These ancient caves were carved by tectonic movement and water currents passing over limestone for millions of years. Inside this deep network of tunnels, visitors will find stalactites, stalagmites, rock formations, and subterranean rivers and caverns. There’s also a chance to spot wildlife, including bats, fish, insects, and frogs.
Costa Rica’s Venado Caves extend for nearly 8,858 feet (2,700 meters), and with water dripping from the ceiling and flowing below, the caves have a mystical, almost otherworldly feel to them that is suited for the adventurous at heart. First discovered by native Guatuso people, the caves are estimated to be somewhere between 15 and 20 million years old. From La Fortuna, half-day tours are available.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring a waterproof camera and a change of clothes; you will get wet and muddy.
- The caves’ rock formations have earned nicknames such as “papaya,” “altar,” “lion’s head,” and “coral” thanks to their unique shapes.
- Because there are many confined spaces in the caves, this attraction is not recommended for those who have claustrophobia.
How to Get There
The Venado Caves are located just east of the Arenal Volcano National Park, a 40-minute drive from La Fortuna and not far from the small village of Venado. From La Fortuna, head toward El Tanque, then turn north to Monterrey until you reach the town of Jicarito. From there, turn left to reach Venado. Most tours offer round-trip transportation from La Fortuna.
When to Get There
For those traveling to Costa Rica during the rainy season, a visit to Venado Caves makes for an appropriate excursion because it’s under cover, but visitors should still expect to get wet, of course. Tours are available throughout the day, with half-day tours from La Fortuna typically leaving in the morning.
La Fortuna Waterfall
La Fortuna Waterfall is located just outside Arenal Volcano National Park, roughly 10 minutes from the town of La Fortuna, where it cascades down the face of the dormant Chato volcano. At the bottom of the fall, visitors can swim in its clear waters. Some tours combine a stop at the waterfall with a visit to the caves.