The Arenal Volcano is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. Located in northern Costa Rica in the Alajuela Province, you’ll find countless activities and tours that take place in the area surrounding the volcano. The Arenal Volcano is a cone-shaped volcano that dominates the fertile landscape of Arenal Volcano National Park. The Arenal Volcano is currently in a resting phase. Up until recently, it was the country’s most active volcano with an average of 41 eruptions per day! At Arenal, you’ll have access to the rainforest, waterfalls, a volcano, the country’s largest lake, and a diverse selection of eco-friendly hotels. It’s no surprise that Arenal is a must-visit destination in Costa Rica.
While you cannot hike up the volcano itself, we recommend several activities to get amazing views of or even get you close enough to the volcano.
Take a Dip in an Arenal Volcano Hot Springs
Arenal is also home to several hot springs. Soak your adventure laden muscles in thermal pools formed when water is heated underground and bubbles to the surface. Costa Rica’s mineral waters have been used as therapeutic baths for more than two hundred years to treat rheumatism and other ailments. Relax in a warm bath surrounded by jungle and wildlife after a day of adventure. We highly recommend a visit to the Ecotermales, Pardise, Baldi or Tabacon Hot Springs.
Discover the Forest Canopy by Aerial Tram or Zipline
Take the Aerial Tram or Zipline to see the incredible views overlooking the forest canopy, Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Take an aerial tram to the top of an observation point overlooking the scenic landscape for panoramic views of the region. From the observation point, opt for a zipline adventure with a bird’s eye view of the Arenal. This is a great activity for teens and adults.
Hike to La Fortuna Waterfall
The La Fortuna Waterfall is a must-see. It’s one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country and has become well known for it’s 200 feet plummet into a pool of crystal clear water. You can swim in the pool, so don’t forget to bring your swimsuit! The entrance fee is $15 and it is only a few kilometers from La Fortuna town. You can take a taxi which will cost about $20 USD one way or go as part of a tour.
Arenal Mistico Hanging Bridges Hike
Hike through a private nature preserve along maintained trails, a tropical garden, and across a series of fixed and hanging bridges (total of 16) with views of Arenal Volcano. You can hire a naturalist guide to point out the flora and fauna of the area such as sloths, monkeys, tree frogs, and more. Don’t forget to visit the waterfall extension trail near the end of the hike! The short trail to the waterfall is rough but worth it! Wear proper hiking shoes and bring a rain poncho when heading to the hanging bridges.
Discover Lake Arenal
At the base of Arenal Volcano sits Costa Rica’s largest lake, Lake Arenal. With the impressive volcano as its backdrop, Lake Arenal is sight to see against the picturesque landscape. For couples who want a romantic experience, book a sundown dinner cruise. Even if you can’t book a day at the lake, views of Arenal Lake can be admired from kayaking, ziplines, hiking trails, horseback riding, and even en route to your hotel. Every point of view is breathtaking.
Night Walk at Ecocentro Danaus
Take advantage of this night tour if you want to get up close and personal with some of Costa Rica’s most colorful creatures. A guide will take you through the forest and highly colorful amphibians and reptiles that only come out at night. We guarantee that you will walk away with photos of colorful frogs and more.
Visit the town of La Fortuna
The charming little town of La Fortuna is a great place for dining and enjoying the nightlife in Arenal. The town is centered around a park with a beautiful church at its center. In the background, you’ll see the Arenal Volcano. Try out a soda (small dining establishment) or enjoy fine dining at Restaurante Don Rufino.
Go Spelunking at Venado Caves
The Venado Caves are an underground limestone cavern of nearly 20 million years old. This half-day adventure will take you 8,850 feet into the earth, where fossils and subterranean animals reside. Hire a professional guide to explain the history of this unique ecosystem. Go into the underground river to see stalactites, stalagmites, a waterfall, and even a few cavern dwelling critters including bats!
Visit Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge
Explore the extensive network of rivers and marshes on a day tour to Cano Negro National Wildlife. Located in the remote area north of the Arenal, you’ll take a car and then boat to explore the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a thriving habitat for a variety of aquatic bird species such as Jaribu storks, roseate spoonbills, and egrets.
Go by safari boat tour, or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, considering canoeing through the refuge. The best time to visit here is during the rainy season when the rivers swell. More water means more birds!
Go White Water Rafting Near Arenal
The Balsa River is one of the most popular rafting rivers in the area. The Class II and III rapids make it a great option for people of all ages and skill levels. You can also opt for the Sarapiqui River, which is a bit more challenging with Class III-IV rapids. Both rafting excursions last 2-3 hours and are great half-day activities if you already have a lot of your itinerary. Be on the lookout for tropical landcapes and wildlife as you paddle along the river.
Hiking through the stunning Arenal Volcano National Park
A great way to explore the area is by foot. During the hike, you will pass through lush forests and fields overtaken by past volcanic eruptions. You’ll see where black lava has hardened and the greenery that is starting to grow around and on it.
The trails are mostly flat with minimum natural steps to climb. Be prepared for your hike and wear appropriate hiking shoes and bring water. For safety reasons, only take hikes that are well maintained and that are safe to view the volcano from an advisable distance. We recommend taking the well known Arenal 1968 trail.
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