David dropped us off here where we spent a good afternoon. It was quite busy but there are plenty of places to stop and rest or admire the view on the 500 steps down to the falls and back. The water immediately at the bottom of the falls is too rough to swim in, but the area that is okay for swimming (if you know what you’re doing) isn’t far below that at all. It is deep and rocky though, so be careful. Lots of people posing for Insta photos on the rocks here!
As well as the waterfall, there is an orchid garden. We were disappointed with this but didn’t know if it was because it was the wrong time of year to see orchids (there were no flowers at all) or whether it was because it hadn’t been maintained, as the paths and surroundings seemed rather neglected. Nobody else was looking around it when we were, which might indicate that nobody expected much from it.
The butterfly garden was clearly better maintained and is nearer the entrance. There were a few butterflies, but nothing we hadn’t seen ‘wild’ elsewhere. However, the flowers clearly attracted hummingbirds too which were lovely to see.
There is free wifi at the entrance which everyone seemed to be using to summon Ubers for their return journey. Bear in mind that these are in high demand at the end of an afternoon, so are less likely to be available and will cost more (looking at the app, the price tripled during the afternoon…). We walked back to La Bijagua instead which was mostly downhill.
I’d been looking forward to this tour and although good in parts, it wasn’t as good as I’d been hoping. I think we’d been spoilt by our Tortuguero canoe tour experience by this point! We were in a boat that was just our family, but there were other boats on the same tour which made it relatively busy, and perhaps deterred some of the wildlife we’d been hoping to see. Our guide was fabulous though, with excellent English (he explained that he’s currently doing a law degree, so won’t be a guide forever) and the best sense of humour! We did have to paddle at times on this trip but it wasn’t hard work.
Canoa Aventura is very well organised and has one of the longest trips (we were shown where other tours get out). We saw cayman only after this point so would have missed them if we’d got out sooner. Afterwards, a snack meal is provided (tortilla with plantain) and drinks (sugar water, hot cacao, moonshine!) before boarding the transport back to La Fortuna, which was a welcome surprise.
If I was looking for a rafting trip, Canoa Aventura would undoubtedly be excellent. For a wildlife experience, I think it would be better to use a company that run private tours instead though.
David introduced us to these hot springs which were perfect for what we were looking for. I didn’t want to spend a fortune for somewhere too posh; was worried about the safety of slides reported in Karumbu and the potential safety, lack of facilities and crowds at La Chonin (free). Las Termalitas is a hot springs resort which is almost exclusively used by the locals. It cost 4000 colones each for entry plus a couple of thousand more for a locker key. There are no restrictions on what you can take in and plenty of spaces where families were setting up a BBQ and cooking for themselves. We ate at one of the on-site sodas, which offered simple Costa Rican / fast food.
The spring pools are clearly labelled with temperature (some were too hot!), there are two slides for children and some jacuzzi areas. We walked back from here because we wanted to see the crazily big tourist shop on the way, but really we should have got a taxi – the walk was not fun as it was along the main road.
This was an activity I should have booked before arriving in La Fortuna! I knew which provider I thought I’d use, but was put-off by their website claims of being “the best for tubing in La Fortuna” without telling me why. I had emailed to ask, but my question about why they were the best was ignored. We were lucky to get on the trip though, as I left it until we’d arrived in La Fortuna and there aren’t a lot of companies offering this activity.
Fortunately, I can now tell you why they are the best! They have very experienced guides (ex-rafters) who work tirelessly through the route monitoring everyone as a team; and the longest journey. Snack treats are offered at the end while everything is packed away. The bus is in great condition and the owner has dual American/Costa Rican nationality so very good at giving clear instructions to tourists. We were provided with sleeves to protect our arms from chafing on the tube and everything was done very professionally.
I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to – partly because I was in a larger tube which meant I couldn’t reach the water to paddle the tube as effectively. This involved the guides getting a bit frustrated with me as I was almost constantly in the wrong place or overshooting the right place!
This was just a few minutes walk up from our hotel in La Fortuna, so we popped in the day before (on our way back from the hot springs) to ask about a tour and booked it via WhatsApp the next day. They offered a student price to the kids, so it’s worth asking for one, even though it’s not advertised on the website. The tour was private but I don’t know if this was fluke or how things are normally organised.
We were given an incredible amount of detail on this tour – much more than the overview of the chocolate-making process given at BriBri – as the guide talked about types of plants and fruit; how they are harvested; timescales; diseases and then the very complicated processing that is needed long before ending up with a bar of chocolate. After the tour of the orchard (not sure if that’s what it would be called for cacao plants!) we were shown the factory parts through windows and then got to make our own chocolate bars before sitting down with a tasting tray and hot chocolate. Products from the shop are then available at a discount to those who have done the tour. This would be a great activity to do in an afternoon after an active morning.