It’s not just lava that pours from this living mountain. Arenal is famous for its hot springs, rich with healing minerals and often developed into fantastic wonderlands, most with remarkable volcano views. The most famous, and beautiful, is Tabacón, a steaming river that pours through fantastically landscaped environs. Less flush travelers could try wet-and-wild Baldí, with waterslides and a more festive feel; The Springs, built around landscaped cascades; or secluded Eco Termales, a quiet spot with five family-friendly pools. Budget travelers can ask about the free springs, but please beware of thieves, who’ll make off with absolutely anything left unguarded!
No matter which termales you choose, cool off with a drink and some healthy Tico cuisine at one of the fine restaurants in the adorably touristy town of La Fortuna, at the base of the volcano.
Arenal National Park lies within the 790 square-mile Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area and is home to Arenal Volcano, the most active volcano in the country. The park is also known for its incredibly diverse wildlife. Most of Costa Rica’s 850 identified bird species can be spotted within the park’s borders, including the endangered and elusive quetzal.
Hiking in Arenal National Park will get you the closest (legal) view of Arenal volcano. Hiking is only permitted on marked trails and due to safety concerns (this is an active volcano, after all), it is forbidden to hike near the crater at the top of Arenal volcano. The volcano is unpredictable and there is a strong possibility of death if you venture into restricted zones.
The park offers four marked hiking trails that take you over old lava flows and through secondary rainforest and savanna.