The Arenal volcano in La Fortuna is an incredibly beautiful volcano with a perfectly symmetrical shape. The Strato volcano is built upon layers of ash, rock and lava with a height of 1633 meters. When you’re in La Fortuna, you have to add some of the Arenal volcano hikes to your itinerary. Exploring the hiking trails in Arenal Volcano National Park are some of the Costa Rica destinations you can’t miss! The Arenal Volcano Park is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful Volcanic National Parks in Costa Rica. It’s super interesting to explore the lava fields, see different vantage points of Arenal volcano, and learn about the geological and biological points of interest in this area. In this complete guide, I will share the best Arenal volcano hikes including our experience hiking to the Arenal volcano summit!
Arenal volcano facts
Arenal Volcano is the most popular and well-recognized volcano in Costa Rica. Standing at 1633 meters in height with a crater diameter of 140 meters, this beautifully symmetrical-shaped strato volcano is the heart and main attraction of the Arenal Volcano National Park. The volcano is considered in the resting phase, however, the last eruption was in 1968. Geologically, Arenal volcano is considered a young volcano and it is estimated to be less than 7500 years old.
See the best of La Fortuna during this 3 in 1 Combo Tour! Explore the La Fortuna Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano Hike & La Fortuna Waterfall
What is the best time to do the Arenal volcano hike?
When hiking in Arenal, you obviously want to have a clear view of the volcano. The highest chance to see the majestic Arenal volcano is early morning because the clouds often come in the late morning or early afternoon to cover Arenal volcano. However, it can be also super cloudy when you’re in La Fortuna, making it super hard to see the volcano.
The best months with clearest views are December/January until April which are also the best months for hiking in Arenal. There’s always a chance that clouds will obscure the top of the volcano, no matter which period you come. But if you stick around for a couple of days to explore some of the other things to do in La Fortuna, then there’s more chance to get clear volcano views.
Explore Arenal volcano surroundings from the comfort of a horseback
Arenal volcano hike
Several hiking trails can give you a beautiful perspective on Arenal volcano in La Fortuna. You will go through the rainforest, walk over the lava fields from previous eruptions and pass some incredible vantage points of Arenal volcano.
If you’re looking for an adventurous but risky hike to the summit of Arenal volcano, then keep in mind that it’s illegal. However, there are loads of guides in La Fortuna that are willing to lead you to the crater at your own risk. Below is an overview of the Arenal volcano hikes.
Arenal Observatory trails
The Arenal Observatory Lodge and Spa offers some spectacular landscape sceneries and wildlife viewing opportunities in Costa Rica. A total of 11 kilometers (7 miles) of hiking trails, two observation towers and two hanging bridges provide unique experiences in the Arenal Volcano National Park. And the best thing is… you don’t have to be a hotel guest to experience the 350-hectare nature reserve at the Arenal Observatory!
Another fun way to explore Arenal volcano is with this epic ATV tour!
The different trails at Arenal Observatory Lodge
There are 5 trails at the property of Arenal Observatory Lodge all providing different views. The waterfall trail leads you to a 6-meter-tall (20-foot) waterfall. This short and easy walk only takes 30 minutes one way. Saino trail is a paved trail of only 800 meters that shows the hotel gardens and rainforest. From this trail, you’ll have excellent views of the Arenal Volcano. Another very short path is La Hormiga trail which is 450 meters one way and goes through the rainforest. You might have a chance of spotting coatis, sloths, anteaters, monkeys and several types of birds. The river trail is another short hike that goes from the observation deck at the hotel down to the Agua Caliente River. Lastly, the Los Cangrejos (Crabs) Trail is a 500-meter hike that cuts through the primary rainforest where you can spot many different wild animals along the way.
Arenal 1968 trails
One of the private reserves to do the Arenal Volcano hike is the Arenal 1968 trails, which is right next to the National Park and got its name from the Arenal Volcano eruption of 1968. There are two hikes you can do in this park. The so-called ‘Sendero Coladas’ of 2,5 km which refers to the lava flows of 1968 and the ‘Sendero Bosque’ trail which is 4,5 km and goes through the rainforest. Along the hike, you can enjoy the impressive views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.
For a guided tour of this Arenal hiking trail, I recommend this packed tour with three different locations in La Fortuna. You will not only hike the 1968 Arenal trails, but also visit La Fortuna waterfall and the Arenal Hanging Bridges!
Los Tucanes Arenal volcano hike
Los Tucanes is one of the longer Arenal hiking trails with a 3.8-kilometre circular loop. It will take you anywhere between 2 to 2,5 hours of hiking. The entrance is on the way to Arenal Observatory Lodge. Los Tucanes starts at the end of Las Coladas and goes through the rainforest towards Rio Agua Caliente. First, you will pass a hanging bridge and walk the first kilometers through the rainforest. Halfway through the hike, you will walk over the 1992 lava fields with unobstructed views of Arenal volcano. Eventually, there is an old lava trail extension that leads to Arenal Observatory Lodge.
Explore the hanging bridges & Arenal Volcano including lunch and hot springs with this tour!
Arenal Volcano National Park
The several hikes in this park are Heliconias, Los Miradores and El Ceibo trail. They are all relatively short between 2 to 3 kilometres and give just like the other trails wonderful views of the lava fields and Arenal volcano. It’s a great family activity as the hiking trails are fairly flat through the rainforest. Only at the lava fields are some uneven parts but nothing too serious.
Entrance fee & opening times Arenal Volcano National Park: $15 USD for adult foreigners and $5 USD for children. The park is open every day from 8 AM to 4 PM.
This hike goes to the lesser-known dormant volcano, Cerro Chato. It’s not a hike for everyone concerning the incline and off-the-beaten-path trail. However, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to hike to the crater of a dormant volcano. There you can cool off with a refreshing dip in the crater lake. The trail distance is 3.2 kilometres one way which will take you anywhere between 2 to 3 hours.
Arenal volcano tours
If you want to explore the beautiful surroundings at the base of Arenal volcano, you can book one of the guided tours below.
- Arenal volcano base hike. During this 3 hour tour you will see the amazing views of one of Costa Rica’s most active volcanos, Arenal. Walk on the base on the volcano with a specialist guide who can tell you about the natural history and plants of the area.
- Complete tour of 4 best La Fortuna activities: hike at the base of Arenal volcano, Arenal Hanging bridges, waterfall and hot springs. This tour shows you the best of La Fortuna. Explore the volcano lava fields, Arenal Hanging bridges, cool off at La Fortuna waterfall and relax in the hot springs.
- Arenal volcano expedition in El Silencio nature reserve. Hike the trails of Arenal Volcano in the tropical forest of El Silencio. Discover characteristic flora and fauna with the help of a guide. After the hike you can enjoy some free time at the area’s hot springs.
- Arenal volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall and Hanging Bridges Combo tour. During this tour you will get the best of La Fortuna. Hike the paths of the Arenal Volcano, see the cascades of La Fortuna waterfall and walk through the rainforest canopy on the suspension bridges of the Arenal Hanging Bridges park.
- La Fortuna waterfall, Arenal volcano hike and hot springs tour. During this tour you will hike to La Fortuna waterfall, visit an aboriginal village and have a traditional lunch, discover the lava fields from the 1968 eruption while enjoying the panoramic viewpoints on La Fortuna and Arenal volcano.
Can you hike Arenal volcano summit?
Well, the official answer is no, it’s illegal. The answer you’ll get on the streets in La Fortuna is yes, you can. At your own risk and only with a guide! There’s no way you can hike Arenal volcano by yourself. That would be super dangerous because it’s very hard to find the trails and you have to cross some private property. Keep in mind that if you decide to do this adventure, it’s 100% your own risk. But oh boy, how worth it is it to stand at 1633 meters height on an active volcano…
We have hiked volcanos before in Indonesia so we knew a bit what we could expect and we are well trained hikers. However, hiking to the top of Arenal volcano was another level. It’s só steep, you almost can’t imagine how vertical you are hiking. Which makes sense because you start the hike to the summit of Arenal volcano literally at the foot of the volcano which is on 253 meters. The top of Arenal volcano is at 1633 meters which means you have a total incline of nothing less than 1380 meters!
The total time to climb Arenal volcano is about 3-4 hours one way. So if you want to watch sunrise on the summit of Arenal, you will have to depart at about 1 AM from La Fortuna. The total distance up and down Arenal volcano is 13 kilometers.
Overall this is an incredible and unforgettable experience but only for the fit people who are not scared to take a little risk. Because in the end, these are the stories and experiences we will always remember, right? If you are serious about climbing Arenal Volcano, then you can send an email to the guide we went with via [email protected]
Where to stay in La Fortuna for the Arenal Volcano hike
If you’re planning a trip to Fortuna, Costa Rica to hike the Arenal Volcano, you must have a great accommodation to recover from this hike! The charming town located in the northern part of the country is known for its lush green landscapes, towering volcanoes, and stunning hot springs. With so many great places to stay in Fortuna, it can be hard to know where to start.
Location is Key
When it comes to choosing where to stay in Fortuna, one of the most important factors to consider is location. Do you want to be close to the hot springs, or would you prefer to be in the heart of town? There are plenty of great options for both, so think about what’s most important to you.
If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, staying near the hot springs is a must. The most popular hot springs in the area are located just outside of town, so consider staying at one of the many resorts in that area.
If you prefer to be close to the action, staying in the town center is your best bet. You’ll be within walking distance of all the best restaurants, shops, and attractions.
Choose Your Accommodation Type
There are plenty of different types of accommodation available in Fortuna, so you’ll want to think about what type of experience you’re looking for.
Hotels and Resorts
If you’re looking for a more traditional hotel experience, Fortuna has plenty of great options. There are luxury resorts with all the amenities, as well as budget-friendly options that still offer great service.
If you’re traveling with a group or looking for a more private experience, consider renting a vacation home. There are plenty of great options available in Fortuna, from cozy cottages to sprawling villas.
If you’re traveling on a budget or looking to meet other travelers, a hostel might be the way to go. Fortuna has a few great options for backpackers, including both private and shared rooms.
Consider Your Budget
While Fortuna has options for every budget, it’s important to think about how much you’re willing to spend on accommodation.
If you’re looking to splurge on your trip, Fortuna has plenty of luxurious options to choose from. These resorts and hotels offer top-of-the-line amenities and service.
For those looking for a balance between comfort and affordability, there are plenty of mid-range options available in Fortuna. These hotels and vacation rentals offer great service and amenities at a reasonable price.
If you’re traveling on a tight budget, there are still plenty of great options for you in Fortuna. Hostels and budget hotels offer affordable accommodations without sacrificing comfort.
More Costa Rica travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about the Arenal volcano hikes in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send us a message or comment under this post.
For more Costa Rica travel tips, head over to our other blog posts.