About Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Costa Rica, La Fortuna / Arenal Vulcan
Photo credit: Tatiana Chekryzhova, Shutterstock

Dense jungle trails, rickety suspension bridges, refreshing waterfalls and hot thermal springs around a mighty volcanic cone – that's how the area around Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica can be summed up. Even if it is not possible to climb Arenal Volcano, it is still worth staying in the area for a few days and enjoying nature on this unique piece of land. But that's not all: the town of La Fortuna at the foot of the volcano itself also offers plenty of reasons to stay with its small shops and cafes. I was there for four days and it was definitely one of the highlights of my Costa Rica tour.

In this article I would like to share with you all the places and activities that I visited and which I think you should not miss on your trip.

Costa Rica, La Fortuna / Arenal Vulcan

#1 – Mistico Suspension Bridges

If I had a picture of Costa Rica before my trip, it was one of suspension bridges swaying in the mist above a dense green forest. However, these cable bridges are not located along hiking trails, but are part of entire cable bridge parks, where many examples are connected via a more or less long hiking trail, or better yet, walking trail. Whether you actually want to pay the $24 entrance fee (in the case of Mistico Hanging Bridge Park) for this attraction and the chance to see the animals, everyone will have to decide for themselves. I personally love suspension cable bridges and the unique perspective of the landscape they provide. Especially in the rainy season, the mostly asphalt trails are a good way to explore the forest landscape with relatively dry (and mud-free) feet.

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the Mistico Suspension Bridge Park Really beautifully crafted. There is a hummingbird park, and the approximately 3.2 km loop road offers a wonderful view of the landscape surrounding the Arenal Volcano. There are a total of 15 bridges on this ring road, 6 of which are suspension bridges. We visited the park on a rainy day and there were no other visitors besides us. We even spotted a sloth in the tree above the suspension rope bridge.

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IMPORTANT: Despite the asphalt paths, the park can only be visited in closed shoes! You should plan about two and a half hours for your visit.

#2 – Arenal Volcano National Park and the free alternative

Arenal Volcano is considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It hasn't erupted properly since 2010, but some days you can see thick clouds of smoke around the crater – when it's not covered in thick fog, it's like it's very quiet. For safety reasons, the volcano cannot be climbed. Arenal Volcano National Park also does not provide any opportunity to get close to the volcano. This covers an area of ​​about 12,000 hectares, is open daily from 8am to 10pm and has an entrance fee of $10. You can explore the landscape and enjoy some views of the volcano on several short hiking trails, or better yet, walking trails.

However, these views don't have to be better than what you can get in many places around La Fortuna. That's why we decided not to visit the national park. Instead, we stopped along Route 142, which leads from La Fortuna to the Mistico Suspension Bridges or the Tabacón Hot Springs, among other places, and from there we enjoyed the view, which was truly amazing and unique.

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#3 – Tabacon Hot Springs

What else does the Arenal volcano carry with it? A large network of natural thermal springs, for which the La Fortuna area is also famous. While most thermal baths heat the supposed thermal water themselves, the water at Tabacon Hot Springs comes exclusively directly from natural springs. Five main springs feed the Tabacon River, which flows through the resort of the same name. Waterfalls and pools of different temperatures have been created along the riverbed in a beautiful tropical garden.

This fantasy atmosphere comes at a price. A half-day ticket including lunch or dinner costs $85 or $94 per person, depending on the season. A day pass with lunch and dinner costs $105 and $115, respectively.

My advice: Look what room there is for one night Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa Costs! For us it was $279 for two people. This price also includes entry to the hot springs. Not only that, there is a free shuttle service between the hotel and the spa, where you can enjoy the hot springs in the morning before guests' day from 8 a.m. You can also access the so-called Shangri-La Gardens, an exclusive area. At the top of the hot springs, it is reserved for hotel guests only. Shangri-La Gardens is equipped with cocoon-shaped cabanas so you can fully enjoy your spa day. In addition, the nightly price includes an extensive breakfast buffet and you can of course save on the cost of accommodation, which you will of course have to pay extra as a day visitor.

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Everyone should decide for themselves whether it is worth the money. For my part, I have never visited such a beautiful spa and could spend a night there Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa I totally recommend it to every wellness lover!

Note: There is free access to the Tabacon River hot tub below the resort. To get there, you have to make your way through part of the forest, and there have been numerous reports of travelers' cars being broken into along the way. Be careful if you choose this option.

#4 – La Fortuna Waterfall

The 65-metre-high waterfall is located outside La Fortuna in the middle of the jungle in a biological reserve in Arenal Volcano National Park. This nature reserve also includes the peaks of Cerro de los Perdidos, Plecas de Mayo and Cerro Chato. Once you pay the $18 entrance fee at the ticket booth, you can take a 15-minute walk down about 530 steps from the parking lot to the waterfall.

Since the waterfall is a very popular tourist destination for groups, I can only recommend that you come early in the morning before 8am. You are completely alone in the large area. Best thing: Swimming in the cold but clear water is allowed here. So it is a very special experience to enjoy the “morning shower” here amidst nature. There is also a quieter area ideal for swimming a short distance downstream. It takes about an hour to climb back to the parking lot. On the way you shouldn't miss the orchid garden.

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#5 – La Fortuna or Arenal Vulcan

The city of La Fortuna is an ideal starting point for exploring the Arenal Volcano (especially if you don't have a rental car), but the city itself, with a population of 15,000, is also worth a visit. Just to wander into a few stores, beautiful store La Fortuna Park To explore and grab an ice cold late night café (with almond milk) and veggie burrito (or other delicious dishes) at my favorite café, Fortuna staff (Kali 466) To stop. Be sure to take a look at the little shop there, which sells organic foods and selected pieces from local designers.

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#6 – Lake Arenal

The azure Laguna de Arenal is about half an hour's drive from La Fortuna. With an area of ​​80 square kilometers, it is the largest inland lake in Costa Rica. You'll quickly realize its size if, like us, you drive around the lake once or so on the road to Monteverde on Route 142. There are always great viewing points inviting you to stop. I have to admit I was a little sad because at no point did we plan to explore the lake by canoe or SUP. I definitely should do this next time!

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My hotel tips for La Fortuna and the area around Arenal Volcano

Our next two are in La Fortuna Green Lagoon Wellness Resort I spent a little bit above La Fortuna waterfall. The location of the resort is beautiful and it is located right on the walking path that leads to Laguna He drives Ciro Chatto. Unfortunately, the resort is a bit old and we only had a “parking view” from our “honeymoon floor”. Still highly recommended for the low price of $75 per night and the vegetarian breakfast with a stunning view of the mountain landscape that makes up for not seeing the bungalow. Since the bungalow has its own kitchen, you can easily take care of your needs yourself.

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As previously mentioned, we spent our third night in La Fortuna Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa Spend. For 24 hours we did nothing but enjoy the hot springs and spa area. The hotel is beautifully decorated and the rooms are large and bright. I was a little disappointed with the breakfast buffet, which I expected a bit more from a hotel of this standard.

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PS: Did you already know my blog post about them? The most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. The question is: the Caribbean or the Pacific?!

PPS: On my trip to Costa Rica I was – once again – traveling with carry-on only. All my tips and tricks about it Traveling with hand luggage (only). I have already told you about the Bahamas in the relevant article.

Have you ever been to Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica and have any other tips and recommendations? Then feel free to tell us in the comments!

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