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Iconic volcano © Marianne Muegenburg/Flickr
Iconic volcano © Marianne Muegenburg/Flickr

A Guide to Exploring the Arenal Volcano

Picture of Jenn Parker
Updated: 13 July 2017
The Arenal Volcano is the epitome of a perfectly shaped volcano. Up until the end of 2010, it was highly active and guests at nearby hotels could see lava bubbling up from the top at night. While still considered active, it hasn’t erupted since December 2010. The Arenal Volcano National Park and surrounding area is a nature and adventure seeker’s ideal destination – here’s our guide on what to see and do while you’re here!

Hike

Hiking through the Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the best ways to experience this biodiverse and ecosystem-diverse region of Costa Rica. Hiking with a professional guide and naturalist will make your experience even better, as they will be able to share a wealth of fascinating information regarding the history of the park, the different ecosystems and the vast diversity of plants and animals. You will also see much more, since they will be able to spot what you may well miss on your own.

Take a hike to this beauty
Take a hike to this beauty | © CzechBar/Flickr

Walk

An amazing and unique way to spend some time in the lush rainforest is by taking a nature walk that includes the famous hanging bridges. There are 15 bridges that connect a three kilometer/1.7 mile rainforest circuit. On this walk, you will be completely surrounded by ancient giant trees, moss, hanging vines, bromeliads, thrumming insects, and rejuvenating oxygen-rich rainforest air. This gentle rainforest walk is a popular activity while visiting the Arenal Volcano and once you take it you will certainly see why.

Take a walk in the trees
Take a walk in the trees | © moundmania.eu/Flickr

Soak

You cannot visit the Arenal Volcano without experiencing the natural hot springs. The majority of these natural thermal pools are within the resorts and hotels, though you don’t necessarily have to be staying at one of the resorts in order to access the thermal pools. Famous resorts like Tabacon offer day guest passes. The natural hot springs are fed by the thermal energy from the Arenal volcano – there’s nothing better than soaking in a hot pool after a long day of adventuring!

Inviting thermal pools
Inviting thermal pools | © Denise Jesudason/Flickr

Soar

Embarking on a canopy zip lining tour while you are visiting the Arenal Volcano is a thrilling activity that the entire family will love. Zip lining offers a completely new perspective on the rainforest. As well as soaring through the forest like a bird, you will also get to do some hiking and climbing, an excellent day trip that will surely reconnect the adults in the group with their child-like selves. The tour will also give you the opportunity to have some special wildlife encounters, while learning all about the rainforest.

Observe

There are so many wildlife species around the Arenal Volcano! There are hundreds of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. The most commonly spotted animals include toucans, hummingbirds, monkeys, butterflies, tree frogs, sloths, coatis and iguanas. With the help of a professional guide and naturalist, your chances of encountering some of the unique creatures that call this area home are much higher. Ecocentro Danaus, Arenal Oasis Wildlife Refuge, and Club Rio Wildlife Sanctuary are three great choices if you are interested in the native wildlife of the Arenal Volcano National Park.

Keep your eyes in the trees for these
Keep your eyes in the trees for these | © Chuck Andolino/Flickr

Ride

Taking a horseback riding tour to the La Fortuna Waterfall is a must-do when you are visiting the Arenal Volcano. You will ride with a guide across a vibrantly green and flourishing finca (farm), where you will spot toucans, monkeys, lizards and many other native species. This serene horseback ride will take you to the trail that leads down to the magnificent La Fortuna Waterfall. Here, your horse can rest in the shade while you hike down through the alluring rainforest until you reach the falls and cool natural pool at the bottom. You can even swim in the pool beneath the waterfall.