The perfect destination for those looking for a Costa Rican adventure off the beaten track

For breathtaking views, we recommend visiting Arenal Volcano

If you’re looking for a picturesque town on the precipice of adventure, Nuevo Arenal is the perfect place to start.

Located north of the breathtaking Lake Arenal, about 70 km from Liberia (LIR) Airport, this sleepy destination has some of the most stunning and unspoiled vistas in the area. And whether it’s gently hiking around the tranquil lake or elevating your heart rate with a spot of windsurfing, you’ll find lots to see and do. Wildlife enthusiasts can expect to spot howler monkeys, sloths, toucans and over 350 bird species - so tread lightly to catch a glimpse. Head about 4 km east of Nuevo Arenal, and you’ll also encounter over 1200 species of tropical plants in the Arenal Botanical Gardens. When it comes to savouring the fruits of nature, it doesn’t get much sweeter than this. However, one sight you won't want to miss is about 45 mins to an hour’s drive away.

For those who don’t mind the crowds, we reckon it’s well worth making the trip to Arenal Volcano National Park - that’s for both the beautiful sights and the exhilarating hikes. If you’re making this your first stop, the neatest airport is La Fortuna. The area is well-known for its abundance of intoxicating hot springs and magnificent geysers. And the good thing is, you won’t find that uninviting sulphuric smell that all too often emanates from these hot spots; there are relatively low levels of this mineral here. So why not spend a few hours soaking your cares away? It’s the perfect natural appetiser for the main event: Arenal Volcano.

Despite its towering presence, Arenal Volcano is only around 7,000 years old - relatively young in geological terms. That’s compared to the likes of Yellowstone Caldera or Mount Etna, anyway. And Arenal is a sleeping giant, unlike Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano still erupting in 2022. In fact, its last known major eruption was in 1968. That doesn't mean it isn't still alive and well, though. So, despite having had no smoke or lava flow since 2010, you’ll still find many intrepid photographers trying to capture that ‘perfect’ snap today. But this isn’t the only natural wonder Arenal’s almost prehistoric landscape has to offer.

Whether it’s whitewater rafting amongst the rapids or ziplining high above the jungle canopy, Arenal just screams adventure. However, there are just as many places to relax and take a much slower pace. In fact, El Castillo feels like an antidote to the hustle and bustle of La Fortuna and offers some stunning panoramas from on top of its hills. So, catch a breath before taking it all in. There’s nothing quite like the mountainous magic of Arenal.  

Your Luxury Arenal Trip Ideas

During our Classic Costa Rica itinerary, enjoy three nights in Arenal. Here, you'll set up camp for a few days in the middle of the tropical rainforest, and you'll be a stone’s throw away from hanging bridges, sky-blue waterfalls and adrenaline adventures. Arenal also features in our Costa Rica Family Holiday itinerary, during which you can try extreme sports on land and water. Raft down the Balsa River’s raging rapids, and swing from the hanging bridges above. 

Where to stay in Arenal

Nayara Tented Camp in La Fortuna is the perfect place to unplug, unwind and peer into the luscious rainforest below. On top of its luxurious roof terrace, you’ll also get an impressive vantage point of the area’s mountainous terrain, gazing directly into the lofty presence of Arenal Volcano. Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa also offers spectacular views of the area and is committed to responsible tourism. From planting their own gardens and using mountain spring water to minimising electricity and using biodegradable products, we strongly believe that this is the ideal haven for any conscious traveller. 

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