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Costa Rica is an adventure seeker’s playground. The country is world-renown for its adrenaline-pumping zip-lining courses over the dense rainforests surrounding the Arenal Volcano and Monteverde region. If you are considering zip lining in Costa Rica, here are a few things you should know before you book your tour.
About zip lining in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a country made up of rainforests. In fact, 90 percent of the native animals in Costa Rica and 50 percent of the plant species native to the country live in the canopies, or upper levels of the rainforest. For this reason, the best way to see Costa Rica and experience its incredible ecosystem is from above! Zip lining in Costa Rica dates back to the late 1970s, when it was primarily used as a means of exploration by researchers in the jungle. However, canopy tours are now a huge tourism draw for thrill-seekers in Costa Rica.
Compare all adrenaline-pumping activities in Costa Rica and book a tour HERE.
Our personal experience zip lining in Costa Rica
We visited Costa Rica when our daughter was just 6 months old. Despite being a thrill-seeking destination, Costa Rica is also a great destination for families. Although we were traveling with an infant, the baby was able to stay with grandparents, who were along for the adventure, while we were zip lining in Costa Rica.
We zip lined at Sky Adventures in the Arenal Rainforest, just outside of La Fortuna. It was such an incredible experience, and the views were unmatched! You feel like you’re flying high above the ground, buzzing through the trees, and reaching speeds of about 30-40 miles per hour. Zip lining in Costa Rica is exhilarating, but honestly not as scary as you may think.
In our small zip lining group, we had children as young as six years old as well as older people, and all of them loved it. The system they use in Costa Rica is very safe and the guides are there to assist. The zip-lining guides are also very friendly and funny which makes the experience even better, particularly for those who are apprehensive or scared going into the canopy tour.
Visiting the Arenal area? Book your Ziplining Canopy Tour Here.
Is zip lining in Costa Rica safe?
Short answer: yes. Zip lining in Costa Rica is extremely safe. Regardless of where you go, you’ll find knowledgeable and funny guides there to assist you with your harness, slow you down or stop you if you go to fast, and make you feel comfortable before you zip off into the clouds. Prior to embarking on the zip lining course, you will go through a brief training session to make sure you understand and are willing to comply with their safety rules.
Additionally, aside from the zip lining harness, you are required to wear a helmet and gloves. You are not allowed to take your hands off the handles to take a mid-air photo. This is not the case in some of the other countries in which we have zip lined, so we felt like zip lining in Costa Rica was much safer than many other places around the world. Bottom line, Costa Rica takes zip lining safety seriously.
Zip lining in Costa Rica is not an activity you can do with children under the age of five or six, depending on the tour operator. So, if you are visiting Costa Rica with kids, please known very young children will not be able to participate, for obvious reasons. While many zip lining tours in Costa Rica require very little levels of physical fitness, the ability to hold on to the handles and follow basic instructions is a must.
Kids ages six and older can participate and will likely have a blast zip lining in Costa Rica, at least at most of the canopy tours! For safety purposes, young children will likely be harnessed in and required to zip line with one of the experienced guides at most canopy tours. Some of the more strenuous or extreme canopy tours in Costa Rica may even have a higher age limit for participants.
Fitness or physical limitations
Almost anyone of any fitness level can participate in a Costa Rica zip line adventure. You’ll be secured into a harness attached to a sturdy steel cable. The most strenuous part of any canopy tour may actually be reaching the canopy. However, many of the zip lining tours have an aerial tram that takes you up to the treetops, so very little stair-climbing is required.
While we cannot speak for every zip lining tour in Costa Rica, the Sky Adventures zip line course that we did was not at all strenuous. In fact, there were very few stairs to climb, and most of the stairs were actually going down, not up. People of most fitness levels can do this activity. Although it is important to note, zip lining in Costa Rica is not a handicap accessible experience, unfortunately.
What to wear when zip lining in Costa Rica
We would recommend wearing clothes you do not mind getting dirty. Additionally, long pants, and closed-toed shoes are a must. During the rainy season in Costa Rica, which falls between May and mid-November, zip line courses are still open and operating. Although, they will stop the course if it is pouring rain and lightning, under most circumstances, a light rain will not result in a canceling or postponement of your activities. So be prepared and dress accordingly.
How scary is zip lining in Costa Rica?
The question we get asked the most about zip lining in Costa Rica is whether it is scary. While this is certainly an activity for the adventurous, we would not necessarily deem it “scary”. Even my father, who is afraid of heights, loved zip lining in Costa Rica. You may feel nervous when you approach the first platform to zip off into the clouds, but after just one zip line, you will quickly get over your fears or nerves, and be ready for more!
The best places to zip line in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has practically become synonymous with zip lining. Here are the top rated zip lining and canopy tours in Costa Rica.
Sky Adventures Zip lining in Arenal
Once you start the zip line course, there is no turning back. There are approximately 7 different zip lines that will zig-zag back and forth across the Costa Rican rain forest, keeping you mostly above the canopy of the trees the entire time. Ultimately, the course returns you to the starting point. It takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours to complete the course depending on the size of the group accompanying you in your time slot.
There is a stopping point halfway through where you can use the restroom, get a drink, and take a few photos. As you are approaching this platform, a professional photographer will also take your photo. You can view and purchase that picture immediately afterward. You can also combine your zip lining tour with a hanging bridge tour which is equally as fun, and perhaps even more beautiful!
Zip lining in Monteverde
Monteverde is home to the longest zip line in Costa Rica. To experience the 5,220 foot-long (1590-zipline, you’ll need to book through Aventura Canopy Tour in Monteverde. While this is the most popular zip line in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, it isn’t the only one.
For true thrill-seekers, the mega-mix adventure in Monteverde is sure to give you a dose of excitement and fun with activities beyond just zip lining.
Lead by an experienced guide, you can test your balance during a high ropes course with 17 challenging elements, including logs, poles, and other structures suspended in air. The experience includes 8 zip line cables with panoramic mountain views.Followed by a rappel and a Tarzan swing through the jungle. It ends with with a Superman-style zip line that will have you flying through the air on your stomach for 2460 feet (750 meters) over the tree tops.
Manuel Antonio Canopy Tour
Located in the southwestern region on Costa Rica near Manuel Antonio National Park, this canopy tour takes you from the jungle floor to the tree tops along a series of 20 platforms and 10 zip lines. At the end of the tour you have the choice between one final zip line cable or rappelling and Tarzan swing. This is great for those who are in a party of mixed abilities and comfort levels. For those more timid, they can conclude by taking the last zip line. And for those seeking a final dose of adrenaline, they can embrace their inner Tarzan or Jane and swing to the end.
This Costa Rica zip line tour includes a meal and drinks in the price.
Zip lining in Guanacaste
Guanacaste is known more for their beaches and all-inclusive resorts. While they do have some jungle-areas and at least one beautiful waterfall, the region is not really covered in dense rainforests like other parts of Costa Rica. However, if vacationing in Guanacaste, you can take a half-day adventure that will take you to the nearest rainforest for a canopy zip line tour in Guanacaste.
It requires a short drive, but this guided zip line tour will take you through one of Costa Rica’s tropical dry forests, where you will be surrounded by high trees and nature. The area is home to a lot of howler monkeys who you may spot during the canopy tour.
Zip lining near Jaco
One of the best zip lining tours in Costa Rica, the canopy tour near Jaco includes a bonus waterfall view from the aerial tram. You’ll get a great look at a cascading 40-foot waterfall, as well as panoramic views of the ocean as you ride the Pacific Rain Forest Aerial Tram to begin your zip lining canopy tour. The hour-long tram ascends to the top of the mountain where you will then soar down on a steel cable zip line. This is one of the few zip lines in Costa Rica that do not require you to hold onto the cable, as it has a controlled breaking system that lets you go hands free! The canopy tour includes 10 zip lines and 15 tree platforms.
Zip lining near Limon
For those visiting Costa Rica on a cruise that ports in Puerto Limon, this zip lining tour is for you. A tour guide will pick you up from the pier and take you to a jungle biological reserve. With 9 zip-line cables and 12 platforms, you’ll soar through the air nearly 300 feet above the ground.
The tour also includes a 1-hour boat ride through the Tortuguero Canals. Known as Costa Rica’s Amazon, the Tortuguero Canal region is rich with exotic flowers and other plants. You also may spot wildlife including howler monkeys, sloths, toucans, iguanas and even crocodiles.
Looking for more information on things to do and places to stay in Costa Rica? Check out our guide and itinerary for visiting Costa Rica with kids.
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