La Fortuna Costa Rica:
Gateway to Arenal Vocano

The dramatic cone of Arenal Volcano (Volcán Arenal) towers over La Fortuna Costa Rica and is driving force behind the town’s popularity among tourists. This draw has made the town a nexus for the tourist industry and numerous tour companies operate here offering a large variety of trips and tours, including the following listed below.

Tours and Trips From La Fortuna Costa Rica:

  • Arenal Volcano (Volcán Arenal) – See glowing lava at night!
  • Lake Arenal – Beautiful lake, don’t forget your camera.
  • Hot springs (Baldí and Tabacón are two popular ones with many pools)
  • Caño Negro – Wildlife reserve to the north along the Nicaraguan border
  • Río Frío – flows into Caño Negro along Nicaraguan border    
  • Hiking
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Jeep-boat-jeep trips (crossing Lake Arenal) to Monteverde
  • Mountain biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Canopy tours – explore the forest canopy via zip lines or hanging bridges
  • La Fortuna Waterfall (La Catarata de La Fortuna)
  • Bungee Jumping

Arenal Volcano is best seen at night on a tour, when the florescent orange lava pops against the dark sky. Be sure to bring a good flashlight, perhaps one you can mount on your head, as the hike is quite rocky in places and its easy to twist an ankle. I was surprised to find that half my group didn’t bring flashlights.

And unless you have an incredible camera with a huge lens, your better off buying a postcard than trying to snap a picture of the volcano. I probably have 10 completely black photos and three with a spec of orange in them.

The trips are priced between $20-30 and usually for an extra $15-20 you can spend a few hours at one of the hot springs resorts with multiple pools to choose from. I highly recommend this, especially after hiking around the base of Arenal Volcano.   

La Fortuna Costa Rica itself is somewhat unremarkable, and often the volcano is shrouded in mist. However, the town has a pleasant vibe, is authentically Tico in culture, and has a pretty central park and old church, which features the volcano as a backdrop. The surrounding area is pretty, and there are a variety of luxury resorts in the vicinity. I recommend the luxurious Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa which is located on 27 acres of beautiful land - click on the pictures to see the views of Arenal.

Accommodations & Hotels in La Fortuna Costa Rica

The popularity of Arenal has created an abundance of lodging options in La Fortuna Costa Rica. Budget travelers will find numerous hostels, cabinas, and nice, basic hotels. Mid-range options are also numerous, but true luxury accommodations are mostly located outside of town closer to the base of Arenal Volcano for better views and more private surroundings. Click here for a list of hotels in La Fortuna and around Arenal.

Getting to and Away from La Fortuna Costa Rica

Buses from Autotransportes San Carlos depart San José at 6:15am and 8:40am daily for La Fortuna. Return buses to San José leave from the south side of the plaza at 12pm and 2pm.

Interbus and Fantasy Bus are shuttle options that cost a little more, but should get you there faster and are relatively more comfortable with air conditioning. La Fortuna will run about $30/person, and the companies service other popular destinations as well. I have had good experiences with Interbus.

Car rental in Costa Rica is another option, but be sure to get a 4x4 as road conditions can vary greatly.

Getting from Monteverde to La Fortuna can be accomplished on a Jeep-Boat-Jeep ride. The name is a bit misleading (no jeeps), but the trip is a pretty one. Basically you get in a minivan and drive to Lake Arenal, which you cross in a long powerboat, and then you get in another van to complete the trip.
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