Best Places for White Water Rafting in the World

Whitewater rafting has become very popular over the years due to its challenging and exciting nature. There are various types of rafting worldwide, but where are the best places for white water rafting? Some experiences include river surfing, tube riding, kayaking, canoeing, or tubing. Others often get the ultimate thrill through class rapids that add that immense adrenaline rush.

Whitewater rafting is fun and an excellent opportunity to get close to nature through beautiful rivers, lakes, mountains, and forests. So what are you waiting for? Read on to discover some of the best rafting spots around the globe.

Where to go River Rafting Contents

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Rio Pacuare, Costa Rica

Pacuare river rafting in Costa Rica with waterfalls

Costa Rica is one of the world’s adventure capitals, so there is no surprise that the white water rafting here is immense! The real question is which rafting hotspot to choose, as there are so many tropical river rafting locations to consider. One of the best white water rafting rivers in the world, though, is the Rio Pacuare, located an hour or so away from San Jose and en route to the popular adventure destination, La Fortuna.

The beauty of the surroundings makes this river stand out, coupled with incredibly challenging rapids. Sure, you’ll get to experience grade III to IV rapids (and believe me, they’re incredible), but there are moments when you can just enjoy the ride through nature. One of the best features of this journey is rowing through several vast waterfalls. But, of course, you’re already wet, so you’ve got nothing to lose, right?

The experience will typically take 4 hours and cost approximately $100, including hotel pick up and drop off in San Jose. You can also stay at a river lodge and extend your outdoor experience.

Ayung River, Bali

Best places for white water rafting - Ayung river, Bali

There is something extraordinary about river rafting in a tropical location. The Ayung river in Bali, Indonesia, is no different and is one of the world’s best white water rafting spots. After a short stroll through the vibrant green rice paddy fields, you’ll soon be at the river bed, about to take on your adventure.

Tackle the dozens of rapids on this 12meter long 2.5-hour rafting trip, where you will enjoy Ubud’s natural beauty while taking in a heavy dose of adrenaline. Don’t worry, though; the rapids range from class, and when they subside, you’ll be able to jump out of your raft and spend your time wild swimming beneath a hidden waterfall.



Of all my rafting experiences, this river was the only one where I had to scoop out two of my friends who capsized. I was taught well by the qualified guide and was able to react quickly and safely, but this shows how wild (and dangerous) these activities can sometimes get. It certainly made for a memorable experience that we were soon laughing about.

Tena, Ecuador

By Carley from Home to Havana

Best places for white water rafting - Tena, Equador

Well known for being the best destination for whitewater rafting in the country, Tena, Ecuador, is a must-visit destination for visitors looking for a thrilling excursion on the river. The gateway to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, rafting excursions in Tena occur on a tributary of the Amazon River, making this bucket list experience even more memorable due to the stunning scenery. 

Tena is a backpacker’s dream destination, and with affordable rafting excursions costing around $60 USD for a full day on the river with lunch included, you can’t beat the price. In addition, participants can choose from rafting excursions on level II, III, or IV rapids depending on experience level and preference, meaning you’re bound to find an experience tailored to you.

Raft Amazonia is one of the best companies in Tena for rafting, and they have a wide variety of excursions for different levels of experience. They also offer stand-up paddle boarding excursions on calm river areas and combinations of rafting and exploring the Amazon Jungle, a great way to enjoy all the best of Tena.

Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic

By Chris from Punta Cana Travel Blog

Best places for white water rafting - Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic

River rafting in Jarabacoa is one of the coolest activities in the Dominican Republic. Compared to the tourism in Punta Cana with all its all-inclusive resorts, it is a very off-the-beaten-track one, too, as Jarabacoa is far away from most of the beaches and tourist areas. Therefore, most people go river rafting in Jarabacoa as a part of a road trip in the Dominican Republic, which is a fantastic way to get to know the entire country.

Jarabacoa is part of the Cordillera Central, the central mountain range of the Dominican Republic. The rafting here takes place at the Rio Yaque del Norte, a river usually classified with class 3 rapids, even though the intensity depends a bit on the river’s water level. Therefore, the trip is generally smoother in the dry season (December to April) and a bit more adventurous (May to November) during the rainy season. 

The time on the river is usually around 1 to 1.5 hours, and the professional guide manoeuvring the boat entertains the raft with extra twists according to the adventure level of the group. The raft might flood or partially drown if you are up for this extra fun. There may even be turns so hard that you fall into the water. But no worries, everything is under the supervision of experienced guides. Those little extra adventures are optional. I speak about my own experiences as I also made close contact with the bottom of the river. 

River rafting in Jarabacoa should ideally be booked a couple of days in advance, either online or through your accommodation in Jarabacoa. The price usually is around 50 to 60 USD per person for a half-day tour, including transfers and all necessary equipment.

Trancura River, Pucon, Chile

By Joanna from The World In My Pocket

Best places for white water rafting - Pucon River, Chile

Pucon is one of the most adventurous cities in Chile, with tourists coming from around the world to climb the active Villarica Volcano. One of the many adventurous things to do in Pucon is rafting.

While waiting for the weather in Pucon to get better so that I could climb Villarica, I went on several tours around the town, including whitewater rafting on the Trancura River.

Booking a tour was easy at one of the many adventure tour companies on the main avenue in Pucon, O’Higgins. There are several rafting tours that you can take based on your experience. I chose the rafting tour on the lower part of the river, where the rapids are suitable for beginners and people who haven’t been rafting before. The upper part of the river is much faster, with many rocks and a strong current.

Once you meet the rest of the group and the experienced guide, you will depart on a shared van toward the river. You will receive wet suits and attend a safety briefing before entering the waters, and there will be a guide in each boat.

The whitewater rafting started slow, but soon the rapids made the boat catch up speed, navigating between large rocks and jumping over tiny waterfalls. The views were amazing, with lush vegetation on each side of the river and the smoky cone of Villarrica on the left-hand side. In total, we travelled over a distance of 13 kilometres with grade III rapids. The price for this activity was 40 dollars.

River Nile, Uganda

By Bella from Passport & Pixels

Best places for white water rafting - Jinja, Uganda

Uganda is famous for its wildlife, particularly the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Still, many people don’t know that it’s also one of the best places for white water rafting in the world. That’s because Uganda is home to the source of the River Nile. This legendary river begins its 4000-mile journey across the African continent from Lake Victoria in the country’s southeast. Head to the riverside town of Jinja, known as the adventure capital of East Africa, for a taste of some of the best rapids in the world, as well as other adrenaline experiences like bungee jumping, tubing, and mountain biking.

Rafting at Jinja is a wild ride of extreme rapids, making it one of the best things to do in Uganda. The leading rafting company, Nile River Explorers, offers Grade 3 and Grade 5 rapids. Each trip costs $140 per person for 4-5 hours on the river, covering 15 km of rapids, with photographers on hand to capture the best moments of this thrilling experience.

Barron River, Cairns, Australia

By Eloise from My Favourite Escapes

Best places for white water rafting - Barron River, Cairns, Australia

On the north of Australia’s East Coast, Cairns provides one of the best white water rafting locations.

The Barron River and its grade 3 rapids are only 20-minutes away from Cairns town centre. The tour includes hotel pickup and all the necessary equipment for two hours of fun going down the river in a big raft of eight people, including a guide. Although some may be disappointed by the big group, hearing the screams and seeing the other rafts in trouble add a lot of adrenaline to the experience.

The river flows all year round, so it’s straightforward to organize and a great refreshing activity to better deal with the heat and humidity of this region. The half-day tour costs AU$160 (US$110).

If you don’t mind driving and are visiting at the right season, you won’t regret going on a day trip to the grade 4 rapids of the Tully River, known as Australia’s best rafting river (1h45 south of Cairns). The Tully River also has grade 2 rapids where you can pilot your own raft for a different kind of experience. Or you can take an inflatable kayak on the grade 2 rapids of the Millstream River, one hour south of Cairns, a quiet place to connect with nature.

It’s so lucky to have various whitewater rafting opportunities to choose from!

Bala River, Snowdonia National Park, Wales

Best places for white water rafting - Bala, Wales

I know what you’re thinking. Surely Wales in the UK isn’t one of the best places for whitewater rafting. You’d be correct compared to some of the incredible hot spots above. That said, North Wales is the adventure capital of the UK, and if you’re looking for a fun rafting experience suitable for all of the family, you will find it in Bala.

In the heart of the iconic Snowdonia National Park, you will find the national white water rafting centre. The nearby Llyn Celyn reservoir feeds the circular circuit making this a brilliant Spring to Autumn outdoor activity. While you might miss the flow of a steady downstream river, the twists and turns guarantee to get you soaked and fuelled with adrenaline. 



The price of this whitewater rafting adventure varies depending on the experience you book, but you can expect to pay £50 upwards for a few hours on the river.

Best white water rafting in Summary

By now, you’ve uncovered some of the best white water rafting locations in the world experienced by fellow adrenaline junkies. Don’t worry. Each activity will come with safety equipment such as a life jacket and helmet and is geared to deal with many skill levels. Which appealed to you most? Is it the tropical destinations like Costa Rica or Uganda, or the forestry locations like Wales and Australia? Or, do you have some river trips of your own that you’d like to share? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and prepare for one action-packed adventure.

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About the Author

Kerry

Welcome to Adrenaline Junkiez. We're Kerry & Jason, just two people who like to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and travel the world in search of adventure. Discover ideas for the ultimate thrill seekers bucket list and get your adrenaline pumping.

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