pacuare River and the Costa Rican backcountry on this specially-designed adventure!
- Small group adventure off the beaten path and far from the crowds
- Discover Cartago and Limón provinces in depth
- Kayaraft, raft, hike and bike in the countryside and visit with locals
You’ll switch it up daily with multiple activities, explore the jungle, and experience Costa Rica on this fully-guided trip!
From the tallest volcano to the sea
Have fun, connect with nature, and connect with other travelers
Descend class II, III and IV rapids either in a small raft or on your own kayaraft!
Zip down the Irazu Volcano National Park on mountain bikes. Jump on the bikes again when you get to the coast.
Travel in comfort! From riverside camps to quiet hotels, all accommodations are carefully-selected to make this an off-the-beaten-path adventure.
Support sustainable tourism
As a Canadian company, we think twice about our impact on the tourism industry in Costa Rica. We partner with a small family-owned Costa Rican adventure tourism business to make sure you get an authentic experience and to support nature-based tourism locally.
You will get to meet the Coast to Coast family throughout your adventure. Miso, Martin, Fez, Mike, Memo and many more will welcome you to camp, drive our safety vehicle, raft guide us down the Pacuare River and outfit us with bikes.
Read more below!
Details at a Glance
This trip is 8 days and 7 nights. Join a ‘scheduled departure’ or book a private group
Activity levelYou should be in good enough physical condition to do multiple days of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and paddling.
Who’s this for?
You don’t need any significant paddling, biking or hiking experience, but some physical fitness and swimming ability is recommended.
To participate, you need to be:
- Age 14 and up (children must be closely supervised by their guardian(s) and be mature, respectful, and able to pay attention to safety instructions). Flexible for private groups.
- Physically active, with swimming ability
The safety of everybody in the group is always our number one priority. The most important factor is our guides’ years of experience, training, and knowledge of the river. In addition to your Boreal River team, local partners and guides have rafted this river for decades.
- Our guides have extensive and current industry-leading safety credentials and certification. In addition to our excellent 4:1 participant to guide ratio, a minimum of 2 guides in every trip have Wilderness First Responder (an 80-hour medical course) and Whitewater Rescue Technician certification—As well, many of our guides teach those disciplines
- Each trip carries 2 emergency communication devices: a satellite phone and an InReach messenger device and locator beacon. They are always carried by the guides in separate waterproof containers in different boats
- Each trip carries extensive first aid kits and river safety equipment
- All activities are ‘challenge by choice’. It is up to you if you want to participate in a given activity
Of course, adventure travel and whitewater paddling have inherent risks. We ask that you read through and sign our Liability Release Form before you arrive.
Please contact us if you have questions about safety. It’s one of our specialties and we enjoy talking about it. As lifelong adventure travelers, We have loads of experience and can help answer your questions.
Itinerary and description
What to expect
Surround yourself with nature. This trip takes you from the cloud forest to the thick jungle, all the way to the coastal planes and to the sandy Caribbean beaches.
This is a great way to bond during an active, outdoor adventure.
On the river, we’ll outfit you with your own kayaraft, which is a stable, inflatable kayak. These boats are great for practicing because they’re stable and easy to steer. The guides will also bring a river raft, which you can hop into anytime if you prefer to be in a guided boat.
Develop your paddling skills in a supporting and fun environment. All activities are “challenge by choice,” so there is always a way to opt out. On the river, you can choose to walk around certain rapids, jump in the raft instead of your kayaraft, or skip a day by going with the support vehicle.
Day 1: Arrival in Costa Rica – San José
Welcome to Costa Rica! Your Boreal River guides and driver will meet you at Juan Santamaría International Airport. From the airport, we’ll drive through San Jose to our hotel in a trendy neighborhood beside the University of Costa Rica.
This evening we’ll have a kickoff meeting with the group to go over how to pack your bags for the following days of adventure. Dinner will be on your own. Within walking distance you can find typical Costa-Rican meals, microbreweries and pub food, and high-end restaurants.
Day 2: From the sky to Turrialba, Mountain Biking
Standing at 400m above sea level, the Irazu Volcano is Costa Rica’s tallest volcano. In the morning, we’ll drive to the top of the volcano where we’ll have time to explore the national park’s moon-like dormant crater and its rich ecology. We will then ride mountain bikes 35km/22mi downhill.
The route takes us through the small-scale agricultural countryside of the volcano’s nutrient-rich slopes and across the saddle to the Turrialba volcano before descending a mix of trails, dirt roads and smooth pavement (all with very little to no vehicle traffic).
We will stop for a typical lunch at a soda (local restaurant) along the way and have plenty of time to enjoy the views. Tonight we will camp in Turrialba.
Day 3: Greeting the Pacuare River
Today we meet the great Pacuare river, a world-renown whitewater river that flows deep within the Costa Rican jungle all the way to the Caribbean Sea. This river will be our conveyor belt to the sea. Today’s section is called the Upper Upper. This section, rarely used by commercial raft operators, provides a beautiful playground of class II, III and IV rapids.
We will run through some basic safety concepts and you can choose if you want to paddle your own inflatable kayaraft or if you would like to raft with a small group. Tonight, our 4X4 support vehicle meets us and we set up camp beside the remote village of San Joaquin.
Day 4: Hike and cultural immersion – Mollejones
The next section of the river has class V expert-only canyons. We avoid this section, breaking away from the river for a beautiful hike up to Mollejones, a small Costa Rican village overlooking the Pacuare river valley.
Today’s hike will take approximately 5 to 6 hours. We walk through pastures, traverse streams and hike on small trails, gaining in elevation throughout the day. In Mollejones, you will be staying with a host family (you may sleep indoors or set up your camp in their back yard if you would prefer) and have dinner with your hosts.
This community has developed a sustainable rural tourism initiative to welcome visitors like yourself and they are proud and excited to share their culture and lifestyle with you!
Day 5: Jungle hike back to the Pacuare
After breakfast with your host family, we will hike back down to the Pacuare River and paddle towards our next camp. Today’s hike will take us approximately 6 hours (downhill, including breaks) through the deep jungle, hiking on a single-path trail through deep forest undergrowth and ferns.
Your local guides will clear the jungle ahead of you, and we will take our time in this dense forest to do some birdwatching, butterfly watching, and to look out for sloths.
Once we get to the river, we will then hop onto our boats or rafts and paddle for approximately 2-3 hours to make our way to our next riverside camp; El Nido del Tigre. That night, we will celebrate our long day and have some well-deserved rest!
Alternate itinerary: for those who would prefer to spend more time in Mollejones, to take more time to rest, or to engage in more cultural activities like a traditional cooking class or a local farm tour, you may skip the hike and join us by vehicle when we begin paddling on the river again.
Day 6: Riverside adventures from camp
After biking, paddling and hiking through the Costa Rican jungle, you deserve a restful day around camp. El Nido del Tigre camp is the perfect spot to spend the day lounging on hammocks, reading by the river and sleeping in late. This camp is 7km from the nearest paved road and can only be accessed by 4×4.
It’s the perfect spot to relax and enjoy some time off! If you’re looking for activities, you can walk to a local waterfall, swim in the rapids, practice your kayarafting skills, go on one of the many jungle trails, hike 7km up the valley to a small town, go trail running, do some yoga, practice your photography, go birdwatching… To each their own!
Day 7: Lower Pacuare Canyons and Waterfalls
The Lower Pacuare ranks amongst the top 5 rafting sections in the world. Towering canyons border the cyan river, blue butterflies appear from lush and drooping ferns and waterfalls spring out of the bedrock high above.
Truly out of a movie, this section also has some of the most fun rapids. We’ll take our time scouting rapids and enjoying the river, hiking to a waterfall and looking for sloths and toucans that hang out in the canopy’s branches.
The day ends with a lazy-river paddle through the flatter section of the river, marking our transition from the rainforest to the coastal plains and agricultural (banana and pineapple) plantations.
Our camp for the night is nested in an oasis of tall palm trees and green ferns on the coastal plane, welcoming us to the last part of our journey to the coast.
Day 8: Biking and kayaking to the sea
Early in the morning, we will beat the tropical heat and bike as far as roads will take us! Where the road ends, we will use hard-shelled sea kayaks to paddle the last mile to the Caribbean sea.
Our 26km bike ride will take us on a mix of dirt and paved roads, through agricultural communities and right in the heart of banana and pineapple plantations.
When we swap the bikes for boats, we will paddle a canal with a shady canopy of branches, roots and vines. This canal is an ideal place to spot monkeys, sloths, canal birds, and perhaps even a crocodile!
At the end of the 3hr leisurely paddle, the canal brings us back to the Pacuare River. We then round the corner and come face-to-face with crashing ocean waves and white-sand beaches where leatherback turtles nest. Here we will celebrate our journey from sky to sea!
After a small celebration by the sea, we will return to the road by motorboat. Our drive back to San José will take approximately 3hrs, passing through the cloud forests of Braulio Carrillo National Park.
Our trip ends in San José where we will celebrate our journey with a group dinner in Barrio Escalante neighborhood. We encourage you to book your own accommodations nearby if you are staying in San José. If you wish to extend your trip in Costa Rica, we can help you plan transport along the Caribbean coast or recommend places to visit elsewhere in Costa Rica.
What’s included and not included
On your 8-day Costa Rica Sky to Sea Multisport Adventure
Your planning for this trip should be easy: you just need to get yourself to the San José international airport with outdoor clothing and we take care of the rest.
Check out the packing list in your downloadable info pack (2023: coming soon!)
As always, if you have any questions give us a call or send us an email. We’re here to help.
- Your professional guides are always available (maximum 4:1 participant to guide ratio) and will adjust the skill level of the activities to fit your abilities and interests.
- Airport pick-up on Day 1 from Juan Santamaria International Airport (in San José, Costa Rica)
- All ground transportation, vehicle supports, boat supports and raft supports throughout the trip
- 7 nights accommodations:
– Night 1: hotel in San José, double occupancy *
– Nights 2 and 3: Vehicle-supported camping. We provide you with a tent to yourself and a comfortable inflatable camping mattress.
– Nights 5, 6 and 7: Riverside eco-camps. Each person gets their own platform tent with mattress and bedding.
– Night 4: a homestay with a local family (stay in their home, or set up your tent outside if you prefer), double occupancy*
* If you are travelling alone, you will be paired with someone of the same gender on nights 1 and 4. If you would prefer your own room, the single supplement is $200 USD plus tax.
- Access fees and reservations to National Parks and Reserves.
- Delicious meals and snacks from day-2 breakfast through day-8 dinner. We source fresh local food from farmers and markets. This includes:
– Restaurant lunch at a local Soda (a typical Costa Rican restaurant) on day 2
– Homestay dinner and breakfast on day 4 and day 5 morning
– A goodbye dinner in San José with the group on day 8
- We bring enough alcoholic beverages for two drinks per person per night.
Equipment provided (depending on the day’s activity):
- Inflatable whitewater kayak (self-bailing) and kayak paddle
- Sit-on-top sea kayaks and kayak paddle
- Raft and raft paddle
- Helmet and PFD (lifejacket)
- Mountain bikes
- Tent – you get a tent to yourself unless you’re a couple or want to share
- Comfortable sleep system (high-quality inflatable mattress and pillow).
- All kitchen equipment
What’s Not included
On your 8-day Costa Rica Sky to Sea Multisport Adventure
- Travel between your home and the Juan Santamaria International Airport
- Additional expenses or costs related to your travels between your home and Juan Santamaria International Airport (Costa Rica exit tax, luggage, duties, visas if needed)
- Personal clothing and some gear (sleeping bag, daypack, small waterproof drybag, sunscreen, etc). See the ‘what to pack’ section of the downloadable InfoPack.
- Day 1 dinner in San José before our scheduled meeting time.
- Additional drinks and alcoholic beverages
- Souvenirs and personal purchases
- Optional: Guide gratuities
Visiting Costa Rica – Travel Information
Here is a bit more information about travelling in Costa Rica to help you plan your trip!
Weather in Costa Rica
You can visit Costa Rica year-round! Temperatures average between 22°C in the lowlands (where we finish our trip) to 30°C in the highlands (where we start our trip). This is a perfectly warm tropical climate.
The Caribbean side does not have a well-defined “rainy season” as it can rain any time of year. Wettest months tend to be November to January, but there are no big monsoons or rain seasons.
If you have a private group and you are looking at this trip, contact us and we can look at organizing a trip that works with your dates, any time of year.
Since 2013, Boreal River Rescue has been hosting a Wilderness First Responder course in Costa Rica during the North-American march break. We chose to offer this 9-Day Sky to Sea Multisport Adventure right after this course.
You must hold a current passport valid for six months beyond your date of departure to enter Costa Rica. Citizens of Canada, the US and the UK do not require a travel visa to enter Costa Rica. Visa requirements vary from country to country. Check with your local Costa Rican consulate for current requirements.
Costa Rica has an exit tax for all travelers spending more than 12 hours in the country. Always check with your airline before your departure to see if it is included in your airfare.
Travel and Medical Insurance
You need to have travel medical insurance. It should cover you for all emergency medical expenses, emergency transport within Costa Rica, and emergency transport back to your home state or province. Please carry a copy of your policy including the name, number, and emergency contact/claims number of the insurance provider with you in Costa Rica. Most medical plans cover rafting, kayarafting, biking and hiking as normal activities (e.i. not as “extreme adventures”), but it is a good idea to speak with your insurance provider to make sure.
We also recommended that you look into purchasing trip cancellation insurance as we can’t refund you if you have to leave the trip early or cancel at the last minute.
Spanish is spoken in Costa Rica. If you want to practice your spanish, you will get plenty of opportunities to speak with our local guides, with your host family during your homestay, and with other people we cross along the way.
If you don’t speak spanish, don’t worry! Your guides are there to support you and to take care of all the logistics. Your guides will also help you interact and have great conversations with locals by offering translations and teaching you a few key words
Our Costa Rican partners – Coast to Coast Adventures
We partner with and support a small family-owned adventure tourism business called Coast to Coast Adventures. Coast to Coast Adventures is a Costa Rican company with 25 years of experience organizing travel, adventure races, and experiential education programs in Costa Rica. While we at Boreal River are the trip hosts and organizers, Coast to Coast provides logistical support, transport, and lodging for this program.
With a team of 20 Costa Rican guides, logistics coordinators, and administrators, Coast to Coast operates an office in San Jose and two camps on the Pacuare River. Coast to Coast has a reputation for running excellent programs and endeavors to deliver sustainable and ethical adventures. Many of their staff have been with them for over a decade, giving them a depth of knowledge and experience that is essential for the delivery of memorable programs with the highest levels of security and organization.
You will get to meet the Coast to Coast family throughout your adventure. Miso, Martin, Fez, Mike, Memo and many more will welcome you to camp, drive your safety vehicle, raft guide you down the Pacuare River and outfit you with bikes.
Danny and his crew are very professional and very encouraging and kind and funny—awesome. I felt supported—which is important when you’re trying something new.
The caliber of the food blew my mind and I really appreciated that you guys support a local farmer.Joanna
Have a private group?
Contact us to book a group of family & friends, colleagues, or students for a private or customized trip.