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 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 night time 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.
Best Things to Do In Arenal
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 small 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 Gardens
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
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. 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.
Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge – 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 To Arenal
You can travel to Arenal by car or on regularly scheduled flights. It is about a two and a half hour, scenic drive by car from San Jose.