Standing proud and sometimes angry, Arenal Volcano towers into the sky at 1,657 metres and is the centre piece of Arenal Volcano National Park. Situated between the Guanacaste and Tilaran mountain ranges, Arenal Volcano is located near the town of La Fortuna — 140 kilometres north of San Jose. The volcano is situated inside the 12,000 hectare national park which is further surrounded by the massive 204,000 hectares of Arenal Conservation Area which is home to another sixteen protected areas.
On clear days, the symmetrical cone of Arenal Volcano is visible for miles and up until 2010, the volcano offered spectacular volcanic shows at night. Since then, the volcano has been quiet. Also within the national park is the older Chato Volcano towering into the sky some 1,100.
The Arenal Volcano National Park is a natural wonderland of native fauna, flora and wildlife of the region. Once you throw in some natural hot springs; waterfalls and numerous hiking trails, you know you are in a special place. As you wander the extensive circuit of trails, you witness fabulous scenery of ancient lava flows and secondary growth forests. A large majority of the native 850 bird species reside within the national park including the endangered resplendent quetzal and wildlife sightings range from white-faced capuchin monkeys to deer, coati and tapirs. Your eyes will feast on gorgeous plant life too, including heliconias, bromeliads and hundreds of orchid species.
- Before setting out on the trail, stop at the ranger station and the Museum of Volcanicity.
- Hike to Rio Agua Caliente and relax in a natural hot spring or visit one of the many famous hot spring resorts.
- Go boating or fishing on Lake Arenal which supplies 12% of the country’s electricity.
- Hike or ride on a horseback to La Fortuna waterfall and take your swim suit.
- Try an exhilarating zipline tour or walk through the lush canopy on a series of hanging bridges.
- The only place to stay within the park boundaries is the Arenal Observation Lodge and Spa. You can get a spectacular view of Arenal by climbing “The Nest”, an observation tower located within the Lodge.
- La Fortuna has a plethora of accommodations from camping to hostels to spa resorts. For more options, check out our travel guide on Best Hotels near Arenal Volcano.
- Arenal Volcano National Park is a 3-hour trip from Liberia or San Jose. You can also find a variety of half and full-day excursions from the Guanacaste region.
- Expect crowds during high season (December to mid-May). This is the most visited volcano in Costa Rica.