Little boy with a blue helmet and blue shirt rappelling over the side of a waterfall in Costa Rica.

Canyoning Costa Rica: Arenal | Waterfall Rappelling with Pure Trek Canyoning

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Looking to challenge yourself with a bit of waterfall rappelling in Costa Rica? Feeling a bit adventuresome and want to try something new? Pure Trek Canyoning (Arenal) is the top company in the Arenal/La Fortuna area for canyoning and you’ll see why! Started by a Californian with a love of rock climbing and canyoning, Cynthia took a trip to Costa Rica, feel in love with the country and started a business of her own.

Visitors as young as 5 years old can take part in the action and adventure with four waterfall rappels and one monkey drop. The well-trained staff keeps everyone perfectly safe, even for those of us with very little experience with canyoning.

Sign that reads: Pure Trek Canyoning Arenal, Costa Rica.

Arrival

Pure Trek Canyoning (Arenal) can either pick you up from your nearby hotel, or you can drive to their office, which is located on the same road as the Nayara Resort and the Springs Resort. They have a large sign and it’s easy to find. Once you arrive, you’ll find ample parking with a nice reception area complete with bathrooms, free coffee, water, and a seating area.

Once all the guests arrive, you’ll be loaded up onto a bus and up into the hills to begin your adventure. We made one stop to pick up guests that were staying at a hotel on the path to the canyon. The bus is comfortable with large leather seats and the driver made sure we arrived safely.

As the terrain gets steeper, you’ll switch over to a 4 x 4 truck to continue your ascent into the jungle. Once you reach the mountaintop location, you’ll have the opportunity to use the restrooms before gearing up. The staff helps you with your harness and helmet.

The 4 x 4 vehicle that transports you the rest of the way to the canyon. It has a covering, steps to get in and seats to sit.

Pure Trek Canyoning (Costa Rica) has a wonderful safety record and our gear was checked throughout our adventure to ensure our safety.

Once everyone is all geared up, you’ll listen to a quick safety briefing complete with how to rappel over the waterfalls. Canyoning in La Fortuna is meant to be fun, but there are a few key things to remember, so listen up to the safety briefing.

Man in a red shirt demonstrating how to go waterfall rappelling on a board with multiple guests looking on.

Waterfall Rappelling (Costa Rica)

If you thought there would be a small waterfall to practice on, you’ll be mistaken. You’ll actually start off rappelling down the largest waterfall. It’s a bit of a “leap of faith”.

Two rappels are set up, so note if you are a couple and would like to go at the same time. There is also a photographer on hand to take photos going down to the bottom, be sure to smile for the camera to get some great photos of your first Arenal canyoning experience!

With the first rappel, you honestly don’t have any idea what to expect. You grip the rope above your harness with the left hand and grip the rope down by your hip with the right hand. Then you lean back over the edge and off you go! You’ll lower yourself while pushing off the rocks and might even get a nice shower with the water from the falls. It’s absolutely stunning, but over so quickly!

The guides are able to control your descent from both the top and the bottom, so even if you completely forget what you are doing, you are 100% safe. This is part of the reason they allow children as young as age five to participate in the canyoning Costa Rica adventure.

Now that you are a bit wet, you’ll climb up a rope and metal rung ladder out of the canyon. From there, it’s a short walk to the next “obstacle”.

Father and son climbing a wooden and rope ladder up the side of the cliff.

The second adventure is the “monkey drop”. This where you will slide down the rope (a bit like a zip line) before you drop into the water below for a nice Costa Rica baptism. Don’t worry, you don’t have to swim. This is one of the unique aspects of the Arenal waterfall rappelling trip.

However, it is quite terrifying watching the people ahead of you disappear around the corner and then all you hear is a splash. Talk about second-guessing this adventure!

View looking up watching people zipline and then drop into a pool of water below with two guides holding the ropes. It is one of the unique activities while canyoning in Costa Rica.

But no fear, this part is easy because the guides are completely in control and you are just along for the ride. Our son wasn’t so sure about going into the water, so the guides were nice enough to stop him just above the water and pull him over to dry land, so heads up.

I also hear there might be an escape route from a little birdie friend of mine, not that you should take it! Pure Trek, Costa Rica wants to make sure you have a blast, thus the escape route.

So now that everyone has had their first shower of the day, kidding, you’ll walk a bit further along to the second rappel. This is the second-longest rappel and helps you make sure you are comfortable for the last two. You rappel over the edge for a few feet before you are able to reach the walls of the waterfall and push yourself with your feet to descend down.

Don’t forget to look around a bit when you are dangling in the air, you don’t want to miss the views during your waterfall rappelling adventure in Costa Rica.

After this rappel, it’s a bit of a walk, so if you are first over the edge, you’ll be told to start walking. It’s also all uphill, so take your time.

The fourth rappel is the shortest. A quick hop over the edge with a reminder to keep your jumps small so you don’t hit the guide at the end.

Little boy waterfall rappelling down the side of the canyon in Costa Rica. Pure Trek Canyoning Costa Rica.

Finally, the last waterfall and final opportunity to rappel. This is where you can “get a little crazy”. Now that you are an expert at waterfall rappelling (right?), you are encouraged to take one large leap of faith off the edge, slide all the way to the bottom and stop yourself just before you reach land.

Sounds easy right? It’s actually a blast, so be sure to try it. The guides are there to help in case you forget to catch yourself at the end.

After the last waterfall, you’ll be sad it’s all over, I know we were! Who knew Canyoning in Arenal, Costa Rica could be so much fun.

Once the group assembles, you’ll walk out of the canyon up a series of steps. The guides stop at a few switchbacks to let everyone catch their breath.

Path between the waterfalls with railings and dirt.

Then you’ll take off your helmets, harnesses and gloves to board the 4 x 4 trucks and head out of the mountains.

You’ll switch ½ way down into the transport bus and back to the main office for a delicious lunch.

Once you arrive at the office, you’ll be handed a nice fluffy brown towel and given the opportunity to use the restroom and change out of your wet clothing. We wore quick-dry clothes, so we were mostly dry by the time we returned.

There are lockers for your use during the waterfall canyoning adventure. Be sure to ask for one before you leave and then you can store dry clothes for when you return.

Then you’ll sit down to a delicious meal of chicken, rice, beans, salad, and fresh tortillas. A vegetarian option is also offered. In addition, you can enjoy the water or fresh juice. Once your meal is complete, you will head up to the reception area for coffee and cookies (yum). The perfect end as you reflect on your Arenal waterfall rappelling adventure.

Lunch is served: beans, salad, chicken and cole slaw after your Arenal waterfall rappelling adventure.

A photographer is along with you on your Pure Trek canyoning adventure to take photos of you and your family. You can purchase the photos and video at the end for a nominal fee. We really liked the photos, which you see in this post, in addition to my camera and my husband’s go pro.

If you decide to bring your cell phone, make sure you grab a waterproof case or pouch for it. You’ll want a clip-in system so you don’t drop it and be sure to attach the clip to your harness.

Conclusion

We absolutely loved our experience with Pure Trek Canyoning in Arenal, Costa Rica. It was a wonderful family activity with friendly staff and energetic participants.

The company is highly trained and skilled at making sure guests enjoy every aspect of their experience while canyoning. Children are welcome as long as they have a sense of adventure and can follow instructions.

Pure Trek Canyoning also offers many other tours and combinations for activities in the area. We saw a couple getting dropped off to their next trip on our way back from the canyon, so it’s a seamless transition.

Pure Trek FAQ:

What should I wear to go waterfall rappeling in Costa Rica? I suggest pants, capris or long shorts that are quick dry. It’s nice to have a bit of protection from the harness which sits right below your butt. In addition, bring a quick-dry/performance shirt for the top. Ladies will be most comfortable in a sports bra. For your feet, wear sneakers or water shoes with a thick sole. You’ll need a grippy bottom to help push off the rocks while you rappel.

Check out my favorite recommendations for water shoes.

Is Pure Trek Canyoning appropriate for kids? Yes! We took our five-year-old son (5 is the minimum age) and he had a blast. The staff does all the hard work for the children, so they can just enjoy the ride. His only complaint was being cold after getting wet, so I’d bring a raincoat for little ones.

Does Pure Trek Canyoning provide all the gear? Yes! They will provide the transportation, harness, helmet and a set of gloves. You only need to wear quick-dry comfortable clothing. They also provide rain jackets if you think you will get cold while rappelling.

Can I have a vegetarian meal with Pure Trek? Yes! Pure Trek is happy to accommodate vegetarian guests. They have grilled vegetables in addition to the rice, beans, salad, and tortillas.

Is there anything you wished you had known? I wish I had known that lockers are provided, and that lunch would be served at the office location. I would have brought a change of clothes to change into before lunch.

I also should have brought gloves for my son (which we had used on a previous zip line tour). The gloves they provided for him were too large and he complained that they didn’t fit properly.

Do you have a favorite activity in Arenal/La Fortuna? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Facebook or Instagram. I created this travel blog to help other families to explore the world with their kids and I hope I’ve inspired you. Want to read more about Costa Rica? Check out my posts below on the various regions in Costa Rica.

Is Manuel Antonio or Monteverde a part of your journey? Here is my post for our favorite activities in Manuel Antonio and here is my three-day itinerary for Monteverde. Or head over to my destinations page and explore my interactive map, it’s pretty fun. Until next time!

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Planning a trip to Costa Rica? This is our suggested Costa Rica itinerary: 10 days of beaches, waterfalls and rainforests. Covering the regions of Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, La Fortuna/Arenal and San Jose, you’ll get to see the wide variety of wildlife, regions and activities. Don’t miss the interactive map, accommodation recommendations and the best things to do in Costa Rica.

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