Arenal Things to Do

  • Arenal Natura Eco-Park
    Arenal Natura Eco-Park
    by TravellerMel
  • Entrance to the Reptile House
    Entrance to the Reptile House
    by TravellerMel
  • Green Heron
    Green Heron
    by TravellerMel

Best Rated Things to Do in Arenal

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    Arenal Hanging Bridges

    by lashr1999 Written Mar 12, 2006

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    Arenal Hanging Bridges
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    The hanging bridges are located close to the Arenal volcano and the town of Fortuna. They are a
    series of metallic bridges that are suspended in the rain forest. There are 15 bridges which range in size from 5 to 100 meters in length and some are about 40 meter or more above the ground. The walking trail is narrow so you cannot walk next to each other. I did not see many animals except for a few lizards and birds. Perhaps, with a guide you may see more. When we were walking we saw a guide with a lady making animal calls. Some animal from the forest made a call back. At different times during the year we were told it is possible to see 250 species of birds, snakes, boa constrictors, lizards, frogs, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and three-toed sloths.

    The bridges do offer an amazing view of the volcano and the surrounding forest. The walking trail is supposed to take 2 hours. You are supposed to walk slowly so as not to miss the animals. However, we were hungry so we rushed though. That is another reason we did not see too many animal. Remember to bring along water, a rain jacket and sensible shoes for your walk.

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    Arenal volcano at night

    by lashr1999 Written Mar 12, 2006

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    We found the spot with the tour buses+take beer!
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    Arenal rises 5436 feet above sea level and is the most active of the volcanoes in Costa Rica. There are various tour companies which offer night hikes to various lookout points in the area. It is best to do this on a clear non rainy day which is a 30% chance. An alternative if you rented a car is to drive around close to the volcano and look for the area where tour buses stop to let their customers see the volcano at night. This was exactly what we did. At various times ash columns, lava flows and sudden explosions may be seen if the volcano is not covered by clouds. In fact, just as we stopped we were treated to the volcano erupting. The embers burned for 2 minutes It looked like the orange top of a triangular shaped incense when burned. After we saw some minor eruptions. The organized tours do not allow BYOB. However, if you rent a car you can always do this to pass the time between eruptions..

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  • HOT SPRINGS= TOTAL RELAXATION& NATURE SUBMURSION

    by ccrenbel Written Dec 20, 2011

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    I cant say enough wonderful things about the hot springs at Tabacon. Their are at least 20 pools and waterfalls each a different temperature. All are totally surrounded by rain forest. There is steam billowing upwards off black rock pools up towards gorgeous tropical plants. All pools are connected by pebble walkways.
    You should know:

    - go to the springs at Tabacon by the day and pay the daily rate its the best value

    - there is a pool and waterslide for the kids. we saw many young children enjoying

    - go at night if you want to have some drinks and wind down, if you want an adult experience you wont see any children at that time.

    -If your expecting luxury and good service dont stay at the Tabacon Hotel resort, its not worth the rates. The service is not that of a 4 star "Leading Hotel" they are just not trained and we were disappointed many times- (think having to request housekeeping twice to get it. then not getting towels AT ALL when they did clean.) hmm. confusing.

    - lots and lots of hotels around and they are all nice

    - not many shops in town you really are in the rain forest! pack accordingly.

    - people are very slow and take their time. its just a way of life. plan for waiting... it actually made us more relaxed as we went on.

    - if there is a problem its best to speak to a manager. the staff cant really help. my husbands shoes got locked in the locker at the springs, and we waited 3 hours for the staff to fix it. the manager was able to fix it when she came.

    - the buffet restaurant was DELICIOUS! the staff there were the best that we met at all of Tabacon Springs. The antipasto was fresh, wonderful salads, and deserts were beautiful. We tried them all lol!!

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    Bat Holes - Not just for the bats!

    by travelgirl3 Written Dec 29, 2004

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    Spider in Bat Hole, Venado Caves, Costa Rica

    Isn't it just like a spider to let a bat do all the work carving out this hole, and then take it over! I don't know what kind of spider this was, but he was a big as a bat, and looked very comfortable in his hiding place.

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    Tabacon Hot Springs At Night

    by setikeyvan Written Jan 5, 2009

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    Tabacon Hot Springs

    The Tabacon Hot Spring is a must-do if you visit the Arenal area. If you don’t experience this, you are seriously missing out, so make sure you budget for it. The Hot Springs are part of the 5-Star Tabacon Resort. However, you don’t have to be a guest to use the hot springs. The springs are located across the street from the resort and the entry fee ranges from $70 to $95 including dinner or lunch. If you are staying at the resort itself, you can access the springs at no extra charge.

    According to tabacon.com, the "hot springs are 97% rain-based and 3% magma-based. Rainwater enters the earth through fissures on the surface and is then heated by magma found in the earth’s core. Once heated, the waters rise to surface, taking with them minerals found in the earth’s rocky stratus. Thus, the resort’s waters are loaded with minerals. Hot springs provide many benefits stemming from various chemical, physical and biological effects."

    There are 7 warm pools varying in temperature and one cold pool:
    1- El Garrobo Pool 30º C
    2- Titi Pool 25º C
    3- El Tigrillo Pool 39º C
    4- La Taltuza Pool 39º C
    5- Pelon River Pool 28º C
    6- La Piapia Pool 39º C
    7- El Cusuco River Pool 39º C (Waterfall)

    There is also one wet bar and one ground bar.

    The hot springs are a perfect place to unwind after a full day of exploration around the Arenal area. We visited the springs in the evening and enjoyed every second. Our pass included dinner at the buffet, which was one of the best meals I had while in Costa Rica. The menu changes every day. Our night, we enjoyed Indonesian cuisine. It was delicious. The buffet is open air, so be prepared for face-to-face encounters with giant grasshoppers, but that’s all part of the fun.

    The hot springs offer full-service amenities such as lockers, showers and spa treatments. And for the men, they even dry your swim trunks so you can leave dry and comfortable.

    Suggestion: Bring waterproof sandals to walk through the pools. Most of the pools are natural river beds and are filled with rocks of various sizes. So protect your feet!

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    The sounds are unbelievable

    by Matt420 Written Jul 31, 2003

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    Rainforest Waterfall

    This is a waterfall located at the Mt. Arenal Observitory Hotel. With only about a 20 minute hike from the main lobby through the rain forest and down a single lane train, you will end up at a beautiful waterfall. The sound of the water is LOUD which makes it even more enjoyable. Along the trail, we were able to see a couple of monkeys and a lot of tropical birds.

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  • setikeyvan's Profile Photo

    Sky Tram & Sky Trek Adventure

    by setikeyvan Updated Jan 5, 2009

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    Sky Trek
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    Wow! This sky trek adventure is one I will never forget. It was so liberating and refreshing to zip line hundreds of feet above a lush rainforest, going 50 mph and surrounded by misty fog! I mean absolutely amazing. Our adventure started early in the morning around 9 a.m. and was provided by Sky Adventures. We took a gondola up the mountain (not sure how many feet, but it was high - trust me). Then we ziped through 10 cables some were over 1500-feet long and 460 feet up in the air. As you zip down the mountain you can catch great views of the volcano and the forest (from a birds view point). We were escorted by two staff members and our group was comprised of about 9 people.

    There are several companies in the area that offer Sky Trek/canopy adventures, our tour operator booked with Sky Adventures and we were very happy with them. The staff was friendly and the platforms were large and safe (as safe as you can be hundreds of feet up on the edge of a mountain). It was definitely a once (or twice) in a lifetime experience!

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  • hbgood's Profile Photo

    Horse back riding to waterfalls!

    by hbgood Written May 28, 2006

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    There are several places to choose from I believe. It is about a 1 hr ride each way to the waterfalls. Your butt will hurt the next day with all the bouncing but it is a great trip. And swimming in the falls was great. There are many steps down to the falls which will be difficult for any older people to manage.

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  • lashr1999's Profile Photo

    Jardin de Mariposas (Buttery Garden)

    by lashr1999 Updated Mar 12, 2006

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    Jardin de Mariposas (Buttery Garden)
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    This garden is in an out of the way region in the Arenal area. To get to it you have to pass a small town with dirt roads and small houses. Just before you get to the butterfly garden there is the Serpentaria where you can see many snakes and reptiles. The best time to go it is said is in the morning when the butterflies are more active. However, we went just as it was closing. We told the owner how we came a long way and this was our last day and we were given a personal tour of the garden. In fact, the garden was active with butterflies at this time and there were no other tourists to get in our way. The garden boasts forty species of tropical butterflies in about four enclosed botanical gardens. The guide let us hold Costa Rica?s famous butterfly in which on one side it looks like a brown owl with eyes to scare off predators and on the other side it is a beautiful greenish blue. Another rare feature was the nocturnal butterflies with transparent wings. The guide helps you understand the stages of a butterfly's life and you get to see a butterfly nursery. While walking outdoors the guide told us about Costa Rica native plants growing outdoors. We were also treated to the sight of a sloth in the trees. As we were leaving the owner let us hold a snake and see a venomous spider which were being housed here for the Serpentaria next door. It is too bad the Serpenaria was closed it would be nice to have a personalized visit there as well.

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  • naplesnate's Profile Photo

    Relax

    by naplesnate Updated Jan 13, 2006

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    tucans bite so beware...they're everywhere

    There is plenty of beach going and rain forest tours throughout the country that when you get to tabacon the best thing to do is relax and enjoy a beer at the bar "in" the thermal pool.
    The food was ok, we were in a large group so I'm sure that hindered the quality to some degree.
    I've been to several natural spas but the scenery at this one was something special.
    It is well kept and clean which accounts for the higher frequency of tourists but it was still pretty easy to find some privacy.
    With the volcano as a backdrop and rich green foliage everywhere it was quite a memorable experience regardless of the occasions touristy nature.

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    Lake Arenal

    by travelgirl3 Written Dec 30, 2004

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    Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

    Lake Arenal was created in 1978 through the diversion of Rio Arenal, and subsequent flooding of the farmland upstream. At 14 miles in length, it is the largest man-made lake in Central America.

    Because it is located at a higher altitude, water temperatures remain chilly year-round, but if you're prepared to don a good wetsuit, the steady wind makes it a windsurfers paradise.

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    Arenal Volcano National Park - Lava Flow Trail

    by TravellerMel Updated Apr 30, 2014

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    A very popular option for tourists is to visit the Arenal Volcano National Park. There is a $10/per person admission to the park, which is good for all day (back and forth). The park has four hiking trails where you can see spectacular views of the volcano, Arenal Lake, and wildlife such as howler monkeys, slots, deer, coatis, birds, and lizards. You are only allowed on the trails - poisonous gas and unexpected steam geysers remain dangers.

    We only hiked the Las Coladas Trail (aka Lava Flow Trail). Mostly flat, this 1.25-mile trail winds around the base of the volcano, offering views of the 1993 lava flows. The very end of the trail, where you meet the lava field, there is a steep stairway, and the lava boulders are uneven, jagged, and treacherous. It is worth the hike - the scenery is stunning. We got there just before it started to rain (a common occurrence, seeing as how it is a rain forest...) We saw several sloths, and a deer (well, the hind end of the deer...)

    Totally cool - and you can go home and tell your folks you hiked the volcano - way to freak them out! :-)

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    Arenal Hanging Bridges

    by TravellerMel Updated May 2, 2014

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    We had the BEST time at the Arenal Hanging Bridges! A lovely mountain/rainforest trail with several hanging bridges of varying heights and lengths. I get nervous around heights, and the grated floor of the higher elevation bridges "made my woo hoo go funny", but it was spectacularly beautiful, and we saw lots of wildlife, including monkeys, birds (toucans and motmots, as well as many others), a couple of poison dart frogs, a pizote (kinda looks like a raccoon with a long tail and pointed nose), and a rodent that looked like a giant guinea pig.

    There is a minor spur in the trail that takes you down to a waterfall - worth the extra 10 minutes, in my opinion. It was very pretty. All told, my husband and I were there for just over 3 hours, but we took our time, stopped frequently to look at birds. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots - it is not a particularly steep hike, but the ground is uneven, and some of the areas have open-sided bricks for stability, but makes for an uneven walking surface. If you have them, definitely bring your binocs!

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    Visit the Catholic Church in La Fortuna

    by TravellerMel Updated May 2, 2014

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    Officially, it's Saint John Bosco Catholic Church, but everyone just refers to it as "The Catholic Church", and it was the primary point of reference when being given directions. Definitely worth a visit, even if you aren't Catholic. According to my Frommer's guidebook, the church was designed by a famous Costa Rican artist named Teodorico Quiros. It is kind of "open air", and the view inside is fabulous. Check out that last photo of the Ascension of Jesus - that is NOT a painting, it is a sculpture. It was absolutely beautiful, and riveting. The church was decorated beautifully while we were there (Easter week).

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    Arenal Natura Eco-Park

    by TravellerMel Updated Apr 30, 2014

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    Arenal Natura Eco-Park
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    Arenal Natura Ecological Park offers several tours and admission options - we did the Bird watching tour. It ended up being a private tour (I am told that is fairly common, since it is so early in the morning). Our guide met us at the entrance to the park, and we went into the gift shop to get our (included) drinks prior to setting out. There was so much activity in the parking lot, we spent the first 20 minutes of our tour there! When we entered the park, there were even more birds to be seen. The park is lovely, with beautiful trails, a lagoon (with crocodiles), a frog habitat, a reptile enclosure (I didn't go in there - yuck!), and turtle breeding ponds. Our tour lasted just over 3 hours, and my husband was able to see ~60 species of bird.

    In April 2014, the tour was $40/per person, and was easily arranged through our hotel. You must make reservations for the bird watching tour in advance.

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