Arenal & La Fortuna
Introduction to Arenal & La Fortuna
The small town of La Fortuna is located a short (but safe!) distance from the Arenal Volcano. After lying dormant for around 400 years the Arenal Volcano erupted spectacularly in 1968 but since its last eruption in 2010, the Arenal Volcano has been quietly sleeping and is in fact not classed as dormant! The town of La Fortuna has been steadily growing, as more and more visitors come to the region to see Arenal’s perfectly conical peak and to explore the natural beauty of the region.
The presence of the impressive Arenal Volcano is everywhere. Whether you are strolling around La Fortuna village looking for souvenirs, trying some canopy rappelling in the forest, boating on the beautiful Lake Arenal, horseback riding or hiking through the countryside – the impressive Arenal Volcano is always there on the horizon. In the evenings the sunset turns the once active side of the volcano a glowing pink, and the beautiful green pastures and forests that surround it light up in the sunshine.
The wildlife of the region is also fascinating and with most of Costa Rica’s wildlife coming out after the sun goes down, nighttime nature-spotting excursions are extremely popular here. You’ll have the chance to see sloths, howler monkeys, night herons, spectacled owls and American crocodiles. During the day there are all sorts of adventure activities, from horseback riding and hiking to canoeing and rappelling.
What not to miss in Arenal & La Fortuna
Relaxing in Hot Springs
Relaxing in natural hot springs is a must when visiting Arenal. Eco Termales is our favorite for its views of the Arenal Volcano and as it has a daily visitor limit, it never gets too crowded!
Discover the rainforest canopy and the wildlife surrounding the Arenal Volcano with an unrivaled experience as you explore Arenal’s Hanging Bridges. Winding their way through Arenal’s primary rainforest, you’ll be able to observe nature and wildlife with a unique birds eye view of the surrounding area.
Asis Animal Rescue Center
Visiting the Asis Animal Rescue Center located just outside of La Fortuna is a great way to learn about just one of the many wildlife protection projects in Costa Rica. With a diverse range of wildlife from scarlet macaws and monkeys to turtles and caiman; you’ll also be able to enjoy getting up close to some of the wildlife.
Fly through the air on one of Costa Rica’s best and most thrilling zip lines in Arenal. Having soaked up the views of the treetops from an observation area high up above the ground, it’s time for an exhilarating adventure zip lining your way down the mountainside through the treetops until your feet are firmly on back on the ground!
It’s time to saddle up! Horseback riding is the perfect way to experience the beautiful Arenal countryside and to tap into the traditional Sabanero (Costa Rican cowboy) culture.
Kayak Peñas Blancas
Leisurely paddle your way down a calm river through a verdant rainforest. Listen carefully to the distinct calls of tropical birds and monkeys while soaking up the fragrant smell of the flora along the river bank. Keep an eye out for for turtles, butterflies, monkeys, sloths, caiman and, iguanas among the many other species of wildlife.
The Caño Wetlands are one of the best places in Costa Rica to see wildlife year round. As well as many bird species you’ll also be able to spot howler and capuchin monkeys, sloths, iguanas, river turtles, caiman and the basilisk, a lizard which can walk on water!
The Lava Walk
Take the Lava Walk to see the effect of Arenal’s eruptions up close! It’s an easy walk to the lava fields and from there you’ll be able to see the lasting scars of its last eruption in 2010. You’ll be at a safe distance, but it might not feel like it as remember, the Arenal Volcano is only sleeping and isn’t dormant!
Visit the Fortuna Waterfall
Visit the Fortuna Waterfall on foot or on horseback. Plunging down a forested cliff into a deep blue pool below, the Fortuna Waterfall is a beautiful picnic spot. The brave ones can jump into the pool for a very refreshing dip in its chilly waters!
What you need to know
When to go
Arenal and La Fortuna can be visited any time of year and there is always plenty to do. If you want to see the Arenal Volcano peak free of low-hanging cloud against a backdrop of blue skies, then certain times of the year are better than others. December through to February are the rainiest and cloudiest months, then from March to the beginning of August weather is hit and miss and changes fast due to the competing weather fronts from the rainier Caribbean and the drier region of Guanacaste. From June to mid-November the warm and humid rainy season also known as the green season is a great time to see the area in full blossom. The shoulder months to the wet and dry season, from May to June often have a little precipitation providing a clear freshness to the countryside air of La Fortuna and Arenal.
How to get there
The town of La Fortuna is just 10 miles (16 km) from the Arenal Volcano National Park and is about 3-4 hours’ drive from San Jose’s International Airport and approximately 2.5 hours’ drive from Liberia’s International Airport. If you would rather fly to La Fortuna, taking advantage of spectacular aerial views of the Costa Rica landscape, Nature Air provides daily flights from San Jose with the flight time taking just over 20 minutes.
The bus terminal in La Fortuna is on the river road. Keep an eye on your bags, particularly on the weekend San José run.
Hiring a car is a unique travel experience as you experience driving on some of Costa Rica’s smoothest highways and some traditional bumpy Costa Rican roads while being treated to views of the rich, lush terrain of northern Costa Rica.
Where to stay
There are plenty of places to stay in and around La Fortuna. Many of the lodges on the outskirts of La Fortuna and near to the Arenal National Park have hiking trails, hot springs and volcano views right on the property. Keep in mind that these more remote accommodation options are further from the town of La Fortuna, its restaurant and other facilities but you will be able to enjoy the beauty, peace and serenity of your surroundings.
You can use a bicycle to get around La Fortuna and reach some of the top tourist attractions. The challenging 4.3 miles (7km) ride from town to La Catarata is a classic.
La Fortuna is easy to access by public transportation but the nearby attractions such as the hot springs and Arenal National Park require a car or organized tour to reach. If you’re thinking of doing a day trip to Rio Celeste, Caño Negro or Venado Caves, as well as going on an organized tour you might also consider renting a car for the day.