Arenal Area

The active Arenal volcano is the main attraction in this part of Costa Rica. However it is also a very beautiful and scenic part of the country with primary forests, Costa Rica's largest lake and several noteworthy tourist attractions.

Volcán Arenal

Volcán Arenal which rises 5,436 feet above sea level is the most active and no doubt the most studied of all Costa Rica's volcanoes. It booms and rumbles with an unnerving consistency and its nocturnal pyrotechnics have struck awe in the hearts of thousands of observers. With its perfectly conical shape and its continuing activity, Arenal is a picture book image of a volcano. Daily ash columns, underground rumbling, glowing red lava flows and sudden explosions make Arenal a must-see on any tourist's itinerary.

Seeing a great nighttime eruption like shown in the posters is a matter of luck due to cloud cover. However, even when the summit of the volcano is covered you can often see the lava flows farther down the side. Occasionally the activity quiets down for a few weeks, but generally it puts on several eruptive displays a day.

This is a beautiful part of Costa Rica and there is plenty to do besides volcano watching.

Tabacon Hot Springs

A volcano-heated stream is channeled into a veritable thermal wonderland with pools of varying depths and temperatures set in beautifully landscaped gardens. There a waterfall you can sit under for a natural massage, a waterslide into the main pool, jacuzzis, and individual tubs. Massages and mud pack treatments are available for an additional charge.

Tabacon has a great view of the volcano and lava flows. Perfection is sitting in the warm pool on a clear night when Arenal erupts. We highly recommend Tabacon Hot Springs to anyone visiting the Arenal area.

The complex has a good restaurant and three bars, including a swim-up bar in the main pool. Towels, lockers and showers are available for a small deposit. (Open daily, 10 am to 10 pm; $14/person, children $7).

Cascada La Fortuna
A visit to this 230 foot tall, beautiful waterfall is one of the Arenal area's most popular trips. You can hike to the waterfall from La Fortuna, it's about 3 ½ miles. Start at the south side of the church and there is a road with a sign for the waterfall. If you have a 4 wheel drive you can drive as far as the overlook. There is a $1.50 fee to hike down a very steep trail to the bottom of the fall where you can take a swim (use extreme caution as the river can be wild).

Arenal Botanical Garden
These lovingly designed gardens are about 25 km (15 miles) north of the Arenal Lake dam. Well laid-out trails lead past hundreds of varieties of tropical plants from Costa Rica and all over the world. Lots of butterflies and birds are attracted to the gardens. There are self-guide booklets in English, German and Spanish. Michael, the owner, is usually on hand to answer questions. Open 9 am to 5 pm except Sunday afternoons (Admission $4.00).

Venado Caverns
The caverns, a 1.5 mile system of limestone chambers replete with stalctites, stalagmites and underground streams, are not for the faint-hearted. To explore them, you must wade through the ankle to knee deep underground stream. At some points it is necessary to crawl. Bats and tiny colorless frogs inhabit the caves, which also contain seashell fossils, and a "shrine" that glows luminously. You clothes will get wet and dirty, so take a change. There are changing rooms available. You can rent rubber boots, flashlights and helmets. (Entrance $1.50)

If you wish you can take a guided tour from La Fortuna and some hotels in the area or guides are available at the caverns.

Activities
Rios Tropicales Rafting Tours
This white water rafting site is located in the town of Sarapiqui on the river by the same name, only 2 hours from San Jose. The site may be reached by an excellent road that crosses the wonderful Braulio Carrillo National Park, one of the few tropical rain forests left in the world.  A half hour from the Park, is established the RIOS TROPICALES CENTER in the town of la Fortuna, a meeting center for tourist due to its proximity to the magical Arenal Volcano.
Caño Negro Lodge One day Tour
The Caño Negro National Wild Life Refuge is the best ecological site with the emerald basilisc, iguanas, river turtles and caimans and is considered one of the best sites in America to see wild animals concentrations. Also are common on this area jaguars, ocelots. Giant Ant Bears and others. 
Cano Negro is one of the first areas in giving special emphasis on the handle of biological sources according with the human life development, combining tourist activities with the protection of the natural resources.

Getting There
You can travel to Arenal by car or on regularly scheduled flights. Travelair offers a daily flight to La Fortuna. It is about a two and a half hour, scenic drive by car from San Jose.

North Central Costa Rica Map Map of Arenal Area

Restaurant Swimming Pool

Standard Double Room is $= Under $75 - $$= $75 to $150 - $$$= Over $150

Hotels
Arenal Kioro - In front of the majestic Arenal Volcano.
Arenal Manoa - Marvelous view of Arenal Volcano. Also see the daily operations of a typical Costa Rican farm.
Arenal Nayara - Designed to provide comfort and style while maintaining a close connection with the nature.
Arenal Observatory Lodge - Located just 1.8 kilometers from the active crater of Arenal Volcano.
Arenal Springs - The perfect combination between relaxation, comfort, and exuberant tropical scenery.
Lost Iguana Hotel - Large private balconies overlooking the Arenal Volcano and River Gorge.
Magic Mountain - Located right on the base of the Arenal Volcano and near to the local hot springs.
Montaña de Fuego - Usually has one of the best views of the lava flows.
Mountain Paradise - Quality service and magnificent surroundings with a unique view to the Arenal Volcano.
Royal Corin Resort - Comfortable and luxurious destination in one of the most beautiful areas.
Tabacon Lodge - At the foot of the volcano, the lodge affords great views. The lodge is connected to Tabacon Hot Springs and includes unlimited access to the Tabacon Hot Springs Resort.
The Springs Resort and Spa - With a spectacular view of the Arenal Volcano, natural hot and cold springs and four unique dining experiences.
Volcano Lodge - Accommodations with one of the best views of the lava flow of the Arenal Volcano.

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