Costa Rica offers some of the best horseback riding you will find anywhere.
Riding along the beach or up the mountain is an adventure that takes you deep into unbelievable places and landscapes
On the beach
From the Pacific to the Caribbean
Exquisite ocean views and the constant sound of the water are part of the Pacific coast tour in the beaches of Playa Conchal, Avellanas, Playa Negra, Junquillal and San Juanillo. In certain cases, your horseback riding trip may take you up the nearby mountains and hills for a panoramic vista that is even more impressive.
Towards the south of the coastal region, passing through Playa Dominical and Playa Uvita is certainly a must. This region is home to the Catarata Nauyaca, a waterfall where your mount will take you after crossing fields and forests. Crystalline waters await where you can refresh yourself.
The magic of the Caribbean Sea is waiting in the surroundings of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, an ideal location for encountering wildlife.
Up the mountain
Horse lovers cannot miss a day trip from the Arenal Volcano, in Alajuela Province, to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve in Puntarenas.
Enjoy majestic vistas of the massif along the route while traversing trails through dense forests.
Beautiful landscapes and the countless birds that can be observed from horseback typify the country’s central region, where your ride will take you through the community of San Gerardo de Dota, nestled in the peaks of the Cordillera de Talamanca.
If that weren’t enough, the country’s northern region offers you the opportunity to ride and enjoy its marvelous and changing climate.
Some of the certified companies that carry out these tours will take you to the banks of the Río Sarapiquí, where you can take it all in.
Variety of tours
Many hotels, lodges and tourist spots offer horseback tours that combine the beach, forests, mountains and rivers for a truly unique experience. Those searching for something different can take a full moon ride at night or learn about exotic and medicinal plants during the ride.
Topes, exhibitions and festivals
The country has a full calendar of horseback parades that display the variety of breeds present, with experienced riders showing off their abilities. These parades are called topes.
December 26 is a much-awaited day, since the Tope Nacional is held in San José, as the country celebrates National Horseback Rider Day.
In these months of sunlight there are abundant options, from the Fiestas de Palmares in January, the topes in San Carlos between February and March, and the shows in Monteverde in April and August.
Costa Rica has a great love for horses, which began in the time of colonization with the development of activities in agriculture and herding, and they have remained part of the country’s cultural traditions.
Excursions on horseback have many advantages, and one does not need to be an experienced rider. Advantages include:
- Getting around faster.
- Routes are less tiring than on foot.
- Equipment can be carried.
- It is easier to get around obstacles like rivers or hillsides.
- Horseback rides can be combined with hikes, proceeding on horseback only on the more difficult portions.
Enjoying the crack of dawn in the forest, heading down white sand beaches or observing waterfalls up close—these are just some of the privileges that horseback riding allows.
For your safety
- Bring long pants, strong shoes, sunblock and a hat.
- Stand in front of the horse so that it sees you and talk with it so that it will know that you will mount it.
- • Do not yell or make sudden movements near a horse as it can become afraid. Horses respond better if the person mounting them treats them kindly but firmly.
- When you ride a horse, pay attention to the path so that you can avoid being hit by tree branches or other obstacles. Horses often know the route well, but you are the one who needs to make sure of these things.
- Check the tightness of the stirrups and the horseshoes to avoid causing discomfort.
- When riding a horse on public roads, stay on the right.
- Make sure that the company assigns an experienced guide and has the necessary insurance in the event of an accident.
Costa Rica's best places for horseback riding
On the map you'll find Costa Rica's tourism regions, where you can participate in these activities. For more information on any of these activities, contact your travel agent or hotel.