The tour desk at Hotel Helicona was very pleased to sell us outrageously overpriced package tours that we were impossible to even take. For example, despite my numerous skeptical inquiries, they assured us that we could complete both a zipline tour, a canopy skywalk tour, and visit the snake and insect houses during a trip departing the hotel at 7:50 am and returning on an 11:00 am bus so that we could then take the afternoon tour they sold us to the cloud forest leaving the hotel at 1 pm. Of course, this proved to be ridiculous--we rushed through the zipline and requested a refund for the other activities that we couldn't do before our 11 am departure. Then, the tour to the cloud forest cost us about $100 for transport for our family (vs. a $20 max round trip cab ride). When we complained, they said they were providing security and a special guide. The guide was just the regular guide provided by the hotel. We were similarly charged ridiculous rates for the night hike. We got smart by the time we reached arenal and rented our own car and just bought tickets for activities without the middle man. We estimated we saved $1500 for just 2 days of touring.
Unique Suggestions: Either rent a car or hire cabs. Just buy your tickets at the gates directly.
We made a mistake since we bough a package of tickets for snakes, frogs, and butterfly exhibitions and for sky walk in one of numerous agencies.
Late we figured that If you pay each fee separately at the entrance the price is the same. For sky walk nobody was asking for tickets so we could have done it for free.
I think we only saw 2-3 interesting butterflies in here. For $8 we expected more than that. As soon as I stepped out of the building, right outside I saw a couple of much nicer species...actually they were everywhere but in the Butterfly Garden.
Guide was excellent though and she made our visit interesting.
Fun Alternatives: Serpentario and Frog Pond are more interesting but they are not impressive either. I haven't seen hummingbird gallery - so check those out first and then if you still don't know what to do - go to the butterfly garden.