The Arenal Volcano, located just 15 kilometers southwest of La Fortuna in San Carlos, is considered Costa Rica’s most active volcano.  With its ash plumes, underground rumbling, glowing lava flows and sudden explosions, it is quite the attraction. Seismologists have been studying it for many years, although its activity now is not so damaging. The volcano’s perfect conical shape allows for breathtaking views of the summit, and almost every night the crater offers a spectacular light show with its eruptions.


General Information


Located in the northern region of Costa Rica, the Arenal volcano has an altitude of 1,633 meters (5,300 feet), and its conically-shaped crater is 140 meters in diameter.

La Fortuna is the town closest to the volcano in the Arenal valley, and there is great visibility of the lava and gases spewing out from the volcano from almost everywhere in the village. It’s a great spectacle, but very little danger of an eruption.

The Arenal area offers a wide range of gastronomic options, from small, inexpensive restaurants (sodas) serving local food, to finer, more sophisticated dining. On the road between La Fortuna and Lake Arenal, there is a wide range of restaurants - from steakhouses, to wood-oven pizzas, to Mexican cuisine. There are many upscale resorts in the area that have on-site restaurants offering international cuisine. Although lava-watching is still the area’s favorite after-dark activity, there are several popular nightspots for those who want to make new friends and dance the night away on Friday and Saturday nights - Volcan Look Disco being one of them.

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

Though a small town, La Fortuna boasts all the amenities of a larger city - supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, gas stations, post office, shops, internet cafes, restaurants, public hospital and medical clinics – all within walking distance of each other in the downtown area.

Daily flights to Arenal from San Jose, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Tortuguero, the Osa Peninsula and other top destinations are available. The flight from San José lasts approximately 30 minutes, or the drive to Arenal can take anywhere from 3 ½ to 4 hours, depending on the traffic and road conditions.




This is a unique place because the combination of forests and wildlife areas provide habitats for a wide variety of animals, including many endangered species. More than 15 different species of amphibians have been identified, including the green and black frog, along with about 35 species of fish. There are also poisonous snakes, like the Fer-De-Lance, as well as non-poisonous species, like the Boa Constrictor. At least 200 species of birds, as well as tapirs, jaguars, deers, pumas, monkeys and margays are also present.


Things to do


Arenal Volcano Hot Springs

1. Relax at the Hot Springs

Immerse yourself in volcanically-heated hot springs at one of the area´s many thermal resorts. Surround yourself in the lush landscape, many featuring restaurants and swim-up bars, and most of them have excellent views of the Arenal Volcano.

2. Caving

For those who don’t mind getting wet and muddy, exploring a series of underground caverns at the 5 million year-old Venado Caves, populated by 4 species of bats, is the perfect adventure.

3. Extreme Adventures

Among the many activities you can enjoy are canopy tours, bungee jumping, hanging bridges, waterfall rappelin (canyoning), hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, ATV tours, kayaking/canoeing, and swimming at the Arenal Lake or La Fortuna Waterfall

4. Enjoy the lake

With a surface of 88 square kilometers, the Arenal Lake, next to the Volcano, has become the biggest lake in Costa Rica. Because of its very strong winds, it is rated as the third best place in the world for windsurfing. Sailing is also an excellent recommendation, and the best season is from December to April..


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