Dive Into Arenal Volcano/Monteverde
The primary attraction here is a nature reserve, so there are plenty of nature sites, hiking trails, hanging bridges and animal exhibits to see. The Monteverde area is famous for its conservation efforts and tourism industry centered on nature. Similarly, the Arenal area is concentrated around the Arenal Volcano’s giant stature, which creates a picturesque backdrop and thermal springs for its nature-minded resort areas below. The unique landscape of these sites combined with the rich amount of natural beauty they offer make this region an adventurer’s paradise. Go exploring through the area by biking, hiking, or horseback riding—your choice. This is nature you can’t miss!
Arenal Volcano/Monteverde Overview
Mapping Out Costa Rica
Eco-friendly explorers enjoy the Arenal Volcano/Monteverde area for its hiking tours, thermally heated rivers and amazing forest views. On the other hand, beach lovers are at home in the Guanacaste Beach region, which offers gorgeous turquoise water and powdery white sand for an experience in paradise. The Gulf of Nicoya region is made up of fun-loving beach towns with surfers and adventure seekers breaking waves, exploring the forest, and partying on the beach. San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, is home to the country’s cultural dedications, offering authentic shops and the coolest of the country’s youth.
The Costa Rican Cloud Forest
You've probably heard of a rainforest, but a cloud forest? While rainforests grow at lower altitudes, cloud forests grow as high as 8,000 feet above sea level. The high elevation produces cool, mystic air that creates an incredibly diverse environment. They're rare; cloud forests of the world only cover one percent of the earth's woodlands. Try out the cloud forest experience for yourself inside the 25,000-acre Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. There's no better place to see so many different types of plant and animal species. Bird watchers travel from all over to seek out the endangered Resplendent Quetzal and Three-Wattled Bellbird, who call the cloud forest their home. Cat lovers search for jaguars, ocelots and pumas, and everyone loves catching glimpses of the colorful toucans and playful howler monkeys.
Zip Away on a Canopy Tour
Zipping through a forest is like a rite of passage for visitors to Costa Rica. You can start your adventure in the treetops at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. From there, zip lines take you on exciting rides soaring through the sky on 12 different platforms. For a bit less of an adrenaline rush, you can try the hanging bridges tour near the volcano, where you’ll walk across the canopy of the forest while a guide fills you in on the secrets of its history. For an in-depth adventure in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, take the canopy tour with 21 platforms and more than 2 miles of cable completely inside the forest.
Butterfly and Frog Exhibits
Maybe you like only the prettiest of insects and the most adorable of amphibians, but don't want to venture too deep in the forest to find them. Then for you, butterfly and frog exhibits are the way to go. The Ranario in Monteverde (Rana means frog in Spanish) is home to more than 25 different frog species, including Costa Rica’s signature red-eyed tree frog. Hop on over to the Ranario to see it and other little cuties. To find fluttering mariposas (butterflies), you'll want to visit the Monteverde Butterfly Garden in the daytime to see these beautiful and colorful creatures in action.
Have you ever relaxed in a Jacuzzi? Now, imagine that feeling, except you’re in a natural waterfall and river of deliciously soothing water. That’s the magic of volcanic activity. Thermal springs only exist near volcanoes because they're created when magma and minerals rise to heat rainwater in natural bodies of water. After you unwind in the hot springs near Arenal Volcano, you'll get to go home and impress your friends with your new volcano knowledge too. There are tons of places to take advantage of these awesome hot springs. The Royal Corin Hotel even has thermal pools right on its property. But no matter where you stay in the Arenal/Monteverde area, you can take excursions to experience nature's Jacuzzi in person. Just ask us and we'll show you the way. You can thank Mother Nature when you get there.
La Fortuna Waterfall
On your visit to the Arenal Volcano National Park, you should definitely make your way toward the Catarata Rio Fortuna, as it's called in Spanish. The gorgeous waterfall cascades down a massive cliff through lush, green trees and jungle. La Fortuna Waterfall streams at the foot of the smaller Chato Volcano inside the national park, just southeast of Arenal. Take the visit on a horseback riding tour for the most scenic and breathtaking views of the forest and wildlife. As you get closer to the falls, you'll be so impressed with the beauty of the cascading water funneling down to the natural pool at the bottom. Make sure to pack a swimsuit, so you can enjoy the refreshing water at the end of your tour.
Arenal Volcano/Monteverde Quick Facts
Currency: The Colón, U.S. dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted.
Electricity: The outlets are 110 volts, with standard U.S. two-prong plugs.
Passport/Immigration: A valid passport is mandatory to enter Costa Rica.
Drinking Water: The water is safe to drink, but bottled water is recommended in areas surrounding the coast.
Time Zone: Central Standard Time (UTC/GMT - 6 hours)
Peak Season: Dry season, December - May
Tips & Transportation
Bird Watch at the Hummingbird Gallery in Monteverde
On your way in or out of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, make sure to take some time to stop at the hummingbird gallery. After you watch the beautiful little birds buzz about, try the yummy coffee shop for a treat. The best part: the gallery is free!
Best Brew With a View: Volcano Brewing Co.
If you're a beer connoisseur, this is a must-do on your stay near the Arenal Volcano area. The quirky Volcano Brewing Company will give you a delicious farm-to-table experience. It's located on the northwest side of Arenal Lake.
The Magical Blue Water in Rio Celeste
The challenging hike through Tenorio Volcano National Park is worth it once you get a view of the Celeste River. Thanks to the sulphur from the Tenorio Volcano, the water is teal and light blue. It flows through the river and spills over a cliff to form a gorgeous waterfall. The view is so magical you'll fill your camera to the brim with photos.
Volcano Vacay With a View
There's nothing like waking up to majestic mountainous views. To get the most out of the Arenal Volcano experience, you have to spend at least a night at a volcano resort. Take your pick with Arenal Kioro, Arenal Volcano Inn, Los Lagos Hotel or Hotel Royal Corin. There's one for every budget, and you'll be guaranteed an incredible sight!
Dine by the Springs
The Ave del Paraiso restaurant at the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort serves fresh entrees and local fruits. You can enjoy dinner at one of the nightly themed buffets with varying cuisine from Mexican and Italian to Asian and Indonesian. Sit out on the terrace for views of the famous thermal springs or in the main area for views of Arenal.
The Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose is approximately a 2 ½ hour drive from the Arenal and Monteverde areas. SJO was once the busiest airport in Central America. It’s still pretty busy and is the major hub for Costa Rica, serving 4 million passengers a year.
Immigration & Customs
The flight attendant on your flight will likely hand you a customs form that asks you declare what you’re bringing into the country. When you first get off the plane, you’ll go to immigration first and an officer will check your passport. You can then go to baggage claim and after, onto the customs section.
Getting to Your Hotel
CheapCaribbean.com has partnered with Amstar as our premier transportation company in San Jose. They’ll provide you with safe, comfortable and professional transportation, from the airport to your hotel and back. They’ll also provide transportation to any excursions booked through our site that you’d like to take while you’re in your destination.
Once you arrive at SJO International Airport, you will clear customs and pick up your luggage. Look for the Amstar representative wearing a tropical blue shirt will be waiting for you outside baggage claim and customs holding a sign with your name on it. For additional assistance, please contact Amstar, Monday to Friday from 8:00AM to 5:00PM at (506) 2105 0650 or (506) 2105 0699. After hours or in case of emergencies, please call (506) 8360 7107.
Getting Around in Arenal and Monteverde
The terrain outside of many of the resort areas is hilly and hard to drive on if you’re not used to it. Off-site excursions like hiking, horseback riding and ATV tours are available through Vacaciones Barcelo. The company even provides transportation to and from the resort, so you have a dependable ride to get you where you need to be.