Costa Rica is a lush, green wonderland. One of the coolest cities I had the chance to visit was La Fortuna/Arenal.
La Fortuna is known for its rainforests, hot springs, and volcanoes. It’s a small town offering awesome adventures and the pura vida lifestyle.
La Fortuna Waterfall
Situated at the bottom of 500+ steps in the rainforest is this majestic beauty. Here’s my sister for size. You can take a dip in the crisp, cold water or just sit back along the rocks and enjoy the view.
Entrance fee: ~$10/person
Less than half a mile from La Fortuna Waterfall is Cerro Chato. An inactive volcano with a lagoon-filled crater. And guess what? You can hike it. Despite the fact the hike is only 4km or so, the hike can take hours and should only be attempted by fit individuals. There are many points where you need to pull yourself up on a muddy ridge or let yourself down using tree roots. This hike shouldn’t be attempted on rainy days…the mud is slippery on dry days, so I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to climb on a wet day.
You can choose to just hike to the top or continue into the crater. The descent into the crater is very steep and requires some hiking experience with no fear of heights. If you do make it into the crater, it’s quite epic. To be honest, there isn’t much to see, even when the clouds are lifted, you only see trees, but you’re in the crater of a volcano!! That’s pretty cool. Swimming isn’t advised because of bacteria levels, but most people take a little dip anyways…just don’t stay in there too long!
PACK PLENTY OF WATER. Pack the water you’ll think you’ll need…then pack more. Also, throw in a few granola bars or light snacks for replenishment.
Entrance fee: ~$10/person
Here’s a shot of a butterfly down by the crater. I was blown away by the uniqueness of it and the fact that I was able to capture a clear picture haha.
You can choose to get a taste of luxury or local when it comes to hot springs in La Fortuna. There are resorts and spas nested in the mountains that have absolutely gorgeous spa baths with spring-fed hot springs. These places will run you $100-$200 a night, but you get pampered with hot springs and the best views of the Arenal Volcano.
If you decide not to stay in the resort, they offer $35 day pass for you to enjoy.
If you’re a budget traveler, there’s a free hot spring river a little outside town. It’s the same water, just without the man-made pools.
Chocolate Factory Tour
See the process it takes to make chocolate starting at square 1: the cacao fruit. This chocolate plantation is just over a mile from town and offers unlimited tastings! The chocolate bars sold here make for great souvenirs and gifts… they also benefit charitable organizations in Costa Rica!
Tour Cost: ~$25/person
A short mile walk from town is a hidden gem: the Tarzan Swing. You can barely see it from the road, but there are some steps that lead down to the rope from a small bridge. The locals frequent this area, so you can make some new friends while swinging. The exit from the river isn’t visible from the jumping area, but it’s super easy to wade from the flowing water to the exit and then a short walk back to the jumping spot, so just go for it! There aren’t any lifeguards or officials on duty here, so know what you’re doing and it’ll be a blast.
Mistico Hanging Bridges
Walk through and above the rainforest. I don’t think a tour is needed for this excursion unless you’re really into animal watching, you’ll save money by walking it yourself and we were still able to see snakes, birds, and beautiful flora.
Entrance fee: ~35/person
The Costa Ricans invented ziplining and they’ve been improving the experience ever since. There are lots of tours that run everyday – just decide on the level of thrill you want (light to heart pumping) and go!
And of course, the volcano that the area is named after:
You can see the volcano from almost anywhere in the town, but hiking it allows you to appreciate it so much more. It’s one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica, so if you get lucky, you might see some lava and smoke! There are tours that take you to an view point or you can hike it yourself.
There are also lodging options where the porch faces the beauty straight on, like the Arenal Observatory Lodge and Spa. Staying at this lodge gives you free access to a couple of trails too!
La Fortuna is a place that seems so different from home, but instantly feels like home. Have you gone to La Fortuna? What were some of the highlights of your trip?
If you have any other questions, just leave me a comment!