When you visit the area of La Fortuna, Costa Rica, around Arenal Volcano, it’s difficult to get bored. The challenge is deciding which activities to prioritize in the time you’ve allotted. Here’s a breakdown of some of the top activities, ordered by what is can’t miss and what you might be able to skip.
If you have any interest, whatsoever, in adding a little adventure to your trip you need to book a rafting trip. The weather in the Arenal region is typically quite warm and this is a perfect way to get out on the water while getting a little exercise and getting your blood pumping. This outing is great for groups of all sizes, as you’re assigned to a six person raft based on the level of excitement that you’re looking for. You get to see some of the nature in the area while getting a guided tour that is action-packed and is sure to leave you with sore arms and awesome memories.
Day trips (9 am to 2 pm) cost about $85 per person and include transportation, whitewater rafting, all equipment and lunch back in La Fortuna. More information about rafting near Arenal.
2. Hot Springs
There are multiple Hot Spring locations in the area around La Fortuna, with the most popular being Baldi Hot Springs and Tabacon. These naturally heated springs are the source for multiple pools in the water park that range from 68° to 112°. You can hop from pool to pool, stop by the bar (or relax at one of the swim up bars in the pool) or head to one of the restaurants for a meal. This is the most relaxing option for activities in La Fortuna by far and is a must-do for all visitors.
A day pass for Baldi is $35. If you purchase admission from one of the kiosks in La Fortuna you can get a half-day admission for $40 that includes lunch or dinner buffet (compared to $57 when purchased at the location).
3. Zip lining and canopy tours
Zip-lining is a staple for the Arenal area with many competing companies offering tours and varied experiences. With some companies you can also combine zip-lining with rappelling, horseback riding, hiking or other adventures. Typically you catch a ride part way up and then hike into the start of the jungle. Most of the locations offering zip-lining are essentially a tour through the canopy with multiple zip lines, some that get speeds up to 60 miles per hour.
In addition to the thrill of flying through the canopy you are able to get a very different perspective of the natural beauty of the rain forest from these high perches. Though not for the faint of heart, this is an activity which offers excitement without as much physical exertion as rafting.
4. Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park
The hanging bridges are a sort of zip line experience for those who don’t really want to be flying through the air above a canyon in the rain forest. The views are spectacular and there is a bit of scary excitement if you’re not a fan of heights (like me). The bridges do sway a bit, particularly when there are multiple people trying to cross at the same time.
The self-guided tour is said to take about 2 hours (we completed it in just over an hour and took all optional paths to cover the entire area including a small waterfall that is a small hike down one of the ravines). The self-guided tour costs $26 for an adult.
5. Horseback Riding
There are many companies and options available in the Arenal area for horseback riding. Do your research before you select a company or a specific trip. While some of them take you through the scenic, natural areas around the volcano that are less accessible on foot or by car, some of them are a bit less exciting. The standard trip for Alberto’s Horses, which focuses on going to the La Fortuna waterfall (similar to many other companies) is actually a quick trip through a couple fields and then two-thirds of your trip is walking up the paved road to the waterfall on horseback.
Average cost per person is around $85. Unless you’re clear on where and what the trip consists of, including that it is an area you can’t just drive your car to you may want to skip this excursion.
6. La Fortuna Waterfall
The La Fortuna waterfall is located just outside of the downtown area (you can walk, though it is a steep grade on the way there). At the waterfall you hike down more than 400 steps, which are very well maintained, to the bottom of the waterfall. There is a fairly large pond at the bottom of the fall where visitors can swim in the basin and lounge on the rocks around it. The waterfall itself is impressive, with the water falling over 70 meters from the top to the basin.
The area is protected and requires a $15 entry fee. The entry way to the area also offers a small restaurant and changing areas so that you can slip into your bathing suit before making the long trek down. If you have limited time, skip the waterfall and head to the hot springs.