Pacuare River Rafting
The Pacuare River is what made rafting famous in Costa Rica. Beautiful, cascading waterfalls, too many rapids to count, a jungle setting, and year round access make it an idyllic spot. The Pacuare is segmented out by the Upper Upper, the Upper, and the Lower Pacuare. Our guidebook covers the Lower Pacuare which is the commercially rafted section. The other two are popular with kayakers looking for Class V fun.
Pacuare River Map & Guide
WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment or experience.
Class II Rapid
Class II rapid or river feature.
Class III Rapid
Class III rapid or river feature.
Class IV Rapid
Class IV rapid or river feature.
Put-In / Take-Out
The most commonly used access points.
Point of Interest
These include creeks and lodges.
Well known surf waves and swim areas.
Lower Pacuare – Class II, III & IV+
This guide outlines the main waypoints for the Lower stretch of the Pacuare River, from the multi-day put-in to the Siquirres takeout. Many of the Class II and III rapids are straightforward read and run at normal to low flows. If the water is up, or at the Class IV rapids at any flows, you will need to be with someone that knows the river well.
The multi-day put-in to the Siquirres take out is 26.23 kilometers.
Moderate to Advanced.
Meters per Kilometer
The multi-day put-in to the Siquirres take out drops 9 meters per kilometer.
Hire a shuttle driver. See Pacuare River Information tab above.
KM 0.00 – San Martin Put-in: River Left. This is the put-in currently used for multi-day trips. Previously, there was another option further upstream but the road has become rutted and slightly washed out. This alternate access point requires the landowner’s permission as there is a gate. If you plan on using this access point you will need to get in touch with Pacuare Outdoor Center. (listed as our preferred partner).
KM 0.26 – Bienvenidos: Class II+. This is a tight right turn with waves towards the bottom.
KM 0.5 – Unnamed Rapids: Class II/III. There are over a dozen unnamed Class II and III rapids and features throughout the next 6 kilometers, with some named whitewater sprinkled in.
KM 3.00 – Temible Wave: Class II+. At medium flows the bottom wave in this wave train is big, breaking, and clean to hit.
KM 3.18 – Temible Creek: River Right. The Temible Creek meets the Pacuare here on river right. Spanish for “fearsome”. If you hike up this confluence approximately fifty meters there’s a small but nice swimming hole. A short ways past this is another, deeper swimming hole.
KM 3.23 – Tres Equis Farm Put-in: River Left. This is a put-in option for one day trips.
KM 3.33 – Bienvenidos Rapid: Class II+. Another rapid named Bienvenidos due to a river access point. Read and run.
KM 3.77 – Cartago to Limon Province Border: You cross from Cartago Province into Limon Province at this point.
KM 4.14 – Linda Vista Put In: River Left. This is the best put-in option for the Lower Pacuare. The road is good and there are pit toilets here.
KM 4.33 – Linda Vista Rapid: Class III. Keep your eyes out for a rock mid channel that’s easy to pass on the left. Then the river makes a jarring right hand turn, and work your way right to stay off the right wall.
KM 4.89 – Jump Rock: River Right. As far as jump rocks go, this is a very small but fun one.
KM 4.95 – Congo Creek: River Left. This creek has a large swimming hole if you hike up approximately 100 meters. The cobblebar on the downstream side of this creek is a popular lunch spot for rafting companies.
KM 5.24 – Cable Cart & Beginning of Lodge Section: A cable cart crosses the river here for access to the Ju Tsiöbata eco-lodge, which you can’t spot from the river. This marks the beginning of the lodge section, which continues until Rio Tropicales, ~5 kilometers downstream.
KM 5.5 – Pyramid Rock: Class II. The river divides into two channels, take the left channel. It’s normal for this to be shallow. The rapid name comes from a rock that was shaped like a pyramid but then it rolled in 2006.
KM 6.35 – Pacuare Eco-Lodge: River Left. Pacuare Outdoor Center lodge is the first visible lodge you’ll come across on the Pacuare River. Learn more about the Pacuare Eco-Lodge.
KM 7.22 – Pele el Ojo: Class III. Spanish for Watch Out. Start in the center and once you see the big rocks on the left start moving right. There are lots of large boulders on the left you need to avoid.
KM 7.46 – Costa Rica Rios Rapid: Class III. Straight forward wave train. Right down the center.
KM 8.04 – Crying Rock Rapid: Class II. The river bends to the left. Start in the middle, and then run between the wall on the right and the hole. It’s going to be tight.
KM 8.08 – Crying Rock: River Right. Look right for a rock with water seeping over it.
KM 9.58 – Rios Tropicales Lodge: River Right. This is where Rios Tropicales is located and marks the end of the lodge section.
KM 9.5 – Rio Tropicales Rapid: Class II. This is a two part rapid. The first part, go down the middle avoiding the hydraulics on the sides. The second section, go far right avoiding the hydraulics on the left.
KM 9.67 – Water Level Indicator: River Left. Look to the left for a rock with paint on it. If the water is at the red paint or higher, do not continue downstream, the water is too high. Learn more about the Pacuare River flow.
KM 9.75 – Entrance to the Gorge Rapid: Class III.
KM 9.82 – Footbridge: A footbridge crosses the river here.
KM 9.88 – Creek.: River Right. A creek enters on river right here.
KM 10.11 – Rio’s Bend: Class III. There’s a big hole right in the middle.
KM 10.4 – Bobito Falls: River Right. A creek cascades into the river in this tiered waterfall.
KM 10.93 – Bobito: Class II. This is a small drop located just below Fer-De-Lance Falls.
KM 10.96 – Fer De Lance Creek: River Left. If you need to exit the canyon (emergency, rising water, etc) there is a really steep trail here that leads to a road.
KM 11.18 – Rodeo Rapid: Class III. Enter left of center and then ferry to the right tucking in behind the middle rock.
KM 11.65 – Palomitas Rapid: Class III. Small Class III with bouncy waves that ends at the creek and waterfall below.
KM 11.75 – Waterfall: River Right. A gorgeous waterfall drops into the river here.
KM 12.23 – Cold Creek: River Right. If you hike up this a shortways (careful, it is very slippery) there is a tiered waterfall that drops into a swimming hole.
KM 12.32 – Double Drop: Class III. At lower water this is Class III. Run this either left of center or right of center. Lots of holes in this one. At high water there are really big holes toward the bottom.
KM 12.85 – Upper Huacas: Class IV. At low water, you will want to enter center and then work right to get right of the bottom rock (the first one). At medium flows, enter left and stay left. At high flows, it’s the same as medium water with an enter left and stay left line, but pay attention to the right as the features are large here.
KM 13.11 – Huacas Falls: River Right. A large, beautiful waterfall cascades into the river between the Huacas rapids. Learn more about Huacas Falls.
KM 13.33 – Lower Huacas: Class IV. Scout this from the right if you’ve never seen it. At normal flows and higher there is a chicken line far right avoiding most of the nastiness. The others lines are to start center and run the right side of the drop. After that stick to the middle while working right to avoid the undercut on the left.
KM 13.86 – Calm Pool: There aren’t many long sections of calm water on the Pacuare. This is one of them.
KM 14.18 – Upper Pinball: Class III. Read and run with a sharp right at the bottom.
KM 14.4 – Lower Pinball: Class III. Just below Upper is Lower Pinball. There are two rocks in the middle of the river that you need to slalom between. The first rock, go to the right of it, the second rock, get to the left.
KM 14.46 – Hut: River Right. Look right and you’ll see some huts.
KM 14.72 – Guatemala Rapid: Class III. Fun wave train with a hole towards the bottom that you can play in.
KM 14.91 – Creek: River Right. A small waterfall tumbles into the river here.
KM 15.23 – Disneyland Rock: Hard to miss this enormous rock. Logs are deposited on top of it from the high water event from the fall 2021 flooding that occurred here. Some guides call it Disneyland Rock, other guides don’t have any name for it. Learn more about Disneyland Rock.
KM 16.09 – Creek: River Right. An unnamed creek enters the river here.
KM 16.85 – Creek: River Right. Another unnamed creek meets the Pacuare.
KM 17.04 – Cimarrones: Class II. Enter left and work to the right. Cimarrones is the bravest bull on the farm.
KM 17.56 – La Cimmarones Bend: Class II. The river bends to the right. Occsaionally at high water this will push you to the left which can have a big hole.
KM 17.78 – Sobaco del Diablo: Class II. Spanish for the devil’s armpit. The name comes from a sulphur smell that is near here. Enter middle and work left.
KM 19.37 – Brain Rock: This used to be in the center of the river, but after the 2021 floods it is no longer on the left bank. It’s called Brain Rock because, well, it looks like a brain.
KM 19.51 – Boundary Creek: River Right. This creek marks the boundary between indigenous land and Barbilla National Park.
KM 19.71 – Los Indios: Class III. This rapid used to be much bigger but has mellowed out significantly over the years. Rapids changing and getting smaller, larger, appearing or disappearing is nothing new on the Pacuare.
KM 21.09 – Magnetic Rock: Class II. Enter left of center and then work to the right.
KM 22.34 – The Wall of Sorrow: Class IV. You’re going to want to scout this one. You can scout it easily from the left cobble bar. This wasn’t much of anything until the flooding in 2021. Most of the water enters a right channel and then slams into a rock slide coming off the right wall. This rockslide has undercuts, so it is important you make the move back left. The move is easy to spot, but can be challenging to make. Hopefully over time the rapid settles and an easier route to the left appears.
KM 22.67 – Dos Montanas Rapid: Class IV. The first part is Class III, start in the middle and work to the left. For the second part, take the drop on the left and after the drop work center to be on the right side of the rocks. Once clear, work hard back to the left.
KM 22.93 – Dos Montañas Gorge: This is an iconic Pacuare River section. You’ll enter a narrow canyon here with beautiful cascading waterfalls and a bridge. Learn more about the Dos Montañas Gorge.
KM 24.5 – Las Ranitas: Class II. Spanish for the little frog. Start left of center and then work to the right. There’s a hydraulic on the left you should avoid.
KM 25 – Jump Rock: River Right. There’s a small but fun jump rock here on river right. If you pass by the four powerlines you’ve gone too far.
KM 25.17 – Graduation: Class III. Go down the center, and skirt the middle rock/hole by going just to the left of it. After that move towards the right. The visual marker for this rapid is the power lines overhead.
KM 25.63 – Train Bridge: This bridge marks the beginning of Siquirres. The train used to run from Siquirres to Limon but was shut down in 1990 due to disrepair after 100 years of service. Occasionally you’ll see kids jumping from this bridge.
KM 26.01 – Highway Bridge: Highway 32 crosses the river here. You’re likely to see people fishing in this area.
KM 26.23 – Siquirres Take Out: River Left. There are a number of takeout options in this area, but the most common one is the cobble bar just past the Highway 32 bridge.
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