Adventure in Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica

A view of the Gulf of Papagoya as seen from Buena Vista del Rincon
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Buena Vista del Rincon Eco Adventure Park is a fun-filled day or weekend trip with kids in the Guanacaste Province in northwestern Costa Rica. Located in the foothills of Rincón de la Vieja volcano, we decided to forego the actual National Park and focus on adventure activities. What a great weekend!

Good to know: Hacienda Guachipelin is another popular family-focused adventure lodge near Rincón de la Vieja National Park. However, their river tubing is strictly 8+ and canyoneering is 10+.

Buena Vista del Rincon with Kids

Activities at Buena Vista del Rincon

If you can handle a jam-packed day (no time for naps!), by far the most economical option is the combination ticket (or “Eco Adventure Park Premium Day Pass” to use their fancy term). The combo package includes: canopy (aka zip-lines or flying fox), tarzan swing (optional add-on), jungle water slide, horseback riding to the hot springs, hanging bridges, and lunch. Lunch is buffet of typical Costa Rican foods. In 2019, the day pass cost $85 or $95 with the tarzan swing (aka “extreme canopy”).

Good to know: When we visited, the hotel staff were confused whether tarzan swingers and non-tarzan swingers can zipline together. Yes, they can. If only part of your group wants to swing, just pay the upgrade for them.

Buena Vista Canopy

Our favorite activity was the canopy tour. Ten ziplines criss-cross a valley with a river and small waterfall. The longest zipline is 452 meters. If you choose the tarzan swing option, the 50 meter swing is right before the final zipline.

The tour starts in the Canopy House where guides fit you with harnesses, helmets, and gloves. You need the gloves to brake with your hand on the cable. A snack bar, bathrooms, and free lockers are located in the Canopy House. Teens and adults can ask to zip upside down or try other stunt manuevers.

A kid and a guide preparing for a zipline at Buena Vista del Rincon
The guides were professional and safety was a priority.

Good to know: If you visit Buena Vista independently, we recommend starting this activity as early as possible to beat large tour groups.

Buena Vista Jungle Waterslide

OK, I said before that canopy was our favorite activity, but it was a close race with the jungle waterslide. The 420 meter concrete slide is the longest in Costa Rica. Our day pass included 3 trips down the slide and we enjoyed every one.

You start the waterslide experience at the bottom of the slide where you don a helmet and a small innertube for your waist. Yes, you do need the innertube. If you are wearing bikini bottoms or similar (gentlemen, leave the speedos at home), you also need to wear a leather chap on your bottom. Shoes, cover-ups, etc. can be left on the benches. No lockers, so don’t bring valuables.

The wooded path up the hill is raked clean every day. Good thing with bare feet! Climb into the slide and wait for the attendant to fill the water chamber behind you. More water means more speed. Don’t be afraid to voice your preference. When the chamber is full, the attendant releases an icy blast of water and you accelerate down the slide at breakneck speed. Remember that innertube? That’s the only thing between you and liftoff. The slide levels off near the end and the splashdown pool is plenty deep for a safe landing. The attendants were always watching to make sure you made it safely to the edge.

A man speeding down the jungle waterslide at Buena Vista del Rincon
Ignore the look of sheer terror. He went back for more.

Buena Vista Horseback Ride

You can choose to horseback ride 35 minutes to the hotsprings. The trail is a combination of roads and wide wooded trails that undulate up and down. If you’re not a horse lover, no problem. There is also a tractor ride option. In either case, you will take the tractor back to the lodge after your soak.

Horse lovers can book a 2.5 hour ride to three different waterfalls. The day pass does not include the longer waterfall ride. We did not do this ride ourselves, but met another visitor who enjoyed her ride.

Buena Vista Hot Springs & Mud Bath

The hot springs are nestled along a river under a canopy of trees. For our kids (7 and 9), the sauna and hottest pools were too hot. We stuck to the mud baths and coldest pool, which was a lovely warm temperature.

Change rooms, towels, and free lockers are available. If you get hungry, there is a poolside bar and larger restaurant.

Good to know: You can stay as long as you want, but we recommend checking the tractor schedule beforehand. During our visit, the tractors left once per hour. No point in climbing out only to find yourself waiting for a ride.

Start your visit at the bubbling volcanic mud pots heated by the Rincon de la Vieja volcano’s thermal power. Slather the mud everywhere you can and then make your way to the drying platform. A gentle breeze wafts down the river valley, drying the mud on your skin. Now it’s time for the cold shower. Brace yourself and rinse quickly!

Rejuvenated and detoxified, you’re ready for the hot springs. Choose from three natural hot springs of varying temperatures. The hottest one is on the far side of the river, near the bar. The coolest one is near the mud bath and sauna.

Two kids relaxing in the hotsprings at Buena Vista del Rincon
Relaxing in the coolest of the hotsprings

Buena Vista Hanging Bridges

Plan on one hour to walk the 16 hanging bridges suspended in the tropical dry forest. We saw Howler Monkeys, but didn’t have much luck with other wildlife. An early morning walk might be better. Even without wildlife, we enjoyed the new perspective on the forest.

Two children on the hanging bridges at Buena Vista del Rincon

Staying at Buena Vista del Rincon

We decided to make a weekend out of our visit to Buena Vista del Rincon Eco Adventure Park and stayed two nights. This let us enjoy activities at a leisurely pace, zipline twice, and swim in the hotel pool. The pool was an unexpected hit with a swim-in cave and…wait for it…a swim-up bar. The kids thought sitting in the pool drinking a smoothie was the pinnacle of decadance. A hotel stay also gives you unlimited access to the hot springs, but we didn’t take advantage of that.

A hotel room at Buena Vista del Rincon
No need for luxury when you’re out being adventurous. A handy bench outside is perfect for drying swimsuits.

We had the simplest room type – a Lake room with two double beds and bathroom with shower. Soap and towels are provided, but no other amenities. The WIFI strength was good, even in our room far away from the main building.

Buena Vista Food

As mentioned above, the day pass includes lunch near the activities. If you are staying at the lodge, both an à la carte and buffet restaurant serve dinner. We chose buffet both nights. For lunch, you can eat in the same à la carte restaurant or in the poolside bar.

At sunset, enjoy an aperatif at the Mirador. I’m slightly biased because I saw my first toucan here (and spent the rest of the trip searching vainly for a second). Even without a toucan sighting, the sunset over the Gulf of Papagoya is stunning. Battered, but serviceable, pool and foosball tables provide entertainment, if the view doesn’t captivate your kids.

Getting to Buena Vista del Rincon

Buena Vista del Rincon is about a one hour drive from Liberia. Keep in mind that the last 30 minutes are on an unpaved Costa Rican road – expect bumps, curves, and lots of dust.

We hope that you enjoy your adventure at Buena Vista del Rincon with kids as much as we did! If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below.

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