15 Things To Do In Zancudo
Zancudo is certainly a far reaching destination, but once you're there, you'll understand quickly why people return year after year.
Zancudo is a "sleepier" town than other parts of Costa Rica, but Zancudo does have its own activities and social life. With the town being so small (350 Ticos and 150 gringos) you'll quickly get to know many of the residents just by sitting at Sol Y Mar and having a beer one afternoon.
But if you're wondering what else there is to do in Zancudo, then you won't be disappointed!
Here are our top 15 activities...
1. Visit the Osa Wildlife Refuge
This is our top activity to do while in Zancudo!
The day starts out with an early morning boat ride along the coastline of the Golfo Dulce. Along the way, you may encounter dolphins, blue footed boobies, turtles, a vast array of bird life and completely untouched jungle coastline.
Once you arrive at the sanctuary, you are greeted by the resident spider monkey tour guide, Sweetie.
Sweetie has been at the Osa Wildlife Refuge for several years now, and she is allowed to leave whenever she wants, but Sweetie chooses to stay at the refuge instead of returning to the jungle.
Sweetie will ask you for scratches all over her body and then accompany you around the refuge, where you'll see ocelots, spider monkeys, capuchin monkeys, macaws, sloths and more.
This is a half day trip - contact Susan at Los Cocos for more details. You can also check out Osa's website by clicking here.
2. Take a Day Trip to Pavones
Pavones is a small little surf town located about an hour from Zancudo, that is accessible by car - or you can rent an ATV, although that is the dustier option!
If you don't have your own mode of transportation, you can hire a car for about $60 round trip.
While in Pavones, make sure to keep an eye out for wild horses, as they like to wander the beaches and along the river. Pavones is also home to the longest left breaking wave, which draws thousands of surf enthusiasts every year. You'll definitely feel that "surf town vibe" when you get there.
Stop at Cafe de la Suerte for fresh local organic food and one of their blended banana cocoa iced coffees. We can't say enough delicious things about this place!
If you want a pizza fix, try La Bruschetta, located across from a great beach to spend your afternoon on.
Contact Sonny and Sandra for more information about ATV rentals and taxi services to Pavones.
3. Rent an ATV
Explore the town, beach and surrounding area of Zancudo by ATV! In the dry season the roads are very dusty, so be sure to pack sunglasses and a bandana to cover your mouth and nose. It is a really cool way to get around, and each one can seat two people, so it's great for adventurous couples looking to get out for a day!
Rentals start at $75 per day. Contact Sonny and Sandra for information.
4. Take a Free Yoga Class
During the high season, there is a free yoga class happening almost every morning in Zancudo. Classes are led by experienced professionals, and mats and equipment are available if needed.
Contact Susan at Los Cocos for more information.
5. Spot Wildlife on a Guided Jungle Hike
How close do you want to be to caymans, snakes, birds, monkeys and other jungle wildlife? Don't worry, you'll be a safe distance away, but your guide Amon will be there to point them out and tell you incredibly interesting facts about them all too!
Amon was born in the States but grew up in Costa Rica, and is so incredibly knowledgable about the plants and wildlife of the jungle. You can hire Amon to take you on a guided hike through Arena Alta, where he will point out numerous wildlife, plants and incredible trees hidden in the jungle.
Cost is $20 for a 2-3 hour hike. Bring water, your camera and sturdy shoes. Contact Noah at Arena Alta for more information.
6. Go Horseback Riding
Horseback riding can be a great way to explore the trails and beaches of Arena Alta, as well as the surrounding fields and mountains of the area. The horses live right on the Arena Alta property, and are suitable for all levels of experience.
For more information on guided horseback riding, contact us at Arena Alta.
7. Book an Inshore Fishing Trip
The Golfo Dulce is home to jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel, skipjack tuna, roosterfish, cubera snapper (plus many other species of snapper), Pacific black snook, yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi, just to name a few.
Book an inshore fishing trip for $200-$600 depending on the captain, type of boat and how many hours you want to go fishing for.
8. Tour Roberts Garden and Have a Traditional Costa Rican Lunch
Perhaps one of the best meals you will have while in Costa Rica as well as one of the most beautiful collections of flora and fauna, Robert's Garden is a must.
Located about one hour from Zancudo, Robert, originally from the States but has lived and worked in Costa Rica for over 50 years, has cultivated the most expansive garden of edible flowers, medicinal herbs and rare plants, trees and flowers.
After walking through and sampling what is in the garden, you are then treated to fresh coconut water and a massive lunch buffet, all cooked from scratch, most of which comes from the garden.
9. Visit the Cascading Waterfalls
Not only will the waterfalls wow you, but also the drive to actually get there! You'll need 4-wheel drive to get up this steep, rocky road, but once you're there, it's as if you've found a hidden gem straight out of a fairy tale.
Spend the afternoon swimming in the warm, mountain fresh river pools, and take a quick hike up to the top to see all the cascading waterfalls.
Robert's Garden and the waterfalls are a great combination day trip.
10. Bike or Walk to the Point
Many residents get around on bikes, and it's very popular to take a bike ride down to the point at low tide, where the sand get's so hard it's like an actual road, suitable to ride on. You can also just walk the beach and search for treasures. It is very common to find shells and sometimes even sea glass as you walk, but keep your eyes on the horizon for fish jumping - you never know what you'll see!
11. Take in the Sunsets
The sunsets in Zancudo never disappoint, and it is common to see families and couples go down to the beach to watch the sunsets. Either enjoy them on the beach, your deck if you can see it or at the bar at Sol Y Mar. No matter what, you simply can't miss the sunsets!
12. Read a Book, Dip in the Ocean...Just Relax!
This is really why you come to a place like Zancudo. Since it is a much sleepier, quieter town than others in Costa Rica, it is perfectly acceptable to simply grab a book from the community library at Sol Y Mar and spend the afternoon reading lazily on your hammock. When you get a little too hot, just walk down to the ocean for a quick dip, which can sometimes be so warm it's like bath water, but refreshing nonetheless. Most importantly, make sure to spend some time to just relax and do nothing, that's what this place is all about :).
13. Sundays are for Partying!
During the high season (January -March), head over to Robbie's, which is next door to Arena Alta, for Bloody Sunday's. If you love bloody Mary's, then you'll crave these extra large, extra strong bloody's served with your whole lunch skewered right into it. It could be anything from slices of pizza to fried chicken sandwiches to anything else Robbie comes up with!
After a few of those and time spent getting to know other expats in town, head down to Sol Y Mar for horseshoes, held every Sunday afternoon during the high season. You can grab fresh seafood and a drink while you compete in the tournaments, or just take in the sunset and hang out with everyone in town!
14. Zancudo = Italian Food
This one may seem a little odd, but Zancudo is home to some born and raised Italians, who brought their cooking skills to the jungle for all of us to enjoy.
One of those wonderful chefs also happens to be Amon's wife (your hiking guide)! Nadia bakes up the best focaccia bread and pizza you've ever had. You can order pizza almost daily, just make sure to message her in the morning, so you can have a pizza on the beach kind of evening one night. She also makes big batches and drives through town once a week, stopping at homes to sell her goods. My mouth waters just thinking about her food! Check with Noah or Amon for Nadia's contact details.
Then there's Macondos down the street, where chef Daniel cooks up fresh homemade pastas and sauces and uses locally caught seafood to prepare insanely good meals. We have had everything from lasagna bolognese to boiled jumbo shrimp to alfredo sauce with linguine...you name it, it's incredible. And you always begin every meal with fresh bruschetta and garlic bread. Reservations must be made in advance. Give Daniel a phone call or send him an email at 00506.7760157 - firstname.lastname@example.org
15. Go Kayaking or Grab a SUP
If you're looking for a really good early morning workout and a chance to be out on the water before it gets too hot, then I suggest renting a kayak or a SUP.
Early in the morning at sunrise is the best time to do this because the Golfo Dulce is calm with very little to no waves, making for glassy waters and a perfect time to get out there. You can rent them from Susan at Los Cocos for $5-$10 per hour.
You can easily paddle out pretty far, and very quickly you'll be in total silence, and it is therapeutic. The only things you'll hear are the sounds of birds and schools of fish jumping and feeding.
If you get close enough to a school, you might even see them under your boat, since the water is so clear. Make sure to pack water, sunscreen and a hat - it get's hot out there even at 6 or 7am!
Want More Ideas?
While there might not be activities such as zip lining, there are certainly other options. You can go offshore fishing, hire a guide to take you to the Osa Peninsula, which is an untouched, completely wild jungle right across the bay from Zancudo, schedule a massage or mani/pedi, go on a kayak tour through the mangroves, go bird watching...the options are endless!
Zancudo holds a special place in my heart, and no matter how many different ways I can describe it, you just have to see it and experience it for yourself. I hope you've enjoyed this list of our top 15 things to do in Zancudo!