It seems the best things in life always manage to scare yet thrill
you. They push you past your comfort zone, and force you to take a leap of
faith. At Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, that leap just happens to be
over a waterfall!
The Spider Monkey Canyon Tour features a series of rappels,
zip lines, and dives, as you follow the canyon deep into the jungle. The park
sits quietly in the shadows of Arenal Volcano. A
conical volcano rising almost 2,700 ft. above the surrounding cloud forest.
As prominent as the volcano is, the gorge running through the
park is equally impressive. The earth drops sharply down forming a deep and
narrow fissure. Water twists, turns, and topples over every obstacle, forming
large waterfalls and gaping ravines. If you book the Spider Monkey Canyon Tour,
you’ll be lucky enough to take the same path.
While in Costa Rica, we had the opportunity to work with Mistico Arenal and try their Spider Monkey
Canyon tour. This was a sponsored outing, but the sponsorship in no way affects
our opinions or subsequent review of the tour.
Hey there! Don’t forget to pin our review of the Mistico Arenal Spider Monkey Canyon Tour for later 🙂
What is Mistico Arenal
Mistico Arenal is an eco-tourism and adventure park located
Volcano in Costa Rica. Owned and operated by descendants of the original
land owners, Landelina Rodríguez Sánchez and Adrian Castillo, the park’s goal
is to allow visitors to experience the wild beauty of Costa Rica comfortably
In the early 2000’s, the park opened its doors to
accommodate guests of all dispositions. Its tours are broken into two
categories: Adventure and Nature. While each one features plenty of the other,
the Nature Tours are great for the faint of heart and the Adventure Tours are
perfect for the nut jobs (like us!).
Nature Tours at Mistico
Mistico Arenal’s most impressive tour could very well be the
Hanging Bridges. The Hanging Bridges are a series of 15 bridges, 6 of which are
suspension bridges, meandering through the cloud forest. Along the 2-mile trail
hikers can expect to be completely surrounded by the Costa Rican jungle and
As the park has grown, they have consistently expanded their
offerings. Guided nature tours now include the Hanging Bridges, Volcano
Expedition, Nighttime Wildlife Walks, and Bird Spotting. While these undoubtedly
all have their appeal, Mistico also has a wild side.
Adventure Tours at Mistico
Mistico Arenal offers two premiere adventure tours; Paco’s
Horses and the Spider Monkey Canyon Tour. Each tour is perfect for adventurers
looking to get off the beaten path and truly explore the park. If you don’t
mind a little dirt, the Adventure Tours are the way to go.
Paco’s Horses takes riders to the highest peaks and pastures
within the park. Above the trees, riders have an unimpeded view of the volcano
and Lake Arenal. Riding experience isn’t required so there’s no need to worry
about being unprepared. As long as you can hang on you should be ok!
Spider Monkey Canyon Tour
An open-air rappel drops you quickly into the mouth of the canyon.
Immediately, another rappel carries you down a waterfall and onto the riverbed
below. From there, each and every turn leads to a new adventure. Rappels, zip
lines, and leaps into the river are all fair game.
Eventually, you’ll look up to realize you are hundreds of
feet below the jungle above and you have no clue as to when you could have
descended so far. You’ve managed to scale your way down countless waterfalls,
glided between the canyon walls on ziplines, and splashed into the river from
the rocky outcroppings above.
For two hours you’ll follow your guides in and through
Spider Monkey Canyon. Wild doesn’t even begin to describe the adventure; incredible
and beautiful do. Mistico Arenal got it right, the Spider Monkey Canyon Tour is
an adventurer’s dream!
Final Thoughts on Mistico Arenal
Our time at Mistico was a highlight of our trip. The guides,
tour, and facilities were fantastic and we left thrilled to have visited. If
you have the opportunity to visit Costa Rica you should make visiting the park a
From the tranquil Hanging Bridges, to the action-packed
Spider Monkey Canyon Tour, Mistico
Arenal has an adventure for everyone. No matter the tour, be sure you’re
ready for Costa Rica’s Wildest Adventure!
So please let us know in the comments below… Where are your
favorite places to visit in Costa Rica? Have you ever tried canyoneering? Have
you been to Mistico Arenal? Still have questions or comments, let us know!
Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!
Almost forgot? Remember to pin our Review of Mistico Arenal for later!
There are a few moments in everyone’s life where they can’t
believe what they’re experiencing. Our first-time bioluminescent kayaking was
one of those moments. Words simply can’t express the feeling of floating on the
ocean watching the water and sky literally light up around you.
Bioluminescent kayaking is like paddling through an endless
wave of stars. Blue and white swirls dance in the waters below, and the Milky
Way shines down from above. It’s a once in a lifetime experience you can’t
truly comprehend until you try.
Our biggest regret is not being able to share exactly what we saw during our trip. While the bioluminescence is bright, the light it produces is fleeting. Try as we might, we were unable to catch it on camera. It’s one of those things you just have to see to believe and we know the perfect place: Bahia Rica.
While in Costa Rica, we had the opportunity to work with Bahia Rica and try out their bioluminescent kayaking tour. This was a sponsored outing, but the sponsorship in no way affects our opinions or subsequent review of the tour.
Hey there! Don’t forget to pin our review of the Bahia Rica for later 🙂
What Causes Bioluminescence?
Strangely enough bioluminescent waters exist around the globe almost year-round. However, few places have the perfect mix of temperature, water depth, and concentration to visibly display the trait. Bahia Rica, located on the Gulf of Nicoya, happens to be one of those magical spots where everything comes together perfectly and the waters visibly glow.
Tiny plankton line the waters surrounding Bahia Rica. The
microorganisms are excited by touch and movement, meaning every stroke of the
paddle, crashing wave, and hand trailing in the water, lights up the plankton.
The intensity of this light can vary but during our tour it was comparable to
that of a glow stick.
While the bio water is present year-round, cloudy and moonless nights make for the best bioluminescent kayaking. Bahia Rica clearly organizes their reservations into two groups: Full Moon Kayaking and Bioluminescent Kayaking tours. These tours are dependent on the lunar cycle and how bright the bioluminescence will be.
Bioluminescent Water in Costa Rica
Some of the world’s most famous bioluminescent bays exist in
Puerto Rico. Laguna Grande, Mosquito Bay, and La Parguera all call Puerto Rico
home. These famed bio bays have created a “must see” attraction. Tourists flock
to the bays and prices for a bioluminescent kayaking tour are consistently increasing.
Luckily, in the Gulf of Nicoya these bio bays remain
unspoiled. The trip to Paquera, the epicenter of the bioluminescent waters in
Costa Rica, is not for everyone. Coming from San José requiress a few hours of
highway driving and a 70-minute ferry ride across the Gulf. The journey itself manages
to scare off many of the would-be visitors. As such, tour prices are lower, group sizes
smaller, and the bioluminescence remains undisturbed longer.
Bioluminescent Kayaking at Bahia Rica
We were lucky enough to arrive at Bahia Rica a few hours
before our bioluminescent kayaking tour started. Upon arrival, we were greeted
by Thomas and Vicky, the owners, and a few rambunctious monkeys. They line the
trees on the property and seem to be just as intrigued by our presence as us of
While we waited for the tour to begin, we sprawled out on
the hammocks and watched the sun set over the mountains across the bay. Somehow
with the fading light, Bahia Rica became even more magical, and we hadn’t even
seen the bioluminescence yet!
Finally, after the sun had set and it was well and dark, we
got into our kayaks and paddled out. We quickly rounded a bend along the coast
and could begin to see faint sparks lighting up the water.
As we drifted from cove to cove the intensity of the
bioluminescence would ebb and flow. From light blue sparks there and gone in an
instant, to full blue tidal waves shimmering off into the depths. As the night
continued, we reached more and more impressive blooms of bioluminescence. At
some points it was so spectacularly bright we could physically hold the glowing
water in our hands.
After about an hour we pointed our kayaks towards home.
Little blue trails whispered behind us as we left Costa Rica’s bioluminescent
waters behind. We were tired but thrilled!
Final Thoughts on Bahia Rica
Ultimately, we can’t express how incredible the
bioluminescent kayaking was. It’s something we highly encourage everyone try at
least once. If you’re in Costa Rica you’d be hard pressed to find a better
experience than the time we spent with Bahia Rica.
They limit group sizes so you can have a personal experience, are incredibly affordable, and offer a true taste of Costa Rica. Bahia Rica also offers chartered fishing trips, paddleboard rentals, snorkeling tours, cabin rentals, and much more. No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for in Costa Rica, Bahia Rica needs to be on your bucket list.
So please let us know in the comments below… Where are your favorite places to visit in Costa Rica? Have you ever tried bioluminescent kayaking? Still have questions or comments, let us know! Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!
Almost forgot? Remember to pin our Review of Bahia Rica for later!
Be aware the end is near… schools are ending faster than you can count, and families are packing their bags. Cheap summer vacations are a staple of good times, tan lines, and family memories. Today we’re going to choose our 16 favorite summer vacations spots that won’t break the bank. So, pack that suntan lotion, start those workouts and take your pick of Cheap Summer Vacations—or just try them all!
To make things a little easier to navigate we’ve broken up our picks into two sections. The first 11 picks are cheap summer vacations you can take in the USA. The remaining 5 are budget-friendly adventures around the globe. Check out Packing Tips for Travelers if you need help stuffing your suitcase for your next adventure. If you’re feeling extra generous, please shoot this post a like and a share and, as always, enjoy! One last thing before you get too far, remember to…
Pin our picks for 16 Cheap Summer Vacations!
Cheap Summer Vacations in the USA
Bar Harbor, Maine
Cool weather, lots of sun, and wonderful people make Bar Harbor an excellent choice for a family trip. Located right on the coastline and just miles from Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor offers postcard views around every turn. Warm and dry summer weather allow for a refreshing dip in Echo Lake. If you’re brave enough you could even wade into the Atlantic, it’ll be chilly!
Try wandering the local streets and exploring the town’s quaint shops. If you follow the “Museums in the Streets” signs you’ll be led on a self-guided tour through downtown. Plan your visit a little later and catch free movies and popcorn in Agamont Park!
Hayward and the rest of Northern Wisconsin are the Midwest’s answer to Bar Harbor. The weather, people, and incredible sunshine bring many visitors back year after year. Thousands of lakes surround the small towns like Hayward. If you’re feeling adventurous you can rent a boat for the afternoon, hop on some mountain bikes, or try out the go-karts!
At night you and the family can relax around the campfire in your own cabin on a private lake. We’re serious about that part! This Airbnb Cabin is only 20 minutes from Hayward, sits on 80 acres, and has a private 20 acre lake. Kestra and I were lucky enough to visit last fall and we loved every second!
When you book, send the promo code AGAPE2019 in your message to the host to receive 20% off. That’s right folks, that’s $50 off each night!
*Promo code is subject to availability. Discount is only available on bookings in May-June and September-November. The host reserves the right to deny any bookings.
Cobblestone walkways line the streets of Maryland’s historic capital. The city is well over 300 years old and steeped in history. Named after Queen in Anne in the early 1700’s the city is now famed for it’s charm, restaurants and gorgeous coast.
While there we recommend checking out both the Banneker-Douglas Museum and Ego Alley. Both are incredible, FREE!! spots to take in the history, culture, and beauty of Annapolis. After a day on the docks be sure to enjoy the city’s vibrant eateries and tour the historic mansions scattered around town.
Moab is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. National Parks fill the state and Moab sits on the doorstep of Arches National Park and Canyonlands. From mountain and dirt biking, sand dune surfing, to camping and hiking, Moab is truly one of a kind.
If you’re up for a bit of a drive be sure to check out these 12 Beautiful Places in Utah! After a fun day in the sun you can retire to a nice glass of wine or local brew at one of the many restaurants in town. With all these epic adventures it’s easy to see why Moab is one of the best spots for a cheap summer vacation!
San Diego, California
San Diego is beautiful all year and somehow extra pretty in the summer months. It has tons of family-friendly activities to keep you busy all day. If you use a multi-day Go San Diego Card you can save big on museums, cruises and local theme parks. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Legoland, and even unlimited access to SeaWorld are included in the bundle and some attractions are 55% off! Seriously check them out, they’re a PHENOMENAL deal: Go San Diego Card 🙂
As troves of flip-flopped families descend on Orlando, thinned crowds are the norm in Tampa. We loved it so much we actually wrote up our Favorite Family Friendly Adventures in Tampa. With plenty of public parks, more free movies, and epic deals at major attractions Tampa is an incredible find!
We’d start our day at the local Lettuce Lake Conservation Park and watch the abundance of turtles, birds, and gators. Follow that up with any one of the local beaches and then we’d check out the mini-golf scene. Play for fun, or bet on some ice cream, it’s a great way to spend a couple hours after the sun cools! After an intense 18-hole showdown be sure to try some local seafood, catch the sunset, or enjoy a free movie at the Sunset Cinema!
Similar to Annapolis, Williamsburg is a beautiful, historically-rich town. In the 1900’s the town was restored to its former glory and is a sparkling jewel of the east coast. When walking through Williamsburg and its surrounding downs you are treading the same paths as our Founding Fathers.
In our list of Cheap Summer Vacations, Williamsburg embodies everything we’d possibly want in a trip. Take a quick trip up to Jamestown, try a ghost walking tour, or just wander around town. Everything is reasonably priced, accessible, and most importantly fun!
Ok I know what you’re thinking. People go Skiing in Colorado but who goes there for a summer vacation? Well for starters, you should. As a major hub flights into the airport are consistently cheap (say $200 a person +/-). The weather is very mild and getting around the city is a breeze.
At the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is a perfect mix of natural wonders and modern conveniences. We actually loved Gatlinburg and the surrounding Smokies so much they made our list of Family Friendly National Parks! The park is home to over 5,000 plant species, 100’s of different animals, and an extensive trail system stretching over 800 miles.
After a day spent hiking through and above the clouds retire to local Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg for some family fun. Dinner theaters, amusement parks, novelty shops, you name it, think of It as the Wisconsin Dells of Tennessee. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale don’t worry, Gatlinburg still offers fine dining and resort living!
St. Louis, Missouri
As budget travelers few things perk us up more than the word free. Luckily for us, and anyone looking into cheap summer vacations, that word is plastered around St. Louis. Free tours of local Purina Farms spoil visitors with dog show and much more. The St. Louis Art Museum includes free admission, and on Sunday afternoon’s hands-on activities and a 30-minute tour
Additionally, the local City Museum houses a 10-story slide, Ferris wheel, and numerous more family adventures. It’s low cost of admission (around $15 for ages 3 and up) make it a must for any trip to St. Louis. If you’re hoping to catch a more local vibe, try catching a baseball game or sampling the world-famous Bar-B-Que!
Jacob’s Lake, Arizona
Located snuggly between Las Vegas and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon sits Jacob’s Lake. Strikingly, different from its neighbors, Jacob’s Lake is enveloped in the Kaibab National Forest. A retreat to the area can be spent on endless hiking trails, mountain biking, horseback riding, or even stargazing at night. Picture this as the perfect camping trip you always dreamed of as a child.
In the morning you can check out the local Jacob Lake Inn for a steaming pile of pancakes and fresh orange juice. If roughing it is more of your style, sit around the fire and get to cooking! Just be sure none of the endless deer in the area make off with your breakfast. At night you can enjoy your time at the Inn or try out the local Kaibab Camper Village, both are incredible!
Cheap Summer Vacations around the World
Hear us out here. You can easily do Iceland on a budget and add to your list of favorite cheap summer vacations if you’re willing to sacrifice a few things. Avoiding the really nice downtown hotels, eating in some nights, and not splurging on super cool Icelandic wool sweatshirts all help. Additionally, you can use WOW air to consistently find amazing rates to fly to The Land of Fire and Ice.
As for the capital itself, Reykjavik is a beautiful city with tons of incredible activities all around. From free hot pools, to stunning architecture, and incredible natural wonders, Reykjavik is truly a one-of-a-kind city. If you’re really trying to save some money and get to know the city check out Five FREE Things to do in Reykjavik!
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Nicaragua’s San Juan del Sur is a dreamy tropical getaway located on the Pacific coast. Given its proximity to the US (3 hours from Atlanta) flights are often budget friendly. Kestra and I have managed to compound these savings by using 15 Tips to Finding Cheap Flights every time we search for airfare.
We’d spend our days enjoying the beautiful Playa San Juan del Sur, that’s the beach 😉 White sand lines the coast and turquoise waters cascade end over end for miles in either direction. The local resorts also offer incredible summer discounts so prices all around are low. Sounds pretty sweet, right?
If you are able to find a cheap flight, Lisbon is a budget-traveler’s heaven. The city sits on the edge of the Atlantic and is as architecturally stunning as anywhere on earth. Steep hills climb out of the city affording beautiful views around every corner. Tile work from the 1400’s still lines many walkways throughout the city.
If you’re tired of walking the hills, try hopping on the gorgeous, gravity-defying, 1930’s tram. For only a few bucks you can enjoy a low-cost, scenic tour of town. If you’re feeling adventurous, visit a local winery, tour the terraces and sample the local selection. It is almost the same price of the water after all!
If you manage to escape the city for a day endless waterfalls, jungles, and volcanoes wait to be explored. Local soda’s serve fresh meals for just a couple dollars. Beaches abound within a few hours drive. In terms of cheap summer vacations, Costa Rica offers a taste of luxury.
Budapest is actually two separate cities, Buda and Pest. They are separated by the Danube river and each sport their own distinct vibe. This cultural hub has exploded in popularity in recent years and airfare prices have accordingly plummeted. It’s very easy to find flights in the summer for only $600-$700.
While there, we’d recommend taking a Danube River cruise. You can often find one that includes a meal and a 2.5 hour cruise for around $20. As you float down the Danube you’ll see the Parliament, the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, among the myriad of beautiful, historic buildings. The next day, try out either the Gellert Spa or Szechenyi Spa and enjoy a refreshing dip. Both opened in the early 1900’s and have been pleasing visitors ever since.
Whoever decided cheap summer vacations were a thing of the past, were boring, or were just plain impossible was wrong. Finding budget friendly destinations may be a little tougher now, but as you can see there’s no shortage of good options. So start saving, pack your bags, and start exploring!
So please let us know in the comments below… Which of these cheap summer vacations are you going on? Do you know of any other budget friendly destinations we should add? Where’s your next vacation taking you? Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!