Visiting the Arenal Volcano
The Arenal Volcano is one of our top recommended destinations and one of the most visited places in Costa Rica. The iconic Arenal Volcano is located in the northwestern part of Costa Rica, towering beautifully over the town La Fortuna. The most well-known volcano in Costa Rica is surrounded by the Arenal Volcano National Park and Lake Arenal.
The Arenal Volcano is still considered active, but there hasn’t been an eruption since 2010. If you’re lucky, you might still get to see smoke spewing out of the top! People come from all over the world to admire and study the volcano, hoping to glimpse some volcanic activity. Only 3 hours from the capital city, San Jose, the Arenal Volcano is easily accessible and offers a variety of fun, adventure-packed activities for everyone. Don’t miss out on some great Arenal tours while you’re there!
Arenal Volcano National Park
The Arenal Volcano National Park spans across almost 30,000 acres and is a great place to see the volcano up close. Several hikes leave from the entrance of the park, some only taking 30 minutes, some taking a couple of hours. Solo hikes are permitted but you can also easily arrange hikes in La Fortuna.
Swim, take pictures and picnic at the bottom of this 200 ft mind-blowing waterfall. Get there by walking or arrive on horseback. The hike to the waterfall is a great opportunity to spot wildlife including monkeys, toucans and sloths.
Hanging Bridge Tours
Discover the rainforest from the sky and let an expert guide point out wildlife along the way. Don’t forget to bring your camera, not only for the amazing views of the rainforest, but to capture the hundreds of species of birds flying above the trees. Hanging bridges are ideal for families, couples and birders.
Leave from La Fortuna for a 1-3 hour moderate hike of the Arenal Volcano. See solidified lava and ask expert tour guides about the history of the Arenal Volcano and the local flora and fauna. On clear days you’ll be able to capture breathtaking photos of the Volcano and surrounding rainforest.
Soar among the birds through the national park and see the rainforest from a thrilling perspective on world-class zip lines. Your tour will usually start with a short hike up to the cables, some of which are over 900 meters long! The views of the volcano and waterfalls as you fly across the national park are spectacular. Tarzan swings are also an option for the more adventurous traveler.
You’ll find world-class white water rafting on the Toro or Balsa River! Spend a few hours or the whole day racing down the exciting waters with experienced professional guides by your side. Finish your tour with a refreshing swim, a traditional lunch and a cold Costa Rican beer!
Tour the area with local biking experts and get a unique view of Lake Arenal. You will get a chance to take a dip and refresh and also learn a bit about Costa Rican culture when you stop in surrounding towns.
The best way end your day of adventuring in the national park is to relax in the geothermally heated hot springs, located in various spots in the area. The Hot Springs of La Fortuna offer 16 different hot pools. You can also visit the Tabacón Hot Springs and experience cascading thermal waterfalls. The restorative minerals and bicarbonates in the water are great for your health. You’re guaranteed to leave feeling refreshed!
The largest human-made lake in Costa Rica is Lake Arenal. It provides a perfect mirror for the volcano and sheer natural Costa Rican beauty. Lake Arenal was created in 1979 for hydroelectric and irrigation purposes. The lake actually covers two submerged towns, complete with buildings, roads, cemeteries, and farmland, under 50 meters of deep dark blue waters.
Experience some of the best fishing in Costa Rica in the largest man-made lake in the world. Visit in May for your best chance to catch some gorgeous Rainbow Bass (Guapotes) while you take in an amazing view of the Arenal Volcano.
Learn how to windsurf from professional guides and experience warm waters and great winds. Windsurfing is available all year round and there are lessons available for people at every level. It is a challenging but unforgettable experience!
Let guides show you best spots to kayak on the lake and tell you about the history of the Arenal Volcano. Kayak with a partner and take a break to swim in the cool, refreshing waters while you admire the Arenal Volcano and surrounding rainforest.
La Fortuna sits at the bottom of the Arenal Volcano and is perfect starting point for all the activities offered in the area. You can also take advantage of more affordable hotel rates in La Fortuna.
About an hour away from Arenal you can tour the eight caverns of the Venado Caves, formed 20 million years ago by tectonic movements. Enjoy stalactites, stalagmites, waterfalls, coral and rock formations and bats. Make sure to dress appropriately as you will get wet and muddy!
The last major eruption happened on July 29, 1968, destroying three villages. One community east of the crater escaped the furious mountain unscathed. Grateful that they were left untouched, Its inhabitants decided to rename their small town to La Fortuna, meaning fortune in Spanish.
The eruption resulted in a second cone forming next to the original one, after 40+ years of smaller eruptions. Thankfully none of the following eruptions caused as much damage. The last recorded eruption happened in October of 2010. Although the volcano has not shown any signs of eruption recently, it is still considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Travelers come from everywhere, including photographers, geologists and even locals to visit the famous volcano in hopes of witnessing yet another eruption.