Arenal Volcano National Park: Costa Rica's Most Famous Volcano and Travel Destination!
Visiting the Arenal Volcano
The Arenal Volcano is one of our top recommended destinations and one of the most visited places in Costa Rica.Your Costa Rica vacation should include a trip to the Arenal Volcano. The iconic Arenal Volcano is located in the northwestern part of Costa Rica, towering beautifully over the town La Fortuna. The most well-known active 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, hike on lava from previous eruptions, and maybe 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. If you are vacationing in Guanacaste, it is possible to take a day trip to Arenal and explore the forest on one of the many trails. Don’t miss out on some great Arenal volcano tours while you’re there!
Arenal Volcano National Park
The Arenal Volcano National Park spans across almost 30,000 acres of rainforest and is a great place to see the volcano up close from various trails. Choose from several hiking trails that leave from the entrance of the park, some only taking 30 minutes, some taking a couple of hours. Solo hikes on the trails are permitted but you can also easily arrange guided hikes in La Fortuna.
The Arenal Volcano National Park is also a good place to spot animals and plants. Hiking through the park you are likely to see monkeys, tapirs, snakes, parrots and deer. Some visible plants include higuerones, orchids, ferns and guayabo de monte.
Swim, take pictures and picnic at the bottom of this 200 ft mind-blowing waterfall. Get there by walking or horseback riding. 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 a world-class canopy tour. 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.
Arenal Hot Springs
The best way end your day of adventuring in the Arenal Volcano National Park is to relax in the geothermally heated Arenal hot springs, located in various spots in the area. The natural hot springs of La Fortuna offer 16 different hot pools. You can also visit the Tabacon 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!
Visit between December and April:
December through April is the best time to see the Arenal Volcano. The skies will be clearer, offering unforgettable views! The rainy season is from May-November and it can be more difficult to get a clear view of the volcano.
Staying at the bottom of the volcano:
Staying closer to the volcano will give you incredible views of the volcano and rainforest, but will be more expensive.
Stay in La Fortuna:
Staying in La Fortuna will give you easy access to all the activities offered in the area and it will be more affordable.
Pack rain and swimming attire:
Make sure to bring rainproof hiking attire for visiting the volcano and swimwear for visiting the Arenal hot springs
If you’re looking for luxury and relaxation, stay at one of the best hotel and spas in the world: Nayara Springs.
Let us guide you:
Talk with one of our Travel Experts today to learn more and help you customize your vacation to the Arenal Volcano!
Getting to the Arenal Volcano is easier than ever. Choose Private Transfer for quick, convenient and worry-free travel. You can also take shared shuttles, which are more affordable but not as fast. For more freedom and flexibility, rent a car right from the airport upon your arrival. Finally, you can also take advantage of Costa Rica domestic flights, which are the fastest way to see as much of the country as possible during your stay.
Where To Stay
There is no shortage of options of Arenal hotels. You can find eco-friendly lodges and world-class spas. For example, enjoy the Arenal Observatory lodge. Once an Arenal observatory for the Smithsonian Institute, the observatory lodge is a great starting point for exploring the rain forest trails and volcano area flora and fauna. The Baldi Hot Springs Spa & Resort is another great option. The Baldi Hot Springs Resort offers spacious, luxurious rooms and amazing spa treatments. You can also take advantage of several Arenal volcano tours from the resort.
Eat at the bottom of a volcano! From traditional Costa Rican to Asian Latin fusion, dining around the Arenal Volcano offers something for everyone–and for every budget.
In La Fortuna stop by Don Rufino for Costa Rican casado and international cuisine, Pollo Fortuneño for amazing grilled chicken (and maybe a guaro sour!) or Chifa la Familia Feliz for Chinese Peruvian fusion. Many of the hotels close to the Volcano also have on-site restaurants and bars that you can enjoy with amazing views of the Volcano.
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.
Arenal Volcano - Get Info
Arenal Volcano Map
The Arenal Volcano is located 3 hours from San Jose in the northwestern part of Costa Rica, next to La Fortuna. It is easily accessible by rental car, shuttle or private transfer!