Situated in Northern Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano and the surrounding areas are some of the most frequently visited areas in Costa Rica. And with good reason.
There are many tours, offering exciting or relaxing excursions, all around this region. There is certainly something for everyone; from exploring the dense rainforests, witnessing incredible natural spectacles, or relaxing in geothermal hot springs.
Read on to discover some of the very best places you must see when visiting Arenal Volcano and the surrounding areas.
Of all the volcanoes to be found in Costa Rica, none are as iconic as the famous Arenal Volcano. With its perfect conical shape, the mighty volcano casts shadows upon the land below. For 40 years, Arenal Volcano dominated the night sky with lava eruptions almost daily. Now, the volcano is in a resting stage. Although there have yet to be any significant eruptions in the last 20 years, plumes of smoke or loud grumbles can be heard from within the sleeping giant.
Although the volcano slopes are closed for hiking, a wealth of other activities can be found here. If you’re an avid hiker, why not venture into the Arenal Volcano National Park, which offers plenty of exciting opportunities. An expansive network of trails can be found within the park. This is the perfect place if you’re hoping to spot some of Costa Rica’s most iconic wildlife. Look up into the canopy to spot white-faced capuchins or parrot snakes. Perhaps you may even be lucky and spy on one of Costa Rica’s most elusive mammals: the jaguar.
La Fortuna and Arenal go hand in hand with each other, with most people opting to stay in the charming farming town of La Fortuna when visiting the volcano. The name stems from the iconic waterfall that cascades down a 70-meter drop and into the pools below: La Fortuna Waterfall.
The waterfall sits in 210 acres of premontane tropical wet forest. Fortunately, there is a path within the reserve to reach an exceptionally beautiful lookout, offering views of the surrounding jungle and, of course, the mighty falls themselves. The way is paved with over 500 steps, so it is not suitable for wheelchairs or prams. Unlike some of the other excursions around Arenal, the hike only lasts 15 minutes, each way. Not only are you rewarded with spectacular views, but a refreshing swim in the cool pools formed at the base of the falls. Perfect on a hot day.
With innumerable options to explore, hike and get adventurous, muscles can soon become rather achy. But you’re in luck! What better way to relax your weary bones than by bathing in some of the many hot springs that can be found surrounding Arenal Volcano.
Underground thermal vents heat water, that comes bubbling to the surface. The high abundance of volcanic minerals found within these waters is therapeutic and has been used by indigenous tribes for hundreds of years. To add to the ambiance, immerse yourself under the tropical canopy and listen to the sounds of nature take over as you relax the day away. Many privately owned Hot Springs stay open until 10 pm, allowing you to bask in the jungle night to your fullest content. There are some secret spots away from the hotel-based hot springs that only local residents know about, definitely, worth an explore; if you can find them.
One of the most unique and fun ways to see the large expanse of the jungle is to hit the skies. Offering incredible views extending for miles in all directions (if the weather allows), you will be rewarded with encounters with local wildlife including spectacularly colored birds of all varieties.
Ziplining is an exhilarating experience for all to enjoy. As you whiz down the suspended cables, you will feel a thrilling adrenaline rush you would be pushed to find doing any other activity. On a clear day, the views are unprecedented, however, there is a mysterious excitement to be had if the weather is cloudy and visibility is poor.
This is one for the adventurers at heart. There are three main rivers found near Arenal and the surrounding areas: Toro, Balsa, and Peñas Blancas – with each catering to different skill levels. Out of the three, Peñas Blancas is probably the slowest flowing, offering leisurely trips floating down the river and the best chance of spotting wildlife.
For the thrill-seekers and avid rafters, a trip towards the highlands of Poas may yield the best results, with exciting and fast-paced rapids, and large sweeping waves. For the best of both worlds, the best option would be to explore the Balsa River. Along this stretch, you will encounter both calm sections, as well as more exhilarating areas. The jungle system that surrounds the river is home to many species, including howler monkeys, so pay close attention.
Drifting away from the thrill-seeking activities, but by no means less exciting, you have the opportunity to discover the origins of some of the world’s most beloved and most consumed commodities – coffee and chocolate.
Over millennia, the lands that surround the imposing Arenal Volcano have become rich and fertile, owing to the abundance of minerals from falling ash and lava fields. In fact, coupled with the perfect weather conditions, equates to some of the most optimal growing conditions for these crops. Before tourism grew into the billion-dollar industry it is today, tropical food exports made a large percentage of the countries GDP. In Arenal and the surrounding areas, many companies, such as The Rainforest Chocolate Tour, offer in-depth and sustainable tours of how chocolate and coffee are processed. The entire process, from picking to consumption, is detailed in an enjoyable and informative tour.
To preserve the incredible biodiversity found around Arenal, many companies adopt sustainable and conservation methods; encouraging the growth of other species around plantations. If you’re a lover of the environment, and of course coffee and chocolate, this is certainly one you do not want to miss.
Book by: Jan 31st 2022
Book by: Jan 31st 2022
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