We thought we had been zip lining before…
But then we found ourselves standing on the edge of a 40-foot high wooden platform in Monteverde, Costa Rica. We quickly realized: our previous experiences were child’s play compared to this.
In the midst of secondary cloud forest, we were about to soar above the trees. To say my heart was pounding would be an understatement. The pouring rain coupled with the whole not being able to see the other platform thing had us wondering why we had signed up for this in the first place. Luckily, we weren’t given much time to let our imaginations wander. This was only the first of fifteen lines, and it was time to get going.
With a giant exhale and small push from the guide, we took turns zooming down the first line, too focused on safely making it to the other end to notice the stunning scenery around us. But with our feet firmly reunited with the ground and one line under our belts, we were now confidently ready to tackle the next fourteen of the course.
We might have been a bit giddy off the steady flow of adrenaline, but the 3 kilometers of zip lines only seemed to get better and better, culminating with an epic 1-kilometer zip line past what was probably the most beautiful view of the Monteverde Cloud Forest imaginable. The fact that Dan and I were able to ride it tandem only made it that much more memorable.
After experiencing zip lining for ourselves, we now understand why so many say you can’t leave Costa Rica without trying it. And with the stunning views in Monteverde, we would say this is arguably the best place in all of Costa Rica to experience it. It is worth noting though that while the zip lines are marketed as Canopy Tours, you shouldn’t expect to see much wildlife while zipping up to 30 miles an hour.
Zip lining might be the most popular activity in Monteverde, but there are other things to do and experience. If zip lining isn’t for you, here are a few alternative activities we loved almost as much:
Our Top Tips For Exploring Monteverde, Costa Rica
Climb The Ficus Tree
This is for you adventurous souls that don’t enjoy the safety of a harness hugging your hips. Located down the winding Perro Negro road, this mammoth tree is in the woods on the right, just before the sign for the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Follow the small trail into the forest and you can’t miss it! If you’re a monkey like Dan, you can climb all the way to the top. If you’re more like me you might make it about halfway. Either way, it’s an awesome spot to take some cool photos!
Visit The Monteverde Hummingbird Gallery
Someone once told me that hummingbirds stab each other in the skull if there is too much competition for food. After visiting the hummingbird gallery, I can’t believe it—they are just too beautiful! The garden is small, but a quaint place to relax and enjoy watching the creatures as they flit from feeder to feeder. We saw six different varieties, and probably near one hundred hummingbirds in total.
This is probably the best alternative for those anxious about viewing the cloud forest via air. There are plenty of tour guides willing to lead you in on foot—Esteban Mendez comes highly recommended though our schedules didn’t work out to use him personally. If you are interested in bird watching, this is a great option.
Take a Coffee’N Jungle Night Tour In Monteverde
It’s amazing how much the forest changes at night. This tour was the perfect combination of wildlife and coffee. Read about the whole tour here.
Eat At The Best Cafe In Monteverde: Stella’s
We first heard of Stella’s from another traveler raving about it on instagram. After visiting for ourselves, we easily understood why. Go for breakfast and splurge on one of the decadent cakes or pastries, like passion fruit cheesecake or coconut pineapple pie. They are one of the few establishments we have come across in Costa Rica that opens at 6 a.m., if you should find yourself motivated to wake up that early.
Where To Stay In Monteverde: Cabinas Eddy
We’re beach people at heart, but enough time at Cabinas Eddy and we might be converted. This family-run hotel went above and beyond our expectations in terms of service, facilities, and hospitality. Freddy (the owner) even awoke at 6 a.m. before our early morning departure to make us breakfast to go. Needless to say, we got quite a few envious looks from other travelers while we munched our breakfast burrito on the bus. Read our entire review of Cabinas Eddy here.
We met many travelers that decided not to visit Monteverde because they thought it would be too similar to the more popular tourist area around Arenal. However, our few days in Monteverde were some of our favorite! We wouldn’t hesitate to return.
Have you been zip lining before? Would you climb the Ficus Tree?