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Arenal

Arenal Volcano is one of the World's most active volcanoes - it has been constantly erupting lava since 1968! The lava flows can make for spectacular viewing, if you are on the correct side of it! You can watch the volcano erupt while drinking a tropical drink and soaking in thermal hot springs. This is a very scenic area, with several nice hotels and many things to do and see. No trip to Costa Rica is complete without a visit to Arenal Volcano.

Getting to Arenal is an adventure in itself. You'll drive through mountains, cloud forests and over tall bridges to end up in this beautiful rural area with the majestic volcano dominating the landscape. While a popular tourist destination, this area retains its rural ambiance and heritage. It is filled with picturesque pastureland and lush rainforest.

 

Advantages

  • Beautiful scenery
  • An active volcano
  • Spectacular Hot Springs
  • Lush Rainforest
  • Fishing on Lake Arenal
  • Many activities and sights

Disadvantages

  • None that we can think of - it's nearly perfect!

Attractions
More InfoArenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano has been constantly erupting lava since 1968. Ash, huge boulders and lava rivers can be seen at all times of day, depending on cloud cover. The fiery displays are best viewed at night. The lava flows can move from one side of the volcano to the other at any time. Hiking on the volcano is not allowed because it is too dangerous. Arenal is one of the highlights of Costa Rica.
More InfoHot Springs

Soak and play in several different hot springs with crystal clear waters heated by nearby Arenal Volcano. Relax in therapeutic waters with wonderful views of Arenal Volcano and without a sulfur smell! Most Hot Springs have many pools with varying temperatures and lush vegetation or gardens. Some offer Spa services with massages and mud masks. Others feature thrilling waterslides and a party atmosphere.
Arenal Hanging Bridges

Arenal Hanging Bridges sits in a valley near Arenal Volcano with trails and suspension bridges in the rainforest. Groomed trails are moderate in length and steepness, punctuated with stunning views of the volcano. Guides are available and very informative, but you could do this on your own. Visit early in the morning when the birds and animals are more active.
La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna is a spectacular 200-foot waterfall in a beautiful valley not far from the town of La Fortuna. You can access it by car, foot, or on horseback (which is what we recommend). The trail to the falls is steep, but manageable for anyone in reasonable shape. Swimming is allowed in the river beneath the falls, so bring your suit if you want to take a refreshing dip. This is a very scenic waterfall in a heavily-forested valley.
Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal features spectacular shoreline, fishing and World-Class windsurfing. Arenal Volcano dominates the Eastern Shore and provides for gorgeous views from the Lake. Fishing for Guapote or "Rainbow Bass" is very good in season. Sunset Cruises and kayaking on the Lake are also popular. The West side of the Lake features spectacular windsurfing and kiteboarding with lessons and rentals available.
Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste features turquoise-colored water with a cascading waterfall as its backdrop. Its unique color is created by a combination of natural minerals and chemicals. The long, moderately-strenuous hike is not for everyone, but will reward you with a unique rainforest experience. Swimming is not allowed.

Cano Negro

Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge sits along the Nicaragua Border and features a wetlands ecosystem with boat tours. See hundreds of bird, plant and animal species as you glide on the Cano Negro lagoon and its branching waterways. Cano Negro is about 2 hours, each way, from the Volcano. Jungle River tours on the Central Pacific are similar and offer several advantages including proximity to local hotels, better road conditions, giant crocodiles and scarlet macaws.
Venado Caves

Venado Caves offers limestone caverns and some interesting wildlife. With tight spaces and small entrances, Venado Caves is not for everyone. Recommended for those with smaller stature and some spelunking experience. Some cases of respiratory infections have been reported from visiting Venado Caves.

 

Activities
More InfoRainforest Hiking

While you cannot hike on Arenal Volcano itself, you can hike all around it. We recommend hikes that feature the volcano and surrounding habitat. Outstanding guides make our hikes exceptional, because they explain the history of the volcano and its flows in great detail. Fun and educational!

More InfoZiplining

Zip through the treetops in rock-climbing harnesses from one platform to another in the rainforest canopy. Ziplining is adventurous, exhilarating and educational. Heart-pounding excitement or fun, intimate tours are available; we can recommend the safest tour for your interests. No special experience is needed, and it is not rigorous. Not suitable if you have an overwhelming fear of heights.

Horseback Riding

Several horseback riding tours are available in this region.  Our favorite is the ride to La Fortuna Waterfall.  Enjoy a moderate ride along picturesque ranch land and rainforest to the top of La Fortuna Waterfall.  Once you reach the trailhead, dismount and hike the steep but short trail to see the waterfall.  Take a swim in the river if you wish before you remount to return to the stables.

More InfoSarapiqui Rafting

Paddle down a Class 3 river through lush rainforest with fun rapids and lots of wildlife. Rafting on the Sarapiqui River does not require any prior experience and is available to children over the age of 8.

 

Mountain Biking

The Arenal Volcano area offers excellent Mountain Biking opportunities.  Two different tours are available, depending on your level of fitness and duration.  One travels along the very scenic Lake Arenal to a small town at the base of the Volcano for lunch. The moderate tour uses only roads. A combination of roads and trails is used for the advanced tour.

More InfoWaterfall Rappelling

Rappel down a waterfall in the rainforest surrounding Arenal Volcano.  This relatively strenuous tour involves rigorous hiking to a canyon with a large waterfall.  You must hike up and down the mountain, so be prepared for this activity.  For those in good physical condition with a very adventurous spirit, this tour delivers!

Fishing on Lake Arenal

Guapote ("Rainbow Bass"), machaca and freshwater tarpon are all found in Lake Arenal. Half-day or full-day trips are available on small bass boats. Fishing is done with spinners near the shore and by trolling in deeper waters. You never know how many fish you will catch, but Lake Arenal is so scenic, it almost doesn't matter!

Sunset Cruise

Enjoy a scenic afternoon and evening at Sunset on the spectacular Lake Arenal.  Watch the Sunset with Arenal Volcano in the background.  While on the Lake, you might be able to catch a fish or two!  This is a romantic and beautiful experience.  Refreshments are included.

Windsurfing

Experience some of the World's best Windsurfing and most consistent wind on the West side of Lake Arenal.  Learn from professionals or just rent the equipment and test your skills on this beautiful lake with warm water.  Arenal Volcano is about 90 minutes, each way, from the Windsurfing.

Hotels
More InfoArenal Paraiso DollarSignDollarSign

Arenal Paraiso features individual cabin-like bungalows with great views of the volcano. Although the external appearance is rustic, the interior is nice and offers great privacy. This moderately priced hotel includes breakfasts and is a great value with many on site amenities such as hot springs, swimming pool, hiking trail, spa and canopy tour.

More InfoVolcano Lodge DollarSignDollarSign

Volcano Lodge is a clean, comfortable, affordable hotel which still provides some nice amenities, including breakfast, swimming pool and jacuzzi. Their restaurant is very good.
More InfoRoyal Corin DollarSignDollarSignDollarSign

Royal Corin hosts a European sensibility, with contemporary, elegant design and architecture. Each room has a great view of the volcano and overlooks the pool and spa complex below. Discriminating travelers will not be disappointed.

More InfoTabacon Resort DollarSignDollarSignDollarSignDollarSign

Although no longer the most expensive resort in the area, Tabacon has maintained its level of quality and uniqueness. Lodging includes entrances to their nearby beautiful hot springs set within acres of exotic gardens. They have several restaurants and a World class spa.
More InfoThe Springs Resort DollarSignDollarSignDollarSignDollarSign

The Springs Resort is an expansive luxury resort complete with massive main lodge, spacious individual villas, native cat exhibit, on site hot springs pool complex and Club Rio activity center. The lodge houses several restaurants, bars, fitness center and spa. Club Rio has inflatable kayaks, river tubing, guided hikes, biking and more.
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