Arriving into Puerto Viejo after the four or five hour bus journey from San Jose (which cost 5360 colonnes or about $9), I felt a real sense of happiness to be back at the Caribbean! Although I had some of the most wonderful times on the Pacific coast, I genuinely feel more at home whenever I am on the east coast of anywhere! I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the truth!
My first choice of hostel was fully booked so I made my way to Rockin’ J’s, a party hostel that I had heard of before from other travellers. Thankfully, as I made my way through the sweaty streets (well, I was sweaty more so than the streets) of the seaside town, J himself pulled up in his truck and gave me a lift so I didn’t have to lug all my stuff there myself! Hurrah. The hostel is really huge with mosaic art everywhere, hammocks and tents available for rent as well as private rooms. I decided to go with the dorm room for $11 per night. Unfortunately they were some of the worst dorms I’ve ever stayed in! It felt like I was in a bomb shelter or army bunker, and the corrugated iron walls and ceiling made for a very stifling environment most mornings/afternoons. But I knew I was only going to be staying two nights so it was fine! They have a small kitchen there but there’s also a bar and restaurant at the hostel so I opted to go with that for food during my stay there. They had a pretty good menu that has recently been pared back to focus on the stuff that they do well and what is popular (great idea!). They served delicious fish tacos ($7), burgers ($6), nachos and for breakfasts like bacon & avocado sandwiches for about $7.
On my first morning, I arranged to do a ziplining (canopy) tour with Terraventura which I had read great things about online. As I booked the tour through the Terraventura website there was a discount of $6, always welcome! It cost $49 (incl. discount) and I was picked me up from the hostel at 8.30am by a shuttle and brought to the office downtown to pay for the tour, fill in some forms and sign my life away with the disclaimer form!
The van took our group of about ten up to where we would begin our tour. We got suited up, were given a quick safety briefing and instructed on how to zip across the wires, slow down, stop, etc. And then….we were off! I have to say, I was slightly nervous about this as I had never done it before and the idea of zipping on a wire up to 80 metres above ground in the middle of a rainforest was daunting to say the least! The cables range in length and altitude with 10 aerial platforms and 12 ground platforms totally 2760 metres of cable…phew! It was such a thrilling experience and a beautiful adventure zipping through the gorgeous rainforest, seeing sloths (yay!), snakes (boo!) and other flora and fauna. I felt completely, 100% safe the entire time and all of our guides (there were about 4 of them I think), did their best to make sure we felt comfortable and were there to catch us on other side (sometimes a bit too enthusiastically..!).
Towards the end of the tour (which lasted about 4 hours in total), we had the chance to descend from a platform to the ground with the Tarzan swing! It was a bit scary taking the first step off the platform holding on to the rope, my tummy definitely did a flip that felt like I was on a rollercoaster without the safety bar! But it was GREAT fun, and again you’re harnessed in too so I felt totally safe.
Once we arrived back at the base, we were given mineral waters, fresh pineapple and watermelon slices which was most welcome! It was a pretty hot day and there was a lot of moderate hiking uphill between platforms. I wore my hiking boots and long trousers (as they recommended this), but lots of the others wore shorts and trainers and they were just fine so I suppose it’s whatever you’re comfortable with. There were lots of insects so perhaps my long trousers saved my legs from getting eaten alive (as they have a serious tendency to do).
All in all, it was a fantastic experience and the four hours literally ‘zipped’ by (sorry, couldn’t help it). I wanted to do it again! It also helped that we had a brilliant group and I met a really cool group of girls who were on vacation from the States for a week in Costa Rica. We hung out for the rest of the day and that evening took advantage of the all-you-can-drink Jungle Juice for $6 in Rockin’ Js! It’s sickly sweet but fun to play drinking games with, like flip cup or ‘leg up’ pool!
I would definitely recommend doing the Terraventura ziplining tour if you’re in Puerto Viejo and the same company also operates out of lots of other locations in Costa Rica which I’m sure are just as good. Check it out!