Costa Rica’s sandy beach trails, gravel farm roads, and curvy mountain passes make it an ideal terrain for horseback riding tours and an opportunity to experience nature at a gentle pace. This article will share details about where to go horseback riding in Costa Rica, when to go, and how to make sure it is included as a part of your ideal vacation.
General information about horseback riding in Costa Rica
From the mountains to the beaches, horseback riding tours are available in most of the major tourism areas of the country. It is especially common to find horseback riding operators at the beach. Most of the tours are meant to be easy and accessible for beginners to advanced riders.
The quality of a horseback riding tour will vary. The higher quality tours will provide a higher level of experience and include assets like safety gear such as a helmet, more than one guide, and a snack of fresh fruit or even a meal.
For a horseback riding tour in Costa Rica, you will want to wear pants (ideally jeans) and close-toed shoes. Remember, it may be hot outside, but after 15 minutes atop a horse, your legs and feet will be begging for protection.
Unlike some other tours, horseback riding tours are available year-round in Costa Rica.
Experience Horseback Riding in Costa Rica
Below is a video from our Instagram page showing what it’s like to go horseback riding in Costa Rica. It truly is a great outdoor experience to include in a family itinerary, honeymoon, or adventure trip.
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Where to go horseback riding in Costa Rica
Guanacaste refers to Costa Rica’s northwestern province that borders Nicaragua, and it is the region in the country most known for its culture of cowboys, cattle, and horses. Much of Guanacaste’s culture, and climate, is shared with its Central American neighbors to the north, such as Nicaragua and Honduras, and it is not uncommon to see “Guanacasteco’s” (as the locals are known) in cowboy boots, belts, and hats.
As a result, there are lots of horses and cattle, but the horseback riding opportunities are largely limited to short tours for tourists along the many beaches. These tours can be found in almost every large town along Guanacaste’s Pacific beaches. Tours are typically 2 hours to half-day and wind back and forth from jungle to beach.
Tamarindo is one of Guanacaste’s most popular beach towns, and it has several tour operators who provide beach-farm-beach horseback riding tours. For most tours, the operator will pick you up from your hotel and return you afterward.
Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica; however, since its beachfront is interrupted by cliffs, most of the horseback riding tours in the area travel along the back roads and into the surrounding rainforest. Most of the tours in Manuel Antonio include a trip to a local waterfall or a private beach. Some of the horseback riding tours in Manuel Antonio even include a white-water rafting trip down the Naranjo River.
La Fortuna / Arenal
The town of La Fortuna and nearby Arenal is one of the most visited places in Costa Rica, and it offers many horseback riding tour options. Tours in this area typically go through local farms and forests. Some of these tours also include a “local experience” such as a cooking class or a visit or a visit to a local cacao farm. You can even visit the famous La Fortuna waterfall on horseback!
Word to the wise: Plan a visit to one of Arenal’s famous hot springs after your horseback riding tour and enjoy a nice soak in geothermal waters after a day in the saddle!
The steep and winding mountain paths of Monteverde make it an ideal place to explore atop a horse. As an agrarian town, there are some excellent outfitters for horseback riding tours in Monteverde. There are even multi-day tours that allow families and groups to travel between Monteverde and Arenal. Most of the tours pass through local dairy farms and secondary forests.
For any horseback riding tours in Monteverde, you will want to make sure you take a raincoat as cloud forest weather can change fast from sunny and warm to wet and cool.
The long, flat beaches found around the Pacific beach town of Nosara in the Nicoya Peninsula region of Costa Rica make it an idyllic place for horseback riding tours – especially at sunset. Several operators will take a family, couple, or group through jungle and beach trails. There are usually some small creeks to cross over as well, which is fun for children.
Central Valley: San Jose, Cartago
The Central Valley is the area in the center of the country that encompasses the main urban centers roughly between the Juan Santamaria Airport in southeast Alajuela to the town of Turrialba in southwest Cartago.
This area of the country generally offers the highest quantity of high-quality mountainous horseback riding tours and experiences. These are typically longer-stay experiences where travelers can spend a few days learning about horses. These experiences often combine other options, such as yoga classes or local volunteering programs.
Horseback riding in Costa Rica is a way to slow down and enjoy!
In a world that is going so fast, horses are a reminder of balance, rhythm, and harmony with nature. Costa Rica provides some amazing horseback riding experiences for families and groups.
Contact us to plan a trip to Costa Rica including horseback riding as a key experience in your trip itinerary.
John Rabenau has been working in the eco-tourism & adventure travel industry in Costa Rica since 2002. He has worked in a variety of capacities from Outdoor Educator & Principle Guide to Itinerary Design Manager & Business Owner for numerous organizations. He has grown Costa Rica Escapes into one of the most reputable Costa Rica travel agencies since its creation in 2006, hosting more than 5,000 people with custom vacation itineraries.