Trip to the hanging bridges of Arenal
I've probably said this time and time again, but there is so much to do and see in Costa Rica! It can make your trip planning a bit stressful when trying pick and choose for your vacation. But one activity that is a must-see is Costa Rica's hanging bridges.
If you've looked up photos of Costa Rica, I'm almost 100% sure you've seen a picture of one of its hanging bridges parks. While they are located throughout the country, some of the best are located around the Arenal volcano.
During our trip to Arenal, there was no way we were going to miss out on seeing incredible views while dangling hundreds of feet up in the air. While there are several parks in the area, we ended up picking Mistico Hanging Bridge Park which is located about 30 minutes west of La Fortuna.
Location of the hanging bridge park
If you are staying in La Fortuna, like our family did, the Mistico park is only a quick 30 minute, scenic drive. If you are driving yourself, you'll be taking Route 142 for pretty much the entire distance. After winding through the forest and hot springs, you will come up to a dam next to the lagoon. The entrance to Mistico Park is a dirt road immediately after the dam ends. There will be a large sign but it is easy to miss. We passed right by the entrance and had to turnaround, which isn't the easiest on Costa Rica's windy and narrow roads.
From the entrance, you'll take the dirt road for roughly 8 minutes. The drive is beautiful and it offers some unobstructed shots of Arenal.
Open from Monday - Sunday, 7:30am to 3:30pm, Mistico Park is a great 1/2 day activity. You can book a guided tour online which lasts about 3 hours or do a self-guided for 2.5 hours. The walk isn't strenuous but you need to wear closed toed shoes, with no slits. If not, you have to sign a waiver with Mistico. Its not a big deal, but Milena was wearing Merril's water shoe which has openings and we still had to sign. Rates vary depending on what kind of tour, but the self-guided tour is $26 for adults, $21 for senior citizens, $11 for adolescents and free for children.
The 3.2km trail has 10 regular bridges and 6 hanging bridges. The bridges give you an unparalleled view of Arenal and the forest. You will feel completely lost among the trees while standing high above the ground.
Even though we now call Costa Rica home, we are still surprised and pumped every time we spot an exotic creature during our tours, and Mistico Park did not disappoint. During our self-guided tour, we spotted a viper lounging on a tree, one of the world's most poisonous caterpillars and two sloths! It was an exciting day for spotting wildlife and I'm sure if we had purchased a guided tour, we would've spotted even more.
We had a great time walking through the park and enjoying all of the different plants and trees along the trail. The park is nicely set up and really lets you feel immersed in the forest. At the end of the walk, they have a great little restaurant with coffee, drinks and snacks.
But the best part is the unobstructed view of volcano! The day we visited the hanging bridges the weather was perfect. The sun was shining with not a cloud in the sky so we were able to get some great pictures of Arenal.