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The Best Things To Do In Arenal, Costa Rica


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Ermengarde Mack



Welcome to Arenal, Costa Rica – a diverse and enchanting destination nestled between the verdant rainforests and the majestic Arenal Volcano. Known for its stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife, Arenal offers a wide array of activities and attractions that are sure to thrill adventurers and nature lovers alike.


Arenal is located in the northern part of Costa Rica, within the province of Alajuela. It is famous for its iconic volcano, which stood as Costa Rica’s most active for several decades before it entered a resting phase in 2010. Despite its decreased volcanic activity, the Arenal Volcano continues to be a prominent landmark and draws visitors from all over the world.


Aside from the stunning volcano, Arenal offers a variety of other attractions and activities. From soothing hot springs to breathtaking waterfalls, from thrilling zip-line adventures to serene horseback rides, there is never a dull moment in this tropical paradise. No matter what your interests or preferences, Arenal has something to offer for everyone.


Whether you are seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures or simply want to relax and immerse yourself in nature, Arenal provides a multitude of options. Explore the dense rainforests, teeming with diverse flora and fauna, or take a boat tour on Lake Arenal, the largest lake in Costa Rica. Discover hidden waterfalls or embark on a wildlife spotting tour to catch glimpses of monkeys, sloths, and a staggering variety of bird species.


Additionally, Arenal is renowned for its warm and welcoming local community. Engage with the friendly locals and experience the rich Costa Rican culture at the La Fortuna Farmers Market, where you can sample delicious local cuisine and purchase handmade crafts.


So, whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone seeking a slower-paced vacation, Arenal, Costa Rica, has it all. Get ready to immerse yourself in the natural wonders and exciting activities that make Arenal a truly unforgettable destination.


Explore Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts. Spanning over 30,000 acres, the park is home to the iconic Arenal Volcano, which stands at an impressive height of 5,358 feet. Although the volcano is currently dormant, the lush rainforest surrounding it provides a stunning backdrop for exploration.


Embark on hiking trails that wind through the park, offering panoramic views of the volcano and opportunities to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys, sloths, and toucans. The Las Coladas Trail takes you through the remnants of previous lava flows, while the Los Tucanes Trail leads you to the observation deck, offering breathtaking vistas of the volcano and Lake Arenal.


One of the highlights of visiting Arenal Volcano National Park is the chance to witness a volcanic eruption, albeit from a safe distance. The park’s ranger station provides live updates on the volcano’s activity, ensuring visitors have the opportunity to witness nature’s raw power in action.


For those interested in learning more about the volcano and its history, the Arenal Volcano Observatory Museum is a must-visit. The museum provides valuable insights into the geological formation of the volcano and its past eruptions, as well as information on the flora and fauna that call the park home.


Visiting Arenal Volcano National Park is a unique experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of Costa Rica’s natural landscape. Whether you choose to hike the trails, capture stunning photos, or simply soak in the tranquility of the park, exploring this iconic destination is a must-do during your visit to Arenal.


Relax in the Tabacon Hot Springs

When it comes to unwinding and rejuvenating in natural hot springs, Tabacon Hot Springs in Arenal is a true paradise. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens and set against the backdrop of the Arenal Volcano, these hot springs offer a serene and luxurious experience.


The Tabacon Hot Springs feature a series of naturally heated thermal pools and cascading waterfalls that vary in temperature and depth, allowing visitors to find their own perfect spot for relaxation. The mineral-rich waters are believed to have therapeutic properties that can alleviate stress, ease muscle tension, and promote overall well-being.


While indulging in the soothing hot springs, you can also enjoy the surrounding beauty of the rainforest. The pools are strategically positioned to provide stunning views of the volcano and the lush tropical vegetation that surrounds them.


In addition to the hot springs, Tabacon offers a range of amenities to enhance your experience. From tranquil lounging areas to swim-up bars where you can enjoy tropical cocktails, there is no shortage of ways to pamper yourself. You can also opt for spa treatments and massages, offered in open-air bungalows nestled in the gardens.


To fully immerse yourself in the Tabacon Hot Springs experience, consider indulging in a night pass. As the sun sets and the stars come out, the hot springs take on an even more magical ambiance. Soaking in the warm waters under the night sky is an unforgettable experience that allows you to connect with nature and feel a sense of tranquility.


Whether you’re seeking relaxation, healing, or simply a unique and memorable experience, Tabacon Hot Springs in Arenal is the perfect destination. Take the time to immerse yourself in the healing waters and let the natural beauty of this tropical paradise wash away your stress and worries.


Take a dip in La Fortuna Waterfall

Located just a few kilometers from the town of La Fortuna, the La Fortuna Waterfall is a breathtaking natural wonder that should not be missed during your visit to Arenal. Cascading down from a height of 75 meters, this majestic waterfall plunges into a crystal-clear pool, inviting visitors to take a refreshing dip in its cool waters.


Reaching the base of the La Fortuna Waterfall involves a scenic hike through lush rainforest. As you make your way down the trail, you’ll be surrounded by vibrant flora and the melodious sounds of tropical birds. The hike itself is an adventure, taking you over wooden bridges and stone steps, offering glimpses of the waterfall through the dense foliage.


Upon reaching the bottom, take a moment to marvel at the sheer power and beauty of the waterfall. The sight of the water cascading down the rocks is truly awe-inspiring. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a plunge into the refreshing waters below. Swimming in the natural pool formed by the waterfall is a unique and invigorating experience, allowing you to cool off in the midst of this tropical paradise.


For those who prefer to stay dry, there are lookout points and picnic areas where you can relax and soak in the beauty of the surroundings. Enjoy a packed lunch while taking in the panoramic views of the waterfall and the lush rainforest that encircles it.


It’s important to note that there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind when visiting the La Fortuna Waterfall. The trail can be steep and slippery, so wearing sturdy shoes and taking your time on the descent is essential. Additionally, use caution when swimming near the waterfall, as the current can be strong.


A visit to the La Fortuna Waterfall is not only a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of Arenal but also an opportunity to connect with the power of nature. Whether you choose to take a refreshing swim or simply admire the view, this iconic waterfall is sure to leave a lasting impression on your Arenal adventure.


Go on a thrilling zip-line adventure

If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush and a unique perspective on the stunning landscapes of Arenal, then a zip-line adventure is a must-do activity. Arenal is known for its thrilling zip-line tours that allow you to soar through the treetops and witness Costa Rica’s natural beauty from a bird’s eye view.


There are several zip-line tour operators in the area, each offering their own unique experiences. Typically, these tours consist of a series of cables, platforms, and suspension bridges that are set high above the lush rainforest canopy. Strapped into a harness and helmet, you’ll glide from one platform to another, taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.


As you zip through the air, you may have the opportunity to spot wildlife like monkeys, sloths, or even colorful bird species. Experienced guides accompany you throughout the tour, sharing their knowledge of the local ecosystem and ensuring your safety every step of the way.


One popular zip-line tour option in Arenal is the Sky Adventures Arenal Park. This adventure park offers a range of zip-line tours, from short and beginner-friendly courses to more challenging and extensive options. The Arenal Sky Trek boasts zip-lines that span over 2.8 kilometers in total length, allowing you to travel at exhilarating speeds and admire panoramic views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.


Another well-regarded zip-line tour operator is EcoGlide Arenal Park, which offers a thrilling and eco-friendly adventure. Their course features 13 zip-lines that take you through the canopy, offering a variety of high-flying experiences and stunning vistas of the surrounding rainforest.


Zip-lining in Arenal is an unforgettable experience that combines the thrill of adventure with the opportunity to witness the natural beauty of Costa Rica. Soar through the lush canopies, embrace the rush of the wind, and create lasting memories during this exhilarating activity in Arenal.


Experience the hanging bridges of Mistico Park

For a unique and immersive rainforest experience, a visit to the hanging bridges of Mistico Park is a must when in Arenal. These suspended bridges offer a one-of-a-kind perspective, allowing you to explore the upper levels of the rainforest and witness its diverse flora and fauna up close.


Mistico Park features a network of carefully designed hanging bridges that allow visitors to traverse the forest canopy with ease. Suspended high above the ground, these bridges offer breathtaking views of the surrounding foliage, providing ample opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.


As you walk along the bridges, you may encounter a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, toucans, and colorful butterflies. The knowledgeable guides at Mistico Park are well-versed in the local ecosystem and will share fascinating insights into the diverse plant and animal species that call the rainforest home.


The park offers different options for exploring the hanging bridges, including guided tours and self-guided hikes. The guided tours provide valuable information about the rainforest and its inhabitants, while the self-guided option allows you to explore at your own pace and soak in the serene atmosphere.


One of the standout features of Mistico Park is the impressive Arenal Hanging Bridge. With a length of 98 meters and a height of 60 meters, this bridge offers unmatched panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Walking across this bridge is a thrilling experience that showcases the sheer beauty and grandeur of Arenal’s natural wonders.


Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, exploring the hanging bridges of Mistico Park will leave you captivated. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the rainforest as you traverse these suspended walkways, and embrace the serenity of this extraordinary natural setting.


Enjoy a horseback riding tour in Arenal

Experience the beauty of Arenal from a different perspective by embarking on a horseback riding tour through the breathtaking landscapes of this tropical paradise. Horseback riding offers a unique and leisurely way to explore the area while enjoying the tranquility and serenity of the surroundings.


Arenal’s diverse terrain, ranging from lush rainforests to stunning open fields, makes it an ideal destination for horseback riding adventures. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, there are tours available to suit every level of expertise. Knowledgeable guides will ensure your safety and provide insights into the local flora, fauna, and cultural heritage.


As you meander along the winding trails, you will have the opportunity to witness the beauty of Arenal’s landscapes up close. Ride through towering trees, cross streams, and enjoy panoramic views of the majestic Arenal Volcano. The slow and steady pace of horseback riding allows you to fully appreciate the natural splendor surrounding you.


Many horseback riding tours in Arenal also offer the chance to visit hidden gems such as secluded waterfalls or natural swimming holes. Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters or simply relax and bask in the peaceful ambiance of these secluded spots.


One popular horseback riding destination in Arenal is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. This lush and misty forest is best explored on horseback, allowing you to soak in the mystical atmosphere and encounter a variety of unique flora and fauna along the way.


Whether you are an experienced equestrian or a novice rider, a horseback riding tour in Arenal offers an unforgettable experience that allows you to connect with nature and appreciate the stunning landscapes of this tropical paradise. So saddle up, and get ready to embark on a peaceful and captivating adventure through the heart of Arenal.


Take a boat tour of Lake Arenal

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Arenal is by taking a boat tour of Lake Arenal. As the largest lake in Costa Rica, Lake Arenal offers breathtaking scenery, diverse wildlife, and plenty of opportunities for adventure and relaxation.


Boat tours allow you to cruise along the serene waters of Lake Arenal, surrounded by lush greenery and the towering Arenal Volcano in the distance. The calm waters of the lake create a tranquil atmosphere, providing a perfect opportunity to unwind and soak in the stunning surroundings.


During the tour, you’ll have the chance to spot an array of bird species, including toucans, herons, and kingfishers. Keep your eyes open for wildlife such as sloths and monkeys that make their homes along the lake’s shores. The knowledgeable guides on the boat tours will provide informative commentary on the lake’s ecology, history, and the fascinating wildlife that inhabits the area.


For those seeking adventure, some boat tours offer options for activities such as fishing or kayaking on Lake Arenal. Cast your line into the deep blue waters in search of the elusive rainbow bass or embark on a kayaking excursion to explore hidden coves and enjoy a closer look at the lake’s unique ecosystem.


As you cruise across Lake Arenal, you’ll also have unparalleled views of the Arenal Volcano. The towering presence of this dormant volcano provides a dramatic backdrop and a reminder of the region’s volcanic history.


Whether you choose a guided boat tour or rent a kayak to explore the lake at your own pace, a visit to Lake Arenal is a must-do experience in Arenal. The combination of natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and the awe-inspiring volcano make it an unforgettable destination that should not be missed.


Visit the Ecotermales Fortuna Hot Springs

For a truly immersive and rejuvenating experience, a visit to the Ecotermales Fortuna Hot Springs in Arenal is a must. Nestled in a private oasis surrounded by lush rainforest, these hot springs offer a serene and natural retreat from the bustling world.


Unlike the larger hot spring resorts in the area, Ecotermales Fortuna is known for its intimate and tranquil atmosphere. With limited daily visitors allowed, you can expect a more peaceful and exclusive experience as you soak in the therapeutic waters.


The hot springs at Ecotermales Fortuna are fed by natural mineral springs, known for their healing properties. These thermal waters are believed to help alleviate muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation and well-being.


As you unwind in the warm pools, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the rainforest, you’ll be immersed in a truly serene and natural environment. The natural setting creates a tranquil ambiance and allows you to connect with nature while enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs.


Ecotermales Fortuna offers a range of pools at different temperatures, allowing you to find your perfect spot for relaxation. From hot to warm to cool pools, you can adjust the temperature to your preference and soak in the rejuvenating waters at your own pace.


In addition to the hot springs, Ecotermales Fortuna also boasts beautiful tropical gardens and natural pools. Take a stroll through the gardens, appreciating the lush greenery and the vibrant flowers that surround you. You can also enjoy a swim in the refreshing natural pools, providing a cool contrast to the warm thermal waters.


While at Ecotermales Fortuna, you can also indulge in a delicious meal at the on-site restaurant. The restaurant offers a variety of local and international dishes, allowing you to savor the flavors of Costa Rican cuisine while enjoying the tranquil surroundings.


A visit to the Ecotermales Fortuna Hot Springs offers a unique and intimate experience, immersing you in the natural beauty of Arenal and providing a peaceful escape from the outside world. Soothe your body, relax your mind, and embrace the tranquility of these rejuvenating hot springs.


Go on a wildlife spotting tour in Arenal

Arenal is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering a diverse array of ecosystems that are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Going on a wildlife spotting tour in Arenal is an exciting and immersive experience that allows you to observe and appreciate the incredible biodiversity of this region.


There are several guided tours available, led by experienced naturalist guides who are knowledgeable about the local species and their habitats. These tours take you through the rainforests, rivers, and wetlands of Arenal, providing ample opportunities to spot fascinating wildlife in their natural habitats.


As you explore the lush rainforests, you may encounter monkeys swinging through the trees, sloths lazily hanging from branches, and colorful toucans perched on the branches. The calls of exotic birds fill the air, providing a symphony of sounds that adds to the magical experience of wildlife spotting in Arenal.


Boat tours along the rivers and wetlands offer a chance to see caimans, crocodiles, and a variety of aquatic bird species. The slow pace of the boat allows for quiet observation and incredible close encounters with these incredible creatures.


One popular wildlife spotting destination is the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, located near the Nicaraguan border. This protected area is home to a wide variety of birds, including herons, ibises, and the magnificent jabiru stork. You may also spot reptiles, monkeys, and other elusive mammals during your journey.


In addition to the rainforests and wetlands, Arenal also offers opportunities for marine wildlife spotting. Take a boat tour on Lake Arenal and keep an eye out for turtles, otters, and various fish species that call the lake home.


When embarking on a wildlife spotting tour in Arenal, it’s important to respect the natural habitats and creatures you encounter. Follow the guidance of your guide, keep a safe distance, and refrain from disturbing the animals or their environments.


Exploring the incredible wildlife of Arenal is an unforgettable experience that allows you to appreciate the remarkable biodiversity of this region. So, grab your binoculars, put on your hiking shoes, and get ready to embark on a thrilling wildlife adventure in Arenal.


Indulge in Local Cuisine at the La Fortuna Farmers Market

For a true taste of the local flavors and cultural experience, a visit to the La Fortuna Farmers Market is a must during your time in Arenal. This vibrant market showcases the best of Costa Rican produce, traditional dishes, and handicrafts, offering a culinary adventure like no other.


The La Fortuna Farmers Market takes place every day in the town center, bringing together local farmers, artisans, and vendors in a bustling and colorful atmosphere. As you wander through the market, you’ll be greeted by an array of sights, sounds, and enticing aromas.


The market is a treasure trove of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, all locally sourced and bursting with flavor. Sample exotic fruits like mangoes, papayas, and guavas, or try traditional Costa Rican staples such as platanos (plantains) and yucca. The market is also a great place to purchase organic coffee, flavorful spices, and unique culinary ingredients to take home as souvenirs.


Aside from the abundance of fresh produce, the market is a food lover’s paradise. Local vendors offer a variety of mouthwatering dishes, prepared on the spot and ready to be savored. From empanadas and tamales to grilled meats and ceviche, there is no shortage of delectable options to choose from.


As you explore the market, don’t miss the opportunity to try the famous Costa Rican dish, gallo pinto – a flavorful combination of rice, beans, and seasonings. Savor the taste of local delicacies like casado, a traditional meal with rice, beans, plantains, salad, and your choice of meat or fish.


The La Fortuna Farmers Market is not just about food; it’s also a cultural hub where you can discover local crafts and artisan products. From handmade textiles and pottery to unique jewelry and woodwork, there are plenty of souvenirs to take home and cherish as mementos of your time in Arenal.


Visiting the La Fortuna Farmers Market is not just a culinary experience but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Costa Rica. Engage with the friendly locals, try new flavors, and witness the authentic charm of this bustling market.


So, set aside some time during your visit to Arenal to explore the La Fortuna Farmers Market, and let your taste buds and senses be delighted by the rich flavors and vibrant atmosphere of this gastronomic hotspot.



Arenal, Costa Rica, is a destination that captivates visitors with its natural beauty, adventurous activities, and rich cultural experiences. From exploring the iconic Arenal Volcano National Park to indulging in the soothing waters of the Tabacon Hot Springs, Arenal offers a wide range of unforgettable experiences for every type of traveler.


Immerse yourself in the diverse ecosystems of Arenal by taking a dip in the refreshing La Fortuna Waterfall or soaring through the treetops on a thrilling zip-line adventure. Experience the serenity of the Mistico Park hanging bridges and the tranquility of a horseback riding tour. Take a boat tour of Lake Arenal and uncover its hidden gems, or appreciate the healing hot springs of Ecotermales Fortuna.


Arenal is also a wildlife lover’s paradise, offering opportunities to spot monkeys, sloths, and a vast array of bird species. Engage with the friendly locals and immerse yourself in the rich Costa Rican culture by visiting the La Fortuna Farmers Market, where you can taste delicious local cuisine and discover unique handicrafts.


Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, or a cultural experience, Arenal has it all. The stunning landscapes, diverse activities, and warm hospitality of this region make it a destination that leaves a lasting impression on every traveler.


So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and embark on an unforgettable journey to Arenal, Costa Rica, where nature’s wonders await at every turn.