Adventure in Arenal Costa Rica

Adventure in Arenal Costa Rica
Adventure in Arenal Costa Rica

I have pointed out many times that Costa Rica offers almost everything your heart could desire. La Fortuna and its famous neighbor Arenal volcano prove this point for me like no other. Encapsulated in this small area is what makes Costa Rica the travel hotspot of Central America. I have lived along the Pacific coast and in the central valley and when I want an adventure or a relaxing getaway, Arenal is always at the top of my list.

A three-hour drive from San Jose, La Fortuna and Arenal National Park offer a wide variety of vacation activities. If you’re looking to relax, sit in a hot spring sipping your favorite drink and enjoy stunning views of one of Costa Rica’s 6 active volcanoes.  Most hotels and resorts have in house spas to pamper you and help you bleed off any stress that may be built up.

Arenal, at an elevation of 1,670 m or 5355 ft, is one of the 10 most active volcanoes in the world, yet there has not been a major eruption since 1968. This geothermal activity provides for lush vegetation and the animal life that comes with it. 850 bird species can be found in Costa Rica, you can see a majority of them in this area. It also provides the most wonderful hot springs I have ever had the privilege to soak in. The daily bubbling of Arenal provides for some spectacular viewing, especially in the evening. Many hotels offer rooms with glass walls facing the volcano to take advantage of this. Waterfalls and hot springs abound in the area and make for some of the most relaxing and beautiful resorts in the country.  While I have not stayed at all the resorts in the area, I have been to a few and Arenal Kioro Hotel is my favorite.  Their couple and family suites are gorgeous, the bar, restaurant, game room, pool, spa, lounging hammocks, on-site hot springs all offering a view of the volcano.

Travelers can head to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, which sits in an ideal viewing spot along the volcano’s northern side. The top of Arenal can be concealed by a layer of fog, but that in itself can make for some fantastic photos. You can hike the park’s trails on your own with just a trail map, but I would recommend hiring a guide to learn more about the history of the volcano and the flora and fauna that inhabit the area. Learning these details makes your trip more fulfilling and meaningful.

The surrounding area has so much to do and see that even after a dozen trips there, I am finding new things to enjoy, and if you are an adrenaline junkie like me, you will not be disappointed. A lake near its base provides all the water sports you desire. The two rivers in the area, Toro and Balsa, offer hair raising white water rafting. In addition, there are tour companies that offer high ropes courses, zip lines, canyoning, waterfall rappelling, Tarzan swings, Tibetan bridges and more all in this lush rainforest near the volcano. For those who enjoy extreme sports and vacations, this is El Dorado.

Do not forget about the town either, La Fortuna provides all the more to your experience. It has all the tourist trinkets and attractions, but more importantly, it offers a local flavor in and of itself. This country is punctuated by its local diversity of life. I am not talking “local” as in Costa Rican, I am speaking to the local twist within each region of Costa Rica. The Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast, different. The central valley to the northern area, different. The Nicoya Peninsula to the Osa Peninsula, different. Take the time to try La Fortuna’s version of Costa Rican foods and traditions. In the states, is the BBQ the same in North Carolina as in Kansas City? Well, there you go. Costa Rica may be much smaller; however, I think you will find the same delightful regional variations. 

All in all, Arenal and the surrounding area offer you almost everything you could desire in a trip of adventure. You just need to decide, is the type of adventure I want to get my heart pumping or to slow down to a leisurely pace? 

You say you need adventure; you say you need to relax, again, I say Arenal Volcano and the town of La Fortuna.

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