Northern Lowlands

The Northern Lowlands Region of Costa Rica presents diverse scenery with a variety of pastures, wetlands, jungles, rainforests, cloud forests, and river webs. Situated between the Pacific and Caribbean and nestled against the Nicaraguan border, the Lowlands Region contains diverse flora and fauna as well as spectacular attractions. On the edge of the region's rolling flatland landscape, the imposing Arenal Volcano sits as one of Costa Rica's most-popular destinations, producing amazing shows of molten rock and ash.

The Best of Northern Lowlands

Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna

The charming and welcoming town of La Fortuna is a perfect getaway for families, couples, and friends. The only requisite is that you love outdoor adventure! So if you can’t wait to spend your vacation in the fresh air, biking, kayaking, hiking, and more, then discover why the Arenal region is just what you need. Best of all, you can enjoy luxe accommodations that boast volcanic views, and pamper yourself with a luxurious soak in a hot spring. Nature is waiting for you, and she’s easy to find when you book your Arenal adventure with Anywhere.

Arenal Volcano National Park Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano National Park

The Arenal Volcano National Park packs all of Costa Rica's allure into one place: incredible hiking, magnificent views, abounding wildlife and the country's most active volcano. Hiking and horseback riding tours allow you to get up close and personal with this incredible area, which encompasses close to 30,000 acres and extends into eight different life zones. Overlooking everything is the imposing Arenal Volcano which sits right inside this wonderful park.

0 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
1 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
2 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
3 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
4 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
5 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
6 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
7 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
8 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
9 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
10 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica
11 - Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica

The sweeping plains of the Northern Lowlands are home to tourism, banana plantations, and many cattle ranches. Positioned north of San José and the Central Valley, east of Guanacaste, and west of the Caribbean coast, the Northern Lowlands are ideally situated for a detour from the beach or city. The region contains a large number of easily accessible national parks, biological stations, and wildlife refuges- haven for any outdoor lover.

Until 1957, the region remained isolated from the country's main economic and cultural center, San Jose. Not until Highway 126 connected Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui with the capital city did the region become one of Costa Rica's most vital organs. Timber harvests throughout much of the lowlands, cleared the way for it large cattle industry. However, during the rainy season, many of these areas now flood with Costa Rica's overwhelming rainfall, creating many wet swamps and marshes.

The region's geography is composed of two main flatlands: Llanuras de los Guatusos to the west and Llanura de San Carlos to the east. Two mountain ranges border the region along its southwestern perimeter: the Tilaran Mountain Range (Cordillera de Tilaran) and the Central Volcanic Mountain Range (Cordillera Volcanica Central). Both ranges snake their way from northwest to southeast, splitting the country down its middle. To the northwest, the Guanacaste Mountain Range (Cordillera de Guanacaste) divides the Northern Lowlands from the Guanacaste Providence. All three mountain ranges are dotted with volcanoes and cloud forest. Together, they surround the region and contribute to its scenic beauty. From the mountain peaks, an intricate system of rivers and streams meanders to the lowlands, where the rivers supply nutrients to lowland fertile soil.

In order to access the destinations of La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano from San Jose, head northwest through Alajuela (46 mi, 73 km) and either continue through San Ramon, or take Hwy 141, which runs through Sarchi and Ciudad Quesada. Alternatively, pass by La Paz Waterfall, traveling north from Alajuela and turning through San Miguel and Aguas Zarcas. La Fortuna is located 75 miles (120 km) from San Jose and 16 miles (25 km) from Ciudad Quesada.

Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui can be reached by taking Highway 126 north to San Miguel. Then, head northeast on Hwy 4 through La Virgen and Chilamate until you reaching a city with the Sarapiqui River (Rio Sarapiqui). Another scenic way to drive is to take Hwy 32, the Guapiles Hwy, northeast from San Jose, which will take you through the lovely Braulio Carrillo National Park (Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo).