La Fortuna

Photo © katcharles

Travel Guide Central America Costa Rica La Fortuna

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Introduction

La Fortuna is a town in Costa Rica and the main gateway to the Arenal Volcano. The Arenal Volcano is a destination for scientists and tourists. La Fortuna was called "El Borio" before the day of a huge eruption in 1968, when the volcano erupted to the east and destroyed all in its path, including two villages. El Borio (La Fortuna) is located on the west side of the volcano and was untouched. After the eruption of the volcano, El Borio was renamed "La Fortuna", which means "the fortunate", referring to the town's luck during the eruption.

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Sights and Activities

  • Arenal Volcano - The photos at right are views from the village of El Castillo, on the southwest side of the Volcano, about 25 km west of La Fortuna and about 4 km up the road from the Arenal National Park entrance. There are great views of Lake Arenal and the Monteverde Cloud Forest from road up above El Castillo. In October 2010, the volcano ceased its activity and the famous flowing lava has been gone since. Seeing some smoke during the day is possible, however, do not expect to see lava/eruptions in the night, regardless of clouds. This could change at any time. Tours to the National Park usually start out in the early afternoon and include walking for about an hour through lava rocks before reaching El Mirador, the best place to view the eruption of the volcano. There are also possibilities of skipping the lava rock walking and go straight to El Mirador. Most tours state that they will stay for 1-1½ hours at this place, but if there is nothing to be seen, probably a lot less. It might be chilly, so bring a jacket. The tours come in a variety of options: with buffet dinner and entrance to the Tabacon hot spa US$64, with entrance to Baldi hot spa $30, just the tour $25. There is also a possibility of a no-frills tour by mini-bus to El Mirador and back to Fortuna for $10.
  • Fortuna waterfall by horse US$25. Stone steps lead to the bottom. Take a swimsuit for the pool in the lovely stream below. The entrance is accessible by road, so a cab works fine too. The entrance to the waterfall is about US$10 and the ticket booth closes at 17:00. However, once you pay to go in, you are free to stay as long as you'd like. It's about a 10-minute hike down to the waterfall and 20 minutes back up.
  • Lake Arenal is just west of the Arenal Volcano and can be seen as you drive over the dam on the main highway to Tilaran. Much better views of the lake and volcano can be seen from the hills above the village of El Castillo, which is located 9 kilometres from the main highway on the Arenal National Park road. Activities on lake include boat tours, fishing, kayaking, and wind surfing.
  • Arenal Butterfly Conservatory, El Castillo Village - Arenal Volcano (20 kilometres west of La Fortuna, turn left at the Arenal Volcano National Park Road and follow the signs. The Butterfly Conservatory is 9 kilometres from main highway.), ☎ +506 2479-1149. 08:30-16:30. A visit to the Butterfly Conservatory offers a practical educational experience about nature with diversified exhibits of how butterflies, frogs, insects, and plants are reproduced in this natural environment. There are six large atrium habitats that provide representation of the plants, trees, butterflies, and frogs that live within the four micro-climates surrounding Lake Arenal; the lowland habitat, highland habitat, edge of forest habitat, and inside of forest habitat. You will also see laboratories, reproduction greenhouses, the exotic frog habit, host plant gardens and orchid atrium. If you want more adventure, then take the Rainforest River Walk along Quebrada Mariposa, the creek running through the primary forest on the property, where it’s often possible to spot animals such as sloths, tayras and monkeys; or toucans and parrots. Or, just take time to reflect at the Volcano View Gazebo, overlooking the botanical gardens, with views to the Arenal lake and volcano beyond. US$12.
  • Caño Negro Wild Life Refuge - Rio Frío are biological humid areas considered to be one of the richest in biological diversity in Costa Rica. Here you can find a great variety of resident and migratory birds plus three different species of monkeys, also iguanas, sloths, turtles and caymans. Along the river you can see many birds, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, also the three-toed sloth and some reptiles like caimans, Jesus Christ lizard and turtles.

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Getting There

By Plane

Domestic flights are available with NatureAir or Sansa Airlines. Costs around US$90 for flights to/from San José (SJO) or Quepos (Manuel Antonio National Park). Airport charges US$7/person departure tax.

By Car

It is a 3½-hour drive from San José, but the junctions are not very well marked, so bring a good map.

The cost of a private transportation with a Costa Rican driver is not much if you compare it with the benefit of a direct safe drive to the destination. Available from San Jose to Arenal and other destinations.

By Bus

Direct buses from San José or transfer in Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos); buses from San Ramon (Costa Rica). Local bus from Tilaran. From Peñas Blancas (Nicaraguan border) take San Carlos bus (US$8) and alight at Tanque, take bus or taxi to La Fortuna (7 kilometres away).

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Eat

  • Que Rico Arenal, ☎ +506 2479-1020. 6.4 km toward the lake from the Catholic Church of La Fortuna. Italian and International menu. Great location for viewing the volcano with an excellent meal!
  • Don Rufino (on the main road, one block east from the park, across the street from the gas station.), ☎ +506 2479-9997. 11:30-22:30. A welcoming break from traditional Costa Rican food. International cuisine, extensive menu, fantastic ambiance. US$15-60.
  • La Choza de Laurel is 3 blocks away from the park. Fantastic menu selection. Tasty food, cheerful service, open to the breeze.
  • Los Nenes, not a very attractive setting one block from the main street and two blocks from the park (when entering from east), but reasonably priced food (but not as good or big portions as Lava Rocks). The nachos with everything is really good.
  • Lava Rocks Café (On the main street, just after the park), ☎ +506 2479-8039, e-mail: lavarocks@racsa.co.cr. Good food, generous portions. Try the Casado de pollo (₡2,950).
  • Lava Lounge is on main street just getting into town before the park. Good food, a break from typical Tico food.

Travelers looking for more local and inexpensive food can go to any of the numerous 'Soda' restaurants. A large plate of rice, beans, salad, meat, and a drink costs ₡3,000-4,000.

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Sleep

  • Arenal Backpackers, ☎ +506 2479-7000, e-mail: arenalhostel@yahoo.com. Air-conditioned rooms, hot water, restaurant and a really nice pool.
  • Oriuma Hotel (La Fortuna downtown, North side of Banco Nacional), ☎ +506 2479-9111, e-mail: oriuma@ice.co.cr. Gated parking is available.
  • Arenal Rabfer, Calle 468, Provincia de Alajuela (one block north of NE corner of Plaza Central). Family-run, decent, very modern, tiny but comfortable double room with balcony & bath & breakfast, friendly hosts, good view of volcano from landing, occasional iguanas. Single US$63, double $75, triple $88, quad $103.
  • Arenal Manoa Hotel & Hotel Resort (Arenal Hotel), La Fortuna (Located just out of La Fortuna), ☎ +506 2479-11-11. Volcano views from all rooms. The hotel includes a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and a nice restaurant. Also, free farm tour. Spa service. From US$135 a night.
  • Lomas del Volcan (Lomas del Volcan), La Fortuna (Frotuna), ☎ +506 2479-90-00. Volcano views from all rooms. From US$95 a night.
  • Arenal Paraiso (about 6 kilometres from the tow), ☎ +506 460-5333, e-mail: info@arenalparaiso.org. Each room has a small patio and offers a view of the volcano as well as double bed, tv, fridge, coffee pot, hot water. There are also 14 hot springs pools on the hotel property The hotel also has a famous canopy tour on the property which costs $45 and lasts about 3 hours. Rooms range from standard to suite ranging from US$60 to $300.
  • Arenal Springs Resort Modern hotel with volcano views from $87.
  • Arenal Volcano Inn (About 6.5 kilometres from the church), ☎ +506 2479-1122. 15 rooms. The deluxe rooms feature two queen size beds, mini fridge, a/c, private bathroom with hot water, coffee maker and safety deposit box. Every room has its own private terrace with direct view to the volcano. The hotel has swimming pool,a small spa for body treatments and a very good Italian/international restaurant.
  • Finca Luna Nueva Lodge (30 minutes south of Fortuna in San Isidro de Peñas Blancas), ☎ +506 468-0352, e-mail: info@fincalunanuevalodge.com. Organic/biodynamic certified ginger and turmeric farm with rustic lodgings on the edge of the rainforest. Steven, the farm manager is a walking encyclopedia of medicinal plants, sustainable farming and rainforest ecology. They have a variety of lodging options from individual cabins to air-conditioned master suites. All have overwhelmingly comfortable beds and nice views. The food is all organically grown on the site (including the meat) and is alone worth the trip. They have a natural pool and solar jacuzzi, wireless internet, rainforest hikes, options for day-tours both on and nearby the farm.
  • Hotel La Fortuna, ☎ +506 2479-9197. A five-story hotel in downtown. Good views from the upper rooms. Several rooms and most of the hotel are wheelchair accessible. On site restaurant, sports bar and offers "No Limits Tours" for senior and physically challenged and disabled tourists.
  • Jardines de Arenal (2 km east of town. The friendly owner will usually give you a lift from/to town, taxi costs around ₡650), ☎ +506 479-9728, e-mail: jarenal@racsa.co.cr. 15 rooms, all with AC and fan, 1 double and 2 single beds. A typical breakfast with gallo pinto, egg, ham, cereals, fruit, bread, coffee and juice is included. The owner Hernán Blanco can help you order tours to the surrounding attractions, and if you're lucky, he might give you a free ride to the volcano (and back). He can also get you shuttle service to or from San José for $15 (one way) leaving Fortuna at 06:00 and returning at noon. Friendly and helpful staff. US$27.50 per person with volcano-view and slightly bigger bathroom, $23 pp for the others.
  • La Mansion Arenal La Mansion Arenal overlooks the vast Lake Arenal and is located just minutes from the volcano and hot springs. The hotel includes an infinity pool, wireless internet and free canoes for your enjoyment. Rates start at US$180 a night.
  • La Roca Virgen (Three blocks north of the square). La Roca Virgen is a surprisingly cheap yet clean and comfortable place to stay. Off the beaten path but only a couple minutes walk to the center of town. Rooms with private baths for $9pp, rooms with shared bath cheaper. Off season discounts. Wireless internet. TV, fan, and refrigerator in rooms. Tours arranged. Property patrolled/inhabited by friendly dogs. US$9.
  • Volcano Lodge (On the side of the road that connects La Fortuna de San Carlos with the Arenal Lake, near the Tabacon Hot Springs). The lodge has 65 rooms with two double beds, a/c and private bathroom with hot water. One of the better views of the lava flow of the Arenal Volcano, also features an open air jacuzzi with a magnificent view of the volcano and swimming pools.
  • Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge & Wildlife Refuge, La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano. (2 kilometres west and 800 metres south of town), ☎ +506 2479-9526. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Located at the base of Arenal Volcano and managed by a local family. Rooms are rustic fancy cabins in the woods. The lodge has its own wildlife refuge where you can walk in flat trails inside the rain forest, visit a butterfly garden, frog ponds and terrariums with local reptiles, insects and poison dart frogs. US$75 double. edit

Magic Mountain (Hotel Magic Mountain), La Fortuna (La Fortuna), ☎ +506 2479-7246. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 13:00. A Colonial Modern Hotel, facing the Arenal Volcano. Scenic location provides visitors with a stunning view of the volcano. US$99 double.

  • Hotel Los Heroes, Nuevo Arenal, ☎ +506 2692-8012, e-mail: info@pequenahelvecia.com. A few meters from Lake Arenal. Features Swiss chalets, a rotating restaurant and a small railroad track. US$50.
  • Arenal Country Inn. In the foothills of the Arenal volcano, it has 20 rooms with view of the volcano. The rooms have air conditioning, safety deposit boxes, hot water, flat screen cable TV, phone and private terraces. The hotel has swimming pool, beautiful gardens, restaurant service and conference room. Tropical breakfast included in the room rate. US$100-114.
  • Los Lagos Hotel Resort & Spa, ☎ +506 2479-1000.
  • Arenal Kioro (Titokú Hot Springs) (Next to Baldí), ☎ +506 2479-1700.
  • Hotel el Silencio del Campo, ☎ +506 2479-7055, e-mail: info@hotelsilenciodelcampo.com.

View our map of accommodation in Fortuna, Alajuela

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Keep Connected

Internet

It's easy to find internet access, and although you can still can find a lot of internet cafes, wifi is growing fast in the country. The further away you get from San Jose, the slower and more expensive it becomes when you are using an internet cafe. Wifi is generally free of charge at most places though and apart from off the beaten track parks, jungles and mountains, the connection generally is ok. Some internet cafés also offer international calls via either phone or IP using services like Skype.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

  • The country calling code to Costa Rica is 506.
  • To make an international call from Costa Rica, the code is 00.

There are plenty of phone booths around and you will get the best rate using a pre-paid international card (can often be purchased in internet cafés and other small stores). There is usually a connection fee making short calls extra expensive. International calls are fairly expensive. The cheapest way to make them is over the internet using a service such as Skype at an Internet café. But making short calls using the domestic calling cards (you can make international calls using these but the denominations of the calling cards are quite small so your call will be short!) or the international calling cards available within Costa Rica (all from the government phone monopoly ICE) is the next best deal.

Those travelling with a mobile phone and willing to pay the roaming costs should ensure it supports 1,800 MHz GSM network. Note that the GSM phone systems in the United States and Canada use different frequencies and that travelers from there will need a "world" handset, such as a tri-band or quad-band phone, if you want to use your existing cell phone. If you want to use a local Costa Rica number, you can rent cell phone service, and of course anyone can buy a cell phone. If you have an unlocked cell phone (either one from home or bought in Costa Rica - all cell phones sold in Costa Rica must be unlocked), prepaid (prepago) SIM cards can provide a local number and service can be purchased throughout the country by anyone with a passport from any country. Try using companies like Grupo ICE under the Kölbi brand, TuYo Movil, Movistar and Claro.

Post

Correos de Costa Rica (website in Spanish only) is the national postal services of Costa Rica. You can find post offices (correos) in almost any city and town and they are generally open from 7:30am to 5:30pm or 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 7:30am to noon on Saturdays. There are not that many mailboxes, so it's best to ask your hotel or go directly to the post offices. Services tend to be slow but generally reliable and on the whole cheap regarding letters and postcards. It costs about US$0.20 to the USA and Canada (taking about 1 week to 10 days), US$0.25 to Europe (about 2 weeks) and US$0.30 to Asia and Australia (3 weeks or even more). All in all, if you can try and arrange your mail from the capital San José as it's generally quicker from there. Small packages are also no problem, though take them to the post offices unpacked for inspection first! Otherwise, arrange things through private international courier services like UPS, FedEx, DHL or TNT.

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Accommodation in La Fortuna

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

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This is version 10. Last edited at 8:26 on Jan 23, 18 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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