Visiting Arenal, Costa Rica

Arenal and the surrounding area of northern Costa Rica are popular for things to do and see.

Visiting Arenal Volcano is a visit to one of the most recognizable volcanoes in Costa Rica. The volcano’s classic symmetrical cone shape rises out of the surrounding area and dominates the landscape of the national park. Last active in 2010, the volcano is currently dormant. As the region recovers from a series of eruptions that began in 2010, it’s creating new and unique ecosystems.

Things to do during your trip to Arenal

Even though the volcano itself is off-limits, Arenal National Park has miles of hiking around the volcano and over old lava flows. The hikes meander through unique microclimates and highly adapted ecosystems. Be sure to hire a naturalist guide who will make sure you don’t miss the exotic species of the Arenal region.

Lake Arenal, the largest in Costa Rica, sits at the base of the volcano. Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, fishing, and boat tours are good ways to get on the water and explore. Bilingual guides will take you out for a cruise around the lake, pointing out waterfowl and terrestrial wildlife. For a special evening, try a sundown dinner cruise for unforgettable views.

For thrills, go whitewater rafting on the Balsa River, one of the most popular in the area. The river’s Class II and III rapids are suitable for beginners and more advanced rafters. Safe for all but the very young, the trip downriver is about 2 hours. For more advanced rafters, the Sarapiqui’s Class III-IV rapids require a bit more experience. Regardless, the rainforest looks very different from the river.

A visit to the Arenal Hanging Bridges presents eco-tourists with an opportunity to wander the trails of this ecotourism park. The 8 fixed bridges and 6 hanging bridges are part of a 600-acre private reserve. Hike with a naturalist guide to get the most out of the stunning variety of animals, birds, and flowering plant life. Entrance to the park for adults is US$26; US$16 for teens 11 – 18; seniors, $21; 10 and under, free. Other tour options include bird watching, natural history, and a night tour.

The Sky Tram carries thrill-seekers up through the canopy to the Miguel Angel Observatory. From the observatory, you can see the volcano and lake, as well as the Tilaran Mountains. The zipline canopy tour of 4.5 miles begins at the observatory. The minimum age for the Sky Trek zipline is 8 years old. The more sedate in the group can return via the tram.

Where to stay while visiting Arenal

La Fortuna is a small farming village, named for La Fortuna Waterfall. The waterfall is only accessible on foot (15 minutes) or by horse. The waterfall drops through lush rainforest to cool, crystal clear pool 200 feet below. Be sure to take a swimsuit for a refreshing dip.

In La Fortuna, consider treating yourself to a stay at Arenal Kioro Green Luxury. As its name implies, this boutique hotel mixes luxury with the verdant vegetation that surrounds it. The botanical garden paths offer stunning views of Arenal Volcano.

Visiting Arenal and the local area is a must for eco-tourists and adventure travelers in Costa Rica. The landscape of rolling hills and the verdant rainforest are a study of contrasts and the power of nature to renew itself.

Reach out today to start making plans for your next trip to Arenal, Costa Rica.

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