How to get to the Arenal Volcano and when to go. The Amazing Costa Rica Guide


Arenal Volcano is one of the most recognized destinations in Costa Rica. It is not only about the volcano, which crowns the region and can be seen from miles away. It is a region with exuberant forests, abundant wildlife, the biggest lake in the country, and a fantastic array of activities of all sorts. A place where everyone can be pleased, either in a restful and relaxing spa or on an adrenaline-filled adventure.  

When it comes to tourism in Costa Rica, the Arenal Volcano region is one of the most popular. It is lush and gorgeous, and with the enormous volcano crowing above it, the region boasts amazing rainforest, hot springs, a large, lovely lake, and an incredible variety of adventures to pick from.

This is the sort of place you want to have good guidance for picking what’s best for you, as there is so much to choose from, and it is pretty easy to go in the wrong direction. As a result, we decided to publish this article to help others like you. Because, regardless of whether you are a Amazing Costa Rica passenger or not, it is essential to us that all visitors to Costa Rica have a fantastic stay in our country.

Furthermore, because Arenal is a place where you can find something for everyone, it deserves to be explored in greater depth.

Region of the Arenal Volcano

Let us begin with a brief overview of the surrounding environment.

The volcano itself dominates the Arenal Volcano region, which is in the province of Alajuela and is on the plains of San Carlos. It is 116.35 kilometers (72.29 miles) from the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) and 129.06 kilometers (80.19 miles) from the Guanacaste Airport (LIR). The closest town to Arenal Volcano National Park is La Fortuna. However, the whole region is the destination.

The National Park is fascinating and has spots like the lava fields, the remaining craters from the 1968 eruption of pyroclastic bombs, or the magnificence of the jungle that recovered from the blast.

But the Arenal as a destination is a much larger and more complex destination that extends miles around the giant and can be confusing if you don’t know it well.

So, to fully comprehend this “must“ of the travel industry in Costa Rica, let’s start by talking about the volcano and how this place came to be what it is now.

Arenal Volcano history

Arenal is the youngest of Costa Rica’s volcanoes, having erupted only a few thousand years ago. Its existence can be traced back more than 7,000 years to this day. On the other hand, the area remained unexplored until 1937, when a reported expedition attempted to reach the summit of Mount Fuji. Before that, it was known as Cerro Arenal (Mountain Arenal) or Cerro de los Jilgueros (The Finches Mountain) due to the large number of birds that lived in the woods that covered the entire mountain prior to the eruption, which covered the entire mountain before the eruption.

On July 29th, 1968 

On July 29, 1968, the Arenal Volcano erupted, burying over 15 square kilometers of land under lava, rocks, and ash. The eruptions buried three small villages, and there were 87 casualties, and hundreds of missing people. It also caused damage to crops, property, and cattle. The volcano threw large rocks into the surrounding area, forming hundreds of craters, some of which are still visible in the vicinity of the National Park today. The eruption affected only the west side of the volcano, leaving the closest town, La Fortuna, unaffected.

The Arenal Volcano region had been dedicated to farming and livestock, and until 1988, the first tours began to arrive. Farmers turned their farms into touristic projects, and thermae were built, hotels, and restaurants were developed. The region became an adventure and activity hub, offering a wide variety of activities to enjoy. The volcano remained active with continuous eruptions until 2010, when it began a dormant stage.

The Arenal Lake 

Lake Arenal was formed by constructing a massive earthen dam on the valley’s eastern side, which was submerged in freshwater from 1972 to 1976. By 1979, the dam supplied a significant portion of Costa Rica and Nicaragua’s electrical needs. The dam relocated the villages of Tronadora and Arenal to the northeastern shore of Lake Nicaragua. Water from the lake flows into an irrigation system, increasing agricultural production in Guanacaste.

How do you get to the Arenal Volcano if you are driving?

Depending on where you are coming from, there are different routes to follow to get to the region of the volcano:

If you’re coming from San Jose, there are several options:

  • La Tigra route is the most popular route to Arenal, Panama, passing through San Ramon and the Los Angeles cloud forests. It takes you to the Peñas Blancas River and the surrounding areas, with the best route being the crossing over the river.
  • The Vara Blanca route, which includes the Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens, is another option, starting early to enjoy the rainforest-filled landscape.
  • The old route to Arenal, Zacero, has a beautiful park with dozens of topiary figures. It is recommended to take this route early in the day as it passes through cloud forest areas and gets foggy at times.
  • Another route is through Sarchi, an oxcart’s home, and the region of Bajos del Toro.

Coming from the Caribbean Coast

For those coming from the Caribbean Coast, the route passes through the Sarapiqui River, a flat region with hundreds of acres dedicated to farming and livestock.

Coming from the Pacific Coast, Monteverde, Tenorio, or Liberia (LIR) Airport:

This is known as the Tilarán route, which you will have to take going through the Panamerican Highway and diverting towards Cañas, and then Tilarán, a quaint town, close to the lake Arenal, which you will go around to get to La Fortuna. This is one of the most picturesque roads in Costa Rica.

Weather in the Arenal Volcano Region

The weather in the Arenal region is unpredictable.

When it comes to weather, the Arenal Volcano Region has a lot to offer: it’s lush and green all year round, but it’s also hot and humid; the average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), but on a hot day in March or September, it can reach 33 degrees (88 degrees Fahrenheit).

When it comes to the sunny season, it is in March and April, and then again in September and October; nevertheless, January or February may be pretty sunny and only rainy if there is a cold front from the north.

As a result, even during the wettest phase of the rainy season, there are long stretches of bright days interspersed with sudden storms and heavy downpours.

To wrap it up:

Explore the Arenal Volcano region, a land of adventure and natural beauty. Hike rainforests, relax in hot springs, or spot wildlife near the iconic volcano. Arenal offers something for everyone. Let Amazing Costa Rica craft your dream adventure in this unforgettable destination!

Contact us today!


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