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El Salto: Local Free Tarzan Swing And Swimming Hole La Fortuna / Arenal Site

El Salto: Local Free Tarzan Swing And Swimming Hole La Fortuna / Arenal Site

NOTE: The content on this page was last updated on October 17th, 2017.

FREE TARZAN SWING AND SWIMMING HOLE IN LA FORTUNA

Travelling throughout Costa Rica on a budget? Don’t miss the free tarzan swing and swimming hole in La Fortuna! Often referred to as “El Salto Costa Rica”, the spot is a fun place to cool off at during a hot day in Arenal.

WHAT EL SALTO COSTA RICA IS NOT AND WHO SHOULDN’T VISIT IT

El Salto Costa Rica is not a tourist attraction. Although it is a local hot spot which serves the purpose of helping travellers access a small place to swim at in La Fortuna that is entirely free, people who are in search of privacy, romance, and/or a place for young children to wade and/or play in should skip the free tarzan swing and swimming hole described below in favour of a safer and more structured pool/water attraction.

WHAT EL SALTO IS AND WHO SHOULD VISIT IT

With the above disclaimer out of the way, we are happy to claim that El Salto Costa Rica is a popular go-to spot and one we recommend to a very specific breed of traveller. As locals, the free tarzan swing and swimming hole in La Fortuna is one of our favourite sites that we have visited numerous times over the years. Specifically, the swimming hole exists at a clearing in a clean river (the Fortuna River) at the base of a small waterfall. The free tarzan swing hangs from a tree overhead, and daredevils who opt to make the jump (“el salto”) do so into the swimming hole below.

WHERE TO FIND THE FREE TARZAN SWING AND SWIMMING HOLE IN LA FORTUNA

El Salto Costa Rica is located an approximate three-minute drive outside of downtown La Fortuna. Although we do not recommend doing so, the distance is often walked and/or biked by energetic and fearless visitors (unfortunately no sidewalk is provided and cars drive hastily along the road). Generally, a taxi is required to get to and from the site, except in cases when travellers have access to their own rental car.

Visiting El Salto Costa Rica via a taxi

If you take a taxi to El Salto Costa Rica, the driver will drop you off at the side of the road just before or after a small bridge (this is because there is no formal or established entrance to the site). You should hear water rushing below. Once at the bridge, carefully climb down the terrain situated on the east side of the road (i.e., the side opposite the Arenal Volcano). Note that the climb is a bit rocky but not overly difficult; in total, the walk takes approximately thirty seconds. At the base of El Salto Costa Rica you will see the swimming hole. If you prefer not to swim, you may sit on the area’s surrounding rocks. Enjoy!

Visiting El Salto Costa Rica via a rental car

Travellers who plan to drive themselves to and from El Salto Costa Rica should take the road that leads out of downtown La Fortuna to the south in the direction of San Ramon (highway #702). Continue driving on this road for two-to-three minutes. Along the way you will pass by a road to your right that is marked as the road to the La Fortuna Waterfall (Diagonal #301), however do not take this road (continue driving straight); after approximately fifty meters you will notice that the road forms a small bridge–El Salto Costa Rica lies beneath. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find a parking spot along the road either before or after the bridge; this is the only parking available for El Salto Costa Rica, and since spots are neither marked, official, nor secure, drivers should leave their vehicles at their own risk. Once at the bridge, carefully climb down the terrain situated on the east side of the road (i.e., the side opposite the Arenal Volcano). Note that the climb is a bit rocky but not overly difficult; in total, the walk takes approximately thirty seconds. At the base of El Salto Costa Rica you will see the swimming hole. If you prefer not to swim, you may sit on the area’s surrounding rocks. Enjoy!

Note:

  • As you are driving from downtown La Fortuna toward the bridge, if you pass the large entrance for the tour operating company Arenal Mundo Aventura on your right, you have gone too far.

Note:

  • Even with access to a personal rental car, we recommend taking a taxi to and from El Salto Costa Rica. This is to avoid arriving at the site with no place to park, or worse, parking at the site and assuming the risk of receiving a parking ticket or vehicle vandalism.

EL SALTO COSTA RICA VISIT TIPS AND WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

El Salto Costa Rica is not safe

The free swimming hole in La Fortuna is essentially a hole-in-the-wall (or rather, a clearing-in-the-forest-under-a-bridge) type of place; there are no lifeguards on duty to monitor water activities, there are no staff members or police officers around to monitor conduct, and there are no public phones in the area to call for help if or when it would be needed. In addition, the river (fueled by the power of the area’s small waterfall) can be rough at times and river rocks can be slippery. Visits to El Salto Costa Rica are not recommended for the majority of visitors who would prioritize safety over monetary savings.

Do not visit El Salto Costa Rica after dark

As we touch on in our related blog post Is Costa Rica Safe? Yes, If You Travel Clevery, Consciously, And With Common Sense. Here’s How., most places (including the beach and ATMs, to name a few) should be avoided after dark. The free tarzan swing and swimming hole in La Fortuna is no exception to this rule; in fact, the site’s off-road location down an unlit path tucked away under a bridge is one of the most dangerous places we could envision a traveller being late at night. If you absolutely must visit El Salto Costa Rica, do so in the middle of the day when there are likely to be other people around, and daylight to guide you way. If you would prefer the ambiance and environment that more formal swimming holes provide, opt to visit one of La Fortuna’s numerous hot springs attractions instead.

Don’t miss our related blog post:

The Best Arenal Hot Springs In Costa Rica: Comparing 7 Popular La Fortuna Hot Springs

Bring/leave personal items at your own risk

Since most travellers would not want to bring personal belongings (such as clothes and shoes) into the water with them, these items may be left on the rocks that surround the swimming hold. Do not bring any valuables (such as car keys, hotel keys, identification documents, credit cards, jewelry, etc.) with you to the site since there is no secure place to leave them. You may have noted that unlike all other blog posts provided on our website, we do not offer many photos of the free hot springs site; this is because we consciously choose not to bring our cameras and phones with us when we opt to visit to avoid running the risk of something happening to them (and to act as role models for you–our faithful travelling clientele–as we practice what we preach). If you absolutely must bring important items with you to El Salto Costa Rica, store the items in a waterproof container that can be safely secured to your body.

For more information about what to bring to Costa Rica and our item recommendations, don’t miss our related blog post:

What To Pack For Costa Rica (And What Not To Pack)

Be aware that there are no bathrooms onsite

This point goes without saying: when you gotta go, you gotta go. Unfortunately, El Salto Costa Rica is not equipped to handle such emergencies.

Change into your bathing suit before leaving your hotel

Don’t forget to change into your bathing suit before you leave your hotel since there are no change rooms located at El Salto Costa Rica. Also, it is important to note that the site itself is small and doesn’t offer a ton of places to discretely change clothes in (we wouldn’t recommend venturing into the surrounding forest to do so either), so travellers expecting to be able to duck away to change onsite will find it an inconvenient challenge to do so.

Do not plan to visit El Salto Costa Rica after participating in another excursion

Although many travellers try to kill two (or three, or four) birds with one stone when they plan to visit the free tarzan swing and swimming hole immediately following the completion of an adventure tour, a shopping trip in downtown La Fortuna, or another experience, the reality is, when travellers visit El Salto Costa Rica late in the day, they are likely to have additional items with them (such as high-cost clothing or footwear used during an adventure tour, or souvenirs purchased during a shopping spree). Each item that is brought to El Salto Costa Rica is an item at risk of getting lost or stolen. To help minimize that risk, plan visits to the site to and from hotels only–do not coordinate the visit as a stop on an otherwise busy travel day according to your trip itinerary.

MAP OF EL SALTO COSTA RICA


QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: When travelling, what types of “freebies” do you hope to find?

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4 thoughts on “El Salto: Local Free Tarzan Swing And Swimming Hole La Fortuna / Arenal Site”

    • Kara –
      Great question! There is no taxi stop directly at El Salto, so taxi’s won’t know to visit the location specifically unless you make prior arrangements with the driver (we recommend setting up a plan with a hired driver ahead of time so he/she knows to return to El Salto for you). Otherwise, taxis often drive along the road that El Salto is located close to, so you could take your chances waiting alongside the road and hailing one (although you may be waiting a while). If worse comes to worse and you cannot prearrange a ride back to town or hail a taxi on the spot, you could always walk back to town (although this walk would take about 20 minutes). 🙂
      Pura vida!

    • Light Project Stories –
      Great question! There is no “official” parking in the form of a parking lot or secured spaces, so parking is tricky. There is a stretch of land (south of the bridge) which can fit a few cars, so if you don’t plan to go on a weekend (when El Salto tends to receive more visitors) you may get lucky and capture a spot. If attempting to do so, and assuming you are driving south (from downtown La Fortuna out to El Salto), just after you pass the road/signs on your right that lead to the waterfall, the road you are travelling on will curve to the right and dip down a bit (this is where the bridge exists and El Salto is on your left). There is not much in the way of parking on either side of the road before the bridge, but if you pass the bridge, turn around, and come back, you may be able to locate space on a flat, grassy area on the right-hand side of the road. For turning around, you can do this at the entrance of Arenal Mundo Aventura’s Ecological Park (which will be on your right shortly after driving over the bridge; the entrance is wide enough to allow you to make a u-turn on the road). As a heads up, be careful! The road around El Salto is not overly wide and drivers speed along the route. We don’t typically recommend driving to/from El Salto since parking is unreliable (and not overly safe), but if you plan to make the stop, just be extra cautious getting into and out of your vehicle, and remember to lock the doors. 🙂
      Pura vida!

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