17 Best Arenal Volcano Day Tours & Activities

Located in northern Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano once erupted an average of 41 times per day. Today, the volcano is in a resting phase, but its commanding presence is still a sight to behold. The region is not only home to Costa Rica’s largest and most recognized volcano, it also benefits from natural volcanic-fed thermal springs, waterfalls, Lake Arenal – Costa Rica’s largest lake, and a rich ecosystem of exotic wildlife.

All this natural beauty has attracted adventure seekers worldwide. Now considered by many to be the adventure capital of Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano and the surrounding area are a great base for adventure touring including ziplines, hanging bridges, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, caving, fishing on Lake Arenal, and more.

Arenal Hanging Bridges Hike

Arenal Volcano Hanging Bridges Tour

This network of Arenal hanging bridges and trails is an ecotourism project focusing on the observation and protection of nature. A professional naturalist guide will introduce you to a vast variety of animals, birds, and flowers that inhabit this 600-acre private nature reserve. The hike includes 8 fixed bridges and 6 hanging bridges that were built with an eye for both safety and beauty. At the end of the trail, you’ll have the chance to visit a tropical waterfall within the reserve.

The Arenal Hanging Bridges Hike is also available as a private tour.

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Difficulty Level: easy
  • Age Minimum: 6 years
  • Includes: transfers, guide, and entrance.
  • What to Bring: closed toe shoes required
  • Tour Type: nature, family

Arenal Reserve: Aerial Tram & Zipline Trek

18 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

Canopy Zipline

Suitable for all ages, the Sky Aerial Tram carries guests through the forest canopy to the Migual Angel Observatory platform. Be on the lookout for birds and monkeys in the treetops on the way up! At the observatory, enjoy beautiful views of the Arenal Volcano, Arenal Lake, and Tilaran Mountain Range. From here, your Sky Trek zip line adventure begins. The zip line canopy tour includes 8 cross-sectional zipline cables totaling 4.5 miles in length with a maximum height of 660 feet. This is an exciting way to see the rainforest from a new perspective. Minimum age for the Sky Trek adventure is 8 years old.

  • Minimum Height: 120 cm (3’11’’)
  • Maximum Weight: 136 kg (300 lbs.)
  • Duration: 2 ½ hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, entrance, and equipment
  • What to Bring: hiking or tennis shoes, comfortable clothes, jacket or raincoat, sunscreen
  • Tour Type: adventure, active

Pure Trek Waterfall Canyoning

18 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

Begin with a 30 minute 4×4 drive into the rainforest.  Trek through the forest to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica.  There are 5 different rappels, 4 of which are along waterfalls, and 1 is along dry rock face. These thrilling rappels range in height from 65 feet to 165 feet! Explore the hidden waterfalls and gorges of this rainforest canyon. After your adventure, take the trail back to base for lunch.

  • Minimum Age: 5 years
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, and lunch
  • What to Bring: Fast drying clothing (surf shorts, outdoor hiking type synthetic clothes), adventure sandals/light hiking or tennis shoes, change of clothes and towel
  • Tour Type: adventure, nature, active

Mambo Combo: Lost Canyon Waterfall Rappel & Balsa River Rafting Class II-III

Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

Mambo Combo Waterfall Rappel with Desafio

Your adventure begins with waterfall rappelling. First, rappel down a 15-foot waterfall for practice before making your way up a beautiful slot canyon. At the top, you’ll have an amazing view from the platform of the 155-foot waterfall up next! There are 5 more waterfalls to rappel down, and the tallest is over 210 feet tall. Expect to get wet! After your rappels, grab a snack. Rio Balsa River Rafting is up next. With a range of class II-III rapids, Rio Balsa is great for all rafting levels. Experienced guides will give paddling instructions and a safety talk before you set off down the river for 2 ½ hours of whitewater fun. Keep an eye on the river bank – tropical birds and mammals are often spotted. After take-out, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before returning to your hotel.

  • Minimum Age: 13 years
  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guides, equipment, towel, snacks, lunch, and photographer
  • What to Bring: secure shoes, clothes to get wet in, a change of clothes for after the rafting tour
  • Tour Type: adventure, nature, active

Rio Balsa Whitewater Rafting: Class II – III

18 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

This half day whitewater rafting adventure gives you plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife while you ride the rapids near Arenal Volcano. After experiencing a bit of a challenge, spend some time exploring the calm river pools in an isolated canyon. Get ready again for more rapids – you’ll spend in all about 2 to 2 ½ hours on the river. 30 rapids later, change into dry clothes and head to lunch at the historical La Casona de Rio Fortuna for a traditional Costa Rican lunch cooked on a wood stove.

  • Minimum Age: 6 years
  • Duration: 5-6 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, and lunch
  • What to Bring: rubber-soled shoes that can get wet, swimsuit, quick-drying t-shirt and shorts/long sleeve shirt if you get cold easily, sunscreen, bug repellent, eyeglasses straps, change of clothes and shoes, towel
  • Tour Type: adventure, active

Peñas Blancas Safari Float: Class I-II

18 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

Quietly paddling along the Peñas Blancas River is a great chance to enjoy the sights and sounds of the rainforest. Sloths, iguanas, crocodiles, numerous tropical birds, and monkeys all await you on this adventure! A professional bilingual guide will accompany you to share educational explanations of the plants and animals you encounter. Traveling down the river without a motor, you’ll appreciate the peacefulness of the journey while rowing and taking pictures.

  • Minimum Age: 7 years
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, and snack
  • What to Bring: swimsuit, change of clothes, sunscreen, bug repellent
  • Tour Type: nature, family

Arenal Volcano Hike

Arenal Volcano Hike Tour

Before Arenal Volcano entered the active period of 1968, it’s said that inside the crater there were massive trees, and a lavish vegetation canopy covered the slopes. Now, the green area is to the East side of the mountain and there are other small green parts on the North and South. This gentle hike gives you extraordinary views on one of the trails close to the volcano. You’ll venture through the forest over recent lava flows, and see the area that was destroyed in 1968 and is still in the process of regenerating. Although Arenal Volcano is now in a resting phase, there are still places around the volcano that show evidence of damage from lava flows.

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, water and entrance
  • What to Bring: light clothes, hiking shoes, camera, binoculars, sunscreen, bug repellent, rain coat.
  • Tour Type: nature, family, active

Rio Celeste Waterfall Hike

18 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

Rio Celeste Waterfall

You’ll depart early this morning for the drive to Tenorio Volcano National Park. Start on a challenging 5-mile hike (approximately 4 hours) through the tropical rainforest. You will arrive at a site where the two streams of crystalline water merge and form the brilliant blue waters of Rio Celeste. On your return, keep an eye out for ecological wonders until you come to the “OLLAS” openings in the earth, where you can truly see the attractions of the volcano. Continue through the jungle to seek out the furnace vents, where gases are expelled from the volcano at extremely high temperatures. On your return hike, you’ll see the stunning Rio Celeste waterfall. After your hard work, enjoy a delicious Costa Rican lunch.

  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, entrance, and lunch.
  • What to Bring: hiking shoes, camera, binoculars, sunscreen
  • Tour Type: nature, family, active

Mountain Bike Arenal Lake to El Castillo Village

On this ride, you’ll take an old road connecting the Arenal Damn to the main entrance of the Arenal Volcano National Park. From there, head towards El Castillo, biking along a road that goes through dense forest and a few cattle farms. Along the ride, look for howler monkeys, tropical birds, and coatis. You’ll have the chance to swim in Lake Arenal when you stop for a picnic on the shore. If you would like to increase your distance or level of difficulty, please inquire about alternative biking tours.

  • Distance: 13-26 KM
  • Terrain: secondary gravel road, sand with a few rocky spots, flat with a few short hills
  • Minimum Age: 7 years
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: easy – moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, snacks
  • What to Bring: comfortable clothes, tennis shoes, sunscreen
  • Tour Type: adventure, active

Butterfly & Fauna Garden at Danaus Eco-Center

Arenal Volcano Tours

Visit a biological reserve where they work on training, environmental education, conservation programs, and sustainable production. You can follow the trails through the secondary forest to observe wildlife in their natural habitat. One of the favorite parts of this reserve is the butterfly breeding center, where Danaus Eco-Center reproduces nearly 30 different species. It also protects a natural water spring that has been declared a sit of national importance, as well as monitoring the nesting colonies of birds, basilisks, iguanas, amphibians, and more.

  • Minimum Age: 5 years
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, and snack
  • Tour Type: family, nature

Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Lake Arenal

18 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

Stand up paddle boarding or SUP is the world’s fastest growing paddle sport! Using a large, wide, and super buoyant board and a long paddle to move along – you’ll feel like you’re walking on water. This ancient Polynesian form of transportation has garnered new interest in recent years. On Lake Arenal – the largest lake in Costa Rica, and with the behemoth Arenal Volcano as the gorgeous backdrop, just imagine the views you’ll be able to see from the water!

  • Minimum Age: 8 years
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, snacks
  • What to Bring: sunscreen, swimsuit, towel, eyeglasses straps, clothes you can get wet in
  • Tour Type: family, nature

Arenal Night Walk

18 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

Explore the nature and wildlife of Arenal by night on this walk through Danaus Eco-Center. Discover nocturnal animals of the Arenal area in action, such as sloths, caimans, frogs, bats, butterflies, spiders, and more. An experienced naturalist guide will provide details and background about what you see and hear after dark.

  • Duration: 2 ½ hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, entrance, and snacks
  • Tour Type: nature, family, active

Arenal Lake Kayaking & Biking

18 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

What could be better than two adventure sports in such a unique location? Try out Costa Rica kayaking for two hours and visit nearby islands while looking for local birds and mammals. The impressive Arenal Volcano towers over the landscape on clear days. After your kayak adventure, relax and have snacks before hitting the trails for an exciting 16 km mountain bike tour. You’ll bike through natural paths, traditional Costa Rican neighborhoods, and over small rivers.

  • Minimum Age: 8 years
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, snacks
  • What to Bring: water bottle, bug repellent, swimsuit, quick-drying t-shirt and shorts or long sleeve shirt if you get cold easily, waterproof sunscreen, hat or bandana, eyeglasses straps, change of clothes and shoes, towel, small waist pack or backpack for items you want with you on tour (You can wear this bicycle riding, or put it into a small drybag for kayak touring.)
  • Tour Type: adventure, active, family

Arenal Hanging Bridges Hike & Hot Springs Tour

Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

Tabacon Hot Springs

The Arenal hanging bridges ecotourism project consists of trails and suspension bridges and focuses on the observation and protection of nature. A professional naturalist guide will lead you through the private 600-acre reserve, and point out its unique wildlife and ecosystems. The trail consists of 8 fixed bridges and 6 suspension bridges. Don’t miss the waterfall extension trail on the way out! After your hike, relax tired muscles in all natural volcanic-fed hot springs. Enjoy a full dinner before returning to your hotel.

  • Minimum Age: 6 years
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, entrance, lunch and dinner.
  • What to Bring: comfortable clothing, hiking or tennis shoes, camera, sunscreen, bug repellent, swimsuit, towel, light coat or sweater
  • Tour Type: nature, active, family

Arenal Hanging Bridges Hike & La Fortuna Waterfall Tour

17 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

View from the La Fortuna Waterfall lookout point

The Arenal hanging bridges project is part of an ecotourism effort focused on the protection and observation of the reserve. Walk through the 600-acre reserve with a naturalist guide who will point out native wildlife, and explain the natural history of the region. Observe the forest canopy from a series of 8 fixed bridges and 6 suspension bridges. Take a quick detour on the extension trail at the end of the hike to see a waterfall. After your hanging bridges hike, visit La Fortuna Waterfall. Grab some photos of the 70-meter cascade from the panoramic lookout point before trekking down to the base of the waterfall, where you’ll find it’s equally as beautiful. Wear your swimsuit, and take a refreshing dip in the swimming hole. Careful on the rocks!

  • Minimum Age: 5 years (recommended age is 8 years)
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, entrance, lunch
  • What to Bring: comfortable clothing, hiking or tennis shoes, camera, sunscreen, bug repellent, light coat or sweater
  • Tour Type: nature, active, family

Venado Caves Tour

Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

In the little farm town of Venado, you will find the Venado Caves. These massive limestone chambers extending almost 9,000 feet down were formed 15 to 20 million years ago, and were under sea level for many years. With tectonic movement, they resurfaced. Local tradition has it that the caves were discovered in 1945 when a farmer literally stumbled upon them. Tour the caves for about 1 ½ hours with a professional guide, who will point out stalactites and stalagmites formed by an underground river, and a variety of fossils, bats, colorless fish, and frogs. You’ll walk through the river and waterfalls in the upper part of the cave, so wear a swimsuit. And don’t forget to bring a change of clothes!

  • Minimum Age: 7 years
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: difficult (physically demanding)
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, and snack
  • What to Bring: long pants, t-shirt, hiking shoes, extra clothes, towel
  • Tour Type: adventure, active

Maleku Indigenous Cultural Tour

18 Best Arenal Volcano Tours & Activities

Local artisan woodwork

Transfer about an hour to an Indigenous reservation in the Northern Plains of Costa Rica, where 3 Maleku communities live: El Sol, Tonjibe, and Margarita. Visit the Tonjibe community to meet a local family, who will share how they have adapted their lifestyle while keeping their traditions and cultures alive. The home materials you will see, and the diet and medicines these people use, are against the new environmental government laws. Even so, these hardy people are working to preserve their traditions, such as language, dances, and diet. Visit a traditional house, walk through a graveyard, explore a botanical medicinal garden, and observe the performance of one of their traditional rituals. The tour ends with a typical Maleku lunch, and guests will have the opportunity to look at the handcrafts that the Tonjibe produce.

  • Duration: 8 ½ hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, entrance, and lunch
  • What to Bring: camera, hiking or tennis shoes, sunscreen, bug repellent
  • Tour Type: cultural, family
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