Amp Up the Excitement: 5 Thrilling Adventures in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Nestled beneath the watchful gaze of awe-inspiring Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna in Costa Rica is a haven for adventure seekers. This colossal volcano may now be dormant, but it once roared with fervent energy, frequently spewing molten lava onto the surrounding slopes and villages. Untamed wilderness embraces the town, where lush jungle conceals exhilarating ziplines, and cascading waterfalls tumble through concealed gorges, enticing those seeking white water thrills. Snuggled in this wild terrain, thermal pools invite weary travellers to relax and rejuvenate, while nearby Arenal Lake sprawls in the shadow of the volcano. Its reflective surface mirrors the ever-changing moods of the imposing volcano. This rich natural tapestry appeals to thrillseekers, culinary enthusiasts and those seeking escape. Here are just five exhilarating adventures in La Fortuna that you may wish to consider.

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

5 thrilling adventures to enjoy La Fortuna

First up on our list of five exciting adventures in La Fortuna is an adrenaline pumping trip down the river. This is what you can expect.

Go tubing down the Arenal river

As the morning sun teases the emerald canopy of the rainforest, we eagerly sign our waivers at the adventure center. Our guides jokingly warn of life threatening undertakings ahead and to our surprise, we are the sole tubers for the day.

A mighty tractor hitched to a trailer arrives, and we pile in behind a mound of vibrant blue rings. Belching black fumes, it trundles off down a rutted track. It leaves behind the main road and snakes through forests kissed by wisps of morning clouds. After a short but bumpy journey, we enter a clearing and gear up with helmets and life jackets. We lug our oversized rings down a stony path toward the river and the sound of thundering water. As the roar of the torrent grows louder, I wonder why we didn’t stick to our original plan to zipline and abseil through waterfalls.

Tubing on the Arenal River
Tubing on the Arenal River

Riding the rapids

With no time to waste, we plunge into the shallow river and gaze at the obstacle course of rocky rapids, supposedly ideal for our ‘practice run‘. Despite our guides’ navigation tips, my ring has a mind of its own and defies any attempt to navigate. Spinning like clothes in a washing machine, I hurtle down the river narrowly avoiding protruding rocks.

After the exhilarating rapids, a calm section allows a moment’s respite to bask in the river’s beauty. Then, we race through more rapids, my squeals and colorful exclamations punctuating the silence.

Emerging from a final rapid, we reach a tranquil beach and pull our rings ashore ready for a refreshing swim. Like children, we clamber onto the rocks and launch ourselves into the water shouting with glee.

All too soon however we continue downstream to our exit point and leave our half-day tubing adventure on a high.

Book your own trilling adventure tubing with Go Adventure Arenal Park.

Book your tubing adventure

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Kayaking on Lake Arenal

Our kayaking trip on Lake Arenal offers a more sedate escape, surrounded by just a handful of fellow kayakers.

We launch our kayaks from the dock in the charming town of El Castillo. As we glide from shore, our eyes take in the surreal sight of ancient trees. Their gnarled branches defiantly sprout from the lake’s surface, a testament to the rich history that lies beneath these calm waters.

For two hours, we leisurely paddle, captivated by the ever-changing spectacle of Arenal Volcano. At times, it coyly conceals itself behind clouds, only to dramatically reappear, regally dominating the horizon. It is a sight to behold, a reminder of the dynamic forces that have shaped this breathtaking landscape.

You can book your kayaking adventure in La Fortuna on Get Your Guide.

Book your kayaking adventure

Arenal Lake
Kayaking on Arenal Lake

Hike around Arenal Volcano at the Arenal Lodge Observatory

A hike around Arenal Observatory is a true sensory journey. The trails lead you through flourishing forest, where the symphony of rustling leaves and cheerful bird songs serenades your ears. The air is pregnant with the earthy aroma of the woods and a series of hanging bridges dangle high above canyons carved by cascading waterfalls, a hypnotic magnet for visitors. While the trails may not offer direct views of the volcano, they provide an authentic, rustic communion with the wild.

You may be fortunate enough to come across a peculiar sight on the trails. In one clearing, we stumble across a group of alien creatures. Initially we mistake them for monkeys, but upon closer inspection, they appear more a fascinating blend of monkey and dog. Their slender snouts contrast with their remarkably long, upright tails. These ‘pizotes’ remain utterly unfazed by our presence, a testament to the untouched wilderness that surrounds us.

Pizotes at the Arenal Observatory
Pizotes at the Arenal Observatory

A recent addition to the Observatory is a modern museum that shares the history of the volcano. The building is also home to a gift shop and a coffee shop selling snacks and other refreshments.

Day passes to the Arenal Lodge Observatory

A day pass to the Observatory is a great way to explore Arenal national park and you can choose from two options:

  1. A entrance pass for $15 per person that includes;
    • Spectacular views of the lake and volcano
    • Access to 350 hectares of nature reserve including 11km of trails
    • Birdwatching opportunities
    • The Nest ‘observation towers’ to explore the canopy
    • The Danta waterfall and hanging bridges
    • The Observatory museum and visitor centre
    • The Arenal Crossfit challenge – an 8km outdoor multi-sport circuit
  2. A day pass for $32 per person that includes;
    • All of the above plus a two course lunch and drink at the El Jilguero restaurant
    • Access to the swimming pool at the resort

For more information and up to date prices of day passes, visit Arenal Observatory Lodge

Enjoy some thermal pools

Relax and cleanse your body in one of the many thermal pools that dot the landscape around La Fortuna. You can visit rustic, local pools such as Tabacon Hot Springs where you pay just a modest entrance fee. Or, if you want a more luxurious experience, you can buy a day pass to Baldi Hot Springs for around £45 per head. Baldi Hot Springs offers access to 25 thermal pools and claims to be the largest hot springs in the world. It also offers access to a swim up bar, sunbeds, restaurants and water slides.

Book your day pass here

Thermal spa hotels

Note, however there are a multitude of hotels that offer free access to thermal pools within the grounds.

We booked the Arenal Paraiso Resort Spa which offers access to 7 murky thermal pools with views of the volcano in the background. They range from mildly warm to positively tropical and are a great place to rest weary limbs.

The thermal pools of the Arenal Paraiso Resort
The thermal pools of the Arenal Paraiso Resort

If you really want to push the boat out though you can opt for one of the following luxurious options.

Luxury thermal spa hotels

If money is no object, opt for the Nayara Springs hotel. It is an adults only property with stunning panoramic rooms. Each suite at this property offers access to its very own thermal pool. Just check out the incredible photos of this property here. Nayara Springs Hotel

Another spectacular hotel for those on a slightly more modest budget is the Springs Resort & Spa. Tucked away from the main road, it offers sublime views of the volcano and valley, access to 28 hot spring pools, a spa and fitness centre.

Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa is another luxury hotel with suites that offer free standing baths, four poster beds and views to die for. You do not even need to leave your room to drink in the spectacular panoramas. If you do decide to venture out of your private cocoon there are five swimming pools and a selection of bars and restaurants to enjoy.

See the red markets on the map for the locations of these hotels.

Tantalise your tastebuds

After all of that adventure and exploration, you may have built up quite the appetite. So you will be delighted to hear that there are some magnificent places to eat and drink in La Fortuna. One of the big draws for tourists and locals is Restaurante Fortuneno on the main street in La Fortuna. Brightly decorated with draping flowers, at all times of day, this establishment overflows with guests. Just check out the succulent tuna steaks we feasted on.

Our tuna steak at Restaurante Fortuneno
Our tuna steak at Restaurante Fortuneno

Some other great places to grab a beer or cocktail are;

  • the Lava Lounge
  • La Fortuna Pub
  • or the Rainforest Cafe and Restaurant.

See blue markers on the map for exact locations.

Book your trip to La Fortuna now

The five thrilling adventures we’ve explored here are sure to leave an indelible mark. La Fortuna isn’t just a destination. It’s an invitation to embrace the wild and to forge unforgettable memories in one of nature’s greatest playgrounds. So, gear up, step out, and let La Fortuna unveil its extraordinary wonders, one adrenaline-pumping adventure at a time. Your epic journey awaits!

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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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