Admire the reflections of spectacular mangrove trees off the water on a Costa Rican kayaking tour and you’ll agree: the experience is nothing short of stunning. Thanks to the quiet nature of kayaking, bird and wildlife watching go hand-in-hand with this environmentally friendly activity. Mangrove dwellers, marine animals and rainforest creatures alike show little fear of these peaceful paddle boats, especially in comparison to noisy motor vessel alternatives.
Sierpe offers kayaking tours throughout its protected mangroves, offering the diversity of the deep Osa Peninsula without the extent of its isolation. Here, the Terraba-Sierpe wetlands are packed with caimans, crocodiles, boa constrictors, turtles, monkeys and 360 species of birds. Puerto Jimenez is also known for its fantastic ocean kayaking opportunities, which can be combined with sunset dolphin and whale watching during certain times of year (primarily July to November and December to March). Here you’ll pass by what is touted as the largest brown pelican population in the country en route to a remote beach, where fossilized crustaceans and remains from other creatures can often be encountered.
In Nosara, jungle river tours up the Rio Nosara and the Rio Montana are available, as are sea kayaking tours around Garza Bay; in this region you can hope to spot crocodiles and at least 30 types of birds. Kayaking tours pass through the Nosara Biological Reserve, where you can find shards of ancient pottery and other fascinating artifacts from ancient indigenous cultures littered in the estuary.
Sea kayaking is equally popular near Jaco, with its close proximity to so many white sand beaches. Manuel Antonio also offers kayaking expeditions along the Damas Island Estuary – where you should keep an eye out for anteaters, sloths, kinkajous and other tree dwelling mammals. Sea fishing is permitted in areas that don’t fall within national parks, and it is particularly rewarding to cook your own catch for dinner.