Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna

Northern Lowlands

One of Costa Rica's most notable natural features is the Arenal Volcano. This impressive volcano resides within the 29,960-acre Arenal Volcano National Park. Although the volcano entered into a resting phase in 2010 – meaning that its eruptions have paused – it is still a stunning sight. Rising above the rainforest that surrounds its base, Arenal frames the skyline with near perfect symmetry. The immediate area hosts a wealth of activities – including whitewater rafting, waterfall rappelling, hiking and canopy tours – as well as the friendly town of La Fortuna.

Made up mostly of primary rainforest, The Arenal Volcano National Park encompasses four different life zones and harbors a tremendous amount of flora and fauna. In fact, nearly 75% of the total 850 species of birds that have been identified in Costa Rica can be found here. Other creatures include sloths, white-faced capuchin monkeys, coati, deer and snakes, including the infamous fer-de-lance, parrot snake and boa constrictor. The plants are just as varied and include guayabo de monte, laurel, cirri, palms, orchids, heliconias, ferns and bromeliads. Arenal’s smaller – and much older – sibling, the Chato Volcano (Volcán Chato), adjoins Arenal. This volcano, which resides at a height of 3,740 ft (1,140 m), has been inactive for some 3,500 years and has a crater that’s filled with aqua-blue water. The park has several walking trails and is open from 8 AM to 6 PM. The entrance fee is $6. The quiet town of La Fortuna is 4 miles (6.4 km) from the Arenal Volcano. It’s 16 miles (26 km) from Ciudad Quesada and 75 miles (120 km) from San José. If you’re driving from San José, it’ll take around 3 hours to get here. The town itself is small, central and warm. Its location provides visitors with easy access to the Arenal area and its amenities make staying here pleasant. There are hotels both within and outside of the town, many of which stipple the countryside at the base of the volcano. La Fortuna hosts good places to eat and buy groceries, and has an assortment of banks, shops and bars. The activities within this area are endless. Horseback rides can be made through the nearby hills and whitewater rafting can be done on the Peñas Blancas, Toro and Balsa rivers. Each river is different in both intensity and scenery – participants can choose between leisurely safari floats or exciting class IV rapids. A variety of other water sports can be enjoyed on Lake Arenal, including canoeing, fishing and kite surfing. Inland diversions include hiking and waterfall repelling, as well as canopy and hanging bridge tours. The La Fortuna Waterfall, a breathtaking 230 ft (70 m) cascade that drops into a misty pool, is just 3 miles (5 km) south of La Fortuna and makes for an easy day trip. A short hike (or horseback ride) drops visitors into the base of the pool, where they can swim, take photos and enjoy the scenery. The volcano’s geothermal activity heats dozens of underground water flumes. Local landowners, tapping into this natural source, have created a number of beautiful hot springs. These springs are varied and indulgent (some have waterslides, wet bars and cold pools) and offer visitors a perfect way to end a day in Arenal. Botanists, whether professional or amateur, should head to the Arenal Botanical Gardens, which are located a few miles outside of town. Here you’ll find some 2,500 species of tropical plants. Many are rare, including several types of bromeliads, orchids, ferns and roses. Butterflies and birds flit through the gardens, pausing to perch in a tree or rest on a flower. Although somewhat close to the Arenal, the Venado Caves feel like an entirely different planet. Located just 1.9 miles (3 km) outside the town of Venado and a 45-minute drive from La Fortuna, the caves are a spelunking and adventure-seeker’s dream. The 1.5-miles of caves feature stalagmites, stalactites and subterranean streams. As you explore the caves, you may see bats hanging from the ceiling, sightless fish swimming in the streams, and colorless frogs clinging to the rocks. Nature buffs will enjoy a day trip to the Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, which is set near the border with Nicaragua. Exploring this vast network of wetlands and the huge Caño Negro Lake provides ample opportunities to spot bids and other tropical creatures. Yes, there is something for everyone here. The quaint town, beautiful surroundings and ample activities make Arenal one of the cornerstone destinations of Costa Rica.

Nearby Activities

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Venado Caves Tour

2-in-1 combo|4 hours

Arenal

4.8 / 5.0
Starting At$78
Venado Caves Tour

The ancient Venado Caves are a geological marvel, shaped by tectonic shifting and an underground river.

4.8 / 5.0
Tour Details

Lake Arenal Fishing

2-in-1 combo|6 hours

Arenal

3.9 / 5.0
Starting At$150
Lake Arenal Fishing

Fishing on Lake Arenal is a great opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Arenal Volcano and the incredible landscape surrounding Lake Arenal.

3.9 / 5.0
Tour Details

Road Bike around Lake Arenal

Biking|7 hours

Arenal

3.7 / 5.0
Starting At$135
Road Bike around Lake Arenal

On this road biking trip around Lake Arenal, riders will coast along rolling hills and enjoy stunning scenery. This wonderful excursion is perfect for beginners and...

3.7 / 5.0
Tour Details

Fly Board

|40 minutes

Arenal

5.0 / 5.0
Starting At$89
Fly Board

The fly board experience is truly one-of-a-kind. This adventurous activity allows you to shoot 32 feet (10 m) into the air and hover over the surface of Arenal...

5.0 / 5.0
Tour Details

2-in-1 La Fortuna Waterfall and Chocolate Tour

4-in-1 combo|5 hours

Arenal

5.0 / 5.0
Starting At$145
2-in-1 La Fortuna Waterfall and Chocolate Tour

This tour is an incredible introduction to the Costa Rican landscape. You’ll get to see the majestic plunge of the La Fortuna waterfall and take a tour of a local...

5.0 / 5.0
Tour Details

Arenal 1968 Historical Process

3-in-1 combo|3 hours

Arenal

5.0 / 5.0
Starting At$60
Arenal 1968 Historical Process

This 3-hour walking tour of the base of Arenal Volcano will take you to see some of the evidence that remains of the massive 1968 eruption. Along the way your guide...

5.0 / 5.0
Tour Details

Pure Trek - Chocolate Tour Combo

3-in-1 combo|7 hours

Arenal

4.9 / 5.0
Starting At$180
Pure Trek - Chocolate Tour Combo

This combo tour takes you on an energetic adventure during the first part of the day, and ends with a hands-on chocolate cooking class later in the afternoon....

4.9 / 5.0
Tour Details

Canyoneering La Roca

Rappel|5 hours

Arenal

4.9 / 5.0
Starting At$98
Canyoneering La Roca

This half-day tour brings travelers face-to-face with the forests, streams and waterfalls of the Arenal area. You’ll rappel down the side of cliffs, walk across...

4.9 / 5.0
Tour Details

Proyecto Asis Half Day Tour with Volunteering

3-in-1 combo|4 hours

Arenal

4.8 / 5.0
Starting At$54
Proyecto Asis Half Day Tour with Volunteering

Take a tour and volunteer at Proyecto Asis wildlife rescue center just 30 minutes from La Fortuna in the northern lowlands region of Costa Rica.

4.8 / 5.0
Tour Details

Hanging Bridges, Fortuna Waterfall & Volcano Hike

3-in-1 combo|10 hours

Arenal

4.8 / 5.0
Starting At$180
Hanging Bridges, Fortuna Waterfall & Volcano Hike

This tour combines some of the best attractions that Arenal has to offer—hanging bridges, the La Fortuna Waterfall, and the Arenal Volcano National Park. It’s a...

4.8 / 5.0
Tour Details

3 in 1 Safari Float, La Fortuna Waterfall and Volcano Hike

3-in-1 combo|10 hours

Arenal

4.8 / 5.0
Starting At$180
3 in 1 Safari Float, La Fortuna Waterfall and Volcano Hike

This tour offers travelers an excellent opportunity to explore some of the best attractions in the Arenal area. It includes a safari float along the Peñas Blancas...

4.8 / 5.0
Tour Details

Nearby Lodging

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Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge

Arenal

Free Breakfast

& More

4.9 / 5.0
From$85

Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge

Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge is located 2 miles (3 km) from the town of La Fortuna, at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. This is one of the most popular places in Costa Rica to...

4.9 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Nayara Springs

Arenal

Air Conditioning

Cable TV

Free Breakfast

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

& More

4.9 / 5.0
From$848

Nayara Springs

Nayara Springs is an adults-only resort that caters to adventurous couples. These luxurious guest villas are a short distance outside of Arenal Volcano National Park.

4.9 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel Arenal Nayara

Arenal

Air Conditioning

Bar

Cable TV

Free Breakfast

Jacuzzi

& More

4.9 / 5.0
From$396

Hotel Arenal Nayara

Nayara Hotel Spring and Gardens allows guests to feel that they have acquired their own small corner of Costa Rica. Guests come here for the beautiful accommodations...

4.9 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Hotel Silencio del Campo

Arenal

Air Conditioning

Bar

Cable TV

Free Breakfast

Restaurant

& More

4.8 / 5.0
From$247

Hotel Silencio del Campo

Hotel Silencio del Campo is located in majestic Arenal, near the quaint town of La Fortuna. This cozy accommodation is located at the foot of the world-famous Arenal...

4.8 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

The Springs Resort and Spa

Arenal

Air Conditioning

Bar

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

Swimming Pool

& More

4.8 / 5.0
From$791

The Springs Resort and Spa

The Springs Resort and Spa overlooks the Arenal river valley and offers direct views of north side of the majestic Arenal Volcano. The Springs is surrounded by lush...

4.8 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Casa Luna Hotel and Spa

Arenal

Air Conditioning

Bar

Cable TV

Free Breakfast

Restaurant

& More

4.7 / 5.0
From$172

Casa Luna Hotel and Spa

The Casa Luna Lodge is a brand new hotel that has the goal of becoming an ecological model of sustainability within the Arenal Area.  Situated at the base of the Arenal...

4.7 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Lomas del Volcan

Arenal

Air Conditioning

Bar

Cable TV

Free Breakfast

Jacuzzi

& More

4.7 / 5.0
From$190

Lomas del Volcan

Lomas del Volcan is located in the northern region of the country, near the town of La Fortuna.

4.7 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

Finca Luna Nueva Lodge

Arenal

Air Conditioning

Free Breakfast

Jacuzzi

Restaurant

Swimming Pool

& More

4.7 / 5.0
From$136

Finca Luna Nueva Lodge

Dedicated to preserving the precious rainforest and maintaining a sacred bond with the land, the Finca Luna Nueva Lodge is a rustic yet luxurious eco-lodge located...

4.7 / 5.0
Rooms and Rates

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