A Classic Adventure Experience at Canopy Vista Los Suenos
Costa Rica is practically synonymous with adventure sports and activities, making the Central American nation a draw for outdoorsy types and thrill-seekers around the globe. During our brief getaway, the options at our fingertips on the Pacific Coast were endless: horseback riding, canyoning, jungle treks, ATVing, parasailing, surfing, paddle boarding; all available within a short drive of our hotel.
We opted to try out the zipline course at Canopy Vista Los Suenos, an activity that has become a must for many visitors to Costa Rica. Though zip lines were historically used around the world for practical purposes, the ‘sport’ of ziplining, in the way we view it now, was practically born in Costa Rica. In the 1970s, researchers installed ziplines as a way to get around more efficiently through the jungle, and quickly realized that it could be an interesting tourism option for visitors.
You can now zipline in many destinations around the globe, but Central American jungles are probably the most vivid image associated with the activity. I went ziplining in Honduras last year for the first time, and wanted to see what was on offer in Costa Rica. Travelers we had met in Honduras mentioned that Costa Rica’s ziplines were breathtaking, and while Los Suenos’ line isn’t the best in Costa Rica (read about Travel + Leisure top 5 zip lines in Costa Rica), it’s an absolute machine. The team there knows what their doing, and it’s something that is safe and easy enough for kids and elderly travelers.
Suiting Up + Flying
Zipline tours operate hourly – on the hour – between 8AM and 3PM. We arrived around 8:30AM in time for the 9:00 tour. They recommend that you allocate about two hours for the entire experience, which is a fair estimate. Tickets are around $65 per person, inclusive of the 12 line tour with guides, the ride from the base to the beginning of the course, equipment, fruit and water.
As you can imagine, the jungle starts to heat up as the day goes on so an early morning zipline is arguably the most preferred. For our 9AM tour, it was packed. We decided on this excursion last-minute and ended up being the last two people being added onto the group, visitors number 34 and 35, where they cap the tour. When I ziplined in Honduras last year, it was my sister and I with two guides. That was it. It was a private experience that had us moving at our own pace and enjoying time with the guides as we zipped along. In Costa Rica, the experience was different: we were sent off line by line, in groups. We’d move from platform to platform, where we were very quickly and expertly attached to the next line and sent on our way.
One of our fellow zipliners had been on this very course two times prior, and mentioned how he felt as though he were finally seeing the jungle for the first time. There’s truth in this. If you haven’t ziplined before, there’s this natural tendency to focus straight ahead: lean back ever so slightly, hold the line with one hand and the straps with another, break if they signal to you, etc. etc. For the first few lines, enjoying the scenery takes a back seat and the mechanics of ziplining are at the forefront.
But the trip truly is about taking in the vast expanses of green that engulf you. You’re surrounded by verdant jungle as you zip from platform to platform, to the point where the trees themselves become indecipherable as they create a massive bed of vibrant leaves.
Yes, with 35 people it lacks a bit of the personalization element, but the bilingual team did an impressive job moving people along and interacting with guests individually where possible.
There’s also a photographer on staff that snaps photos along the way – once at the beginning, once at a midway point on a platform, and two action shots along different lines in the course. I was absolutely ill-prepared for this, and am so disappointed that I didn’t get to capture more video and action shots from the canopy. Our GoPro was dead (shocker – I swear we never end up with any GoPro footage!), and I didn’t have anywhere to really put my phone that felt comfortable, so the only snapshots I have are the ones that I took after the course and the ones that the on-site photog snapped.
After 14 platforms and 12 cables, we returned to right where we started the journey. We stripped off our gear and grabbed pre-portioned fruit boxes with watermelon and pineapple as we made our way out. Nice touch with the fruit and water!
Tips + Takeaways for Your Zip Lining Tour
After our experience with ziplining at Canopy Vista Los Suenos, here are some tips and a bit of insight if you’re venturing this way:
- MAKE RESERVATIONS // Had we planned appropriately, we would have made reservations in advance. We lucked out by being the last two people brought into our ziplining group, but everyone else had secured their time slot in advance. Call to secure your spot so you can venture down with confidence in knowing you won’t have to wait until a later tour time.
- GO EARLY // We were glad to have gone early, and probably would have opted for the 8AM tour if we could have made it in time. By the end of our tour we could feel the area heating up as the sun came out. While the jungle provides shade, earlier tours will likely allow for a more comfortable experience.
- PLAN FOR YOUR PHOTOS // I was disappointed that I couldn’t take my phone on this journey, but saw other people tote their iPhones as they zipped around the canopy. A plastic lanyard for your phone is a great addition! You can keep your phone around your neck at the ready, perfect for snapping pics from platforms or even capturing some footage on the go! A zip top prevents the phone from plummeting to its death. A DSLR has no place on the course so stick with iPhone or GoPro. For GoPro bring a wristband or a head strap as your hands will be occupied when you’re zipping around.
- WEAR // Close-toed shoes or secure sandals are a must since you’ll be gaining speed far above the ground. Flip flops would have to fight to stay on! For clothing, we saw a decent array of attire, but leggings or denim shorts plus tees or tanks seemed to be a solid option. Avoid wearing super-short shorts as the gear will pull your bottoms up a few inches!
I was impressed with our course in the sense that they clearly have this down to a science. The guides are great and incredibly efficient, but with groups of up to 35, it can’t help but lack a bit of an X factor. Smaller scale experiences inevitably make you feel like you’re part of something unique, which is something millennial travelers seem to universally prefer and we’re no different. I’m glad we added it on to our time in Costa Rica – I would have felt like I missed out had I not tried it! – but I still look back on our Honduras ziplining experience extra fondly. Perhaps it was because it was my first time trying it; perhaps it was because I was doing it with my sister and we were the only ones there; perhaps it was because we ended by zipping over a stunning waterfall. All that being said, this was a great experience, and a fabulous option for travelers of all ages. And let’s be honest: can you go to Costa Rica and not do something active?!
Have you been ziplining in Costa Rica? What did you think of the experience? Any courses that were absolute standouts?