Arenal, La Fortuna, and the Northern Plains

Costa Rica Arenal Volcano Ecotourism

With the spectacularly conical Arenal Volcano as its centerpiece, the Arenal region is one of Costa Rica’s most fascinating destinations. Interesting family-run establishments have popped up in recent years to serve the burgeoning tourism industry, and a community-improvement organization has turned the town’s central park into a veritable oasis.

An Explosive Entrance

Arenal Volcano, however, is what put the region on the map. Long known as Arenal Hill, an eruption in 1968 changed the region forever. Intense eruptions and volcanic activities continued for several days, killing 87 people and burying over 15 square kilometers in rock, lava, and ashes. All in all, the eruptions affected a total of over 232 square kilometers in the surrounding area. Since then, Arenal Volcano has been almost constantly active, with activity ranging from silent emissions to rumbling explosions that send hot rocks into the air and lava pouring down the side of the volcano. The last major eruption, which led to temporary evacuations from hotels and nearby attractions, occurred in May 1998 but in the end didn’t present any real danger.

Arenal’s activity and quintessential conical shape offer most spectacular views and a daily pyrotechnics show that attracts visitors from around the globe. The volcano rises to approximately 1,633 meters at its summits but due to its activity, its height changes frequently. If you are lucky and the weather permits it, you might get the chance to see the glowing lava at night.

Adventure and Nature Await You

While the volcano is without a doubt the area’s main attraction, there is no guarantee the weather will be clear enough to see it during your stay. However, with a wide range of excellent adventure activities, as well as the traditional hot springs, waterfalls and more, La Fortuna is a worthwhile destination and a must for any travel itinerary to Costa Rica. Nearby Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve is a great stop for nature lovers (especially birdwatchers) and Lake Arenal is another important nearby destination. There are boat cruises, wind surfing, fishing and more available on Costa Rica’s largest body of water.

All of these natural features have helped transform La Fortuna from an agricultural outpost into a thriving town. Several supermarkets, banks, filling stations and shops comprise this clean city. Travelers will enjoy the wide range of lodging and great restaurants throughout the town and region.