Arenal Volcano - Best Tours & Trips 2019

85 Arenal Volcano tours from 50 tour companies. 342 reviews. 4.8/5 avg rating.
Costa Rica’s 5,400-foot-high Arenal Volcano – still active and given to frequent eruptions in recent decades – forms the centerpiece of a recreation area that dominates the northern reaches of the country. If you love adventure-oriented activities, the Arenal region is the place for you.
All Arenal Volcano tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Trip Type Trip Type Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

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$ 0 $ 4,997

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Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

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Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Colorful Costa Rica

SmarTours
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 211 / day
$ 1,899
From : $ 4,827
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit Tortuguero Village
  • See the Arenal Volcano
  • Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Visit to Curi-Cancha Forest Reserve
  • See the Oxcart Factory in Sarchi
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica Adventure Tour

Lost World Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
9 days
$ 239 / day
$ 2,150
From : $ 2,451
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays. Luxury - 5 star
Highlights
  • Visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a complex of suspended bridges and trails through a beautiful rain forest
  • Cherish the moments in river rafting
  • Explore Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Hike through the trails in the Arenal Volcano National Park
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio National Park, San José, Costa Rica
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Pura Vida in Costa Rica

9 days
$ 377 / day
$ 3,395
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Raft the Río Pacuare, considered by many to be one of the top 10 most beautiful whitewater rivers in the world
  • Zip-line your way through a private rainforest reserve and explore secluded channels by kayak in Tortuguero National Park
  • Take a forest hike near stunning Arenal Volcano and paddle the mystical waters of Lake Arenal
  • Spot a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, iguanas, sloths, toucans, and caimans
  • Enjoy a seamless, flexible, non-stop water park adventure—it's great value and perfect for families!
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, Caribbean, Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica Explorer

12 days
$ 132 / day
$ 1,581
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Arrive in Costa Rica's capital San Jose and tour a few of the city's highlights including the neoclassical Teatro Nacional.
  • Watch thousands of turtles nest at Tortuguero National Park, then tour its canals and village!
  • Explore the secret waterfalls and rainforests of Bajos del Toro, one of the most beautiful areas in the country.
  • Hike, bike, and see the elusive Resplendent quetzal bird at Arenal Volcano and its national park.
  • Learn to surf in Guanacaste, a northwestern province on the Pacific known for its pristine beaches and perfect waves!
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, Guanacaste, San José, Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
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Natural Costa Rica

5 days
$ 180 / day
$ 898
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Experience Costa Rica's diverse terrain, from craters to waterfalls.
  • Take a dip in the crystal clear waters of Tortuga Island, located off the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.
  • Grab a bite at San Jose's historic Mercado Central; indulge in a plate of casados or arroz con pollo.
  • Make a stop and learn all about Costa Rica's most coveted bean: coffee bean!
  • Discover the wildlife of the the region; visit observatories of butterflies, birds, hummingbirds, reptiles, and more!
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, San José, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica Wonders with Guanacaste Beach

12 days
$ 166 / day
$ 1,993
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Enjoy guided tours through forests and volcanic landscapes.
  • Live the life of a local when you visit a traditional Costa Rican farm.
  • Be sure to try casado, arroz con leche, gallo pinto, and other local dishes. Don't forget about the coffee!
  • Come face-to-face with exotic birds, turtles, reptiles, and mammals.
  • Spend the last leg of your adventure relaxing on picture-perfect beaches.
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, Guanacaste, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, San José, Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica: Jungles and Java

9 days
$ 189 / day
$ 1,705
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Taste some of the best coffee in the world at a coffee plantation in Costa Rica's fertile central valley.
  • Soak in healing thermal water at Tabacon Hot Springs, bordered by Arenal Volcano at one end and Arenal Volcano National Park on the other.
  • Get your adrenaline pumping on a thrilling zip line tour through the Arenal rainforest or walk across a gravity-defying hanging bridge!
  • Enjoy both sides of the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park: golden beaches and lush tropical rainforest.
  • Sample typical Costa Rican dishes like gallo pinto and casado, and don't forget guaro (Costa Rica's national drink).
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio National Park, San José, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica: Leaving My Footprint

8 days
$ 228 / day
$ 1,824
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Volunteer at a wildlife rescue center! Feed animals and learn all about local animal behavior.
  • Enjoy the best of both worlds: the lush jungle and the buzzing city! Enjoy stays in the capital city of San Jose, then stay near majestic Arenal Volcano.
  • Visit the indigenous Maleku Tribe and immerse yourself in authentic culture!
  • Hike through Arenal Vida Campesina, where you'll partake in traditional activities such as milking cows, making tortillas, and learning dances.
  • Spend time with at-risk youth at a non-profit organization that focuses on health, education, homelessness, and other hardships.
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, San José, Costa Rica
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Costa Rican Adventure: White Water Rafting, Zip L ...

8 days
$ 168 / day
$ 1,344
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • White water raft on the Pacuare River as you take in the stunning scenery and abundant wildlife.
  • Soar high above the tropical rainforest and wave to Arenal Volcano on a zip line.
  • Experience Monteverde's wildlife come to life as you tour the cloud forest at night. Watch out for the nocturnal tapir!
  • Set sail on a catamaran at Manuel Antonio National Park on Costa Rica's lush Caribbean coast.
  • See parrotfish, starfish, angelfish and more as you snorkel in the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
Visits:
Arenal Hot Springs, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, San José, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica Highlights

9 days
$ 164 / day
$ 1,477
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Start and end your amazing journey in San Jose, coming full circle through a variety of surroundings.
  • Board a boat to Tortuguero National Park and spend your time on the island sailing along the canals and visiting Tortuguero Village.
  • Hike up Arenal Volcano to the natural hot springs waiting for you at the top.
  • Enjoy the lush surroundings of dewy rain forest, arid volcanoes, and mysterious cloud forest.
  • Get a deeper understanding of the various ecosystems that live harmoniously among one another within the region.
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, San José, Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica: Volcanoes, Mangroves & Beaches

9 days
$ 207 / day
$ 1,863
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Watch smoke and steam rise from Poas Volcano, one of Costa Rica's largest and most active volcanoes!
  • Get your adrenaline pumping in the Arenal Volcano area which has an abundance of activities from zip lining to hiking.
  • Explore ecological wetlands and mangroves at Rancho Humo and spot a variety of birds like egrets and herons.
  • Explore the Guanacaste province and see why Northwestern Costa Rica truly has it all!
  • Travel by car to the most beautiful waterfall in Costa Rica, Llanos de Cortes, and take a dip in the pond.
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, Guanacaste, San José, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica & Nicaragua Highlights

13 days
$ 120 / day
$ 1,561
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Soak in the hot springs near the base of Arenal, an active volcano!
  • Zip line across incredible flora and fauna in Monteverde.
  • Relax beachside in the laidback Nicaraguan town of San Juan del Sur.
  • Feel history come alive in Granada, Nicaragua's oldest city!
  • End your journey in the colonial city of Leon.
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, Granada, Lake Nicaragua, Leon, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, San José, Costa Rica, Nicaragua
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Costa Rica 360

8 days
$ 220 / day
$ 1,762
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Sea turtles, monkeys, tree frogs, toucans - you name it, you'll see it. Keep your eyes peeled for amazing wildlife!
  • Check out some local markets! Try some sweet, hand-picked fruits while you mingle with natives.
  • For a bit of adrenaline, take a walk across Moteverde's famous hanging bridges.
  • Try casado, plantains, arroz con leche, and tons of other local favorite foods.
  • Enjoy the comfort and convenience of included transfers between all destinations and airports.
Visits:
Arenal Hot Springs, Arenal Volcano, Guanacaste, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica Family Vacation

7 days
$ 207 / day
$ 1,450
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Look on in amazement as you visit Costa Rica’s highest active volcano, Irazu. On a clear day, you can see the Pacific and Caribbean oceans.
  • Float down Sarapiqui River and enjoy the rich biodiversity found in this rainforest region. Watch out for the rare Green Macaw!
  • Kids can unleash their inner thrill seekers on a zip line tour through Arenal's tropical rainforest.
  • Relax on the beach while kids play in the warm waters on Costa Rica's beautiful central Pacific coast.
  • Enjoy guided tours that combine the right amount of activity and fun for the whole family.
Visits:
Arenal Volcano, San José, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica Natural Paradise

8 days
$ 99 / day
$ 1,095
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Enjoy views of waterfalls and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Visit to Costa Rica's most popular park, Poás Volcano
  • Enjoy a scenic drive around Lake Arenal
  • Visit to world famous Manuel Antonio Park
  • Opportunity to cruise on the Tarcoles River and enjoy bird watching and crocodile spotting.
Visits:
Arenal Hot Springs, Manuel Antonio National Park, Pacific Ocean, Rio Frio Cave, Costa Rica
View Trip
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Top Arenal Volcano Experiences and Attractions

Top Arenal Volcano Experiences

Getting your first glimpse of the beautifully symmetrical volcano, which dominates Costa Rica’s northern landscape

Braving Class IV rapids on a whitewater rafting river trip

Hiking through the rainforest and past lava fields in Arenal National Park

Horseback riding along a forest trail

Relaxing in geothermal hot springs at the base of the volcano

Making your way across a hanging bridge over a deep canyon

Canyoneering down tropical waterfalls

Viewing birds and other wildlife (monkeys, crocodiles, sloths) while floating down a gentle river

view more

Arenal Volcano Trip Reviews

342 Arenal Volcano Tour Reviews - Summary 99% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 279
Great 52
Average 9
Disappointing 1
Terrible 1
Value
4.8
Guide
4.8
Activities
4.8
Lodging
4.8
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.8

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Tortuguero was amazing and worth

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Tortuguero was amazing and worth the long trip to get there.. We enjoyed the atmosphere at Mawamba Lodge.. The trips by small boat into the national park allowed us to see three kinds of monkeys and lots of reptiles and birds in their natural habitat. Dennis was a knowledgeable guide. Si Como No at Manuel Antonio was a wonderful hotel with excellent rooms, staff and food

Read more
Operator Alexander + Roberts

Fabulous countryside & well organised trip

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 3.0

We had a great trip with 2by2 Holidays to Cost Rica and still enjoy looking at all the photos. It's such a beautiful country and the walks were exactly the right level of challenge for us. The guides were very knowledgeable and added a whole extra dimension of enjoyment for us. Everyone we met was so relaxed and friendly and the accommodation was pretty good. We especially enjoyed the hot springs at Arenal after a long day of exploring. You wouldn't go to Costa Rica for the food as its a bit bland but there was always a lot of it so we never went hungry! We are planning our next one trip with 2by2... possibly Peru. Highly recommend them as their service and knowledge is excellent.

Read more
Operator 2 by 2 Holidays

The Pura Vida trip was an outstanding family vacation

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

With teenage children, we wanted to do something that would satisfy all of us. There was enough fun activities to keep us active and enough down time for us to relax. We were pushed outside our comfort zone, but the outstanding staff was there to encourage us and cheer us on.

Read more
Operator MT Sobek (Mountain Travel Sobek)

Great Costa Rica Guided Tour

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

I had a great experience with Costa Rica Tropical Adventure by Caravan. The whole trip was well organized, carefully planned and simply terrific. My friend recommended this trip to me and I am too, highly recommend this tour.

Read more
Operator Caravan Tours

Costa Rica mixed activity

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Stunning scenery, extraordinary and wonderful wildlife, excellent and knowledgable guide in a wonderfully diverse and enchanting country.
Exhilarating white water rafting, contrasting with the stillness of the cloud forrest broken only by the sound of bird calls.
Coming face to face with white faced monkeys in Dan Antonio was fun too!

Andreas was a knowledgable group leader.

Take closed wet shoes for the whitewater rafting, and plastic bags for damp clothing as items don't dry easily in the rain forest despite the high temperatures!

Read more
Operator Exodus Travels

One of the best trips in central america

4.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

Hi everybody,

Just recently started to work with Exodus Travels in Nicaragua/Costa Rica and Bi Costa Rica.

This is an amazing trip to cycle more than 200 miles through 3 beautiful countries, starting in Nicaragua and it's beautiful country side, Costa Rica and the beautiful beaches and activities so you can have a great idea about wild life and then Panama with their amazing canal! 2 weeks cycling with one of the best traveling and tourguided company.

The cycling is moderate/challenging daile we have an average of 16 miles. Rocky /cobal stone/dirt roads across Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama termac/pavement roads.

Beautiful and colorful scenery in all 3 country's, great staff, great people and fore shore great food, coffee and of course, our history.

At the end the only issue you'll have, it's that the time will not be enough to enjoy every little corner of each country. You can ask for more information at any time on our website.

Thanks for taking the time to read this fraction of the real deal and if I'm lucky, we will speak in person while whe cycle down to paradise.

Miguel Alvarez.
-Cyclist, pirate, music lover, photographer, big heart.

Read more
Operator Exodus Travels

Arenal Volcano Tours and Travel Guide

Arenal Volcano Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Costa Rica’s 5,400-foot-high, symmetrically shaped Arenal Volcano – still active and given to frequent eruptions in recent decades – forms the centerpiece of a recreation area that dominates the northern reaches of the country. Whitewater rafting, waterfall viewing, hiking, birding, caving, horseback riding, canyoning and soaking in hot springs are all popular adventure-oriented pursuits in and around the Arenal region.

Arenal is one of Costa Rica’s six major volcanoes. Dormant since 2010, it was the country’s most active volcano for more than 40 years before that – and could erupt again at any time. Tours to Costa Rica very often feature Arenal, but know that due to several accidents that have occured over the years involving tourists, hiking is around the perimeter only.

Volcanic Activity at Arenal

Arenal literally exploded into the news back in 1968 with a violent eruption after lying dormant for some 450 years – destroying three nearby villages and killing more than 80 people. It was the largest eruption in Arenal’s long history.

For much of the next 43 years, it remained Costa Rica’s most active volcano, spewing lava, ash, smoke, and rock in often spectacular fashion. While it has been inactive since 2010, it is definitely not extinct.

While witnessing a volcanic eruption can be memorable, visiting Arenal in its resting phase – and no one knows how long that will be – means you can enjoy more activities there, while still savoring great views.  

It is a beauty to behold – with a 5,479-foot-high summit and 7,000 years in the making, Arenal boasts the classic conical shape that a volcano seemingly should have. And it’s only about 55 miles northwest of San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital and largest city.

Beware though! The volcano is often encased in fog, and your chances of glimpsing the lava spewing portion of Arenal can be hit or miss. That said, the Arenal experience is far more than just volcanos. There are several outdoor activities to enjoy and if you limit your vacation to just seeing the volcano you will be missing out.

Adventure Activities Around Arenal Volcano

Come prepared for adventure. Some of the outdoor activities you may encounter on your Arenal Volcano tour include:

1. Rainforest hikes

Arenal Volcano is surrounded by Arenal Volcano National Park - 46 square miles of beautiful rainforest, with ample hiking trails, and the volcano visible from almost everywhere. You can also spot it from the canopy if you choose to do the Arenal Hanging Bridges hike. This is one of the best opportunities to spot Arenal wildlife up close.

2. Rappelling down waterfalls and into canyons

Waterfall rappelling is one of the most exhilarating adventure travel activities, and gaining popularity. In Arenal, you’ll take a hike through the forest to the waterfall, making this a very active day, but extremely rewarding.

3. Rafting or floating on three local rivers, ranging from Class I-2 gentle rapids to Class IV whitewater.

Costa Rica is home to some of the world’s most intense whitewater rafter - another tick in the box of why it is is a classic adventure travel destination. The consistent and heavy wet season rains make for year round steadily flowing rivers - the perfect conditions for whitewater rafting.

Near Arenal, three main rivers lend themselves to distinct rafting levels. So don’t worry if you’re not super into the adrenaline pumping kind of rafting. You can enjoy a leisuring floating experience down the Peñas Blancas River, which travels through the gorgeous Tilarán Mountain Range. This is the perfect rafting trip for wildlife spotting.

The other rivers near Arenal are the Balsa River and Toro River. Balsa will involve class II and III rapids, as well as nice stretches of calm waters. This is the perfect river for beginner whitewater rafters, as well as those more experienced who are looking for a well rounded rafting day.

Toro River is a full on advanced whitewater river, where some previous skill and experience will greatly help your enjoyment level. Mainly class III and class IV rapids, the river eventually empties into the Caribbean Sea, after passing through miles of forest and canyons.

4. Soaking in geothermal hot springs

After all that activity, you’ll want to relax. Luckily, Costa Rica is not only an adventure destination but provides ample opportunities for calming revitalization as well.

The geothermal activity from Arenal Volcano makes this a natural destination for hot springs. Enjoy the intensity of the day fading away as you prepare for another day of incredible activity and discovery tomorrow. There are several hot springs throughout Arenal, some public and some private.

(Tip! Hot springs are also a great activity to plan right before you leave - they get you nice and relaxed before your flight).

5. Horseback riding

Exploring the rainforest on horseback feels like traveling back in time as you experience the environment as early explorers would have. Ride to the beautiful La Fortuna Waterfall, which allows for a full day of canyon exploring, swimming, hiking, and enjoying the idyllic rainforest atmosphere.

Most horseback tours in Arenal cater to all different experience levels. The ride is typically about a half hour through the rainforest.

6. Cave exploration

The Venado Caves are located just forty minutes outside of La Fortuna. Beautiful in their own way, caves are an underground world of eerie wildlife, unique rock and limestone formations from the ground and ceiling, and ancient echoes of wind and water.

Thought to have been formed between 15 and 20 million years ago, these caves were first  discovered by indigenous tribes of the area. Bats fly overhead, enormous spiders crawl lazily up the walls, frogs, and other insects make themselves known.

This tour (as is the case with most cave tours) is not recommended for those that get claustrophobic. The water levels fluctuate, but you will most certainly get wet, muddy, and dirty as you crawl through tight spaces. Prepare for an earthy day! 

Arenal Volcano National Park

The national park, which borders Lake Arenal and protects the volcano and its surroundings, offers both excellent viewing of Arenal itself as well as good hiking trails through the area’s rainforests. The long-dormant 3,740-foot-high Chato Volcano is also within park boundaries.

Unbelievable scenic views can be found on a drive around the lake’s perimeter. There are many places to stop and enjoy the stunning scenery along the way.

What to Wear for Arenal Volcano

When you visit Arenal Volcano, you will be doing a lot of hiking and walking through sometimes rough terrain.

Close toed shoes are going to be essential for scrambling over lava rocks, or if you’re going horseback riding. You’ll also want long pants for horseback riding.

Many of the activities around Arenal will have you getting wet, so dressing in quick drying synthetic materials is advised. Packing an extra lightweight change of clothes is a good idea, as long as it doesn’t add too much bulk to your day pack.

Tours in Arenal tend to be full day excursions, so make sure you leave in the morning with everything you’ll need (camera, water, sunscreen, layers).

For caving, wear clothing you really don’t care about getting dirty.

Top Arenal Volcano Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

10 Interesting Arenal Volcano Facts

  • Arenal Volcano’s rock has been carbon dated to be 7,000 years old
  • Arenal Volcano has had the 33rd most deadly volcano eruption in human history
  • There are 200 volcanoes in Costa Rica, and Arenal is 1 of the only 5 active ones.
  • Arenal’s first eruption was in 1968, killing 87 people and completing burying 3 villages in lava. Luckily, Arenal has remained dormant since 2010, and all current buildings are built a safe ways away from the volcano.
  • 75% of all of Costa Rica’s bird species can be found in the Arenal Volcano National Park.
  • It is the 3rd most perfect conically-shaped volcano in the world.
  • Some of the water heated by the volcano is funneled into the Arenal Lake Reservoir, which provides 40% of Costa Rica’s hydroelectric power.
  • 3 different kinds of rainforests have been identified in Arenal National Park.
  • There have been several reported UFO sightings over the volcano.
  • The nearby volcano, Chato, is considered to be the “little brother” of Arenal.

Arenal Volcano Weather

Temperature in the Arenal Volcano National Park is consistently warm. The temperature is usually around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, though at higher altitudes the weather is a little bit cooler, averaging between 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It generally becomes a little windier in the region during the winter, which may make things feel cooler. It is recommended that you pack layers.

Annually, Arenal receives around 195 inches of rain, so consider bringing a rain jacket on your visit!

9 Best Activities at Arenal Volcano

  1. Zipline for miles through the jungle canopy

  2. Hike the hanging bridges through the rainforest

  3. Canyon a waterfall

  4. Raft some of the best whitewater rafting water in the world

  5. Go for a relaxing swim in the Volcano-heated hot springs

  6. Take a rafting safari on the Peñas Blancas River

  7. Take a leisurely hike to get the best volcano views

  8. Paddle board, swim, or canoe in Lake Arenal

  9. Explore caves around the National Park

Hotels & Lodging at Arenal

Because of the destination’s popularity, there are plenty of options for accomodation around the  volcano, especially on its Northeastern side. Most hotels are resort-style lodging, and some even have direct access to the volcano’s hot springs.

If you are a traveling on a budget or basic trip, then you might expect to spend a couple nights in one of the various chain hotels in the area. These lodgings are comfortable and practical, but may lack some of the authenticity and complementary features of nicer lodging.

One of the benefits of going on a group tour is that you may also have the option to do a homestay on your trip of Costa Rica. Living in a local family’s home while on your Arenal vacation will greatly enhance your immersion into Costa Rican life.

You may be served a bona  fide Costa Rican breakfast, taken on a tour of your host’s working farm, and you will have unlimited opportunities to ask any questions you may have.

All Arenal Volcano tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.8 for all Arenal Volcano trips.

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