MShieldsPhotos / Alamy
Ashley Harrell
October 03, 2014

Visitors to this country basically aren’t allowed to leave without going zip-lining. It’s as vital as your visa stamp, a Costa Rican right of passage for one and all. Five-year-olds have done it and so have 95-year-olds. Sometimes I think my mother, who was too scared to try, is the only person to ever come to Costa Rica and not zip-line.

Everyone but my mom was faced with a very difficult choice: where to zip-line? No matter what city you’re in, I’ll bet you 500 colones that a zip-line is within 10 miles of you. And chances are it’s a perfectly fine zip-line, considering most of them involve the same stuff: telephone wire, treetop platforms, hardhats, safety harnesses, clip ins, gloves, woooosh.

I’ve done more zip-lines than I could ever hope to count, to the point where it’s actually gotten boring. I once sent a text message while zip-lining, so I’m more than qualified to tell you which zip-lines are insanely good, and here they are. 

Sky Trek in Arenal

This elaborate canopy tour begins with an open-air gondola ride to the tippy top of the trees, where an observation deck gives you full view of the Arenal Volcano and surrounding lands. From there, you fly down 10 cables, the best of which is about half a mile long. Soaring over the trees, you’ll have volcano and lake views, and even on rainy days it’s fun to burst through the fog at top speeds. 

Monteverde Extremo

Above the cloud forest in central Costa Rica, this zip-ling extravaganza involves 14 platforms at a starting height of nearly 1,400 feet. Four of the rides go on for nearly a half-mile, and at the end, a free Tarzan swing awaits. The property also has a separate Superman zip-line that goes really far, really fast, and a bungee jump option. 

Montezuma Waterfall Canopy Tour

A reasonably priced tour ($45), this is one of the best zip-line deals I’ve encountered. With 13 platforms suspended above the jungle, the adrenaline has no choice but to kick. My favorite part, though, is the stop at the Montezuma Waterfalls, where you can show off with a backflip or two, and then jump right back on the zip-line tour.  

Corcovado Canopy Tour

Costa Rica’s largest primary forest is here in Corcovado, and it’s only natural that the zip-line tour through it is excellent. This operation offers 11 cables that cover 50 miles and aren’t super high off the ground, making this a less fear-inducing but still exhilarating experience. I’m pretty sure mom my still wouldn’t consider it.  

Witches Rock Canopy Tour

On the swanky Papagayo Peninsula, you better believe this canopy tour is the safest, slickest thing around. The views range from dry forest to ocean to waterfalls to sunset, should you go at the appropriate hour. The tour includes 24 platforms, three hanging bridges and three climbing trees. For people like my mom who might chicken out in the middle, there are five exits along the way. 

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