The town of La Fortuna and the nearby Arenal Volcano has been extremely popular with travelers visiting Costa Rica for a number of years and is without a doubt one of the most stunning and adventure-filled areas in Latin America.
Despite being popular with travelers, the eco-tourism measures enforced in the area ensures that the beauty of the area remains undisturbed while not taking away from the diverse activities on offer.
There are few places in the world that are more peaceful or more exhilarated than this vast Volcano National Park which is why Arenal has a deserved place in our Best Trips in Latin America for 2015. From when to go, how to get there and what to do, here is your complete guide to visiting the Arenal Volcano in the Northern Plains of Costa Rica.
♦ Where is the Arenal Volcano?
When traveling to Costa Rica, no visit is complete without going to Arenal which is home to one of the most recognizable and famous natural features in Costa Rica. The impressive Arenal Volcano lies within the stunning 29,960-acre Arenal Volcano National Park near to the beautiful town of La Fortuna. Although the volcano has been resting since 2010, seeing this perfect, conical volcano provides an unforgettable backdrop to the surrounding verdant landscape. The town of La Fortuna located in the northwestern hills of Costa Rica acts as the gateway to the Arenal Volcano National Park. Despite its popularity with travel writers and travelers alike as well as being one of Costa Rica’s most talked about destinations; La Fortuna remains a quaint and charming place to stay when visiting the mighty Arenal Volcano.
♦ Traveling to La Fortuna & Arenal
The town of La Fortuna is just 10 miles from the Arenal Volcano National Park and is the best place to stay when visiting this region. Offering incredible views of the Arenal Volcano as well as a plethora of adventurous activities, traveling to La Fortuna and Arenal is a must when visiting Costa Rica. La Fortuna is located about 3-4 hours’ drive from San Jose’s International Airport and approximately 2.5 hours’ drive from Liberia’s International Airport. Taking the road is a unique travel experience as you go from some of Costa Rica’s smoothest highways to some traditional bumpy Costa Rican roads while being treated to views of the rich, lush terrain of northern Costa Rica. If you would rather fly to La Fortuna, taking advantage of spectacular aerial views of the Costa Rica landscape, Nature Air provides daily flights from San Jose with the flight time taking just over 20 minutes.
♦ The best time to go to Arenal
The climate is difficult to define in the vast region of the Northern Plains which links the rainier Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in the east to the drier region of Guanacaste in the west. As a result of these competing weather fronts and the area’s relatively low elevation, rain can occur during the region’s dry season which runs from mid-December to April. Visibility can also change daily and hourly during the dry season allowing you to enjoy the sight of Arenal’s volcanic crater year-round. However, you will have more luck of unrestricted views of the peak from February to April, which also mark the hottest and driest time of the year. From June to mid-November the warm and humid rainy season also known as the green season is a great time to see the area in full blossom. The shoulder months to the wet and dry season, from May to June often have a little precipitation providing a clear freshness to the countryside air of La Fortuna and Arenal.
♦ The top things to do in Arenal
Aside from the visiting the Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna has grown in popularity due to its diverse range of quintessential Costa Rica activities. From exploring the rainforest canopy on hanging bridges and feeling the wind through your hair on a zip-line to canyoneering down waterfalls; Arenal and La Fortuna is an adventurer’s paradise! Experience a sleeping not dormant volcano at Arenal which was before 2010 one of the world’s most active volcanoes. As the Arenal Volcano is sleeping, meaning it is still very much active underground, on a clear day you may be treated to the sight of a few cloudy plumes spouting from its dome. Another not to be missed Arenal adventure is to take the challenge of hiking down to Cataratas de la Fortuna, which will repay you for your efforts with a magnificent series of tropical waterfalls. If horseback riding is more your thing or you want to tap into the traditional ‘Sabanero’ (Costa Rican cowboy) culture, the Don Tobias horseback riding trail is one of our favorite in Costa Rica. Along the way you will have some spectacular views of Arenal Volcano as well as some of the area’s best displays of wildlife. Due to the volcanic activity in the region, La Fortuna’s hot springs will add a welcoming luxurious and relaxing edge to your otherwise adventure-filled vacation.