Horseback riding at Buena Vista.

A pastoral region, Guanacaste offers this activity in coastal areas and in the mountains and their communities. Horseback-riding tours are available through tourism operators or family-owned farms that rent horses.

There are opportunities to go horseback riding almost everywhere in the Costa Rica, and climbing onto the back of a spirited equine can be a wonderful way to spice up your vacation. The selection of horseback excursions ranges from morning trail rides in the mountains above San Jose, which get you back after lunch, to all-day expeditions through the rain forest.

Though you might not associate it with a tropical country, Costa Rica has quite a cowboy culture. The tradition is primarily based in the province of Guanacaste, one of the first parts of the country to be settled by the Spanish, where vast cattle ranches cover rolling hills and forest-draped volcanoes tower above it all.

Riding on the beach

Nevertheless, mountain resorts and nature lodges located all over the country offer horseback excursions, which can head through pastures, tropical forests, or down beaches, and often stopping at waterfalls and swimming holes.

Horseback tours are also excellent opportunities for bird watching and getting close to timid wildlife, and the people who lead them often have eagle eyes peeled for interesting critters.