About two and a half hours, 90 km northwest of Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela, the district of La Fortuna encompasses the Arenal Volcano. This magnificent and famous landmark serves as a storybook backdrop for a town that will have you reeling from its breathtaking views, together with the sights and sounds of exotic birds, butterflies, flowers and more. Hot springs, waterfalls and rivers are abundant in this town whose name translates to “fortune” in English.
Stop To Smell The Flowers
From the airport, if you are renting a car hop on the Route 1 and follow signs to the quaint town of San Ramòn. As you exit the town and head to the left, the road will get windier and the views of hills and valleys more frequent. As you get close to La Fortuna, there is a butterfly, hummingbird and flower garden that is a perfect place to stop. You will see species of hummingbirds and butterflies that will delight the eye. Don’t be surprised if you find your self smiling and feeling like you did as a child. If your energy is good, the Blue Morphos will dance for you.
Admission is $12 a person but you can negotiate in the rainy season. The friendly staff will lend you an umbrella and be happy to answer any questions. Make sure to bring your camera and binoculars if you wish.
Paradise Hot Springs
The closer you get to Arenal volcano, you will encounter some of the top rated hot springs resorts and spas in Costa Rica. There are many options with different price ranges and right now you will find discounts as we are still in our “green season” for another month. You will find hot springs, a restaurant, bar, pool, luxurious rooms and excellent service at almost all the hotels and inns close to Arenal. Paradise Hot Springs delivers all expectations.
For $17 US Dollars enjoy an exceptional all you can eat buffet dinner. Your breakfast in the morning is included. Maybe choose the omelette with fresh brocolli and local cheese with gallo pinto and fruit. The orange juice is some of freshest you will ever taste in your life.
The area is known for growing local produce such as sweet potatoes, yucca, plantains, pumpkin, pineapples and oranges.
Enjoy the geothermal heated waters in one or all of the many pools, The main one includes a swim up bar with a food and beverage menu.
The staff is courteous, knowledgeable and share a love for the town they call home.
Although the crater of the volcano has been closed off to the public for many years, you can hike one or more trails along the base. Pass over a dry lava river, climb lava rocks and see a 600 year old tree during a rigorous trek on Los Senderos de los Tucanes, or Toucan Trails. Saul will welcome you and direct you to the start of the trail, a hanging bridge passing over a rushing rocky river. The hike takes about an hour and a half and provides great look out points for the volcano and Lake Arenal.
For the fainter of heart there are trails further down that are flatter but nonetheless exhilarating to explore. Trek further up still to the Arenal Observatory Lodge to enjoy a restaurant, pool and a top notch vista of the Arenal Volcano. Costs for the trails range from $10 – $12 in low season. Expect to pay more during high season. $15 is the entrance fee for the lodge. Make sure to wear comfortable hiking or tennis shoes and bring water.
Other Deals and Diversions
If you are not dead set on staying at a place that provides its own hot springs, check out Arenal Volcano Inn. How does a $64 double occupancy room with a view of the Arenal Volcano sound? A large pool and jacuzzi and proximity to the volcano compensate for the lack of hot springs. Remember you can always find the locals “poor man hot springs” a hop, skip and a jump for the Tabacon Resort. Or get a day pass to the springs at Ecotermales.
It’s never too late to consider booking a trip to Costa Rica. Plan a visit to La Fortuna to take advantage of the lower prices and lesser crowds before the high season kicks in. Be transported into a fairy tale setting with history, biodiversity and soothing hot springs. Relax both your mind and body while enjoying the beauty of a place that turns out every bit to be a real fortune.
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