Situated in northwestern Costa Rica along a volcanic chain, the dominating 5,436-foot high andesitic stratovolcano known as the Arenal Volcano is one of Central America’s most active volcanoes and a major tourist attraction of the country. Famous for the major 1968 eruption that killed many, its vent shooting incandescent bombs as far as 3 miles, Arenal has been in near-continuous explosive activity since, which sees slow lava effusion and occasional emission of pyroclastic flows from the vents at the summit as well as on the upper western flank.
Surrounding the volcano is the Arenal Volcano National Park, which comprises cloud forest, and several thousand acres of rainforest home to tropical plants, colorful birds and butterflies, monkeys, dangerous reptiles and amphibians such as crocodiles and poisonous tree frogs, and more. Walk the hanging bridges (a system of raised walkways above the canopy), or explore your surroundings from the aerial sky tram. Chato Volcano (approximately 3,740 feet) is a second volcano that happens to be located within the park but has been inactive for almost 3,500 years. A picturesque lagoon sits in its collapsed crater.
Sitting just 4 miles from Arenal is the charming town of La Fortuna (“Fortune”), which provides for an excellent base to explore the region. Today the region’s central town, it was created after the 1968 eruption destroyed most of the surrounding villages. You will find a range of accommodations, restaurants, internet cafés, bars, and gift shops as well as a town center. Together with the surrounding Arenal region, La Fortuna’s list of adventure is endless: visit various hot springs the area is known for; windsurf on Arenal Lake’s shores; go horseback riding, whitewater rafting class II-IV rapids, waterfall rappelling at La Fortuna Waterfall, canyoning, hiking through the rainforests and around Arenal’s base or soaring through its valleys on zip-lines, or cave exploring; or spot wildlife at Arenal Volcano National Park and the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge (about 1 hour from Arenal) – an area similar to the Florida Everglades but with more menacing critters including crocodiles and freshwater sharks. Attractions such as the La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Poás Volcano can also be visited en route to town from San José (approximately 2-3 hours away).