Canopy tours are high-octane thrill rides during which you "fly" from treetop to treetop, securely fastened to a zip line. Despite the inherent danger of dangling from a cable hundreds of feet off the ground, the operators we list have excellent safety records. If you're brave, bring your camera to take photos while zipping along; just be sure the neck strap is long enough to leave your hands free.
Check with each operator regarding maximum weight (usually 250 pounds) and minimum ages for kids. Don't take a tour when rain threatens. A thunderstorm isn't the time to hang out near trees attached to metal cables, and rain makes the activity scary to say the least. Even during the rainy season, however, mornings and early afternoons are generally sunny.
Canopy El Edén. The daily trips to the spirited Mismaloya River and an adjacent restaurant are 3½-hour adventures ($81) that depart from the downtown office. You zip along 10 lines through the trees and above the river. To take full advantage of the lovely setting and good restaurant, take the first tour (departures are weekdays at 9, 10, 11, noon, 1:30, and 2:30—sometimes less frequently in low season), and bring your swimsuit. The schedule includes about an hour to spend at the river, spa, or restaurant. If you wish to stay longer and there's room, you can return to Vallarta with a later group; otherwise take a taxi or ask the restaurant staff for a lift to the highway, where buses frequently pass. Office: Plaza Romy, Calle I. Vallarta 228, Interior 1, Col. E. Zapata, Puerto Vallarta, 48380. 322/222–2516. www.canopyeleden.com.
Canopy Tour de Los Veranos. Los Veranos has the most zip lines (14), the longest zip line (1,300 feet), and the highest zip line (500 feet off the ground). It also has the most impressive scenery, crossing the Río Los Horcones half a dozen times on several miles of cables. Departures are from the office, across from the Pemex station at the south side of Puerto Vallarta, every hour on the hour between 9 and 2 (arrive 15 minutes early), with reduced hours in low season (June through November). After your canopy tour, there's time to scale the climbing wall, play in the Horcones River, eat at the restaurant, or hang out at the bar overlooking the river, but check to make sure that a ride back to town is available. There are shuttles from Marina Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta, and discounts for groups. Office:, Calle Francisca Rodríguez 336, Col. E. Zapata, Puerto Vallarta, 48380. 322/223–0504; 877/563–4113 from U.S. and Canada. www.canopytours-vallarta.com..
Rancho Mi Chaparrita. On his family ranch, Luis Verdin runs a 13-zip-line tour ($75) and horseback riding trips ($25 per hour). Or combine the two, accessing the ranch on Señor Verdin's lively, healthy horses via the beach and backcountry for a complete adventure ($95). The company rents boogie boards, surfboards, and paddleboards and give surfing lessons and four- to six-day surfing packages. They also offer snorkeling and whale- or wildlife-watching excursions around the Marietas Islands. Manuel Rodriguez Sanchez 14, Sayulita, 63732. 329/291–3112. www.michaparrita.com.
Vallarta Adventures. It's a well-respected operator with 20 years' experience, two offices, dozens of tours, and a staff of some 350. It's often used by high-end hotel concierges and cruise-ship activity directors for canopy tours, hiking, sailing, dinner-show cruises, Sierra Madre expeditions, and dolphin- and whale-watching cruises. Puerto Vallarta. 322/297–1212 in Nuevo Vallarta; 322/221–0657 in Marina Vallarta; 888/526–2238 from U.S. and Canada. www.vallarta-adventures.com.