Arenal Travel Guide

  • Arenal
    by barryg23
  • Arenal
    by goverita
  • view from our hotel room at lost iguana
    view from our hotel room at lost iguana
    by goverita

Arenal Things to Do

  • Volcano and Hot Springs

    The big "must see" in Arenal is the volcano. Our travel agent (Pat Hewitt of Costa Rican Travel Exchange) told us the best times to watch - we saw it twice. (No pictures either time)Then there are the hot springs. We took a night tour from the hotel to see the volcano and swim in the hot springs.At that time, we could pay a little money for the...

  • Hanging Bridges

    Really nice walk through the rainforest - gentle hike that takes about 2 1/2 hours. Birders paradise with up to 50 species of birds throughout the hike. This was a great activity to do with the kids.

  • zipline through the jungle canopy

    This was an awesome experience! A total rush - shooting though the treetops, clipped to a cable. They have 8 lines as long as 2400 feet and 660 feet above the ground. The Sky Trek/Sky Tram crew were great - especially with the kids. Although the price is a little startling ($66), it was definately worth it! I highly recommend this activity.They...

  • Amazing Hot Springs

    When in Arenal you definitely must go to the Baldi Hot Springs. There are numerous naturally hot pools from the volcano in Arenal. You can relax and have a good time with friends while sipping on a Pina Colada at the swim up bar. Be aware drink prices are high compared to most other places, but comparable to the US.

  • Volcano tour

    Take one of the many volcano hike tours---there is a huge sign when you walk in that you are entering an area of seismic activity and to enter at your own risk!

  • a walk on lava flows

    Despite the warning sign we walked up to the lava flows at the base of the volcano like everyone else. The live volcano makes noise occasionally when steam is exhausted, and the thunders of eruptions occur. Easy walk, but hot!! Take lots of water, and definitely sun protection. Watch for the poisonous snakes in the jungle.

  • Free dip in Arenal Hot Springs

    Just beside one of the two big establishments there is a path to the river flowing with hot-tub-temperture water, well hidden behind lush greens. Enjoy a dip in a rustic, yet romantic secret spot...

  • Into the Batcave - Vernado Caves

    For $5 you and your guide descend into the pitch black with wellies and a torch. Wading through neck deep water, pulling yourself through tight holes, climbing 8 feet rock faces, and sliding through knee deep bat poo.A great 2 hours of fun

  • Go Horseback Riding

    Go horse riding to the Arenal volcano. During a 3-hour ride along meadows, jungle and steep rocky roads you will ride to a platform from where you'll have a good view of the volcano.There is a stable opposite the Hotel Arenal Paraiso where you'll pay 45 USD. You need a little bit of horse riding experience for this trip.

  • Visit the village

    Fortuna de San Carlos, or just La Fortuna is the only town around the volcano where all activities take place. It's a medium-sized village where you will find banks, shops, restaurants, cheap hotels and guesthouses, offices for booking excursions and some night life. It's especially a good place for backpackers.

  • Canopy tour

    If you are looking for some excitement, a canopy tour is the thing for you. You will zip by cables and platforms through the canopy of the rain forest. Don't expect to see many animals because you are going too fast, just do it for the trill.It is very safe because you have to wear the appropriate safety equipment.The tour will take about two hours...

  • Hot springs and spa

    One of the main attractions around Arenal is relaxation in the thermal waters, that are warmed by the volcano. Test the different pools with various water temperatures.We tried the one at our hotel but there is also a famous one close to the volcano: Tabacon Hot Springs


Arenal Hotels

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Arenal Transportation

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    Long Way Round

    by boltonian Written Jun 2, 2007

    Chances are, you will want to see Arenal and Monteverde, and on the map, the 2 are right next to each other.

    Well, you have a choice, you can drive for hours on a really bad dirt track. Or, you can do a part drive, part ferry. Or you can go the long way round on a tarmack road.

    We went for the 3rd option. If it had been dry, I think it is probably the best. But in heavy rain, we couldn't drive too fast and the road/ferry option was much better (so we were told by people who we left behind in Monteverde and met again in Arenal)

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Arenal Tourist Traps

  • Sky Tram/Sky Trek

    by vpatel532 Updated Mar 17, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    It cost $50 per person and they lie. It includs a so called "hike" and show you a video, they say most protected rainforest tour in Costa Rica which is definitley not true. They have cement paths. On the video they say they use trees that fell and cut into circles. And every now and then they feel sorry and plant a tree in the middle of the path. Well anyways on the sky tram We saw one tucan and thats about it. You can also see tops of trees, very exciting. On the video It said you will se a lot of animals. What a rip off...

    Unique Suggestions: On the bright side you can always take a sky trek. We did not go to it but people say it is fun for you thrillsters.

    Fun Alternatives: If you go to Aerinal just spend a day or two and go to the volcano. If you can get a nature air flight back to San Jose and get a Nature Air to Puerto Jimenez stay at the Lapa Rios. You have to book in 45 days in advance. They offer many tours for the rainforests and have a nice beach. I went there and loved it!

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Arenal What to Pack

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    Don't forget

    by Helga67 Written Jan 8, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Bring light cotton cloths, good walking shoes, and a raincoat during the rainy season. Don't forget your sunglasses and head protection.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Insect repellant with DEET, good protection for the intensive sun (factor 20).
    Medical precaution: hepatitis A and B.
    We didn't bring anything against malaria

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Bring a flashlight because at night it sometimes happens that there is no electricity for short periods.

    Miscellaneous: Bring an adaptor if equipment is not 110 Volt and american standard.
    Make a copy of your passport and drivers licence and keep the originals in your hotel safe during day trips.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Birdwatching

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Arenal Off The Beaten Path

  • Arenal Botanical Garden(Jardín Botánico...

    Pat Hewitt recommended that we stop here on the drive from Arenal to Monteverde. This garden on a sloped hillside directly across from Arenal Lake is now also a Butterfly Sanctuary, Wild Animal Rehab Center and sells plants and seeds. There were many native Costa Rican plants, trees and flowers in addition to a good selection of imported and...

  • Cano Negro

    From La Fortuna you can make a day trip to Cano Negro. A minivan will bring you in about 2 hours near the border of Nicaragua. Here you will find a nature park which consists of swamps and rivers. By boat you will explore the Rio Frio looking for many water and wading birds (king fishers, egrets, cormorants, ...) and caymans. After the boat trip...

  • Arenal Hotels

    9 Hotels in Arenal

Arenal Favorites

  • Volcano Arenal

    This 1633 m-high volcano is 2 to 3 million years old and still very active and dangerous. All day and night you can hear the rumble and see the lava coming out of the top. Unfortunately the volcano is often surrounded by clouds.At the foot of the volcano is a nature park. It is forbidden to climb the volcano.More info about the volcano can be found...

  • Lake Arenal

    At the foot of the volcano in the direction of Tilaran (east side) lies the Lake Arenal. It's the biggest artificial lake in Central America. In 1973 the original small lake was enlarged by flooding the former town of Arenal. The lake is known to be one of the top spots in the world for windsurfing, as the winds are consistently strong all year...

  • Birds

    Picture catched from a Swiss restaurant, near Lago Arenal. Yes, we ate real swiss cuisine in Costa Rica!! Birds were unexpected guests.


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