Never say never. These three words pretty much sum up my experience of the Zipline Canopy Tour in Bocas del Toro. I said I would NEVER go because of an intense fear of heights that I have had since I was very young. We are talking, trouble climbing a ladder or crossing a bridge kind of fear (or crying while I cling to the stairs of a look out tower in Nebraska State Park... but that is a whole other story). So, NEVER would I have thought that I would be able to survive free sailing through the air on a zipline in Central America.
Ziplining was something I never thought I would do during my time in Central America
It started out as a joke that I would go. One of the school directors told me that I needed to experience all Bocas has to offer (I know, poor me!) so that I would have first hand experience when recommending tours to students and tourists. Makes sense, yes, but I thought when it came to the canopy tour, I could let someone else share their experience, not me. However, before I knew what was happening, it was planned that we would go on a Sunday afternoon and I was on the boat heading for Isla Bastimentos and Red Frog Beach.
I think at this point denial would be a good word to sum up how I was feeling. I was convinced that it was not really happening and I preferred to go about my day as if I was just going to another tropical island. We had a delicious lunch of spicy buffalo wings at Kayukos Restaurant which is part of the famous Bocas Bound Island Lodge and then we headed for some beach time. It was a stunning sunny Caribbean day and the beach was gorgeous! Crystal clear blue water, rolling waves, plenty of space to soak up the sun. We all splashed around, sun bathed and took in the beauty of the day.
Me at Red Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama
Then it was time. I thought about excuses as we walked back to the lodge of why it might be better for me to stay behind. I could explore more of the island, take stellar pictures of the rest of them “zipping,” or just be the encouragement shouting from the safety of the ground. But they would hear none of it and soon I could no longer live in denial because I was being put into my harness and strapped into my gloves and helmet.
The staff was fantastic. They got me talking as we all got ready and it was a wonderful distraction from the growing knot in my stomach. They keep us moving and engaged, which gives less time for pondering the reality of what you are about to partake in. One of the guides even encouraged me by saying that he was scared as well the first time he went. OK, well, he is still alive right? Maybe, I thought, I would live to tell my friends about this day after all.
We were given a safety briefing before we started, which was great because I got to hear how knowledgeable the staff was about every aspect of the zipline. Their step by step instructions gave me an idea of what to expect, which helped ease my nerves (a bit). Then came the hardest part of the day, making the initial climb, up the stairs, to the first platform. However, with each step I took, something in me clicked into place and I knew from this point on, I had to make a choice to either be scared or to try to be open to experiencing this tour for what it really was, an amazing adventure.
From left to right: Evelyne, Melissa, Carlos and I all geared up for the Zipline Canopy Tour in Bastimentos
What’s the saying, “courage is not the absence of fear, but the choice that there is something greater then that fear.” Yeah, something like that, but this day I found out how true this is! Now, that being said, it is possible that the guide had to (literally) push me off the first platform because I was unable to move my legs forward when he smiled and said “ready?” Easy for him to say, he has done this who knows how many times. But he was so encouraging and soon, there I was, flying through the air, the stunning landscape of the jungle laid out below me, and my first thought was “this is fantastic!” I loved it! Who would have thought?! Not me, not anyone who knows me, but I loved it! With each cable run, my fear turned into an awesome adrenaline rush and when the last one came there was no doubt in my mind, I was gonna do it upside down with no hands!
The Bastimentos Sky Zipline Canopy Tour is a lot more than your average Costa Rica zipline adventure
The minute I was back on the ground, I knew I wanted to do it again. I am hooked! I can’t wait to go back and “fly” in Bocas del Toro’s Zipline Canopy Tour again! We didn't do the rope course (we were a bit too afraid for that) but next time I'll do it for sure. Everyone says that the zipline in Bocas del Toro is one of the best in Central America, not just because of its incredible setting right next to the Bastimentos National Marine Park, but also because of its challenging and thrilling rope course. So, like I said, never say never, because you never know what you might be missing!