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Arenal Volcano

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Travel Guide Central America Costa Rica Arenal Volcano



Volcano Arenal

Volcano Arenal

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The Arenal Volcano is one of the top ten most active volcanoes in the world and is the most active one in Costa Rica. It was dormant for more than 400 years until 1968 when it violently erupted. It literally blew off the western side! Today it is daily erupting, but in very small doses and has become one of the most interesting places to visit in Costa Rica. There are 3 to 20 lava flowing explosions daily sending ash plumes one kilometer above the volcano and boulders down its sides. Volcano specialists and enthusiasts have declared Arenal Volcano the third most perfect volcanic cone in the world.

Located in Arenal Volcano National Park near the town of La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano is one of the most popular attractions in Costa Rica. But the best part is that you can enjoy the nightly show while soaking in the surrounding naturally heated hot springs.




Arenal was Costa Rica's most active volcano until 2010, and one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world. It has been studied by seismologists for many years. The volcano is located at the center of Arenal Volcano National Park in the northern zone of the country, 15 kilometres southwest of the La Fortuna district in San Carlos. Arenal Volcano area is an important watershed for the Arenal Lake Reservoir. The reservoir's water is used for hydroelectric power. It is also connected to the national system



Sights and Activities

Not only is this area famous for the volcano, it's also one of the best places to itch your adventurous bug bite and go nuts with all the amazing tours and activities in the area:

  • Hot Springs - if you don't have springs in your hotel, head over to many of the options around. The majority of the hot springs offer delicious meals and are great way to spend the evening.
  • Hanging Bridges - an easy hike for all levels, you'll be walking on suspended bridges through the canopy of the rain forest. The views of the hotel peak out at you and some bridges are as high as 100 metres over rivers.
  • Canyoneering - Now this is a must do sport. Imagine rappelling down a canyon with a waterfall? Well you can let your imagination run wild here!
  • Canopy tour - What's a trip to the rain forest without a canopy ride. There are over 5 different canopy outfits here to fit all tastes and levels.
  • Volcano Hike or Horseback - This is a highlight for sure. You can take an easy to moderate organized hike where you go around the volcano and see the lava flowing out first hand! If you don't feel like hiking, you can do the exact same route only by horseback.
  • Waterfall Hike or Horseback - It gets hot in this area and what better way to cool off than the waterfall? There are hiking tours where you end up jumping into the warm pools of the waterfall. If you like to gallop your way here with great views of the volcano, this is also a great option ending in the pools as well.
  • Cano Negro - The wildlife refugee is easily discovered from this area. Most tours include transportation, a boat ride since it's a wetland and lunch. You are bound to see wildlife of all sorts, however, birds are the biggest attraction.
  • Venado Caves - Caves are always interesting. This cave is perfect for all levels and easy to explore.
  • Flora and Fauna - The Arenal Volcano area is popular with birders, as most of the 850 species identified in Costa Rica can be found within the park's borders. This includes one of the country's most elusive and beautiful birds, the endangered resplendent quetzal. Other animal species living within the park include white-faced capuchin monkeys, jaguar, deer, coati, and snakes like the fer-de-lance and parrot snake. The park also has a strong showing of plant life, including orchids, heliconias, ferns, laurel, cirri, guayabo de monte, palms, bromeliads, and strangler figs



Getting There

By Car

By car it is a 3-1/2 hour drive from San Jose, but the junctions are not very well marked, so bring a good map.

By Bus

To get to La Fortuna, there are direct buses from San Jose or otherwise take a transfer in Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos). There are also buses from San Ramon. A local bus runs from Tilaran.




There is a wide variety of restaurants to choose from in the Arenal/La Fortuna area. Normally, the hotels all have fantastic meals and breakfasts are usually included in the price per night.




Arenal/La Fortuna area has a wide selection of hotels to choose from. You can stay in a budget rustic hotel/cabins for less than $25 or you can stay at a magnificent resort/spa for $400 a night. There are tons in between. The best choices however are hotels with hot springs. Since hot springs are a huge hit here, it's better if you stay where they are and save money on the tour.

The best hotels with Hot Springs in the area:

Popular hotels without springs:

  • Arenal Observatory Lodge crowns a ridge overlooking Arenal Lake and the looming volcano only 3 kilometres away, all within the refreshing ambiance of a working farm that includes reforestation and natural forest, all surrounded by the tropical splendor of the Arenal National Park. Arenal Lake is the largest in Costa Rica and offers excellent sport fishing.
  • Nayara
  • Royal Corin
  • Volcano Lodge

Accommodation in Arenal Volcano

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Arenal Volcano searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Arenal Volcano and areas nearby.


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This is version 17. Last edited at 7:36 on Apr 11, 13 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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