Located in northern Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. There are countless tours that take place in the area surrounding the volcano, and for good reason! With access to the rainforest, waterfalls, a volcano, the country’s largest lake, and a diverse selection of hotels, it’s no wonder Arenal has become the adventure capital of Costa Rica.
Explore Arenal Volcano National Park.
Without a doubt, the most popular and well-recognized of Costa Rica’s volcanoes is Arenal. The Arenal Volcano is a symmetrical cone-shaped volcano that dominates the fertile landscape of Arenal Volcano National Park. Until recently, it was the country’s most active volcano with an average of 41 eruptions per day. Although the Arenal Volcano is currently in a resting phase, the region offers an abundance of exciting adventures. While you cannot hike up the volcano itself, we recommend hiking through Arenal Volcano National Park with a bilingual naturalist guide in search of old lava flow and wildlife. Slight changes in altitude create unique micro-climates and ecosystems through this region, making it home to a variety of exotic species.
Related Article: 9 Best Costa Rica National Parks & Reserves
Soak in Arenal Volcano All-Natural Hot Springs.
Soak your adventurous muscles in thermal pools of water. Arenal is also home to several hot springs. 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. These natural wonders tempt even the most experienced traveler – for a good reason! What could be better than a relaxing warm bath, surrounded by jungle and shadowed by the beauty of the volcano after a day of adventure?
Related Article: Best of Costa Rica Hot Springs & Thermal Resorts
Discover the Forest Canopy by Aerial Tram or Zipline.
With incredible views overlooking the forest canopy, Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal, and the Talamanca Mountain Range, it’s no surprise that Arenal is one of the most popular destinations for ziplining and aerial excursions in Costa Rica. 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, set off on a zipline adventure for an unparalleled bird’s eye view of Arenal.
Hike to La Fortuna Waterfall.
The little farming town of La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano is named for its beautiful neighbor, the La Fortuna Waterfall. As one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country, it’s appropriate that La Fortuna has become so well known! Luckily enough, it can only be arrived at by foot (a 15-minute hike) or horseback. From the lush rainforest greenery, La Fortuna plummets 200 feet to fall into a pool of crystal clear water. Don’t forget a swimsuit – the pool is delightfully cool on hot summer days!
Related Article: 5 Costa Rica Waterfalls You Must Visit
Arenal Hanging Bridges Hike
Hike through a private nature preserve along well-maintained trails and across a series of fixed and hanging bridges with views of Arenal Volcano. A naturalist guide will point out the flora and fauna of the area like monkeys, sloths, tree frogs, and more. Don’t miss the waterfall extension trail at the end of the hike!
Discover Lake Arenal.
At the base of Arenal Volcano sits Costa Rica’s largest lake, Lake Arenal. With the mighty volcano as its backdrop and the surrounding rolling hills and forests, Lake Arenal is truly a vision. Fishing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding are some of the most popular activities enjoyed from the lake. For the romantics, book a sundown dinner cruise for views you won’t soon forget. Even if you can’t fit a lake day into your itinerary, you can most certainly enjoy its added beauty to the scenery. Views of Arenal Lake can be admired from ziplines, hiking trails, and even en route to your hotel.
Visit the town of La Fortuna.
Arenal Volcano serves as the backdrop to the charming little town of La Fortuna. The town is centered around a colorful park with a beautiful church at its center. The town itself is only a few streets wide with tourist shops and restaurants lining the streets surrounding the town square. The town serves is a jumping off point for travelers looking to experience the plethora of activities available in the Arenal region.
Go Spelunking at Venado Caves.
You thought the landscape was beautiful above ground? The Venado Caves are an underground wonder-world of limestone channels nearly 20 million years old. This unique adventure will bring you 8,850 feet into the earth, where fossils and subterranean animals reside. Wade through an underground river to see stalactites, stalagmites, and a waterfall with a professional guide who explain the history of this unique ecosystem.
Related Article: Venado Caves Spelunking Adventure
Visit Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge.
Explore the extensive network of rivers and marshes on a day tour to Cano Negro National Wildlife. The refuge is a thriving habitat for a variety of aquatic bird species such as Jaribu storks, roseate spoonbills, and egrets. To see more wildlife, visit in the green season when the rivers swell and the animals are plentiful.
White Water Raft Near Arenal.
The Balsa River is one of the most popular rafting rivers in the area. With Class II and III rapids, it’s great for people of all ages and skill level. The rafting portion lasts about two hours and has fantastic forested landscape. The Sarapiqui River is a bit more challenging with Class III-IV rapids. Be on the lookout for wildlife as you paddle along the forested waterways!
Arenal Volcano Travel Information
Climate: Dry- December to April, Green- May to November
Temperature: 60°-90° depending on elevation. Evenings can be cool.
Getting Around: Taxis are readily available. Ask the staff at your hotel to call a taxi from a reliable company.
Bring: A sense of adventure!
Related Article: Arenal Volcano: Adventure Capital of Costa Rica
Things to Do Near Arenal Volcano
- Hanging Bridges Hike & Tour
- Aerial Tram & Zipline Trek
- Waterfall Canyoning & Rappelling
- White Water Rafting
- Volcano Hiking
- Mountain Biking Arenal Lake
- Butterfly & Fauna Garden at Danaus Eco-Center
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Lake Arenal
- Kayaking & Biking Around Arenal Lake
- Hot Springs & Hanging Bridges Tour
- Venado Caves Tour
- Maleku Indigenous Cultural Tour