Choose from 7 Fun Things to Do in La Fortuna
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La Fortuna Waterfall cascades 200 feet (61 meters) down the sheer cliff face of Cerro Chato, the Arenal Volcano’s dormant and thickly forested twin. One of the most impressive and accessible waterfalls in Costa Rica, La Fortuna is a great place to picnic, swim, and photograph the waterfall’s perpetual mists and nearby exotic vegetation.
Set just outside the town of La Fortuna, this cascade is a must-see for visitors to Arenal Volcano National Park. From the parking lot, the descent down the staircase to the falls only takes roughly 20 minutes. A longer trail winds through the rain forest and can be traversed on horseback, giving travelers an opportunity to spot toucans, monkeys, and other tropical creatures. At the bottom, adventurous visitors can swim in the clear waters below the fall, while others can picnic along the rocky shoreline or snap pictures of the scenery.
Most La Fortuna Waterfall tours include a visit to the adjacent Arenal Volcano National Park, where you can head out on a volcano hike, get your adrenaline pumping on a waterfall-jumping and canyoning adventure, or float down the river on a safari tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring a bathing suit, sun protection, bug spray, and comfortable shoes.
- Swimming is allowed, but only in pools well away from the potentially dangerous currents produced by the falls, especially during the rainy season.
- Keep in mind that the staircase down to the falls is steep and sometimes slippery.
How to Get There
La Fortuna Waterfall is located roughly 10 minutes by road from the small town of La Fortuna, and about three hours by road from San José.
When to Get There
The most popular time to visit is during Costa Rica’s dry season (mid-December to April), when the weather is ideal for exploring. Arrive early in the day if you want to avoid crowds.
Exploring Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal Volcano National Park is a treasure trove of wildlife and epic volcanic landscapes. Trek through the park’s many hiking trails, walk across picturesque hanging bridges, take a horseback ride, or go rappelling down volcanic rock faces. Nearby, Baldi Hot Springs Resort is the perfect place to relax after an action-packed day of sightseeing.
Address: Costa Rica
From $ 15
The 16 hanging bridges that line the paths of Costa Rica’s Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park stretch a total of 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) across the steep landscape. See the birds, monkeys, sloths, snakes, and frogs that call the forest canopy home by ascending these spans, suspended above gorges and stretched across jungle floors.
A hike through the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park in sunny weather is a perfect way to spend several hours viewing and photographing the area’s flora and fauna. The life of the rain forest largely takes place overhead, in the thick canopy of jungle and sunlight.
Wander through the thick vegetation on well-marked trails on your own, or join a guided tour focused on plants, birds, and animals—or more adventurous pursuits. An early morning birding tour is the best way to expand your bird list, with more than 60 species spotted regularly in this protected wilderness. Also look for families of monkeys swinging through the air and lazy sloths lounging among tree limbs. For a unique view of the forest, sign up for a night walk. Some guided tours combine a visit to the park with stops at Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall, Lake Arenal, and the nearby Tabacon Hot Springs.
Know Before You Go
- Closed-toe shoes are required in Mistico Park; wearing sandals is not permitted and you will be refused entry.
- The Sal & Pimienta Restaurant, on the park grounds, is open daily from 7:30am to 4pm.
- The rain forest is home to a hearty bug population; insect repellent is a good idea.
- Children under 10 years old receive free admission.
How to Get There
The hanging bridges are located five miles (eight kilometers) east of Tabacon and 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) from La Fortuna. Look for them just after the exit to El Castillo, on the lakefront road to Tilaran. Round-trip transportation from nearby hotels is available for an additional fee.
When to Get There
General entry and guided tours take place Monday through Sunday from 7:30am to 4:30pm. Costa Rica’s rainy season is typically May through November; prime Arenal Volcano viewing time is September and October.
Adventure Tours in Mistico Park
The adventure seeker in you will find plenty to keep busy at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. One option is a zorbing tour, which envelops you in a huge rubber ball in order to roll safely (if quickly) down a steep hill. Book a Paco’s Horses tour to ride through a remote pasture for epic views, or set out for Spider Monkey Canyon to rappel and zipline among the canyon’s striking natural features.
Address: Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
From $ 60
These ancient caves were carved by tectonic movement and water currents passing over limestone for millions of years. Today they’re a deep network of tunnels — many that never see light. Here visitors will find stalactites, stalagmites, unique rock formations, subterranean rivers and caverns, and fossil remnants of the past. There is also interesting wildlife throughout, including bats, fish, insects and frogs who call the caves home. The rock formations take interesting shapes for which they are named such as “papaya,” “altar,” “lion’s head” and “coral.”
In total the caves stretch nearly 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 best for the adventurous at heart. First discovered by native Guatusos, it is estimated that the caves are somewhere between 15 and 20 million years old.
The Venado Caves are located just east of the Arenal Volcano National Park, about a 40 minute drive from La Fortuna and not far from the small village of Venado. The caves are open from 9 am to 4 pm, with an admission cost of $20. As the caves often get muddy, you’ll need clothes that can get dirty and several sources of light to explore them.
Address: La Fortuna, El Castillo, Costa Rica
From $ 85
Tumbling waterfalls, luxury spa and dining options, and the dramatic backdrop of Arenal Volcano set Tabacon Hot Springs apart from Costa Rica’s many thermal springs. Numerous pools dotting the Tabacon River create a completely natural hot spring experience on a private rain forest reserve, perfect for a day of pure relaxation.
Adventure-weary travelers flock to Tabacon Hot Springs for a welcome change of pace from endless action. Spend the day soaking in volcanically heated waters—taking breaks to swim up to the waterfront bar or fly down the thermal water slide—for a true taste of pura vida. Though it is possible to stay at an on-site resort for unlimited hot spring access, most visitors opt for full-day or half-day passes with upgrades including meals, spa packages, and specialty experiences such as a nighttime soak under the moonlight. Many Arenal area tours, such as those from San Jose, include a visit to the hot springs as well—an ideal way to unwind after an action-packed volcano hike or rain forest tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entrance includes a towel and sunscreen.
- The number of guests is limited for a more enjoyable experience; book ahead.
- Tabacon Grand Spa services can be booked as part of an entrance package or separately.
- Pack or wear your swimsuit; changing areas are available on-site.
- Though out of range for most budget travelers, Tabacon Hot Springs is a worthwhile splurge.
How to Get There
Though it feels remote, Tabacon Hot Springs is located just off a main highway (Route 142) and is an easy drive from La Fortuna or San Jose. Many also visit as part of a day tour of the Arenal area, thanks to the location of the private rain forest reserve between Arenal Volcano and Arenal Volcano National Park.
When to Get There
Tabacon Hot Springs is open all year but is most enjoyable during the dry season from late November through mid-April. Enjoy the maximum recharge from the mineral-rich waters by visiting after an adventure-packed day.
A Pool for All
The diversity of pools at Tabacon is one of its greatest draws. Pools range from 72–105°F (22–40°C) and offer big spaces perfect for playing and socializing as well as more secluded nooks. There is also a cool-water pool on-site.
Address: La Fortuna, Costa Rica
From $ 131
The Children's Eternal Rainforest (Bosque Eterno de los Niños) encompasses 55,600 acres (22,500 hectares) of protected forest, making it the largest private reserve in Costa Rica. The park was born from a classroom fundraising project that began in 1987 in Sweden and the United States, known as the Children's Rainforest Movement. To date, students from 44 countries around the world have contributed to the purchase of rainforest near Monteverde for the purpose of protection.
The Children's Eternal Rainforest is among the last of Costa Rica's reserves to house jaguars, who live alongside 120 other species of mammals, 440 species of birds and 700 species of butterflies"”three percent of the world's butterfly population.
Bajo del Tigre, one of the park's most popular trails, takes visitors on a 2-mile (3.5-km) walk through the park's secondary forest. Nightly twilight walks give a glimpse into the nocturnal fauna of the park. Two biological stations offer accommodations inside the park.
Stays at the two biological stations are by reservation only.
Address: Monteverde 60109, Costa Rica
From $ 69
What’s the only thing better than visiting hot springs in the uplands of La Fortuna? How about splashing inside of the hot springs after racing top speed down a slide. At the Kalambu Hot Springs Water Park, travelers can soak in thermally heat pools near the base of Arenal volcano, while enjoying the comforts, smiles, and thrills you’d expect of a modern waterpark. At the four-story tower that’s known as The Mammoth, sit in a wide, circular raft and pack it full of your friends, and then go shooting nearly 400 feet down a winding, twisting slide. The Triple Slide has triple the fun, and you can race your friends or family members to see who splashes down first. You’ll also find an interactive play area for children—just don’t get caught beneath the big bucket when it splashes down water from above!
Insider's Tip: For a truly unique La Fortuna experience, visit the waterpark at night.
Locker rental is $3 and towels are available for a $7 deposit. There is a restaurant on site, although no outside food is allowed. Many of the water slides have a minimum age of 6 years old, and children under 6 years old must be accompanied by an adult in the play area.
Address: Kalambu Hot Springs, Rte 142, La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Hours: December-February: 10am-10pm daily; March-June: 10am-10pm from Friday-Sunday; July: 10am-10pm daily; August-November: 10am-10pm from Friday-Sunday.
Admission: $32 for adults and $16 for children
From $ 32
Costa Rica contains some of the most diverse, tropical ecosystems on the planet, filled with rich wildlife that is famous around the world. Proyecto Asis is a wildlife rescue center focused on the protection and rehabilitation of local animals. Visitors can tour the facilities, take Spanish classes, or volunteer to care for the animals, whose natural habitats are often threatened by human development and expansion in the area.
Rangers rescue the jungle animals which have been neglected, abandoned, or poached, and offered shelter and care. Parrots, monkeys, kinkajou, and peccaries are a few of the animals cared for. Many are on the brink of extinction, with rescue centers contributing to the species’ longevity. Some are even able to be released back into the wild.
A visit to the center is an excellent way to see the animals up close, while simultaneously learning and contributing to the preservation of local wildlife.
Proyecto Asis is located in the Arenal Volcano area. From La Fortuna take Route 142 east and follow signs for Javillos. The wildlife center will be located on the righthand side of the road. Open Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm, tour prices begin at $31 per person (1.5 hours.) They also work with volunteers on a longer basis.
Address: 141, La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Hours: Open Mon-Sat 8am-4pm
Admission: Tours start at $31
From $ 33