The Arenal volcano was active until 2010, and visitors to the area could witness eruptions and lava flow. After 2010 the volcano has been dormant and no lava flow or eruptions can be seen currently. But you can still see smoke coming up from the 140-metres-(460 ft) wide crater on sunny days. You can explore the dried lava fields and the amazing flora and fauna around the volcano, but you cannot get up close to the crater for safety reasons. The national park of Arenal volcano has great trails around the base of the volcano where you can go on guided hikes and explore nature and see wildlife and get a lot of photo opportunities. If you like birding this is a great place for you.
Next to the volcano you have the small and cozy town of La Fortuna. Here you found everything that you need in hotels, restaurants, bars, and stores. In the middle of town the park is located and if you stand there in front of the church you can get an amazing picture with the whole volcano in the background. In La Fortuna you have a great variety of restaurants and here you can have everything from the great local cuisine to Italian, Mexican, and BBQ steakhouses. Only 15 minutes outside town you also have the stunning 72-meter-high waterfall of La Fortuna. This is the perfect half-day tour and you can get here with car/bus, do a hike, or horseback ride through the forest. When you reach the waterfall you can have a swim in the crystal clear water in the lagoon.
La Fortuna and Arenal volcano is perfectly located with several national parks on a short drive away, perfect for day tours. Tenorio National Park has one of Costa Rica’s most breathtaking waterfalls, Rio Celeste, and two more volcanoes. To hike in the rainforest along Rio Celestes’ bright blue waters is a rare and amazing phenomenon, and when the forest opens up and you see the big blue waterfall in the middle of all the green rainforest it’s just stunning.
About 2 hours north of La Fortuna town you have Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, a popular visit for nature lovers and ecotourists. Its 25,000 acres are considered one of the world’s most important wetlands due to its large biodiversity and over 300 species of birds.
The most popular thing to do here beside all the adventure activities is to relax in one of the many volcano-heated hot springs. Some hotels have their own private hot springs and there are other off-site hot springs, but all of them you can visit with a half- or full-day pass.
Next to the volcano you have the manmade Lake Arenal, built in 1978. The lake is now Costa Rica’s biggest lake with 33 sq.miles (85.5 square km) and really important in providing hydroelectric power. It now produces a big part of Costa Rica’s green electricity. The lake also offers a lot of fun tours like SUP, kayak, kite and windsurfing. The lake is also great for freshwater fishing and to catch rainbow bass early in the morning to the sound of howler monkeys and the volcano in the background. That’s just the next level of fishing. In the lake you can also catch tilapia, tiger bass, and machaca. The achaca is such a fun and strong fish to catch and its nickname is mini tarpon.