ARENAL VOLCANO HIKE in Costa Rica – The Ultimate Guide

The Arenal volcano in La Fortuna is an incredible beautiful volcano with its 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 you will find the best Arenal volcano hikes including our experience hiking to the Arenal volcano summit!

Thanks for visiting our blog!

We are passionate about sharing all our travel guides for free. If you appreciate our work, you can support us with a donation which we’re very grateful for. Ilse & Atiba

Arenal volcano facts

Arenal volcano is the most popular and well recognised volcano in Costa Rica. Standing at 1633 meters 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 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.


Best time to do the Arenal volcano hike

When hiking in Arenal you obviously want to have a clear view on the volcano. The highest chance to see the majestic Arenal volcano is early morning because the clouds often like to come in the late morning, 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 whole 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.


Arenal volcano hike 

There are several hiking trails that can give you a beautiful perspective on Arenal volcano in La Fortuna. You will go through rainforest, walk over the lava fields from previous eruptions and pass some incredible vantage point 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 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. The total of 11 kilometers (7 miles) of hiking trails, two observation towers and two hanging bridges provides 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!


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 meters 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 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’ of 4,5 km that goes through the rainforest. Along the hike you can enjoy the impressive views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. 

Entrance fee and opening times Arenal 1968: $17 USD for adults and children under 12 are free. The opening times are every day from 8 AM – 6 PM.


Los Tucanes Arenal volcano hike 

Los Tucanes is one of the longer Arenal hiking trails with an 3.8 kilometre circular loop. It will take you anywhere between 2 to 2,5 hours of hiking and costs $10 per person. 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 kilometres through the rainforest. Halfway the hike you will walk over the 1992 lava fields with unobstructed views on Arenal volcano. Eventually, there is an old lava trail extension that leads to Arenal Observatory Lodge. The hike to Cerro Chato is officially closed, but there is always a way to get up with a guide. Ask around and you’ll soon enough get a lead. 


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.


Cerro Chato

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. 

Book your Chato volcano hike here


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.

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 kilometres.


Overall this is an incredible and unforgettable experience but only for the fit people that 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.

Hot Springs

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.

Town Center

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.

Vacation Rentals

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.

Find your accommodation here for your stay in Fortuna, Costa Rica!

More Costa Rica travel inspiration

I hope you enjoyed this blog post about the epic adventure hiking up Arenal volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. If you have any questions about this experience, 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.

Manzanillo Gandoca park & Manzanillo beach

La Paz waterfall garden Costa Rica – The Complete Guide

Playa Cocles in Puerto Viejo – The Complete Guide

Catarata del Toro – The Complete Guide

Arenal volcano hike – The Complete Guide

Playa Conchal Guanacaste – The Complete Guide

Irazu volcano – Everything you need to know

BriBri waterfalls near Puerto Viejo – The Complete Guide

Cahuita National Park – The Complete Guide

Manuel Antonio National Park Costa Rica – The Complete Guide

Similar Posts


  1. Hi Ilse,

    Thank you for sharing a whole load of useful information about the Arenal volcano. The aerial view pictures (like the last one or Cerro Chato) – were they taken with a drone?

    1. Hi Diana, thank you for your comment, glad to hear the information was helpful! Yes, the aerial pictures were taken with our drone. We carried it up the volcano and flew it from the summit 🙂

  2. Hi there !

    What is the best trail you did for enjoying views since we are not stying long enough in La Fortuna this time we would certainly take your advice for having the best views in a short time.

    also, can you send me whatsapp info of Saul ? (for next trip)

    1. Hi Stephanie! Drive along Arenal lake towards El Castillo and you will have plenty of stunning views along the lake which are easy to acces. Considering the trails, at Los Tucanes trail you get pretty close to the foot of the volcano. Hope it helps, enjoy Costa Rica!!

  3. Hello! Thanks so much for the awesome information. I am heading out to Arenal on Tuesday and was wondering if I could have your guides whats app contact to possibly contact him quicker. Thank you so much!!

  4. Hi Ilse, thank you for such a detailed and useful postI I love your photography as well. I’d love to try this hike as well. Would you mind sharing your guide’s whatsapp info please. Thank you!

  5. Thanks so much for this information! We are currently in Costa Rica, and have been finding it difficult to hike any volcano or mountain peaks in the area! So I have also reached out to this guide!!

  6. Hi Ilse,
    I would love to ask the same as Kamil – would you give me his further contact details, Whatsapp and the like?
    I’m suuper excited to do the hike next week!
    Thank you so much!

  7. Hi Ilse.
    I was trying to contact Saulc by mail from article but he didn’t answer. Maybe you have other contact to him?
    Maybe some WhatsApp? Can you share it with me by email If you don’t want to write publicly?

    Thanks a lot

    PS. I have only 2 more days in la fortuna

  8. Hi, you’re doing amazing work!
    Article is very interesting and extremely useful!
    Thank you for that:)

    I’m in La Fortuna right now and would love a connect with the guide!

    1. hi Kamil, thanks a lot!! Happy to hear it is useful information for you. You can contact the guide we had for Arenal volcano on [email protected]. We paid 60 dollar per person, it depends how big your group op people is to go up. Enjoy the adventure and have fun!!

  9. Hi Ilse —
    WIfe and I are heading to Costa Rica next week. Would love to hike all the way up Arenal. Pls share guide info. Also, did you hike Poas volcano too? Can you see Poas better with a guide also?

    1. Hi John! We didnt hike Poas volcano but just went via the general entrance. Keep in mind that you can only be at the crater of Poas for 20 min. You can reach Saul our guide for Arenal via [email protected]. Enjoy the adventure!! Ilse

  10. Hi Isle,

    I’d love to connect about finding a guide for the Arenal hike as we will be there in a month and are looking for an adventure!



  11. Hi, nice to read your adventure. I’d love to connect about finding a guide for the Arenal hike. I will be in Costa Rica in a week.

  12. Hello there. Thank you for this helpful article, it’s nicely written. We will be in La Fortuna around end of Feb/ beginning of March and would love the contact of your lovely guide too! Thx Vlada 🙂

  13. Hey I’m going to Costa Rica next week I’d love to get I. Touch with your guide I appreciate your post

  14. Hi Ilse,

    I am going to be in Costa Rica next month and visiting Arenal is high on my list, I’d love to connect on the best way to connect with a guide to summit the Volcano. Thank you for your guide!


  15. Hi Isle,

    I’d love to connect about finding a guide for the Arenal hike as I will be there in a week and am looking for an adventure!


  16. Hi!

    I’d love to connect about the Arenal Hike and seek your guidance on connecting with your guide 🙂

  17. Thank you for this blog post! This was very helpful for planning my trip. Your volcano hike photo looks absolutely STUNNING!

  18. Hello Ilse, so nice to read your info about the Arenal volcano in La Fortuna in Costa Rica. Definitely worth traveling to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *